Wantu Animation Tag

Jim Simon-Black is Beautiful 18

Jim Simon is an artist and animator. He is the first African American to found his own studio called Wantu Animation. He worked on films/shows such as Fat Albert, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Smurf’s, X-Men, Vegetable Soup, Sesame Street, The California Raisins, Peter Pan, Sonic the Hedgehog, and he animated the opening credits to “Soul Train”! He was featured as an up and coming business man in Black Enterprise in 1977. Wantu was making nearly 100 short animations in the late 70’s for which, they received over 25 awards. Despite the awards in the early days, Simon had to go to work for the bigger companies to survive.  He had to put his studio Wantu (which would focus on content featuring African American stories) on hold, probably drained financially and emotionally from projects or studios that were not interested in Black characters. Simon left animation, went homeless for many years and stopped making art all together. It wasn’t until the last ten years that he returned to making art, and is now living in San Diego. I salute him because he was a pioneer in the art form. Today I see brothers like LeSean Thomas, Carl Jones, and Everett Downing out there today trying to extend the path. Shout out to “African American Animators Past & Present” who got me hip to Jim and so many other folks.
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