Ollie Johnston

Last week Traci asked me if I had heard about the animator who had died. Now of the 220 feeds I subscribe to in NetNewsWire, a full 60 of those are in a group called “Animation and Comics”, so I should have heard about any news from a variety of artist blogs or industry sources. But I’ve had my head down working on a number of programming projects — both Rails and Cocoa and just keeping up with the never-ending flood of email and Basecamp messages — so that NetNewsWire group was closed, and I was sadly ignorant.

My first question to her: “Was it Ollie?”

And of course it was. Ollie Johnston passed away at the age of 95, the last of Disney’s “Nine Old Men”. See the epic Cartoon Brew post for more. I had blogged about the death of his friend Frank Thomas in 2004, and also of colleague Ward Kimball in 2002.

For those who don’t know me very well, and even many who do, I’ll let you in on a little secret. One day my boss is going to wonder why I don’t answer his emails, and it will be because I’ve thrown the computer in the trash, set my USB devices on fire, and returned to the first passion of my life.

Sure, I have an old-school animation desk (old office 2005 and new office this year, next to computer stuff) and a bunch of paper and sharpened pencils to play with. Sure, I’ll still always love building software, designing user interfaces, and am grateful for the friends I have at work and in the Mac development community. Sure, I can’t support a family and giant mortgage doing silly portraits on the street corner.

But damn it. Ollie Johnston died.