On September 15, the annual celebration of Marceline’s connection to the world of animation and cartooning will once again be renewed at Toonfest. This year, Toonfest welcomes a talented quartet of artists: Paul Coker, Buck Jones, Kelly McNutt, and Chris Payne. These four artists, as well as hundreds of visitors, will converge on Walt Disney’s Boyhood Home next weekend.
From Mr. Payne’s website, “Chris Payne is an artist-illustrator whose artwork has graced the covers of Time Magazine, Readers Digest, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times Book Review, and Sunday Magazine, MAD Magazine, der Spiegel, U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic Monthly, Texas Monthly, Boys Life and more. He has been commissioned to paint countless politicians, authors and entertainers. He has illustrated ten children’s picture books, including The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, written by John Lithgow.”
Payne’s artwork has been exhibited at The Cincinnati Art Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, The Norman Rockwell Museum, The Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration, The Selby Gallery at Ringling College of Art and Design, and numerous college and university galleries.
“I have been an illustrator for 35 years with about 32 of those years working as a freelance artist,” said Payne. “What inspired me to be an illustrator was my desire to draw. As long as I can remember, drawing has always been part of my life. Illustration seemed to be the best place for me to make a living doing what I like best, drawing.”
Like most artists, the works of Walt Disney played a big part in Payne’s life. “Walt Disney played a large role, particularly when I was a child,” said Payne. “I wasn’t aware of the names of the talent Disney worked with to create his work, but the name Disney was there, and it always meant great work. I think it was later in college when first seeing Fantasia that I became more aware of the names of the animators in the Disney studio and began to pay more attention to them.”
Kelly McNutt is an animator, and his credits can be found on many projects in many fields. “I was born in Illinois and transplanted to Minnesota as a youthful scribbler,” said McNutt. “I started growing up when I was about ten years old and stopped when I was about fourteen, but kept up the scribbling. I live outside of Minneapolis with my beautiful, loving and exceedingly patient wife, our two beautiful daughters (awesome scribblers as well), and our supersonic pooch known as ‘Stripey.’”
Page 2 of 2 - An avid fan of Looney Tunes, McNutt has been at work for over a decade in animation. “I’ve been an animator for thirteen years,” said McNutt. “I’ve loved Looney Tunes and Silly Symphonies since I was old enough to remember. I’ve been a scribbler for even longer, and when I discovered that I too could be an animator—from some ad in the back of a comic book most likely—I knew from that day forward what I wanted to do.”
Buck Jones is a graduate of Truman State University in Kirksville, and has been a freelance artist for a number of years. “I earned a degree in Advertising Design from Truman State University, thinking that was how I could best utilize my talents as a cartoonist,” said Jones. “I married the love of my life a little over a year after college. And then in 1985, with her encouragement, I started my career as a full-time freelance humorous illustrator.”
Jones worked with Better Homes and Gardens Books, illustrating 25 or more children’s books. He has also worked for Petco, PetSmart, and has a website for animal lovers at www.petcartoongifts.com.
“I always enjoyed the creative side of life, and that came so much more natural to me,” said Jones. “The other side of my brain…not so much. I did OK in school, but it never came easy to me. Cartooning came naturally and was always fulfilling to me. I don’t remember ever wanting to be something else.”
Paul Coker is a legend in the world of art and animation, and has been an artist since 1956. He currently works for MAD Magazine. “I started freelancing in 1956,” said Coker. “What started me was encouragement from my teachers.”
Coker continued: “I am originally from Lawrence, Kansas and worked in a lot of places. In the Navy, I did visual training aids. I worked in Kansas City television, and Hallmark as a house artist. I also worked as a freelancer in Kansas City and New York.”