Some of you have been around for two decades with us. Others are fairly new here. Most came somewhere in between! But whenever you joined us, how well do you actually know the writers who bring you Animated Views? For our 20th anniversary, the AV staff answers 20 questions about the site, their opinions, and themselves…
JAMES: I’m a day one-er!
BEN: Along with James, I’m a founding member, predating the site when we launched Animated News to pick up from the original Animated Movies site. I knew Rand from another reviews site and we melded things to become Animated News & Views first, then shortening to the Animated Views now celebrating 20 years!
DACEY: 2005. If I recall correctly, the first thing I did was start a discussion thread for Pooh’s Heffalump Movie of all things.
RANDALL: I was brought in by Ben and James in 2006 to help create editorial content, when Animated News was evolving into Animated Views. I had previously met Ben while we worked for another (now defunct) website.
DAN: March 2008. I posted on the forum that Lou Romano was going to be dropping by my alma matar, Platt College, to talk about his work.
DACEY: Toy Story That Time Forgot, which still gets repeat viewings at my household every holiday. It’s a fun time. “Batttlesaurs! Battlesaurs! BATTLESAURS!!!”
DAN: Dragons: Race To The Edge. A very positive review, at the time, and frankly I think the series managed to hold up pretty well since.
RANDALL: Bah, Humduck! (a Looney Tunes direct-to-video title).
BEN: Having converted many previous reviews for our launch so that we had an instant stack, I don’t recall the exact first review I did for what was then AN&V, but I do remember an early Herculean effort was to cover the two-disc DVD edition of Finding Nemo, which really did take some doing!
JAMES: I had a trial by fire having my first review be Happily N’Ever After in 2007.
DACEY: 2nd place. Ironically, I didn’t even watch the ceremony that year, but I would have landed in first if I had just guessed that the James Bond song would win, which seems inevitable in hindsight.
BEN: I’m somewhat embarrassed to say I think I’m usually in or near the top ten-ish of everyone who enters, and again embarrassingly beat out the rest of my AV colleagues.
DAN: I recall being tied for third one year. Can’t remember exact placement or year, though.
JAMES: I’ve run an Oscar contest every year since the early 1990s, but the best I’ve been able to do here in two decades is a pathetic 22nd!
RANDALL: Oh, I’m usually near the bottom. I don’t think I’ve ever cracked the top half.
DAN: I wanna say around 3000, but I may be going over by a thousand or so.
DACEY: Thousands. And thousands.
BEN: As well as the posts to the site itself, we used to write weekly newsletter roundups, so those would shoot the number up, too. It’s a pretty impossible number to guess, but it’s big!
JAMES: One of us had to look up the answer. According to our site statistics, we have published 19,764 posts, including this one!
DACEY: “I loved Happy Feet“. (I even enjoyed its weird and often forgotten sequel.)
JAMES: “Studios should stop including slipcovers on Blu-rays.”
DAN: “Guess who I got to meet at Comic Con this year?”
RANDALL: “Superman Returns was the best Superman movie ever”. (I do not believe this, by the way. Ben and I both despise the film. But if you ever want to make him mad—!)
BEN: I don’t like making people mad for the sake of it, but I do lament how much mediocrity is celebrated by some of my colleagues here. Opinion is opinion, natch, but I am usually right (wink!).
BEN: Superman: The Movie. It has everything, and whenever the world gets too much, that transports me back to being five years old, before real life came along. It’s my Rosebud.
RANDALL: Superman: The Movie. It rocked my world at age eight, and remains one of the most influential things in my life, ever.
DAN: The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Everything just came together so beautifully and it remains a magnificent achievement in cinema that leaves me in awe everytime I watch.
JAMES: Mary Poppins. Cliché, but practically perfect in every way.
DACEY: Children Of Men
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DACEY: DON’T MAKE ME PICK JUST ONE!!!!
DAN: Princess Mononoke. Hands down, the absolute best animated feature I’ve seen and will probably ever see. About as perfect as an animated film can get.
RANDALL: I hate trying to pick a favorite, but I’ll go with Fantasia. For modern films, Into The Spider-Verse really wowed me.
