Monday, July 02, 2012

In Praise of Tony Fucile

Tony Fucile is an animator and visual development artist who has worked on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up and other films.  He is also an illustrator of children's books, and that's what I'd like to focus on.

I first became aware of his art in books in Jack-Jack Attack, a Golden Book that was part of merchandising for The Incredibles.  His drawings are spare, but spare shouldn't be confused with simple.  His characters are solidly constructed and his compositions are nailed down, but everything is delineated with very few lines.  While those lines are somewhat rough, they are very expressive.  Slickness is not high on Fucile's list, but his other qualities are so outstanding that it isn't missed.

Fucile both wrote and drew Let's Do Nothing, a story of two boys desperate to come up with a way to fill time.  You can see from this example how strong Fucile's poses are, a result, no doubt, of his time as an animator.
I think that my favorite Fucile work are the two volumes (so far) featuring Bink and Gollie, a Mutt and Jeff pair of girls who are best friends, written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee.  Fucile conveys their personalities clearly through their poses and facial expressions.
While I've been focusing on the character drawings, Fucile is no slouch when it comes to backgrounds either.

In the latest book, Bink and Gollie: Two For One, the authors seem to be stepping back, allowing Fucile to carry more of the story through drawing.  This sequence is from "Whack a Duck."

 One of the ironies of this story is that the "violence" shown would be considered inappropriate in children's television.  The man with the glasses gets increasingly battered as Bink continues to throw baseballs, but as the drawings are funny, the effect is humorous, not painful.  It's good to know that publishers are not as skittish as broadcasters and good to know that Fucile is free to draw cartoon slapstick.

Many animation artists are doing work outside the field these days, searching for greater control or at least for the chance to sign their work.  It's a positive trend and I'm grateful that Tony Fucile is illustrating books.  His drawings have given me a lot of pleasure and I look forward to whatever he'll be illustrating next.


Amanda said...

Chuck Gammage's studio recently animated the first Bink and Gollie book which has been released just recently. Tony's drawing are amazingly entertaining :)

Mark Mayerson said...

Hi Amanda. Do you know what market the Gammage animation is for? TV? Straight to DVD? Somewhere else? And when will it be available?

Unknown said...

I LOVE the trailer for his 'Let's do Nothing' book,

Brubaker said...

I came across "Bink and Gollie" the other day. Looks like a fun children's book!

Unknown said...

Great post, Mark! His work definitely deserves praise.

Anonymous said...

His book illustrations are great. But his animation, and more importantly, his ACTING, are superb. Mufasa, in the Lion King, is primarily Tony. The character has so much thought behind his every move. The character shows EXTREME control, without ever forgetting that he could kill you with one swipe.

The same guy animated the Kiss The Girl sequence (the leads) from The Little Mermaid. Again, the acting shines.

His work on The Incredibles just cements his place in animation history as someone who's concern is CHARACTER over design, and yet finding the sweet spot of one supporting the other in perfect balance.

GREAT post.

Anonymous said...

Oh...and then there's his work on The Iron Giant. Enough said.