The 2015 D23 Convention, Disney's fan convention, was held in Anaheim this past weekend. Some big plans were revealed over the weekend. Some of the bigger announcements were some great film plans and huge Star Wars lands coming to Disney Parks. One of my favorite events at these conventions, however, is the Disney Legend induction ceremonies. This year, some big names in entertainment were inducted into Disney Legend status including Johnny Depp, George Lucas and one of my heroes in Animation, Andreas Deja.
Andreas was born in Poland and raised in Germany. His passion for animation was born at the age of eleven while watching his first Disney animated feature, "The Jungle Book". He was especially mesmerized by the villain of the film, the tiger Shere Kahn. He was awestruck by the way the character moved, and how it breathed life into the scenes it was in. An animation enthusiast was born. In time, he would learn it was Milt Kahl who animated the character and Milt became a hero to emulate after. Andreas had written to the Disney studios in hopes to learn what it would take to be a Disney artist. The advice given would guide him to take lots of drawing courses including life drawing and sketching animals at the zoo.
He sent off a stunning portfolio that got him hired at Disney Feature Animation right away. His first picture was "The Black Cauldron", where Andreas did a lot of the character design work. Later, Andreas proved the masterful animator and rose to the ranks of Supervising Animator on King Triton in "The Little Mermaid", Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast", Jafar in "Aladdin" and my favorite, Scar of "The Lion King" to name a few.
His Animation is known for broad gestures as well as reserved, verbose as well as subtle, and well drafted as well as fun and rubbery. As I had mentioned before, he is a master at animating Mickey Mouse. He was Mickey's Supervising Animator for "Mickey's Prince and the Pauper" and "Runaway Brain". His most recent Mickey animation was briefly seen in "Fantasia 2000". In my opinion, Andreas's animation of Mickey brought life to him not seen since Freddy Moore in the 40's. Not comfortable with the conversion to computer animation, Mr Deja retired from the Disney studios after he completed his work on Tigger in the 2011 feature "Winnie the Pooh".
His induction as a Disney Legend is an honor well deserved. I congratulate him on the honor and look forward to visiting his handprints in the Legends Court in Burbank soon.
As a side note: Andreas has a remarkable blog that every animation enthusiast should read. You can check out his personal reflections at http://andreasdeja.blogspot.com