Joyce, William 1957- (Bill Joyce)

views updated

Joyce, William 1957- (Bill Joyce)

PERSONAL:

Born December 11, 1957; married; wife's name Elizabeth; children: Mary Katherine, Jack. Education: Graduated from Southern Methodist University.

ADDRESSES:

Office—howdy ink, 2911 Centenary Blvd., 2nd Fl., Shreveport, LA 71104; fax: 318-841-7324. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Illustrator and children's writer. Aimesworth Amusements, founding partner; artspace, artistic director; Robinson Film Center, mission board member. Columbia Pictures, producer and set designer for film Buddy, 1997; Blue Sky Studios, executive producer and production designer for the film Robots, released by Twentieth Century-Fox in 2005; creator of conceptual characters for other animated films, including Toy Story, 1995, and A Bug's Life, 1998, both produced by Pixar Animation Studios. Nelvana (production company), producer of the animated children's television series Rolie Polie Olie, broadcast by Disney Channel, beginning 1998; creator of the animated television series George Shrinks, originally aired by Public Broadcasting Service, 2000-02; executive producer and concept art contributor for the film Meet the Robinsons, released by Disney/Buena Vista, 2007. National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, board member, 1999—. Exhibitions: Artwork has appeared at museums and art galleries throughout the United States, including the traveling exhibition, "The World of William Joyce," National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, between 1998 and 2008.

MEMBER:

International Animated Film Society, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Society of Illustrators, Writers Guild of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Best Book Awards, School Library Journal, 1985, for George Shrinks, and 1992, for Bently & Egg; Redbook Award, 1987, and Christopher Award, best illustration, 1988, both for Humphrey's Bear; Best Illustrated Award, New York Times, 1989, for Nicholas Cricket; Parents' Choice Award, 1991, for A Day with Wilbur Robinson; merit award, George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, 1996, for Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo; silver medal, Society of Illustrators, 1992, for Bently & Egg, and c. 1993, for Santa Calls; Reading Magic Award, and selection among "100 books for reading and sharing," New York Public Library, both 1992, for Bently & Egg; selected as "notable children's book," American Library Association, 1993, for Bently & Egg, and 1994, for Santa Calls; gold award, Society of Illustrators, 1993, and selection for American Booksellers Association "pick of the lists," both for Santa Calls; Addy Awards, Shreveport/Bossier Advertising Federation, poster award, 1998, Image Award, 2005; Daytime Emmy Award nominations, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, best production design, 1999, and outstanding special class animated program category, 2000, Gemini Award, best animated program/series or short animation program, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, 1999, award of excellence, best animated program for preschoolers, 1999, Alliance for Children's Television, 1999, silver honor, and silver plaque, special achievement in animation, Chicago International Television Competition, 1999, all for the series Rolie Polie Olie; Platinum Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, 2001, children's choice selection, International Reading Association and Children's Book Council, both for Snowie Rolie; Centenary Laurel, Centenary College of Louisiana, 2002; Louisiana Governor's Arts Award, professional artist of the year, 2002; Annie Award nominations, International Animated Film Society, outstanding animated television production for children, 2002, for Rolie Polie Olie, and best character design in an animated feature production and best production design in an animated feature production, both 2005, for Robots; named Louisiana Legend, Louisiana Public Broadcasting and Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, both 2003; Golden Laurel Award nomination, motion picture producer of the year, animated film category, Producers Guild of America, 2005, selection as one of "top ten family films" of the year, 2005, 15th Annual Movieguide Awards, and Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award nomination, favorite animated movie, all for Robots; SMART Book Award, Start Making a Reader Today Program, 2004, for George Shrinks.

WRITINGS:

AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR

George Shrinks, Harper (New York, NY), 1985, special miniature edition, 1985.

Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, Harper (New York, NY), 1988.

A Day with Wilbur Robinson, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990, revised edition with new artwork, Laura Geringer Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Bently & Egg (Book-of-the-Month Club selection), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Santa Calls (Book-of-the-Month Club selection), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Buddy (middle-grade novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

The World of William Joyce Scrapbook, photographs by Philip Gould, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

Dinosaur Bob (board book), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Life with Bob (board book), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Baseball Bob (board book), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Rolie Polie Olie, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Snowie Rolie, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Sleepy Time Olie, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Zowie, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Spot, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Rocket Up, Rolie, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Big Time Olie, Laura Geringer Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Peekaboo, You!, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Rolie Polie Shapes, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Rolie Polie Olie and Friends: Friendship Box, Disney Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Joyce's books have been translated into French, Japanese, Spanish, Greek, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Korean.

