Tony Fucile would prefer to fly under the radar. He lives with his family – wife Stacey, children Eli, 10, and Elinor, 8 – on a hill high above Sonoma in a house under renovation with spotty cell service and almost nonexistent Internet access. No matter. He likes it that way. It gives him more time to think and draw and, of course, spend time with his family.
Fucile is an animator and illustrator, trained in the all-but-dead art of hand illustrating. Taught by the best at LA’s California Institute of the Arts – and truly the best as the instructors are retired Disney animators – Fucile learned the art of traditional hand animation. Following graduation, he was hired by Disney and subsequently wracked up credits on scores of incredible Disney hits like “Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” (Mufasa was his character) and “Aladdin.” His personal favorite, Warner Brothers’ “Iron Giant” was a box office snooze but allowed Fucile to work with some of the industry’s heaviest hitters like director Brad Bird.
But the industry was rapidly changing with computer animation becoming the wave of the future. Movies like “Toy Story” paved the way and others quickly followed. Fucile jumped on the bandwagon, working on films like “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” “Up” and Pixar’s newest, “Brave.” However, he never lost his love for hand animating and illustrating.
“I’ve had a passion for cartoons and sci-fi and animation all my life,” said Fucile. “Creating characters and watching them take shape on the page is like magic. For me, it’s just not the same when it’s done on the computer.”
A middle-of-the-night light-bulb-above-the-head brainstorm changed everything when Fucile’s wife literally kicked him out of bed to start work on an idea that had formed. That idea turned out to be his first book for children, “Let’s Do Nothing,” published in 2009 by Candlewick Press and described by Amazon.com as a “hilarious debut.”
From there, Fucile decided to take his career freelance and, no longer tied to a city near a studio, landed with his family in Sonoma. Working with an agent, he teamed up with authors Kate DiCamillo – think “Because of Winn Dixie” and “Tale of Despereaux” – and Alison McGhee for the first of three wildly popular “Bink & Gollie” books for young readers (the third will be available next year).
You can meet the family Fucile at Cornerstone this weekend when Bink & Gollie Day comes to Zipper on Sunday, July 15 from noon to 3 p.m. Fans can meet and draw with Tony Fucile as well as purchase an autographed copy of the newest book, “Bink & Gollie, Two for One.” Also part of the day, balloons, buttons, and samples of Bink’s homemade lemonade and Gollie’s special popcorn with M&M’s.
For more information, contact Zipper at 996.7958. Zipper is located at Cornerstone, 23592 Highway 12, Sonoma.