Animation

Ken Hultgren (1915 – 1968)

Ken Hultgren (1915 – 1968)

Kenneth Vernon Hultgren was a gifted draughtsman and notable Disney animator. In his relatively short career, he left behind a substantial body of work that continues to inspire and educate people.

Hultgren was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1915. He studied at a local School of Art, before moving to California to pursue a career in animation. In 1936, one year after moving to California, he joined Disney Studios. He was an animator on the short film Farmyard Symphony (1938). He then worked on the feature film Bambi (1942), which he also created model sheets and layouts. Hultgren showed he was very comfortable drawing animals from any angle.

In 1942, Hultgren illustrated the Bambi comic adaptation, along with other stories based on the characters from the movie. He left Disney Studios in 1943 to animate and illustrate stories for other studios. He continued drawing Disney comics. He illustrated Mickey Mouse stories as well as the first comic appearance of Panchito Pistoles, in Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories #35. From 1943 to 1949 Hultgren worked at Sangor Studios on comic titles including The Duke and the Dope, Robespierre, Hopalong Hoppity, Izzy & Dizzy and Uncle Pigly.

When Sangor Studios closed in 1949, Hultgren took the time off to create The Art of Animal Drawing. The accumulation of years of experience showed how to draw animals both realistically and as caricatures. Dividing the body into three parts, making it easier to understand, pose, and animate. The book has stayed in print for decades, for good reason, I highly recommend it.

Just a few years earlier, Hultgren created the book The Know-How of Cartooning by Ken Hultgren. This book is out of print and very difficult to come by, but thankfully Sherm Cohen has scanned every single page and put it online for all to enjoy.

Hultgren returned to Disney Studios in 1955. Back in the animators chair, he worked on the short Paul Bunyan (1958) and the feature Sleeping Beauty (1959). He also worked on animated TV series Mr. Magoo, Popeye, and The Archie Show. Hultgren died in 1968 at the age of 53.

Ken Hultgren left a great legacy behind him, much of you can find online. As a starting point, check out Comic Book DB to see some of the comics he worked on, and IMDB to see all the animation he was a part of.

Ken Hultgren (1915 – 1968)
Ken Hultgren (1915 – 1968)
Ken Hultgren (1915 – 1968)
Ken Hultgren (1915 – 1968)
Ken Hultgren (1915 – 1968)

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