ILLUSTRATOR:

Catherine Gray and James Gray, Tammy and the Gigantic Fish, Harper (New York, NY), 1983.

(Under name Bill Joyce) Marianna Mayer, reteller, My First Book of Nursery Tales: Five Mother Goose Stories, Random House (New York, NY), 1983.

Bethany Roberts, Waiting-for-Spring Stories, Harper (New York, NY), 1984.

Elizabeth Winthrop, Shoes, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

Jan Wahl, Humphrey's Bear, Holt (New York, NY), 1987.

Joyce Maxner, Nicholas Cricket, Harper (New York, NY), 1989.

Stephen Manes, Some of the Adventures of Rhode Island Red, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990.

Don't Wake the Princess: Hopes, Dreams, and Wishes, Scott, Foresman (Upper Saddle River, NJ), 1993.

Bill Hawley, A Wiggly, Jiggly, Joggly Tooth, Goodyear Publishing (Pacific Palisades, CA), 1994.

Michael Chabon, Summerland, Miramax (Burbank, CA), 2002.

Artwork represented in anthologies, including Children's Book Illustration and Design, edited by Julie Cummins, PBC International, 1992; The Very Best of Children's Book Illustration, Northern Lights Books, 1993; Wings of an Artist, by Julie Cummings, Harry Abrams, 1999; Pathways to Adventure, Harcourt, 2001; and The Milestones Project: Celebrating Childhood around the World, edited by Richard Steckel and Michele Steckel, Tricycle Press, 2004. Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including cover art for the New Yorker.

OTHER

(With Caroline Thompson) Buddy (screenplay; based on his book of the same title), Columbia Pictures, 1997.

Contributor to books, including preface to The Art of Robots by Amid Amidi, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2005. Contributor to the Little Lit comic book series produced by Raw Junior Comics.

ADAPTATIONS:

The 1996 book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs was adapted for the stage and produced as The Leaf Men, 1997. The animated film Meet the Robinsons, released by Buena Vista in 2007, is based on Joyce's book A Day with Wilbur Robinson. The book Dinosaur Bob was optioned by Walt Disney Feature Animation for development as a film; The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs is under development by Twentieth Century-Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios; Santa Calls was also optioned for film development. The television series Rolie Polie Olie was released on home video in the form of episode compilations, and was also the basis for the video movies Rolie Polie Olie: The Great Defender of Fun, 2002, and Rolie Polie Olie: The Baby Bot Chase, 2003. The book George Shrinks was adapted by Media Station for CD-ROM, 1994.

SIDELIGHTS:

Author-illustrator William Joyce has a dream: to be remembered for "a significant contribution to the cause of global silliness," as he told Sally Lodge in a Publishers Weekly interview. In books such as Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, Bently & Egg, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, Buddy, and Rolie Polie Olie, Joyce presents characters and settings that are colorful, magical, and slightly wacky. Joyce's cast of players includes such unique characters as a baseball-playing dinosaur, a frog who can sing and paint, a little boy who wakes up one morning to find himself becoming very small, an aging socialite who keeps a menagerie that includes 300 St. Bernards and two gorillas on her New York estate, and a billiard-ball-shaped robot who loves doing the rumba in his underwear. Drawing on a wide range of influences, ranging from artists Maxfield Parrish, Maurice Sendak, and N.C. Wyeth to Technicolor movies, Joyce imbues his illustrations with vivid colors and painstaking detail. In Joyce's world, it is perfectly normal for a city family to adopt a friendly dinosaur or a "dull day" at a friend's house to include entertainment by jazz-playing frogs and a robot butler. Malcolm Jones, Jr., writing in Newsweek, summed up the author's appeal by noting that "looniness is Joyce's briar patch…. Reading Joyce is like hanging out with that slightly raffish uncle who came to town a couple of times a year, the one who drank martinis … and always kept a few cherry bombs in the bottom of his suitcase. He was the guy who taught you that fun is the most important thing you can have."

Joyce became interested in drawing and storytelling at an early age. "I loved to draw and I loved to make things up," Joyce once told CA. "I always took play a little more seriously … and I always liked to be the guy who got into the story part of the adventure." He received his first artistic kudos for a pictorial rendition of a dog and cat; soon after this success, Joyce moved on to bigger subjects, such as rampaging dinosaurs lopping off the heads and arms of cavemen. Joyce noted that, when sketching these later works, he "always ran out of red crayon and red pen faster than anything because of all the gore and blood."

