As I've mentioned
eleventy hundred and five times on this blog,
my first job in animation was at
back in 1990.
I was only there for less than a year,
but I learned a ton
and met many people who became
One of them was a guy named Gordon Bellamy.
He was an assistant animator on the theatrical short
Buzzco was making based on the Rudyard Kipling story,
The Maltese Cat.
Gordon couldn't have been a nicer guy.
He was in his early 50's.
Bright eyed behind little round glasses.
A comforting Southern twang.
Balding save the anachronistic rat-tail he wore
which gave hint to his musical tastes.
The English Beat
the stuff all us college kids
were listening to at the time.
It was really strange
to have an
introduce me to
one day while we were working,
this conversation went down:
Gordon: Hey, Tom.
Gordon: You got an animation disc?
Me: Um... no.
Gordon: Want one?
And I was all like--
For those of you unfamiliar,
an animation disc is
the round frame for the glass that goes over a lightbox.
It has specified pegs that registered animation paper fits onto
and can turn to help the animator draw at any angle he or she wants.
Here's an example from the
Beavis and Butthead years
at J.J. Sedelmaier Productions:
In this day of CGI and Cintiqs,
they're pretty much obsolete.
But back then,
owning an animation disc
was like having your own car.
(Well, maybe a cheap used car)
They were expensive!
And Gordon was going
to GIVE me one!
But not just any disc...
Mr. Bellamy was handing
his own personal disc down to me!
He had been looking for some
young up-and-coming kid to give it to the same way
it had been given to him.
And to that person before.
On the back was a piece of tape with all
"the folks who this disc owned previously"
The first was legendary Disney animator
How cool is THAT?!
The second owner was...
that piece of tape?
It eventually dried up and crumbled away.
And I don't remember who the 2nd person was.
It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it.
The third person was Gordon.
so I can't even ask who gave it to him.
And the fourth was
Here it is today:
The sliding peg bar was gone long before I got it.
The bottom pegs have also gone missing.
They weren't the standard Acme used in my day,
so I had a plastic peg bar taped on the glass.
I can't find pictures of any of my home desks with the disc
except this one...
taken during some late night JJSP project.
The poor thing gets no love these days.
I can't even remember the last time I
actually animated anything myself.
Even if I did,
odds are it wouldn't be on paper.
there's no enthusiastic young kid for me to hand it down to,
except maybe for nostalgic reasons.
But that's okay.
I think I'd have a hard time parting with it.
Wanna learn more about animation discs?
Wanna see an old desk I worked at?
Of course, you do!
So head on over to Imprint Magazine
and check out
J.J. Sedelmaier's comprehensive post
on animation discs and peg bars.
It's jam-packed with pics of animation gear
from ages past!
(and my old desk at JJSP!)
And it's all right