Ken Mundie, Adventurous Artist Who Pushed Graphic Boundaries In Hollywood Animation, Dies At 97

In 1942, on the age of 17, Mundie enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He was stationed in San Diego and served within the South Pacific. He later used the GI Invoice to enroll in artwork college in California, the place he studied beneath Elwood James Fordham and Mentor Huebner.

Early in his profession, Mundie was accepted to the Disney trainee program, although it’s unclear how lengthy he spent on the firm or what productions he labored on. In response to his household, within the Fifties Mundie labored as an illustrator for The Washington Put up, did freelance animation for numerous studios, and labored as an artist for North American Aviation. The earliest confirmed display screen credit score that we may monitor down for Mundie was the 1959 teenage street security movie Cease Driving Us Loopy, produced by Washington D.C.’s Artistic Arts Studios.

Mundie’s profession flourished within the Nineteen Sixties. It’s not that every one the initiatives he was concerned with had been massively profitable, though some undoubtedly had been, however Mundie was in a position to lock down constant work utilizing his personal private illustration model, which was rooted in anatomical determine drawing and much faraway from animation character design tropes.

From 1964-1966, Mundie labored at DePatie-Freleng Enterprises as a background painter on theatrical shorts together with the Pink Panther sequence. Studio head Friz Freleng additionally employed Mundie to design title sequences in his personal model for a number of main Hollywood movies like The Hassle with Angels (1966):

Mundie illustrated the good opening sequence to Blake Edwards’ The Nice Race (1965):

His work could be seen within the opening credit for the ultimate season of the long-lasting Clint Eastwood sequence Rawhide:

In addition to one other basic western sequence, The Wild Wild West:

In 1968, one among Mundie’s best-known works, The Door, scored a launch from Warner Bros. The eccentric quick, which Mundie made fully by himself, was produced by Invoice Cosby’s manufacturing firm Silver-Campbell-Cosby Company. Mixing animation and live-action inventory footage, the anti-war quick is a pure expression of Mundie’s visible model, together with his tough gestural figures showing to have been drawn in grease pencil instantly onto cels.

The Door
Ken Mundie’s The Door

Working with Cosby as soon as once more, Mundie directed the television particular Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fats Albert in 1969. This system aired on NBC on November 12, 1969, and was rebroadcast twice after that, however has sadly by no means been launched onto house media and is extremely troublesome to search out right this moment. A replica is held at The Paley Middle for Media in New York Metropolis, however on-line only some temporary clips have surfaced.

Vastly completely different aesthetically and tonally than the later television sequence, the pilot was an actual inventive assertion. Mundie and his crew of animators labored 18-hour days for six months to fulfill NBC’s deadline, drawing on cels with grease pencils and coloring every cel themselves. These cels had been then photographed, with live-action footage from Philadelphia used for backgrounds.

Veteran Disney animator Will Finn has written in regards to the quick previously, saying:

Visually, it could be one of the crucial experimental and offbeat cartoons ever run on a significant community. Director Ken Mundie and his band of unbiased animators make some extent of rendering every scene with as a lot spontaneity as attainable, virtually no single motion is animated, timed, or assisted conventionally or formulaically. One very distinctive selection was that the characters’ faces are much less exploited than are their extremely expressive figures. The poses and proportions are remarkably gestural and tailored loosely as attainable for no matter function suits… Extra than simply about any piece I may identify, this 26-minute movie embraces the probabilities of xeroxing animators’ roughest drawings and capturing them at their most significant.

The Fats Albert pilot’s eventual erasure by NBC (or extra doubtless, Cosby himself) is an effective metaphor for Mundie’s bigger animation profession. His adventurous spirit and private model by no means meshed effectively with the norms of an business that thrives on formulation and standardization, but this additionally signifies that his earlier work was really distinctive and deserves to be reevaluated right this moment. He was a pure illustrator and effective artist who was in a position to bend that skillset and apply it to the industrial alternatives that got here his approach, making the initiatives through which he was concerned all of the extra particular.

Later in his profession, Mundie recurrently labored as a storyboard artist, steadily in promoting. He hung out on the Leo Burnett advert company in Chicago and in addition labored at Hanna-Barbera. Even at an organization like Hanna-Barbera, which had strictly circumscribed home types and manufacturing pipelines, Mundie managed to sneak in his distinctive characters, comparable to on this musical sequence he directed for the sequence Yogi’s Galaxy Goofs-Ups:

Within the Nineteen Eighties, he did growth work for the Japanese function movie Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.

In response to his obituary, Mundie “slowed down” in semi-retirement within the Nineteen Nineties by contributing storyboards to quite a few animated sequence together with Pinky and the Mind and Life with Louie. He was additionally employed by Wallace Artistic Inc. to work on reduce scenes for the 1997 online game Captain Claw, which featured a formidable mixture of second and cg animation that felt revolutionary on the time.

Wallace Artistic founder Donald Wallace mentioned of Mundie in an interview:

I employed extra artists/animators for the venture. One gentleman was a veteran Disney animator who was semi-retired and residing in Idaho. He and I’d have story discussions over the telephone after which he would ship me artwork and animation via the mail, aside from a pair instances when he traveled to Portland and labored within the studio with us. He was superb. I believe he was in his late sixties at the moment however may work tirelessly and for very lengthy hours. Between the 2 of us, we created all of the storyboard panels. He was a wonderful storyboard artist. He had an unimaginable sense for format and storytelling, and I had loads of enjoyable working with him.

Mundie’s obituary defined that:

To him, artwork was a sort of magic, and it pissed off him when individuals didn’t admire that. He liked speaking to and serving to different artists. From portray lessons to introductory animation programs, he believed his data and expertise had been meant to be shared.

Mundie is survived by his spouse, Delores; his son, Morgan; his sister, Hazel Crljenko; his nieces, Sally (Greg) Palms and Nancy (George) Kelbley; and his nephew, John (Susan) Crljenko.