Joyce wrote his first successful story while still in grade school. "Billy's Booger" chronicles the adventures of a young boy who "sneezes up" a talkative—and very smart—booger. Over the years, Billy's jovial, diminutive, "green and sort of slimy" pal has become a popular part of the author's school visits. Joyce observes in his interview: "Pandemonium ensues when I start drawing him…. [Billy's Booger] appeals to that sense of grotesque kids seem to love." Joyce's story of Billy and his pal—and the trouble that story got him into at school—will reportedly form the basis of an upcoming picture book.

While he enjoyed reading and watching movies and television, Joyce had ambivalent feelings about school—with the exception of art classes. "I hated [school] and loved it…. I hated getting up in the morning. I hated having to go there every day. I hated having to study. I hated having to sit there and learn mathematics…. I liked the social aspect of school—I mean I had a blast—but I hated the tyranny of learning," he recalled to CA. A self-admitted daydreamer, Joyce spent a lot of time imagining himself as a secret agent, until he realized that "secret agents sometimes get killed and kiss girls."

Joyce eventually decided to study filmmaking and illustration at Southern Methodist University. Part of his decision was based on a longtime fascination with movie imagery. "I got into movies," he told CA. "There were extraordinary things like Oz, Robin Hood, King Kong…. I was completely swept away…. Picture books and movies have a lot in common in that they both tell their stories visually in color, movement, and composition. Often, when I'm working on my books, it plays as a movie in my head."

Joyce began sending samples of his work to publishers before his graduation from college; within a short time, he received a number of contracts for his illustrations. While happy to gain the practical experience, Joyce eventually found himself becoming a bit frustrated. He noted in his interview: "I began to enjoy it less and less as it went on. I began to work more and more of my own stories into [the assignments]."

Joyce wrote his first self-illustrated book in 1985. George Shrinks tells the story of a little boy who wakes up one day to find that he has shrunk several sizes. Instead of panicking, George uses a number of ingenious tricks to get his daily chores done, including feeding his goldfish by diving into their bowl and saddling his baby brother to take out the trash. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Ralph Keyes called the story "a thoroughly charming piece of work." He added that the book's minimalist prose is "a perfect foil for Mr. Joyce's whimsical, perceptive illustrations." John Cech, reviewing this debut book in Washington Post Book World, noted that "Joyce gives this well-worn fantasy situation new wrinkles through illustrations that are generous in their sense of humor, character and clever pace." Cech went on to observe that these elements "hold the reader in the spell of young George's adventures."

Joyce introduced one of his most popular characters in the follow-up to George Shrinks, Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo. Bob the dinosaur meets the Lazardos during their annual safari in Africa. The entire family is so taken by the gentle giant that they invite him to live with them in beautiful Pimlico Hills. Once he is happily settled in his new home, the good-natured dinosaur's baseball-playing skills make him popular with the entire neighborhood; unfortunately, his enthusiasm for chasing cars eventually gets him into trouble with the local police. After a series of adventures-on-the-lam, Bob is reunited with his adopted family and all is well. In a review of Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo for the New York Times Book Review, Mordecai Richler commented that Bob is "the most adorable of dinos." Richler also noted that Joyce "managed the illustrations with considerable panache. His artwork makes it clear why Bob is such a hit with the Lazardos." A Time reviewer observed that "William Joyce's plot and pictures provide laughter, thrills, and most important, a happy ending." Several reviewers drew attention to Joyce's apparent love of Deco camp. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted the "illustrational style reminiscent of 1920s magazine advertising," while Michael Dirda commented in Washington Post Book World, "Not quite tongue-in-cheek, the story nonetheless offers up a number of little touches of Depression-era culture." Included among these are homages to Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Bob the dinosaur himself, who "acts rather like a more benign King Kong, as he travels down the Nile." Dinosaur Bob has inspired three board-book spin-offs, Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, Life with Bob, and Baseball Bob.

Joyce added to his repertoire of unique characters in A Day with Wilbur Robinson, which was based on some of the more unusual goings-on in his family. An eye-popping adventure full of music, magic, and mystery, Wilbur Robinson centers on a boy's day-long visit with his friend's unorthodox family. Action is the name of the game at the Robinson abode, where Uncle Art regales listeners with tales about his escapades in outer space and giant goldfish mingle with dog-riding frogs. In his commentary on Wilbur Robinson for the New York Times Book Review, David Leavitt wrote: "Painted in such a realistic way, the bizarre events in the pictures seem appealingly plausible…. This is a charming, new-fangled, old-fashioned book." Michael Cart, reviewing the book in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, wrote that "Joyce is arguably the most original talent working in the children's-book field today. Who else could have created a family as endearingly wacky as the Robinsons?"

