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  1. I love Animation – part 2

     The early to mid 90’s


    At school I was a loner – the ‘arty’ one, the one who was always in the art block and who could draw the best.

    At home, when I sketched, Disney music would be on in the background. What was I drawing? Lots of different things - My own characters, Disney characters and comic book characters.

     The mid-90’s saw my exposure to American comics. This was BIG. I remember being blown away by the stories, the drawings and the female superheroes. Let’s face it, I was a big female superhero TV fan and Wonder Woman, Supergirl –later Xena, Buffy – all mesmerised me. In fact to this day, I still remember vividly when I saw Supergirl The movie for the first time.

    I wanted to be Supergirl. In the movie, at the beginning, she was an artist and her mentor tells her pretty much that the reason she was bad at maths was because she was creative – a statement I took along with the cape – such a statement was a relief as I was never much into the sciences /mathematics at school and if Supergirl was crap at it, then I didn’t mind if I was too.

    Before I knew it I was a full blown collector of comics. I guess I was in my mid-teens. My dad and I went every weekend to a store in Gloucester. I loved those trips. I went mad for comics and variant covers, action figures, models, posters. I wanted to be a comic book artist, badly.

    So forget Disney, I found out how comics were drawn, practiced inking and layout and I was off. My parents took me to conventions and I would wait in line to show my portfolio. My fellow comic book wanabes, I’d say not to generalise too much, were all 30-50 year old overweight males. I stood out a mile but I wasn’t bothered at all. I was one of the boys, one of the geeks for sure.

    Well it didn’t happen – I doubt Slamsister would be here if I’d made a success of it. The interest in comics did boost my drawing skills, I was on a roll when I finished school and after my A Level’s, I went on to do an Art Foundation course in Cheltenham and then I was picked to study at Central St Martins in London.

    Fine Art, at the best art school in the UK. I was pretty chuffed but I have to be honest I was a very naïve country girl who left the cows and muck for the multi-cultural world of Tooting in London. I survived art school, grew to like London, partied a lot, came out as a lesbian and went on to do a post grad in 2D animation.


    Learning animation.

    I do want to stress the importance of learning 2d (and later 3d) animation for my overall self-learning as an artist. When I was accepted into the London Animation Studio, I could have died with happiness. This was a dream come true.

    My reaction is not surprising when you consider my ultimate dream was always to be a Disney animator. I mean, even now, I am so, so happy I learnt animation and got to animate, make films and even storyboard.

    2D animation is a skill and a craft which suited me entirely. When I was learning animation, I’d be at my desk all day, listening to music, drawing, flicking, drawing, flicking, flicking, taking my pages to scan in to the computer and watch the playback and my character come to life.

    I loved it and not only has animation taught me so much in terms of character design and character movement, I also did a lot of life drawing back then. Forget Fine Art style 1 -2 hour sessions. We would sketch poses for 2-3 minutes max. Now that’s the way to learn the art of looking and finding the line of the body/ movement.

    After I left college, I worked for some directors doing storyboarding – a really interesting time for me as I loved live action film as much as animated movies – Most of the work I did in London in my early to mid 20’s was pro bono but I felt on the right path to my dream…

     But, something awful happened.

    I don’t want to say too much about this, but looking at the chronology of events in my life, I can’t leave it out. My mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was in my 20’s and thought bravely for 3 years but a brain tumour finally won the battle and she passed away when I was 27. It goes without saying that this devastated me and I pretty much remained devastated for the rest of my 20’s, early 30’s – well until pretty much the point where I managed to drag myself out of a horrible 9-5 existence doing catering and waitressing and eventually I started drawing again.

    It was so difficult, I think because mum was my supporter in art and was the one who had the most faith in my talent. When lost her I just couldn’t face art or drawing. I didn’t see any of my accomplishments as worthwhile or any good at all – I had managed to do something when she was ill…you might be surprised but I wrote a book and I came up with a design concept called Space Therapy, a series of posters themed around a model in the year 2730.

