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 USA Marine Corps. He was stationed in San Diego and served within the South Pacific. He later used the GI Invoice to enroll in artwork faculty in California, the place he studied underneath 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 line with his household, within the Fifties Mundie labored as an illustrator for The Washington Submit, did freelance animation for varied studios, and labored as an artist for North American Aviation. The earliest confirmed display screen credit score that we may observe down for Mundie was the 1959 teenage street security movie Cease Driving Us Loopy, produced by Washington D.C.’s Inventive Arts Studios.

Mundie’s profession flourished within the Nineteen Sixties. It’s not that every one the tasks he was concerned with have been massively profitable, though some undoubtedly have been, however Mundie was in a position to lock down constant work utilizing his personal private illustration type, 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 collection. Studio head Friz Freleng additionally employed Mundie to design title sequences in his personal type for a number of main Hollywood movies like The Hassle with Angels (1966):

Mundie illustrated the sensible 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 collection Rawhide:

In addition to one other traditional western collection, The Wild Wild West:

In 1968, one in all 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 type, together with his tough gestural figures showing to have been drawn in grease pencil straight 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 dwelling media and is extremely troublesome to search out right this moment. A duplicate is held at The Paley Heart 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 collection, the pilot was an actual inventive assertion. Mundie and his group of animators labored 18-hour days for six months to satisfy NBC’s deadline, drawing on cels with grease pencils and coloring every cel themselves. These cels have been then photographed, with live-action footage from Philadelphia used for backgrounds.

Veteran Disney animator Will Finn has written concerning the quick up to now, saying:

Visually, it could be one of the experimental and offbeat cartoons ever run on a significant community. Director Ken Mundie and his band of impartial animators make a degree of rendering every scene with as a lot spontaneity as potential, nearly no single motion is animated, timed, or assisted conventionally or formulaically. One very distinctive alternative 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 potential for no matter objective matches… Extra than simply about any piece I may identify, this 26-minute movie embraces the chances of xeroxing animators’ roughest drawings and capturing them at their most important.

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 type by no means meshed effectively with the norms of an trade that thrives on formulation and standardization, but this additionally implies that his earlier work was actually distinctive and deserves to be reevaluated right this moment. He was a pure illustrator and positive artist who was in a position to bend that skillset and apply it to the business alternatives that got here his manner, making the tasks through which he was concerned all of the extra particular.

Later in his profession, Mundie commonly labored as a storyboard artist, steadily in promoting. He frolicked 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 kinds and manufacturing pipelines, Mundie managed to sneak in his distinctive characters, equivalent to on this musical sequence he directed for the collection Yogi’s Galaxy Goofs-Ups:

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

In line with his obituary, Mundie “slowed down” in semi-retirement within the Nineties by contributing storyboards to quite a few animated collection together with Pinky and the Mind and Life with Louie. He was additionally employed by Wallace Inventive 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 Inventive founder Donald Wallace mentioned of Mundie in an interview:

I employed further artists/animators for the venture. One gentleman was a veteran Disney animator who was semi-retired and residing in Idaho. He and I might have story discussions over the telephone after which he would ship me artwork and animation by way of the mail, apart from a pair occasions when he traveled to Portland and labored within the studio with us. He was wonderful. 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 superb storyboard artist. He had an unbelievable sense for format and storytelling, and I had quite a lot of enjoyable working with him.

Mundie’s obituary defined that:

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

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