It’s a rare thing, particularly in the entertainment industry, to behold friendships that are both long-lasting and fruitful… and that continue to be productive into the 21st Century. Longtime animator/filmmaker Leo D. Sullivan is launching a new entertainment venture,AfroKids.com, with stories and creative input from his longtime friend Floyd Norman that brings their combined 100 years of experience to this century’s pre-eminent vehicle of information and entertainment distribution the internet’s world wide web.
When Leo and Floyd each began their animation career paths more than 50 years ago, their ultimate goal was just to get a job in the animation industry, as there were few Blacks in said industry. Sullivan began as an errand boy/cell washer for legendary “Beany & Cecil” producer Bob Clampett. From that inauspicious beginning, Mr. Sullivan’s path would bring him through a variety of animation studios over the next half century, including Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, DePatie-Freleng, Ruby-Spears, DIC, and Marvel Productions, just to name a few. Among the many famous characters Mr. Sullivan has lent his magic pencil and directorial talents to have been such stalwarts as “the Flintstones”, “Scooby-Doo”, “the Superfriends”, “Hey, Hey, Hey It’s Fat Albert” 1969 NBC Special, “the Transformers”, “the Incredible Hulk”, and Warner Bros’ “Tiny Toons” just to name a few. Leo managed animationstudios for Pacific Rim Animation, Hong Kong in Peoples’Republic of China – Shenzen and Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines. Oversaw all phases of production on animated television shows and theatricals for Thailand, Spain, France, Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, and the U. S. A.
Floyd Norman traversed a similar path to Sullivan’s during the half-century of his career, through many of the same studios, but also including lengthy stints at both Disney Productions and its sister studio Pixar where he has contributed his story telling talents to a list of films including, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Mulan,” and Pixar’s “Toy Story2” and “Monsters, Inc.” Floyd has been honored as a Disney Legend for his contributions to bothstudios and is featured on Disney’s DVD release of the classic “Jungle Book,” which Floyd also worked on.
The duo formed Vignette Films, Inc. (changed later to Vignette Multimedia) in 1966 to produce educational films, as well as, contracting work on projects as diverse as the original “Soul Train” animated logo, “Sesame Street”, and many others. During the beginning of the last century, the duo shifted their focus from purely entertainment material to edutainment that would teach its viewers as well as entertain… content that makes you feel good as it does good.
AfroKids.com, which is launching as you read this, is a website, a decade in the making, that will strive to serve a currently underserved and potentially vast audience: African American children and their families. These families will be treated to a variety of interactive features produced in various media styles that will engage, educate and entertain young minds and hearts. The mission of AfroKids.com is to empower families in building our children’s self-esteem and cultural heritage through educational and entertainment media. This ultimate goal was at one time a distant goal in the eyes of AfroKids.com’s principal creator, Leo D. Sullivan.
AfroKids.com is the culmination of the duo’s earlier plans to create a continuing source of kid-friendly, family and ethnically centric edutainment, combined with the distributing power and worldwide reach of the internet to bring this unique material to the unique minds and hearts that hunger for the type of adventure and wonderment that AfroKids.com will provide.
Whatever Leo Sullivan and Floyd Norman choose to do, you can be sure it will be produced with the same love and enthusiasm they have always had for their work.
Interested ones are encouraged to visit www.AfroKids.com and share with others.