Monday, October 7, 2013

Gene Deitch: Flora had an "overpowering influence" on my style

Animation legend GENE DEITCH was a longtime friend of Jim Flora, a friendship that commenced in the 1940s and ended only with Flora's death in 1998. Today Gene wrote to us:
Pete Jolly Duo EP from back cover of
The High Fidelity Art of Jim Flora
THE HIGH-FIDELITY ART OF JIM FLORA arrived!  This latest treasury of Jim's art is the closest to my heart, as it covers the exact material that led me to him in the mid 1940s—and which had an overpowering influence on my own graphic attempts.  Everyone who followed my work in the Record Changer magazine, reproduced in the Fantagraphics book, THE CAT ON A HOT THIN GROOVE, knows that much of my stuff was flat-out Flora imitation-emulation, though I clearly knew all the while that Jim's endless graphic invention was inimitable.

Jim himself was in many ways a parallel of his iconic images, a sum of many parts, just as all the convoluted sassy segments strung-out in space joined into a dazzling whole.  A genius of his order may have had every reason to be arrogant, distant, or cold—yet Jim was downright jolly, warm-hearted, caring and helpful. He never berated me for stealing his stuff, but rather encouraged me and worked with me. I tried to work more with him, but am grateful that I was at least able to produce animated versions of his FABULOUS FIREWORKS FAMILY at Terrytoons and LEOPOLD, THE SEE-THROUGH CRUMB-PICKER here in Prague. Best of all, I am proud that he became my close friend and regular correspondent.  His final letter to me lingers in my heart. This new book of his further ensures that I will never forget him.
Gene's The Cat On a Hot Thin Groove was recently republished by Fantagraphics with a new cover:

No comments: