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JOHN MUSKER (Director/Screenplay By) continues to be a major force in the art of animation and one of Disney's greatest resources. From "The Little Mermaid” and "Aladdin” to the epic comedy "Hercules,” his irreverent wit, strong visual style and unconventional approach to storytelling helped to create some of the most successful films in motion-picture history.

Born in Chicago, Ill., Musker first began drawing while in grammar school and knew by the age of 8 that he wanted to become an animator. Inspired by such Disney classics as "Sleeping Beauty” and "Pinocchio,” as well as Bob Thomas' primer "The Art of Animation,” he developed a thorough understanding of the animation process. His fascination with comics, cartoons and Mad Magazine further stimulated his desire to draw.

At Loyola Academy, a Jesuit high school in Wilmette, Ill., Musker became a cartoonist for the school paper. His special brand of caricature, which included outrageous sketches of teachers and school celebrities, quickly caught on. This preoccupation with caricature and cartooning continued throughout his college years at Northwestern University, where he majored in English and drew cartoons for The Daily Northwestern.

Following graduation from college in 1974, Musker put together a portfolio and set out for California to pursue a career as an animator. Initially rejected by Disney, he enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts the following year to master his craft.

After completing his first year, which included a summer internship at the Disney Studio, he was offered a full-time job as an animator. This time Musker turned it down, opting instead to complete the second year of his training.

In 1977, Musker started work at Disney, where his two training tests were enthusiastically received and he began as an assistant animator on "The Small One.” He also animated on "The Fox and the Hound” and did story work on "The Black Cauldron.”

Musker and Clements joined creative forces in 1983 to write "The Great Mouse Detective” and went on to co-direct the film along with Burny Mattinson and Dave Michener. This successful collaboration led to a reteaming on "The Little Mermaid,” the award-winning film that helped to revitalize feature animation at Disney and generate new excitement for the genre as a whole. Since then, Musker and Clements have co-written and co-directed two of the funniest and most memorable animated features ever, "Aladdin” and "Hercules.” Their next project was the Disney animated feature "Treasure Planet,” a swashbuckling intergalactic adventure based on the classic novel "Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Of his successful partnership with Ron Clements, Musker says, "We're both relatively agreeable Midwestern types, and we each have slightly different strengths and approaches. Ron is more structure-oriented and makes sure that the overall story doesn't disintegrate during the course of too many rewrites. I tend to be more concerned with specific details and gags. We constantly go over each other's scenes and drafts and add new ideas and suggestions in the process.”

Musker and his wife, Gale, whom he met at Disney, have three children (including twins). They live in La Cañada, Calif.


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