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When I used to complain about the lack of job opportunities around, my old mentor Shamus Culhane would smile a worldweary smile and say-" This is nothing...1958 was a lousy year." Many of the other old animators had favorite war stories of good and bad times as well.

As I grew into an old animator myself, I became aware of the patterns of boom and bust in the business. Cycles, if you will.

By 1958 MGM's animation unit had closed, Warners was scaling down, and a recession had depressed the commerials market. Thirty years ago in 1977 saw one of the first big years for animated features- The Rescuers, Raggedy Ann, Wizards, The Mouse and His Child, Metamorphoses and the American Rabbit. 1983 was after a strike and another recession, then the great 2D Renaissance began in 1986 with American Tale and Great Mouse Detective.

I think we are currently in an upswing, after a downcycle that began in 1998 and bottomed out in 2003. That was the year of the mass traditional artists layoffs in the big studios. With employment at a high in town and the success of Simpsons, ShrekIII and Ratatouille, and the looming live action writers and actors strikes, perhaps it presages a good year next year.


Can't find a job? It's like surfing. Just keep paddling and keep your eye out for the next good wave.

Birthdays: Pierre L’Enfant the architect-designer of Washington DC, Myrna Loy, Sir Arthur Bliss, James Baldwin, Carrol O'Connor- Archie Bunker, Peter O'Toole, Joanna Cassidy- Dolores in Who Framed Roger Rabbitt? and the exotic dancer in Blade Runner, Pete Sampras, Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster, Saving Private Ryan ), Jack Warner most famous of the Warner Bros, Bob Beamon, Wes Craven, Apollonia, Edward Furlong, Kevin Smith is 36

1589- French King Henri III de Valois is stabbed in the guts by a demented Dominican, Brother Jacques Clement. He thought the King wasn't doing enough to stamp out Protestantism. The kings last words were: "That little bastard has killed me. Kill him!" Henry IV de Bourbon becomes one of Frances most well beloved kings. The children's song "Frere' Jacques, Dorme Vous?" is about this assassin "Brother Jacques, Why are you sleeping?" another King needs stabbing, in other words.

1824- The first commercial store Altmans, opened on New York’s Fifth Avenue, at that time all residential.

1865- The Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah, after sinking a dozen U.S whaling ships in the Bering Sea off Alaska, is told by a passing British merchantman that the American Civil War had ended over 3 months ago......doh! They refused to believe it until shown some newspapers.

1873- The first San Francisco cable car began service. Inventor Arthur Halliday had conceived the idea in 1869 after seeing a horse drawn tram fail to get up a steep hill.

1876- In Deadwood South Dakota at Nuttall & Manns No.10 Saloon gunfighter Wild Bill Hickock was shot in the back while playing cards. He was 48 years old. Bill was holding the "Deadman's Hand" aces & eights all black and a jack of hearts. His assailant 'Crooked Nose" Jack McCall was found hiding in a butchers shop and hanged for the murder. An eyewitness said :" It was very sad. Bill had won the hand too."

1909- The US issues the first Lincoln head pennies.

1961 - Beatles 1st gig as house band of Liverpool's Cavern Club.

1962- If you are a “Marylin Monroe was done in by the Kennedys” Conspiracy fan a recently unearthed CIA document dated this day mentioned that Marylin’s bungalow was under electronic surveillance and that she kept a “red book” diary. The diary disappeared after her death in two nights from now.