THE SCOOP ON PANELS at SDCC 2016: One Girl’s Story of Building Panels Celebrating Women, Diversity, and Wisdom in Animation – Animation Scoop

THE SCOOP ON PANELS at SDCC 2016: One Girl’s Story of Building Panels Celebrating Women, Diversity, and Wisdom in Animation

It has only been a few months since I started writing for Animation Scoop, and even a shorter time since I’ve had my own column Animation Insights. On the other hand, I’ve been planning my panels at Comic-Con International: San Diego this year almost since my return flight landed last July. Still, as the moderator and creator of two animation-specific panels, I chose to describe myself as Leslie Combemale of Animation Scoop.


When I first started creating panels for SDCC over ten years ago, part of the plan was to expanded awareness of my art gallery ArtInsights. Of course having titles like Superstars of 60s Cartoons, Looney Tunes Legacy, and Disney Animators: The Power of 2D in a 3D World clearly positioned me as someone who wanted to educate fans and promote artists as well, and that was true! I also love giving a platform to the wealth of knowledge many aging animators and animation professionals carry from there fascinating and phenomenal careers. A funny thing, though, while Jerry Beck (now my editor and colleague at Animation Scoop) attended the panels, he later told me he discarded my title and never even looked up my gallery. While people often wrote me emails and came up to me to thank me for the panels, it certainly never led to any more clients for my gallery.

As it turns out, I’m fine with that. I find more and more peace with my split between my two lives, one as an animation and film art gallery owner, the other as a passionate advocate, film critic, and writer on the subject of animation. Thank goddess, people still find and support my gallery (often from other parts of the world) from word of mouth, and the various shows and events we do. As for the work I do as a writer and interviewer, so far, Jerry has been kind enough to not only allow me to interview some fascinating artists and creators in the industry, but he has also let me focus on women and diversity in animation.

With that in mind, let me tell you about these two panels:

The first, on Thursday at 4:30, is Cartoon Creatives: Women Power in Animation. Here is the description listed online on the comic-con website:

While Women in Animation’s initiative strives to have a 50/50 workforce in the animation world by 2025, there are women leading the charge right now, creating, innovating, and guiding cartoons into a future filled with talent that goes beyond gender, and their fans are loving every minute of it. Scheduled to appear are Lauren Faust (creator, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Brooke Keesling (director of animation talent development at Disney TV Animation), Lauren Montgomery (co-executive producer, Voltron: Legendary Defender), Stevie Wermers-Skelton (co-director, the upcomingFrozen Holiday Special), Gina Shay (producer, the upcoming Trolls), Katie Krentz (senior director of development: Cartoon Network, Steven Universe), Daron Nefcy (creator/executive producer, Star vs. the Forces of Evil) and Marge Dean (co-president, Women in Animation), talking about their experiences and upcoming projects. Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Animation Scoop. Room 24ABC

Lauren Faust

Lauren Faust

What I can tell you is that with as many people as are taking part and were involved in helping build this panel, by offering to be on it as a panelist themselves, or offering the time of some of the most creative women working inside their studio or network, this panel came together beautifully. Everyone I asked wanted to make it happen. I found that telling and indicative of a genuine desire across the industry to welcome and make way for the 50/50 workforce WIA is so committed to promoting. As someone who talks to publicists, agents, and studio reps on a regular basis, and find myself often rebuffed in the live action genres, this has been incredibly heartening. Cartoon Creatives is meant to be a yearly event to promote the projects and successes of women working in the industry. I believe it will offer a great voice and create buzz in a way that will help that 50/50 goal. To those who ask why we might need such a panel, come hear these women speak, especially Marge Dean of Women in Animation, and you’ll get your answer. I hope i’ll see some of you there and perhaps meet some of you! To those who would love to see it but won’t be attending the con or get trapped at the end of the line trying to get in, we will have a recording that we’ll post on my YouTube channel, here on Animation Scoop, and on my own gallery website!

(also, for those of you who are interested in women in film, I wrote an article listing all the woman-centric panels at SDCC, including my third panel “Women Rocking Hollywood” which is on Saturday, and you can find it HERE).

The second panel, happening on Friday at 1:30, is also exciting to me, because I love talking to people important to the history of animation! It’s Cartoon Legends Speak: Diversity in the History of Animation:

A panel featuring great artists including Disney Legend, and first African-American animator hired at Walt Disney Studios, Floyd Norman (The Jungle Book, Monsters, Inc), first African-American animator to get a screen credit and award winning illustrator Ron Husband (The Rescuers, The Little Mermaid), Japanese-American and Inkpot winner Willie Ito (Lady & the Tramp, The Flintstones), Jane Baer (Sleeping Beauty, Roger Rabbit) and Emmy Award winning Mexican-American Phil Roman (Sleeping Beauty, The Simpsons) discuss their careers, their futures, and how diversity has played a role in their artistic lives. Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Animation Scoop. Room: 24ABC

Floyd Norman

Floyd Norman

As many of you know, there is a documentary about to be released about Floyd Norman’s life. Later in the day there is a panel specific to that documentary, but in this one Floyd is part of a really great group of animators, most of whom started working at Disney in the 50s! I’m fascinated by the stories these artists have told to me already and look forward to how they’ll interact with each other and the audience at SDCC. In the world of animation, eventually everyone works with everyone else, and this is true for our panelists as well. I remember a few years ago just before SDCC I met up with my panelists from the “Superstars of 60s Cartoons” at The Smoke House across from Warner Bros. Studios, where they used to have martini lunches in the 1950s. Seriously if that was the only result I had gotten from the work putting together that panel, it would’ve been worth it! Of course it’s always wonderful to hear from the elder statespeople of the industry but I’m sure this Cartoon Legends Speak panel will be worth it for the anecdotes alone! Again, if you can’t make it, I’ll be posting a video of the panel shortly after the convention.

I’ve said in the past that having panels at Comic-Con International is like repeatedly herding cats, (last year’s 2-D animation panel had many hundreds of people in line who didn’t get in, including some well-known animators!) but I love cats, so as long as there are fascinating professionals and veterans on which to shine a spotlight, I’m going to keep at it…only now it will be as part of Animation Scoop!

Meanwhile, let me know if you’re planning to be there, and if any if you have any questions you’d like to ask any of these panelists let me know below and we will see if we can make that happen! See you in San Diego!

for Animation Scoop

Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale

Leslie is a freelance film critic and interviewer at She began representing artists and animation art in 1988, co-founding ArtInsights in 1994.
Leslie Combemale
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