The following is from the February 2008 edition of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion Magazine. William Joyce ('81) received SMU's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004 and was featured in an SMU online Q&A that same year.
When Passion Meets Promise
William Joyce: Author, Illustrator, Filmmaker
He used to be the lone figure at the desk and easel, writing and illustrating such children’s classics as George Shrinks, Santa Calls, and Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo. But about 10 years ago, William Joyce got an offer to turn a beloved book, Rolie Polie Olie, into a television series. Animated films followed, including Robots in 2005 and Meet the Robinsons (based on his most autobiographical book, A Day with Wilbur Robinson) in 2007. Suddenly, William was part of a team, serving as producer and production designer. “It’s exciting to work with a group,” he says. “It gets crazy and wild, with shouting and hollering, throwing stuff, cheering, laughing till you can’t breathe. That doesn’t happen when you’re working by yourself…I hope.”
William’s studio is in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he’s also artist-in-residence at Centenary College. He works in a multiroomed space that mimics the worlds he has created in books and on film. At about 4,000 square feet, it’s a big switch from his former upstairs sunroom studio at home. “It’s like a series of little lands here,” he says.
Each room contains art for a separate project, so that he can completely immerse himself. One area, for example, is devoted to storyboards for The Leaf Men, an upcoming animated feature film based on his book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. In another room, art for a soon-to-be-announced “cool project that I’ve been working on for a long time” fills every corner. “It’s so much fun to immerse yourself in a different land that doesn’t exist—but you wish existed—and make it seem plausible and real.”
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