Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson

  • by

When I first learned of Tom Sito, he had just left Disney to help staff up Dreamworks Animation in 1995. His defection opened the floodgates for other Disney animators to follow suit and marked the beginning of a major downturn in quality animated films coming from both studios in Burbank and Glendale. A lot of people in the industry were angry with him for that move, but in his defense it also opened up the gates for decent salaries for animators, better contracts, and propelled the diaspera of animators and studios that eventually led to Disney purchasing Pixar and set the stage for Disney’s return to greatness.

As an animator, union leader, and scholar Sito has a unique perspective on the animation industry. He’s put all that knowledge, and a wonderful collection of personal stories told by the people who were involved, into a new book called "Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson"

Here’s the book jacket description:

As cartoons and animated features became an increasingly important part of the entertainment business, the production of cartoons industrialized to meet growing demands for the new global media. Artists adopted traditional union models to protect their jobs and working conditions, and a unique set of unions was born.

Drawing the Line is the first labor history of an industry whose principle figures–Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, and Max Fleischer–helped define American entertainment. Author Tom Sito, Disney animator and former president of the Hollywood Animation Guild, draws on oral histories, archival information, and firsthand knowledge of the animation process to create an insider’s history of a colorful set of labor unions.

Sito describes the history and the fiery personalities behind the formation of the Screen Cartoonists Union, the strikes and walk-outs, the effects of Hollywood blacklisting, and the battles at the bargaining tables. He closes with a look at the changing nature of animation and the way in which current giants Disney and Dreamworks are again reshaping the relationship between studios and animators. Well illustrated with never-before-seen images from the backstage of classic Hollywood, Drawing the Line will change basic assumptions about animation history and its place in the story of American labor.

This will be a must have book for any Animation or Disney fan. It also fills a gap in the historical record concerning exactly what was going on in Hollywood Animation Studios during those important years in the 30s and 40s through to the present day.