    Of course, there’s an important part of my life I haven’t mentioned yet – my wife ;) Sandy stepped into my life at about the time my mum passed away. More on my wife Sandy next time! (I’m still in the highs of just getting married by the way ;)

    I’ve run out of time for this month…so that’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this instalment.

    Next time on slamblog:

     I will dish the dirt with pictures on my first foray into the slamsister style with…Space Therapy !

     And my 3 year mission to write a novel, a coming out story called: A Conversation with myself.

    Until November,

    Take care and have fun!

    All the best Emma X



  2. I love animation part 1:

    The Early Dobbs Years.

    So, for those who are reading these blogs, animation - It’s a big old topic so I’m splitting this blog over the next couple of summer months.

    The thing is you all know I’m a lesbian, big deal. What about me? Who am I? And what do I love? It should be no surprise that art and animation are up there to make the one big happy triangle of love when you throw in Disney. When I say Disney, I don’t mean I just like Disney films. When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a Disney animator and this dream led me to study animation and work, briefly as a storyboard artist.

    Let’s begin! My early years – Age 6, take a look at the photo of me in the local newspaper.


    I can recall seeing an old chap with a sketchbook outside King’s School in Gloucester drawing Gloucester Cathedral. Yeah, my first school was Hogwarts. How cool is that? And, get this, in the books there is an Emma Dobbs character…weird, anyway, I got inspiration from seeing this old dude sketching and told my teacher I wanted to do this too. What’s interesting to see is at 6 I didn’t know much about composition. I started the drawing from the top left steeple and worked down on an A4 piece of paper. By the time I had finished, I had about 9 sheets stuck together. I also want to point out, that the newspaper drew over the picture in a big black pen so you could see it in the paper – those are not my lines, mine is a very fine pencil.

    Moving on, to age 13 and at this time in my life, its’ fair to say I am fully immersed in Disney and a love of animation. Take a look at the photo at my art desk, again I was featured in a local newspaper. And yeah, they spell my name wrong at the end. Duh.


    My parents had bought me an art desk one Christmas and my dad had skillfully made his own version of an animation desk with light board, so I spent hours, weeks, and months drawing my own comic characters; Bobby the Bear, Loxley the Fox and Benny the Beaver to name a few. I had moved on from selling little card pictures at the door of my bedroom to my family. About this age I definitely wanted my own comic strip, published and I did enter a lot of competitions with these characters.

    We also had been to Disney World in Florida a lot by the time I was 13. We’d been going since I was 8 and would continue to go until about 2008. I mean, it’s a little weird to say that I’ve been over 35 times. It makes me feel like I have been incredibly lucky and very spoilt. It was not like we were stinking rich either, so my parents definitely made the choice to have that one amazing holiday a year and pass on the other things, let’s say.

    Take a look at the Disney photos.


    James and I have been influenced SO much by our childhood and Disney. See the Animation Studio picture? That was a ritual photo every time we went. My family has always supported my art and for James, it was music, technology and how theme parks worked that floated his boat. Get this; he has worked in a theme park his whole life! I’m so proud of him, he is living the dream and the reality of day to day theme parks that we both were so enamored with throughout our childhood.



    So, in the early years, as a kid, Disney ruled and my favorite Disney film still to this day is The Little Mermaid.

    Released in 1989, we had been going to Disney since 87’ so we were still very much wide eyed and amazed at the MagicKingdom. Throw in this film and the story of Ariel wanting to be part of that world and the music by Alan Menkin, that I would listen to and sing at every opportunity – and the result? You have one young girl who began her dream of being an artist and a Disney animator.

    Okay so that’s it for now, I’ll leave you with a few other animated non-Disney films from the 80’s that are fantastic. See you next month for the teenage years and thanks for reading.

    The Secret of Nymh 1982

    The Brave Little Toaster 1987

    The Land Before Time 1988