BEN: From the Golden Age, Pinocchio, for its unbeaten virtuosity; later Peter Pan for its heart and entertainment value, One Hundred And One Dalmatians (not 101!) for its jump to modernism, and Aladdin from the Renaissance era.
JAMES: Beauty And The Beast. I’m not one to save ticket stubs, but I knew this film was something special as soon as it was over so kept it afterwards. I saw it six more times during its original run, and several times in re-release, and have every single ticket stub from every showing!
JAMES: Superman: The Movie. It didn’t have as big an impact on me as Randall and Ben, but I still distinctly remember the moment Superman dons the costume and flies towards the camera for the first time!
BEN: The Rescuers, at the Studio 70 cinema, opposite Elstree Studios, in 1977, while my sister was being born!
DACEY: The Jungle Book (during a re-release! I ain’t that old!).
DAN: My head is kinda scrambled when it comes to answering this. The best answer that I could come up with was, of all things, The Adventures Of Milo And Otis. What can I say, being a little kid I was totally in on a film about a tabby and a pug.
DACEY: Instead of repeating my previous answer, I’ll mention the first one I actually paid attention to the entire time, which was 101 Dalmatians in 1991. It was my favorite movie until Aladdin opened the following year (and then Homeward Bound became my favorite shortly after that).
DAN: Again, I’m kinda scrambled regarding this. The best I can remember would be An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. I remember seeing that a number of times in the theatre, that’s for sure.
JAMES: The Fox And The Hound.
BEN: The Rescuers, which I loved for years afterwards, although Superman just a year later made more of an impact.
BEN: Just Disney+ (which here in the UK does sort of include Hulu under the Star banner) and Netflix. We hardly watch either and keep thinking of churning over once in a while but then something or other will grab us for a bit.
DAN: As of writing, three: Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime.
RANDALL: Currently just Disney+ and Amazon Prime. We pick up Netflix on occasion. I love the Criterion Channel, but haven’t had it for a while, since I’m trying to catch up on my disc collection.
JAMES: Before we moved last year (and interest rates and inflation made our new mortgage balloon!) we were literally subscribed to almost every streaming service available. To save money, we cut back this year, but still have too many. We pay for Max, get Netflix free with our mobile phone service, get Apple+ in a bundle with our other Apple subscriptions, and get the discounted Disney+/Hulu/ESPN bundle.
DACEY: Does password sharing count as a “subscription”?
DAN: I’ve managed to find a beauty in each one that I often dislike the notion that I have to consider one inferior to the other. They all have their flaws, but they also have tremendous upside. That being said, I grew up so hard on traditional cel animation that I can always see how much more beautiful it looks compared to the others.
BEN: Mo-cap really was, and is, still best applied as a visual effect. When it’s done well — really well — it can match CG, which I love for its depth and color, but not its aesthetic. Stop-motion is exquisite in that everything has to be made! But all of these start with a blank page, and to then see that come to life is where the skill and magic lies. It’s not really cel animation anymore, so I prefer hand-drawn as a term (and definitely not 2D!), particularly because the look of tradigital animation (Hunchback, Tarzan, Prince Of Egypt) is so lush and combines the best of all techniques.
RANDALL: Each medium has great things to offer. Cel animation, I suppose, would be my favorite overall — I love 1930s-1950 animation. CG animation is my least favorite, largely because of how it has been used to date, at least until recently. With the Spider-Verse films (and Mitchells Vs The Machines, and the new Ninja Turtles), we are finally seeing CG being used to fuller advantage. I have a real soft spot for stop-motion films.
JAMES: While every medium has its place, animation will always be hand-drawn in my heart. Nothing else comes close to the warmth and emotional connection.
DACEY: It would be kind of neat if motion-capture animation made a comeback, if not only so we can get more of those weird movies like Beowulf to argue about on the site’s discussion forum. Is it too late to bring that cancelled Yellow Submarine remake back from the dead?
JAMES: I think there is a lot of parity right now, and that’s not completely a good thing. Warner Bros., Sony, and Illumination have upped their game over the past decade, but Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks have definitely hit a slump.
RANDALL: Sony Pictures is letting directors and artists really cut loose. Finally, we are getting US animation that takes full advantage of the medium.
