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Animators, cartoonists hold auction to help artist’s son

In a show of solidarity, some of the nation’s top animators and print cartoonists are rallying to the aid of a fellow artist with a special auction of original artwork on EBay. The auction will benefit Matthew Hodge, the 18-year-old son of artist Tim Hodge, who was injured in an auto accident in August and has been in a coma since then.

The sale of more than 165 pieces includes drawings and cels from “Mulan,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” as well as original comic strips of “Mutts,” “Zits,” “Baby Blues” and “Pogo.”

Twin animation artists Tom and Tony Bancroft, both of whom worked with Hodge at Walt Disney Co., came up with the idea of the sale.

“Tim’s been working as a freelance storyboard artist: He doesn’t have the resources they’re going to need for Matt’s long-term recovery,” Tony says. “We decided the best way for artists to give would be to give their artwork, which we’d put on EBay and turn into money. Tom and I have known Matt since he was a little boy. He’s really one of our own.”

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Hodge worked in the animation department of Disney’s Florida studio on “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas,” then did story work on “Mulan” and “Brother Bear.” He later went to Big Idea Productions, the creators of the “VeggieTales” films, and moved to Franklin, Tenn. When Tom Bancroft and his family moved to Tennessee, they renewed their friendship. “We were one of the families there the night of the accident,” Tom recalls. “It was a very scary touch-and-go situation. They really thought they were going to lose Matt.”

When the Bancroft brothers began to organize the sale, they turned to Chad Frye, another ex-Disney artist, who’s on the board of the National Cartoonists Society Foundation, a charitable organization that helps cartoonists in hard times. The three men sent e-mails to animators, comic strip artists and illustrators and were overwhelmed by the response.

The artists donated not only their own work, but drawings by older artists from their personal collections. Frye says, “We have drawings by three of Disney’s Nine Old Men and a pencil drawing from an old black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoon. It blows me away that somebody had that drawing and was willing to donate it.”

Some of the artwork is so tempting, the organizers may bid on pieces themselves. “I’m particularly interested in a Charles Schulz drawing of Charlie Brown my brother donated,” Tony notes. “I bought it for him one year for Christmas. He’s putting it up because he knows it’s valuable, but I’ve wanted it ever since I gave it to him, so I’m bidding on it.”

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Information about the artwork and sale can be found on EBay or at HelptheHodges .com.

calendar@latimes.com


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