I can’t say that I really knew Michal Sporn, the superb animation producer and director, but he was certainly a colleague, and I kept thinking about him this past week as I’ve been posting about Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. I only met him twice, once at his 2007 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (where I also met Michael Barrier), and more recently at the 2012 Tissa David memorial. But his animation blog, Splog, was on my daily circuit for years and I learned a great deal from his thoughtful and often long and detailed posts about animation. I would post notices of his posts and ideas at New Savanna and he was kind enough to post notices of some of my work. We also corresponded a bit. That makes us colleagues.
What brought him to mind? I’ve not been posting much about animation in the last two or three years, but got back to it with Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. That’s what brought Michael to mind. I want to talk to him about that film, but I can’t because he’s no longer here.
I’d like to talk with Tim Perper too. Tim is the one who introduced me to manga and anime. As near as I can figure we met online sometime in the late 1990s in a list serve about memetics and we began emailing on intellectual matters of mutual interest. A bit over ten years ago he suggested that I see Spirited Away – and I was, blown away. At some point I included him in my annual holiday visits to Philadelphia to see me sister. We’d spend several hours chatting about manga and anime. I’d love to talk with Tim about The Wind Rises. What would he think about Miyazaki’s choice of a protagonist who’s best known at the designer of a deadly Japanese fighter plane? Would he have anything to say about the relatively minor fact that Horikoshi loved to smoke, as Tim did?
David Hays smoked as well; it killed him two decades ago. He was my teacher in graduate school in the 1970s and we became colleagues after I got my degree. We corresponded a great deal, co-authored a number of papers, and I visited him often in New York City. As I didn’t become interested in animation until a decade after he’d died we didn’t talk about it much. Given that we talked about many things, film included, I assume that we must have said something about animation at some time or another, but I don’t recall any actual conversation, like I recall a conversation we had after seeing Citizen Kane – technically brilliant, but heartless, we thought. But I can’t see why he wouldn’t have enjoyed talking animation. He liked the circus, the ballet, literature, music, art, how could he not like Hayao Miyazaki or Disney for that matter?
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Now THAT would be a conversation: Michael Sporn, Tim Perper, and David Hays on animation. And me. It would have gone on for hours, perhaps lubricated by a bit of alcohol – I don’t know about Michael or Tim, but Dave and I favored scotch. Perhaps a good meal – Dave was an excellent cook and I can peal asparagus, even while sipping scotch. Tim and Dave could blow smoke rings and Michael . . . alas, I didn’t know him well enough to speculate about his comportment at such a gathering. Surely, though, he would have been a superb conversationalist. It would have been a grand evening.