Big Apple's Fantastic Toon Femmes
The women of New York's thriving animation scene are rewriting the old rules and breaking away from traditional stereotypes
By Jake Friedman
*Originally published in the March, 2006 issue of Animation Magazine.
Meet Tissa David, a Hungarian animator who started working in New York in 1955. At a time when June Cleaver epitomized the American housewife, women in the animation studio were seen as little else than ink-and-paint girls. Of course there were exceptions in the fields of concept design and a couple assistants here and there, but by and large, animation coast to coast was entirely a boys' club. This is news to no one, but what's interesting is to look at the industry, specifically in New York, and see what it's like for women today, compared to David's recollections.
"You know, it's very funny," says David, who recently worked on Michael Sporn's acclaimed The Man Who Walked Between the Towers "Ollie Johnston once asked me, 'How do you do that?' I said, 'I used to be a young girl at one time.' Because a man can never ever really animate a female character that's a girl, a woman."
David worked at UPA as Grim Natwick's sole assistant before
joining the Hubley studios in 1960 as an animator. She was the
only woman that she knew in the entire field. "In the early
'60's, there was no place for a woman. Once I called the
secretary of the union, and she said 'the men are complaining
that you are animating.' John Hubley didn't care, not in the
|"In my experience, I have never felt discriminated against
because I'm a woman," says Lisa Goldman, a freelance animation
writer and story editor. Simultaneosly she acts as the head of
the New York chapter of Women In Animation, a nationally
recognized group built to help network people in the business.
"I love the animation community in New York," she says. "I find
that our members are so generous with their time and talents to
other members . . . We are recognized as a source of talent more
and more. It's been amazing to be a part of all this."