|Michael Hodgson (photo by Jennifer Kellu)
In my interview last week with film and landscape artist, Michael Humphries (Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Lion King), he recommended that I reach out to layout artist, Michael Hodgson. Hodgson, who is now happily retired from the film business, knew Ron through various animation projects in the 1980's. Michael Humphries, however, did not have Hodgson's contact information, and my efforts to contact him were all but spent. Until this past Thursday night...
Before turning in for bed, I found myself browsing through photos of my 2012 vacation to California's west coast with my wife, Shannon. While there, we traveled two hours south of San Francisco to finally meet Ron Dias in person at his Marina home. My contact with Ron prior to then was limited to phone. Our friendship began when he aided me in conducting research on animation artist, Dick Kelsey, in 2010. During our 2012 visit to his home, Ron led us on a tour of his personal studio, and permitted me to take as many pictures as I wanted. As I was looking at these photos on Thursday night, I came across one picturing a shelf in the rear of Ron's studio. On the shelf were packages Ron was preparing to mail out to fans and friends (which he was known to do). Out of curiosity, I zoomed in on the mailing label to one of the packages. To my amazement, it was addressed to none other than, Michael Hodgson, and right above it was his phone number!
Good ol' Ron!
Given the three hour time difference between me in Pennsylvania and Hodgson in California, I called him then and there that night. Our brief chat not only led to a 45 minute phone interview yesterday, but a follow-up email from Hodgson sharing the following art he's recently finished for fun (click on each for a larger view):
I found Mr. Hodgson to be not only warm and friendly throughout the interview, but as giving as Ron Dias was when it came to emphasizing his love for animation and art. We ended our conversation with a promise to keep in touch as my research on Ron unfolds. Wherever and whenever the biography on Ron is published, I know it will be all the more stronger thanks to Michael Hodgson's generosity and history in animation.