Norman was born June 22, 1935 in Santa Barbara, Calif. This year, the animation pioneer celebrated his 80th birthday. He always had an interest in drawing and art, so for college, he attended the Pasadena based Art Center College of Design. Before getting into the animation industry, he worked with comics.
There are very few animated TV shows that have compelling and memorable Black characters at the forefront. In the 1990s and early 2000s, there were Black people dominating the cinemas, live-action TV and animated television. Now that we are 15 years into the new millennium, that small number has become microscopic. Will there be more great Black animated TV shows in the near future? That is unknown, but we can take a look at those who have made an impact on children and adult lives. However, characters like Cleveland Brown of The Cleveland Show will not be featured on this list because he is voiced by a white actor. Also characters from 2000s’ DC Comics shows like Cyborg from Teen Titans, Aqualad from Young Justice, John Stewart from Justice League: The Animated Series, Static Shock and Bumble Bee from Teen Titans and Young Justice have been covered on Blerds before so they won’t be on the list. Moreover, here are some of the most interesting Black animated characters.
The Entire Cast of Proud Family
This early 2000s animated series was created by animator Bruce W. Smith for the Disney Channel. The star of the show was actress Kyla Pratt as high school teen Penny Proud. We followed her misadventures with her friends and wacky — yet loving — family.
The Entire Cast of Fat Albert
Comedian Bill Cosby created this animated show in 1972 when there weren’t a lot of Black animated characters on TV. The series was animated by Hanna-Barbara Studios and it lasted until 1985 with 110 episodes in total.
There are very few Black characters featured as stars of animated films. Most of the protagonists tell elaborate stories from the same point-of-view that we have seen before. If you are looking for something new, here are five animated productions with African characters and Black voice actors front and center.
‘Mark of Uru’
Mark of Uru is an animated television series inspired by African folklore and mythology. There are many thematic elements revolving around humans, animals and elemental beings from African folklore.
Tucker is a prominent animation producer for DC Comics and Warner Bros Animation. He has worked on projects such as Justice League: The Animated Series (2001), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008) and Superman: Unbound (2013). He also worked on comedy animated series like Pinky and the Brain (1997).
Norman is one of the most important animators in Black history. He worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Ruby-Spears, Film Roman and Pixar. He was the first Black artist/animator to work for Disney, opening the door for many animators to come. He worked onSleeping Beauty (1959), Toy Story 2 (1999),andMonsters, Inc (2002). He also has writing credits on Mulan (1998) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996).
LaMarr has become one of the foremost talents in the voice-acting industry. He has voiced Static Shock (2000-04), Samurai Jack (2001-04), Green Lantern John Stewart from Justice League the animated series (2001-06), Hermes Conrad in Futurama (1999-2013) and many others.
Many know the late actor for his role as Uncle Phil in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-96). However, Avery, before that, provided the voice of The Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1980s). He also voiced War Machine in the animated series Spider-Man and Iron-Man in the 1990s.