Paul Carlson has worked in the
world of animation for over forty-five years. The early years and
involvement with The Walt Disney Studios started in 1953, working as a
traffic boy. This initial “job description” changed quickly and by 1954
Paul was working as an “in betweener” on Lady And The Tramp. During
this production he became involved in drawing lay-out and was also appointed
as Assistant Animator. Disney’s next animation feature was Sleeping
Beauty, a great break for Paul, as he was appointed Assistant Director
of Animation to Dale Bramman and the famous Marc Davis.
After Sleeping Beauty, Paul illustrated six books on how to draw
Disney characters. This involved working with Ken Pettonson, head of
animation. The book required the personal approval of Walt Disney and
regular meetings between Paul, Ken and Walt were established for the
completion of the project.
From there, Carlson moved up the ladder to production co-ordinator under Don
Duckwall (Animation Studio Co-ordinator). In this area Paul worked with
Sharron Disney (Walt Disney’s daughter), incorporating a special unit
producing animation commercials. Over 100 television commercials were
produced during a two year period, the majority being used on three classic
television shorts on A.B.C. television.
Walt Disney Presents
– became known as Disneyland and seen in Australia on Sunday
Mickey Mouse Club.
– half hour live action
starring Guy Williams.
Paul was assistant to Nick Nicholls, and as both men had worked in live
action as well as animation, the job of directing the boss in his film
lead-ins fell to them. Carlson has a wealth of untold stories about Walt
Disney stemming from the unique association.
In late 1958 and early 1959 Paul returned to feature animation and was
involved in drawing lay-out and clean-up on the classic 101 Dalmations.
This film was also something of a turning point in animation. It was the
first time the outline drawings were transferred to the acetate cel by the
xerographic process – in the past all cels had been hand inked.
1960 saw a change in Paul Carlson’s career as he moved from the Disney
Studios to U.P.A. where he was appointed Production Co-ordinator. It was to
be another eleven years before he would again work on the famed Disney
characters. At U.P.A. he worked on Mr Magoo in the television feature
Christmas Carol and also with director Chuck Jones on Gay Puree
this production also included famous animator Abe Levitow.
The start of 1963 saw Paul’s career take him to another studio “Quarter
Films Of Hollywood” where he was appointed Animation Production Manager.
The unit made animated television commercials and included such famous
animators as Abe Babbit and Stan Walsh. Over three hundred commercials were
made at the studio including the four following productions which were used
Fruit Loops – featuring the McCaw bird
Snap, Crackle Pop for Kellog.
Tony The Tiger – Frosted Flakes
Carlson made a brief return to U.P.A. in early 1971 to work on “Uncle Sam
Magoo” for N.B.C. During the latter part of 1971 he opened his own studio
“Paul Carlson Cartoons”. The studio had great success and in 1976 was
appointed exclusively by Disney to create educational cartoon filmstrips to
be used in U.S. grammar schools. The films covered such topics as
Measurement, History, Nutrition and The Value Of Things. Many characters
were featured including Winnie The Pooh, Jiminy Cricket, Goofy and Donald
Duck. At the studio’s peak, Paul Carlson Cartoons employed over thirty
animators and artists.
Paul Carlson is a true Journeyman in the field of animation. Today he still
heads his own company, which produces cartoons and advertisements featuring
Mr Magoo. His only regret from his days at Disney is that he never had a
picture taken with Walt Disney; “I could kick myself” he says, “but I was
one of his hands and I liked him a lot”.