What motivates this Disney cartoonist to write a memoir?

Written by EMEKA EGOLE

In 2014, Alon Ozery — one of the original children’s illustrators for the Disney Channel series “Dinotrux” — hit what he calls “paralyzing” midlife crisis-sized disappointment.

Now living in New York City, the British-born artist has been drawing, painting and mixing various art mediums for most of his life — now working on his latest exhibit “Women Who Lack Control,” which he describes as “a collection of fantastical figures and dreamlike environments, like being in a fever dream, of female status in place of male dominance.”

The inspiration for this collection of works was also related to Ozery’s realization that his work and personal life had been suffering, as a result of having had daughters, as he’s written about in the book “Girl Power: A Spirited Memoir of Portrayals, Subjects and Representations of Women.”

“The book documented my year working with Disney because I’m a former animation supervisor on ‘Dinotrux’ and I got ‘Dinotrux’ out,” he told CNN Style. “It was also about my daughters and making it for them because they’ve been my everything.”

“I find that now as you get older in life, the need for work, maybe being more creative, doesn’t quite go away and the need for self-realization doesn’t quite go away. I did find that it was a bit debilitating after having children.”

He continued: “I was very happy when I had my girls, so many midlife crises come about where I think, well maybe now it’s time to do something that’s challenging. But when I have a young child, and again, I’ve always been drawn to illustration and painting and I had a daughter, it’s quite a big, boring male-dominated field that you start at 35.”

Ozery described being: “a wimp and a coward” in the 1980s, when drawing female characters would have taken place in his head — and it’s that particular ’70s and ’80s period of illustration that he was affected by the most.

“I remember how people would make fun of me because I didn’t like how women were portrayed. I would be at art school thinking, how can I express these feelings in the way that I do?” he said.

“I was really trying to understand it, I wanted to understand it, I couldn’t do it, but it was also making me feel awkward, and very strongly, and uncomfortable.”

As he says in his blog: “Each time someone tells you to stop complaining about something, you can take this as their permission to complain more about your problems.”

Fast forward to 2018, when Ozery is taking on his most ambitious project yet — and mapping a path that was, in his words, “transparently” uncharted 10 years ago.

“We think it’s important to have a really strong finish at the end, especially in a memoir, and we can only do it if we leave something at the beginning,” Ozery said.

“I felt that finishing the book would have that kind of ending, but also really be able to wrap up my life because I had been doing a lot of research and I’ve been writing a lot about it, and I realized that this was something that I wanted to do.”

“I think the book is really successful in my opinion, there is a lot of character development and also a lot of exploration of issues with art and of how you treat women. Because, I never tried to paint women before, I always tried to paint…and most of my work has been about treating men better, you know?”

While Ozery is unsure whether this will be his last memoir, he’s determined to stick to the direction that he’s taken in his writing, both through this book and in his previous ones.

“I think I’ll be writing the last one and maybe giving a lot more to my readers in terms of perspective and drawing a portrait of my life up to that time, I think that would be the best way I can end,” he said.

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