Sunday, July 5, 2020

A Zoom Toast to Kelly

Top row: Kevin Lima, Steve Moore, Chris Bailey, Fred Cline.  Middle row: Kirk Wise, Dan Jeup, Rob Minkoff, Wendell Luebbe.  Bottom row: Tim Hauser, Butch Hartman.
Friday night I took part in a toast via Zoom - the pandemic's next best thing to being there.  We were toasting our friend, director Kelly Asbury, who had passed away a week earlier.   There are hundreds of industry people who would have turned up for this, but we kept it to a core group who hung out as CalArts character animation students in the early eighties: Chris Bailey, Fred Cline, Butch Hartman, Tim Hauser, Dan Jeup, Wendell Luebbe, Kevin Lima, Rob Minkoff, Kirk Wise and myself.  These guys are more than an animation who's who to me - they are my brothers. 

For the most part, the gang looked the same - a testament to living the animation life, I guess.  Most of us wore glasses now.  Kevin was rocking a new, bearded cue-ball look. And me with my COVID lockdown '70's hair  (cowbell band, anyone?).  The only real sign of age is that we were on Zoom for more than three hours and never talked shop once. 

Stories I either didn't know or had forgotten kept us laughing for hours - the crazy shit that makes us glad cell phones and social media did not exist back then.  These were not the flattering stories told at funerals, but hilariously human stories about Kelly.  Maybe you had to be there. I'm glad I was.   

"He was like the Sun." Kirk said.  "People just gravitated to him."

Cheers, Kelly!


CalArts dorm, July 1984.  From left: Mark Rouse, Kirk Wise (white shirt), Butch Hartman, Steve Moore, and Kelly Asbury. Photo by Kevin Lima