The drawings in Bently & Egg marked a departure for Joyce. Instead of his usual palette of bold colors, Joyce utilizes soft watercolor pastels reminiscent of Beatrix Potter's "Peter Rabbit" tales to tell the story of the frog Bently Hopperton and his efforts to save a duck friend's egg. Whether guarding the egg or sailing in a balloon, Bently's ingenuity never fails him. Jones, writing in Newsweek, found the high-spirited adventures of Joyce's amphibious protagonist highly enjoyable, calling the book "every bit as zestful as its predecessors…. Bently is never at a loss. Jubilantly resourceful, he has a swell time being a hero." Horn Book contributor Nancy Vasilakis described the "playful language" as "full-bodied and musical," explaining that it is "a pleasure to read aloud." Cathy Collison noted the gentle, soft illustrations, writing in the Detroit Free Press that the artwork is "on the Caldecott Medal level."

Joyce's next book, Santa Calls, is "an extravagant homage to Hollywood as much as to the holidays," according to Roger Sutton in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Art Atchinson Aimesworth and his adoring little sister Esther live with their aunt and uncle, who run a Wild West show. Art is too busy dreaming of invention, adventure, and heroism to be nice or even pay attention to Esther—until the day Santa sends a mysterious message to their Texas home asking them to come north. When Esther is seized by the Queen of the Dark during their travels, Art insists he will rescue her alone—and does, in a madcap adventure reminiscent of Hollywood serials. "Joyce combines fast-paced narrative with his witty, infectious illustrations, which … look like a child's Technicolor dreams," Michael Anderson remarked in the New York Times Book Review. "The whole book has a 1930s feel," Ilene Cooper explained in Booklist, "from the stylized art to the very nature of the adventure, with its overtones of Saturday movie serials." Jane Marino concluded in School Library Journal that Santa Calls is "a tour de force that should not be missed."

Joyce's next book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, had its genesis in a story the artist told his young daughter. As he related to Lodge in Publishers Weekly, he had just returned home after caring for a terminally ill friend. "I was sad and she could tell. She asked me to tell her a story, which is something she almost never asks and something I almost never do. And The Leaf Men tumbled out of my mouth, pretty much fully formed. Months later I realized that the story was about loss and how memories of people you've lost who are dear to you can keep them alive."

The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs tells of the battle for both the life of an elderly woman and the health of her garden. When the woman takes ill, she is confined to bed and unable to tend her garden. Her rosebush grows sickly at the same time, and the insects in the garden decide to summon the mysterious Leaf Men to help them battle the evil Spider Queen and restore the garden. While a Reading Time contributor noted that "there are multiple layers to this complex story," other critics found that Joyce's "characteristically offbeat and occasionally eerie illustrations carry the day," as a Publishers Weekly writer stated. In a Booklist review, Susan Dove Lempke noted the artist's unique perspective which presents characters "depicted in lush green, enticing paintings filled with fascinating detail."

Although very busy with writing and illustrating books, Joyce has found time to do work in motion pictures as well. He was one of several illustrators who contributed designs to the Disney computer-animated film Toy Story, and he cowrote and coproduced the 1997 film Buddy, a real-life story about Gertrude Lintz, an eccentric socialite who attempted to raise a gorilla on her New York estate in the 1930s. Buddy was also turned into a chapter book. "I came across Mrs. Lintz's life by accident while researching something else," Joyce told Lodge. "I was thrilled, since it blends my three big enthusiasms: the 1930s, King Kong, and eccentric households." Lintz raised the gorilla named Buddy only to discover the animal was not made for city living. Joyce adapted his tale from this actual situation.

In the book, Buddy sports ties, eats at a formal table, and shops at Bergdorf's. Gertie raises him from infancy and takes him with her everywhere she goes. But on a trip to the World's Fair in 1933, she finally realizes that Buddy cannot deal with the close quarters of even the most sumptuous of hotels. He makes a bid for freedom on the African Safari ride at the Fair, and this finally lets Gertie know that her charge is ready for a change of life. She decides to sacrifice her feelings and finds the perfect environment for him at the Philadelphia Zoo. Carol Ann Wilson, writing in School Library Journal, commented, "Youngsters will empathize with Gertie, who must wistfully temper her childlike enthusiasm when faced with reality." Wilson also drew attention to Joyce's "sepia-toned drawings" which "serve as visual vignettes of the period." Booklist contributor Cooper noted that the "whole book has the deco feel of the 1930s in which the events took place."