DACEY: I am and always will be a Disney boy. That said, DreamWorks Animation is constantly surprising right now (is it a hot take to say Puss In Boots: The Last Wish got robbed of the Oscar?).
BEN: I want to say Disney, of course, but I honestly haven’t been truly wowed by anything of theirs in a long while. From the get-go, Sony (really Imageworks) has been pushing the norm of CG, from the cartooniness of the Cloudy films to the quasi-tradigital look of Mitchells and the Spider-Verses. The films haven’t always been the strongest, but I suppose Sony is the only one out there really giving anyone else some real competition nowadays.
DAN: Currently, SpindleHorse Toons. Vivienne Medrano and her crew have done nothing short of phenomenal work since exploding onto the scene with the Hazbin Hotel pilot in 2019. Among the bigger studios, Disney has built a nice collection of film and television programs that have been excellent.
DACEY: My TV was purchased it 2003. It weighs 160 pounds and is so old that the picture sometimes looks an odd shade of green. Gonna have to go with movie theatre by default here.
BEN: Now this is really the question of audience or no audience, and any movie works best being shared as a communal experience on a big screen, which average home “cinemas” or theatres simply can’t match. That said, we don’t have an “average” home cinema (as a friend once remarked, “you don’t have a home cinema, you have a cinema in your home!”), so we get the best of both worlds, with much better picture and sound than even our local picture house! As my pride and joy, I love our monoplex kino!
DAN: Movie theatre, though admittedly I’ve eased off on going to the movies unless it’s something I’m dying to see. We’ll see what happens when I finally get my hands on a 4K television.
RANDALL: Hoo boy. Both have advantages. You can’t beat a good movie theatre for presentation, but I do love my cozy home theatre for convenience.
JAMES: I started building my first home theatre in my bedroom at my parents’ house back in high school, made from pawn shop finds and home-built speakers… and I’ve moved way beyond that today. That said, for a new release movie I want to see, I would hands down always want to be in an actual cinema.
DAN: Tiny Toon Adventures is always at or near the top of my list, along with Sailor Moon. Arcane is a magnificent work of art that I continue to appreciate, and Disney’s Gargoyles remains the go-to for some serious fun. Other favorites include Gravity Falls, The Owl House, Batman: The Animated Series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and more recently The Legend Of Vox Machina, among others.
DACEY: Garfield And Friends (an underrated gem), Disney’s Gargoyles, the original He-Man and She-Ra toons, DuckTales (both versions), My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, American Dad!, The Owl House, Bluey, and any show with the words “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in its title.
RANDALL: The Flintstones, Jonny Quest, Flash Gordon, Thundarr The Barbarian, Batman: The Animated Series, Batman – The Brave And The Bold, Justice League Unlimited, Futurama.
JAMES: When I was a kid, TV cartoons were probably my first big introduction to animation and I’ve been hooked ever since. Some favorites from childhood include Looney Tunes, Super Friends, G.I. Joe, He-Man and Pac-man. In high school and college I was into The Simpsons, The Disney Afternoon, and the Steven Spielberg shows. Later, it was SpongeBob, Futurama, Gravity Falls, and Archer. During the COVID lockdowns my kids introduced me to some great shows I missed when they originally aired: Justice League and Unlimited, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
BEN: This is where nostalgia kicks in and I have a soft spot for the stop-motion British kids shows of the 60s and 70s that were rerun here on endless cycles. DuckTales was a reason to rush home from school in the 80s, and then things kind of dropped off. I dip in and out of the usual current big hitters now and then, but since things went to streaming one doesn’t bump into South Park, Family Guy or the others quite so much thesedays.
RANDALL: I love the classics: Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Batman. My first cartoon crush was likely Jayna from Super Friends, though as I got older I favored Ariel from Thundarr The Barberian. Now I just love my wife, who can be pretty animated in her own right.
BEN: I don’t know if it’s a favorite, who I identify with, or a crush, but I have always loved Goofy.
DACEY: Elsa, Elsa, and Elsa.
DAN: Aerith Gainsborough is my angel. I have a shrine to her over my bed to bless me in my sleep.
