Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Who Really Drew Jim Keeshen's "Day of the Dead"?

It is said that history repeats itself. It seems to be the case even in the history of animation. Patrick Sullivan (1887-1933) was the owner of the Sullivan Studio. Sullivan had a reputation as a chronic alcoholic, convicted rapist, con-man, and credit thief. He was even alleged to have murdered his wife. One of Sullivan's scams was to hire talented artists and animators such as Otto Messmer and to take credit for their work as if it was his own. Although it was later proved that Messmer was the true creator of the legendary Felix the Cat, Sullivan went so far as to put out press releases and to create photo ops falsely presenting himself as the creator of Felix. Until his dying day, he adamantly took credit for work that was not his own. Below is a photo of Sullivan sitting at Messmer's drawing board. He faces the camera as he holds a pen in hand, pretending to draw Felix.

Patrick Sullivan at Felix's Drawing Board
Patrick Sullivan at Felix's Drawing Board

Now, we fast forward many decades later, and
Jim Keeshen is also seen below posing at the drawing board for his animated film "The Day of the Dead" (aka, "El Dia De Los Muertos") Notice how Keeshen has the same look as Sullivan, facing the camera, as his pencil rests on an image of Max, the main human character of his animated film.

Jim Keeshen at Day of the Dead Drawing Board
Jim Keeshen at Day of the Dead Drawing Board

Like Sullivan, Keeshen did not draw the character of Max or any of the characters in his film. He took the credit while conversely employing many talented artists, such as Cecilia Aranovich and Jonathan Caustrita. In fact, Caustrita's storyboard artwork and character designs show the creation of Pancho, the iguana, who journeys from Mexico to East Los Angeles. Pancho was originally named Izzy. To view the Day of the Dead webpage with various versions of the film, click
HERE. In fact, you can see for yourself that Keeshen can barely draw at all based on his crude black-and-white sketches.

As we've previously written on this blog, this is not the first time Keeshen has either taken credit for work that was not his or infringed on other's copyrights. Unfortunately, Santa Monica College continues to employ Keeshen as a professor of animation, whereby he has an unlimited pool of talented students to use in his artistic deception and commercial projects at SMC's
Academy of Entertainment & Technology (AET). To me, the greatest joy of art is in its creation, not the awards or financial profit one receives. Can there really be such joy if one takes credit for the work one was incapable of doing? Not only does this deceive the public, but it also deceives the students who entrusted themselves in professor Keeshen's care. Ultimately, it also deceives Jim Keeshen himself, as by taking advantage of talented students, he stunts his own efforts at creativity.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2007: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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