Joyce told Lodge, "No matter what happens, I know I always have three or four books in the works to come home to." One of those books was the The World ofWilliam Joyce Scrapbook, an assemblage of "interesting tidbits and artistic insights," according to Booklist contributor Cooper, that "will be of particular interest to budding artists."

In 1999 Joyce published a picture book titled Rolie Polie Olie. Based on an Emmy Award-winning television program of the same name that Joyce produced, the book tells the tale of a round robot living on a planet where everything, but everything is round. For the projects, Joyce and his friends collaborated with 300 animators on several continents to develop computerized animation over the Internet to tell the story of his intergalactic robots. In the book, after a day of adventures with his family, including mom, dad, sister Zowie, and dog Spot, Olie is too excited to go to bed. Dancing in his underpants and having fun with chores have taken their toll. Michael Cart, writing in Booklist, called the book "a sweet, spirited story, told in verse." The characters are all spherical, with bodies reminiscent of billiard balls, while computer-generated backgrounds add a sort of three-dimensional, science fiction look to the enterprise.

Joyce has said that many of his story and character ideas come "out of nowhere." "I'll see something that will trigger a series of thoughts or I'll just have some odd phrase words at the back of my mind," he told CA. "At some point, something strikes my fancy from my past, and ends up being in a book." Joyce often turns to his family for inspiration; in fact, he noted that the development of characters is often a family affair: "Elizabeth [his wife] actually posed for a lot of my characters…. My nephews would pose for me, my dad would pose for me, whoever's around. I'll say ‘Stand here, put on this cap, do this.’" Joyce's works appeal to both young and old. "They strike a playful chord that grownups remember from their own childhoods," Joyce told CA. "[The books] … harken back to the sort of shared popular culture that we all grew up with on television—Flash Gordon from the thirties, the Stooges from the forties, Bugs Bunny from the fifties. Growing up watching television, you would see this constant barrage of cool stuff … it's become a sort of shared sensibility." Jones voiced the sentiment of a legion of the author-illustrator's fans in Newsweek: "Once you enter Joyce's world, you'll never want to leave."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Children's Literature Review, Volume 26, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.

St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 1993, Ilene Cooper, review of Santa Calls, p. 2060; October 1, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, pp. 358-359; August, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Buddy, p. 1901; January 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of The World of William Joyce Scrapbook, p. 805; November 1, 1999, Michael Cart, review of Rolie Polie Olie; August 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of A Day with Wilbur Robinson, p. 88.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1993, Roger Sutton, review of Santa Calls, pp. 48-49; September, 1997, p. 165; February, 1998, p. 208.

Detroit Free Press, March 18, 1992, Cathy Collison, review of Bently & Egg.

Horn Book, March-April, 1992, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Bently & Egg, pp. 191-192.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 25, 1990, Michael Cart, "Picture Windows to the World," pp. 24-25.

Newsweek, March 16, 1992, Malcolm Jones, Jr., "Make Room for Bently," p. 72; March 14, 2005, Malcolm Jones, review of Robots, p. 50.

New York Times Book Review, December 29, 1985, Ralph Keyes, review of George Shrinks, p. 23; November 13, 1988, Mordecai Richler, review of Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, p. 60; November 11, 1990, David Leavitt, "Can I Go Over to Wilbur's?," p. 29; December 19, 1993, Michael Anderson, review of Santa Calls, p. 16.

Publishers Weekly, June 24, 1988, review of Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, p. 111; July 15, 1996, review of The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, p. 73; September 16, 1996, Sally Lodge, "William Joyce Goes Hollywood—Sort Of," pp. 28-29.

Reading Time, May, 1997, review of The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, p. 22.

School Library Journal, October, 1993, Jane Marino, review of Santa Calls, pp. 44-45; January, 1997, p. 37; August, 1997, Carol Ann Wilson, review of Buddy, p. 136.

Time, December 12, 1988, review of Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, p. 87.

Washington Post Book World, November 10, 1985, John Cech, "A Palette of Picture Books," pp. 19, 22; October 9, 1988, Michael Dirda, review of Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, pp. 10-11.

ONLINE

William Joyce Home Page,http://www.williamjoyce.com (January 22, 2008).

About this article

Joyce, William 1957- (Bill Joyce)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article