JAMES: I can’t think of any favorites, relatables, or crush-worthy ones. But Plankton is hilarious!
DACEY: Spend way too much time inside of doctor’s office waiting rooms, unfortunately.
DAN: I’m a professional procrastinator, but for a living I do Graphics Production.
RANDALL: I am a healthcare professional in my “real life”, in addition to having a family. I greatly enjoy my film and comic collections, and attending comic conventions. I cycle about 15 miles per day. I also do other editing work for books about comic book history.
BEN: Continue to strive arduously to make a bigger name for myself — and therefore get my own projects made — in the movie business.
JAMES: I was a music major in college, and was a choir director for a few years. For the last twenty-plus years I was a stay-at-home dad.
BEN: As a child of the British 70s, I guess I probably wanted to be a train driver, but then I never grew up so it didn’t happen.
JAMES: As a child, a librarian. In my early teens, a meteorologist. In high school, an Egyptologist.
DAN: Something in film. Leaned more towards trying my hands at animation as I got older, but missed out on any window of opportunity to properly get my foot in the door.
DACEY: A voice actor. I loved animation as a kid, and still love it as an adult. I guess I haven’t changed much.
RANDALL: A cartoonist.
DAN: My brain tells me somewhere around 1993. Dial-up, man. That was a trip.
JAMES: 1993, in college. The first browser I ever used was Lynx, a text based browser!
BEN: I’d say around 1994-95, while writing with a geek pal of mine who rode the forefront of technology. His devotion to being technical almost all the time to the detriment of our trying to be creative is what I put down to my almost Luddite attitude to the web to this day.
DACEY: 1999, at the local library. I went to the official website for Disney’s Tarzan and played a Flash game in which you made Garfield eat food that was falling from the sky.
DACEY: A few years back, I made the spontaneous decision to adopt 99 Dalmatian pups, something I would later regret once they became full-grown and very large dogs.
DAN: Dad was in the Navy, mom was a travel agent, older brother did have a run doing video game animation before the company he worked for made the position redundant by out-sourcing. All of us geeks in some capacity.
RANDALL: One wife, one daughter, one son. And a pooch. The perfect family. I am blessed. My parents were both teachers, though Mom retired young to raise us.
BEN: Immediately, as many longtime readers and Forum members know, a wonderful wife, Jen, and a brilliant, eight-year-old “puppy”, Branston Pickle (because he is one!), both of whom are the loves of my life. More extended is a sister, mother and cousin, and although Dad isn’t around anymore, it’s down to his working at Elstree Studios during the Muppets, Star Wars and Indy Jones era as to why I do what I do.
JAMES: I was born an Air Force brat. Today I have a wife and two “kids”, the last of whom just left the nest last month to go to college out of state.
BEN: I’m pretty boring, I’m afraid, and since I basically eat, drink, sleep and bleep cinema, I’m either always writing, making or watching some film or other. Animation is core to my enjoyment, but growing up on the sets of Elstree, I wasn’t going to do anything else, and have many bits ‘n’ bobs from those times and since, when I worked for a spell on a UK talk show and bumped into many international names. All these things reside in a library next to our screening room, and I’m incredibly proud of my well-rounded knowledge and wide-reaching tastes… albeit all film related!
DACEY: I’ve gradually been acquiring VHS tapes in mint condition. There’s no real “theme” to the collection so far, but I hope to one day have a good way to display them.
RANDALL: Oh, man. I do a lot of comic and film collecting, and have lots of signed prints and original art from top comic artists. I cycle a lot. My basement has been nicknamed The Batcave, and I have been told that it puts some comic shops and video stores to shame.
JAMES: I have a huge collection of Disney VHS tapes, which outside this website is weird to most people! Weird to readers here would probably be my Monopoly token collection!
DAN: Where do I start? So that I won’t post a full on novel, I’ll just notate one of my favored items: the Artists’ Sketchbook. A sketchbook I have with illustrations I got from various artists over the years: Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, Ken Duncan, James Baxter, Chris Sanders, Tom and Tony Bancroft, Floyd Norman, Bruce Timm, Neil Adams, Bob Scott, Natasha Allegri, Genevieve Tsai, Mark Buckingham, Randy Haycock, and more!