Maurice Noble's career in animation began at Disney in the 1930s, but he is undoubtedly best remembered as the designer who made so many of Chuck Jones's Warner Bros, cartoons from 1952 on some of the best-designed animated films of all time. Noble's association with Jones continued into his later work for MGM and Warner's; today, he creates serigraphs and speaks at animation studios. He also recently designed and cowrote an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures.
I conducted this interview with Maurice Noble in January, 1991. It was edited for publication by Noble and me.
Harry McCracken: I should start by asking you how you got interested in animation in the first place.
Maurice Noble: Well, I was doing design work for one of the largest department stores in Los Angeles, and I had designed a childrens department for two Christmases. One of the scouts from Disney saw the work, and this scout had also known my work when I went to the Chouinard Art Institute. I think I had the first one-man watercolor show at Chouinard. I was asked to come out there and try out as a background painter, and thats how I got into the animation business.
Had you been interested in animation before that?
No, in fact being something of a highbrow [laughs], I hadnt paid much attention to it, although I guess I had seen and enjoyed The Three Little Pigs, which was a turing point for the Disney studios. I had never even thought of animation as a job or career. I had an attitude that it was kids stuff. The kiddies got down in front and jumped up and down when you put on a cartoon, but the adult approach wouldn't be considered until the making of Snow White.