I recently came across a box full of keepsakes from my days as a CalArts student. Among the memory jogging items were sketches and a letter by animation legend T. Hee. Tee was one of my teachers, and we bonded over our love for the skewed and whimsical. Finding these items was a thrill, as I had not seen them in almost thirty years.
At school, Tee would make the rounds and hang with anyone interested in his input. He would place tracing paper over my designs and, with a few tweaks, make it work. He would make clucking sounds with his tongue while marking little x-es on my tangents. He would move an arm or leg a little to get balance or silhouette. I took advantage of any opportunity to sit with him as he went over my sketches and storyboards.
|T. Hee was helping me with character designs for my senior year film, Sr. Rhino, when he did this sketch.|
Dave hired Dan Jeup, and Fred Cline, and me and for five or six weeks, we had a blast. But when the "V" series wrapped, Dave let some of his staff go, including us. I struggled to find work, and was living at the dorms for the summer when I wrote to Tee. Kelly Asbury and Darrell Rooney were very generous about giving me contacts to call, but everyone wanted experienced artists. It was a Catch-22 situation: how do I get experience if no one will hire me? When Tee's letter arrived, it was a very welcome boost to my sinking morale. Here's the letter, handwritten in Tee's unique style.
I consider this a personal treasure. Tee would have been 103 this past week. Happy birthday, Tee, I miss you!