Black History: Special Delivery!!
You may not recognize the name Floyd Norman. But you probably do recognize his animation work on films like Monsters, Inc., Mulan, Toy Story, Sleeping Beauty, and Robinhood, just to name in a few!
Born in 1935, Floyd E. Norman is an animation artist and script writer who made history in 1956 as the first African American cartoon animator at Disney.
Norman’s interest in art and cartoon animation began in his childhood when his mother took him to see the Disney film Dumbo in 1941. The next year, he saw Disney’s Bambi. By then he had determined that he wanted to work for Disney when he grew up. After graduating from high school in Santa Barbara, Norman took his portfolio to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. He was encouraged to go to art school. Norman attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, majoring in illustration. During his third year of school, in 1956, Norman was offered a job at Walt Disney Productions as an animator on the film, Sleeping Beauty. He dropped out of school in order to accept the job offer. After finishing Sleeping Beauty, Norman was drafted and served in the military for a few years. He returned to Disney in 1960 and worked on the film 101 Dalmatians, The Sword in The Stone, and The Jungle Book Following the death of Walt Disney, in 1966, Norman founded Vignette Films, with three partners. It was one of the first studios to make animated films on black history. Norman returned to Disney in the 70’s to work on the film, Robinhood. He also worked for other major animation companies during his career including Hanna-Barbera and Pixar. In the 1980’s Norman again returned to Disney working in the comic strip department. He did animation work on the following Disney films: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Mulan (1998), aDinosaur (2000) and Toy Story 2 (1999). In 1999, Norman and his business partner, Leo Sullivan created Afrokids.com and internet site focused on promoting multicultural and African American content. In 2001, he worked for Pixar on the movie, Monsters Inc. After finishing up Monster’s Inc, Norman retired. He continues to stay involved as a freelance consultant and artist.