I thought I’d use this space to pay a mini tribute to a wonderful soul; this past week I’ve been both smiling at memories—in-between bouts of being devastated— remembering one of my favorite people on the planet.
Last Friday, we lost Larry Larson, an incredible instructor in stop motion, especially in armature building and maquette sculpture. Larry started at CCS (The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan) just after I did in 2000. For these past 19 years he’s been a great friend and inspiration to me and nearly everyone he worked with. He had a wonderful ability to connect with people and help them figure out what they wanted to pursue. I learned so many things from Larry, especially in teaching. His 73 years on the planet were really just not enough.
Helping others was truly one of Larry’s callings. He loved working with the students at the college, and was so proud that many of them went on to work as stop motion animators and fabricators. Even if you didn’t have a class here with Larry, there’s a pretty good chance you still had at least a little chat with him, and possibly even a deep conversation. Larry was also the only instructor here who would likely play his guitar during class, and sometimes sing too. He also played live for many years here in Detroit at the Gaelic League. One of my favorite memories was Larry singing ‘The Rainbow Connection’ at Puppeteer and animator Alex Thomas’ wedding.
Larry’s memorial service will be Saturday, April 6th. The family has set up a gofundme to help with the funeral and memorial expenses.
Here is a great little film made by Ellen Coons in 2012 as her thesis film at CCS. Ellen is a wonderful animator and fabricator, working in the industry in LA. She was one of Larry’s (and my) students, and this little film seems like a nice and fitting tribute to Larry’s helping talented people (animation history-related note: the Bimbo deck of cards and toys at the end may or may not be from my stash of stuff):
Larry worked in fabrication and stop motion from the early 1970s on. His time in LA led to friendships with Dave Allen and Jim Danforth. Back in Detroit, Larry animated for Sam Rami’s low budget Evil Dead 2 film at the beginning of the film:
…and, if memory serves, Larry also built the disembodied hand for this film. This scene may have been animated by either Larry, Tom Sullivan or Rick Catizone:
A handful of years back, I helped Larry with authoring a DVD on building stop motion armatures. He still has the clips from the DVD on youtube, although the disc hasn’t been available in a while. You can get some idea of the casual nature of Larry from these little clips:
Here’s a little clip from ‘Barrington Bunny’ a stop-motion short Larry wrote and animated in 1973. I scanned Larry’s print of this many years back, and hope to include it on the upcoming Stop Motion Marvels 2:
Here’s a bizarre and somewhat Will Vinton-esque commercial from the Mid-80s, produced and animated by Larry, for the Michigan-based ‘Tubby’s Submarine’ chain:
Here is Larry’s last Stop-Motion project, The Frost King (2014), narrated by Larry himself, with assistance by CCS professor Josh Harrell as well as students Stevie Quigly, Josh Spooner and Sami Kerwin. It’s a fitting story for him:
Thank you so much Larry for helping so many people and for adding much needed love to this old world. We’ll miss you daily. Have a good week everyone.