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Two Guys Named Joe

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Published on Jul 27, 2010

One Joe was in his 97th year when he died in 2005; the other Joe died the same year at age 45. Both died before their time. This book explores the interplay between personal creativity and the craft of animation storytelling, as seen through the lives and art of two of its greatest practicioners: Joe Grant and Joe Ranft.

Grant and Ranft were unique influences on storytelling at two major studios during important periods in the history of animation. Joe Grant, in fact, straddled two eras. A gifted newspaper caricaturist, he contributed ideas for Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony shorts and classic masterworks, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. As Walt Disney's confidant, Grant played a leading role in defining Disney's pioneering animation legacy. After a forty-year hiatus, he returned to the studio in his 81st year, his creative spirit and abilities undiminished, and made significant contributions to Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, and The Lion King, among others.

Joe Ranft built on the traditions of the past forged by Grant and others to become the top animation storyboard artist of his generation for Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Brave Little Toaster, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, James and the Giant Peach, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast, among other films. As one of Pixar's creative founders and a close friend to John Lasseter, Ranft had a major influence on the studio's signature originality, warmth and irreverent humor, through his contributions to Toy Story (1 & 2), A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., and Cars.

Inventive and imaginative, with keen insight into characters, they inspired colleagues and entertained audiences around the world. Although their combined careers span the Golden Age of traditional animation beginning in the 1930s at The Walt Disney Company and continuing into the present digital age at Pixar Animation Studios, their extraordinary contributions remain largely unknown to the public.

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