It's not often that one gets to work with a genuine pioneer, even if only in a small way. I'm talking of animation historian, Michael Barrier, who turned 70 yesterday, 16 June 2010. I feel honored for his generous correspondence over the past several years and for the fact he has published some of my thoughts at his website.
From Amid Amidi's tribute at Cartoon Brew:
Barrier began interviewing animation artists in the late-1960s, and by the 1980s, he (along with his Los Angeles-based research partner Milt Gray) had recorded the most comprehensive collection of interviews with artists from the Golden Age of theatrical animation. To put his work into perspective, when he started chronicling the lives of these artists, few film critics took animation seriously, and even fewer regarded the classic Hollywood cartoons as a field worthy of study. In the face of such indifference, Michael had the audacity to not only interview the famous directors but hundreds of little known artists who contributed to the success of Hollywood theatrical cartoons ranging from animators and layout artists to cameramen and composers.
The spade work Barrier's done will serve us for generations. It's a real contribution to the study of cartoons and animation and, through that, to the crafts themselves. Without a sure knowledge of the past, we cannot advance with confidence into the future.