This year’s Toonfest is bringing artists from around the country to Marceline for a weekend celebration starting Sept. 15.
The annual festival brings the artists to Marceline each year to meet the town and talk about how they were inspired by Walt Disney.
Toonfest 2018 will feature three cartoonists and one sculptor who grew up with Disney and have been inspired by his work. Ken Alvine, Kent Melton, Liza Donnelly and Paul Trap are the featured artists for Toonfest this year.
Melton is originally from Springfield, Mo. and through a chance meeting, ended up working for the Disney Company and has sculpted many memorable characters. Melton and his wife Martha moved to California, so he could try to get a job working at Disney. After two years of trying, Melton finally received a call in the early 90s for an interview.
According to Melton, it was the call he had been waiting for.
“It was a dream come true,” Melton said.
Melton was brought on to work on Disney’s Aladdin to sculpt the cave of wonders. It was the first computer animated Disney character, but the team needed help sculpting the figure. Since then, Melton has created memorable characters from the Lion King, the Incredibles, Tarzan and many more Disney and Pixar films.
Melton says he enjoys the process of working on characters.
“My favorite character is whichever one I’m currently working on,” Melton said. “I look back at my work and often want to make changes.”
Melton like many others grew up with Disney. Melton’s first animated movie experience was with "Pinocchio." Melton has visited Marceline previously and has been to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. Melton is excited to come back and put some of his sculptures on display.
While other kids wanted to be a firefighter, or a doctor, Liza Donnelly grew up wanting to be a cartoonist. Donnelly grew up in Washington D.C. and was inspired at an early age by Disney and political cartoonists of the time.
Donnelly sold her first cartoon back in 1978 to National Lampoon. After that, Doonelly moved to New York to follow her dream.
“I didn’t think I could make a living from cartoons,” Donnelly said. “I came to New York and fell in love with cartoons and art.”
Donnelly has been creating political cartoons for the New Yorker, CBS and CNN to name a few, since the late 1970s. Recently, Donnelly has taken up the art form of live drawing. She uses an Ipad to make cartoons live for companies and organizations.
Donnelly says she’s happy to be in Marceline.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing where Walt Disney grew up, meeting the people and meeting many new artists,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly’s favorite Disney character is Donald Duck. She also remembers going as Mary Poppins one Halloween when she was younger.
Paul Trap started his comic strip “Thatababy,” in 2010. Since then, the strip has grown and is now even featured in the Linn County Leader.
According to Trap, his son was very active.
“He was like the child that never slept,” Trap said.
It was in those early years, Trap got many of the stories and the idea for “Thatababy.” The strip follows Thatababy teaching the audience and his parents, it has been described by Trap as parenting through the eyes of a baby.
Now 25, Trap’s son is in the Peace Corp and has also started cartooning.
Trap remembers growing up with Disney, watching the Disney Show on Sunday nights. He’s still a fan of the animated movies and is happy to come to Marceline Saturday.
Ken Alvine began cartooning at a young age and continued with it making it his career. In 1965, Alvine went to work in all areas of cartooning. The majority of his work has been creating cartoon spokespeople for companies and organizations.
Alvine started his ad agency Creative Comics in the 1970s. His first big project was working on brochure graphics for the Boeing 747 project. Since then, Alvine has created memorable characters like Digger the Prairie Dog and Tommy the Turtle who both narrate safety books given to school children.
Recently, Alvine purchased a vintage advertising company from Arizona. The company produced almanacs and calendars for drug stores. After purchasing the company, he realized he had unintentionally purchased about 500 original vintage works of art. Alvine will have some of the pieces of art on display and will talk about the vintage advertising art at Toonfest.
Toonfest begins Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. with a parade on Main Street USA. There will be events set up in Ripley Park, Walsworth Community Center, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum and at the Knights of Columbus hall. Craft, novelty and food booths will be set up in Ripley Park starting at 9 a.m. There will also be a Yellow Creek pirate adventure, barnyard olympics and steam locomotive talk happening in the park. Walsworth Community Center will host a princess tea party at 10:50 a.m., with the 13th annual international cartoon art show and silent auction and the cartoon symposium following. The Walt Disney Hometown Museum will have tours from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Knights of Columbus hall located at 217 N. Main Street USA will be serving food all day Saturday.