News Coverage

An Article About Earl’s Award

Danica Davidson wrote about Earl being the co-recipient of this year’s Animation Writing Award at the Writers Guild. Click here to read it.

From the Hollywood Reporter…

And Hollywood Reporter also reports on the award…

Dwayne McDuffie and Earl Kress are set to receive the Writers Guild of America, West Animation Writers Caucus’ 14th annual Animation Writing Award posthumously. The honor recognizes their animation writing work and their efforts to organize animation for the guild.

“This year, animation lost two talented, hard-working people who have given much of themselves and their talent to our field,” said AWC chair Craig Miller. "Dwayne McDuffie was a talented writer and creator of comics and animation who worked hard for others, particularly for minority writers. Earl Kress was a writer whose career included both feature and TV animation and hard work on behalf of all animation writers as a member of the WGA Animation Writers Caucus and the Animation Guild Board of Directors. Both were people I was glad to call friend and colleague, and whose efforts, it can truthfully be said, made all of us the better for them."

Kress wrote for Transformers, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, The Smurfs, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Little Rascals, The Berenstain Bears, Ghostbusters, Kim Possible and many more series. On the film side, he worked on Disney’s The Fox and the Hound as well as several direct-to-video animated features. In 1995, Kress joined the Animation Guild’s executive board and was elected vice president of the Animation Guild (Local 839) in 2004, a position he held until his death in September.

McDuffie, who died in February, co-founded Milestone Media, which focused on creating black superheroes such as Hardware and Static and multi-cultural storylines. As a comic book author, McDuffie wrote for Marvel’s Fantastic Four and DC’s Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Justice League of America, among others. For TV, he wrote for Static Shock, Justice League, Ben 10: Alien Force, Teen Titans and many others.

The award will be presented to McDuffie’s and Kress’ widows, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie and Denise Kress, at the AWC’s 2011 awards ceremony held Thursday tonight at WGAW headquarters. Post honorees include Mike Scully, Al Jean, Michael Reiss, Brad Bird, Linda Woolverton and Stan Berkowitz.

From Daily Variety…

Variety reports on Earl’s latest honor…

Dwayne McDuffie and Earl Kress have been posthumously named co-recipients of the WGA West Animation Writers Caucus’ 14th annual Animation Writing Award.

The WGA said the duo are being recognized for their contributions to the craft of animation writing as well as for their work in organizing animation.

Kudos will be presented to McDuffie’s and Kress’ widows, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie and Denise Kress, at the awards ceremony Thursday night at WGA West headquarters. Mark Evanier, who won the 2003 award, will present the nod to Kress; Matt Wayne will make the presentation to McDuffie.

“Dwayne McDuffie was a talented writer and creator of comics and animation who worked hard for others, particularly for minority writers,” said caucus chair Craig Miller.

“Earl Kress spent 30-plus years working tirelessly to improve the lot of animation writers,” said Stan Berkowitz, who won the award in 2009. “He leaves behind a legacy of iconic cartoons and well-deserved awards, along with scores of fellow animation writers who have health and pension benefits because of Earl and Earl alone.”

Kress died on Sept. 19, shortly after turning 60, of complications due to liver cancer. His animation credits include “Transformers,” “Animaniacs,” “Pinky and the Brain,” “Tom and Jerry Tales,” “The Smurfs,” “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and “Duck Tales.” Kress joined the Animation Guild’s executive board in 1995; in 2004 he was elected VP of the guild, a position he held until his death.

McDuffie died at age 49 on Feb. 21 of complications after undergoing emergency heart surgery. He was co-founder of Milestone Media, a company that created multicultural comicbook lines that introduced black superheroes such as Hardware and Static and contributed to Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” and DC’s “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight” and “Justice League of America.”

Obituary in Variety

Animation writer and historian and Animation Guild VP Earl Kress died Sept. 19 due to complications from liver cancer. He was 60.

Kress began work in animation in 1975 with “The Oddball Couple,” an adaptation of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.”

Kress won two Emmy Awards and an Annie Award for writing episodes of “Pinky and the Brain” for Warner Bros. and was nominated for an episode of “Animaniacs.” He wrote the last Road Runner short, 2000’s “Little Go Beep.” He produced several DVDs of Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. classic cartoons and penned comicbooks for “The Simpsons” and Looney Tunes.

Among the series for which he wrote were “Transformers,” “Pound Puppies,” “Taz-Mania” and “Baby Looney Tunes.” He collaborated with Mark Evanier on the autobiography of voiceover specialist June Foray and contributed to the special features of many DVDs such as the recent “Top Cat.” He also worked as a voice actor and as a puppeteer for the Muppets.

In addition to Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera, Kress worked for DePatie-Freleng, Disney, Marvel, Filmation and Universal during his career.

He most recently contributed to the 2010 direct-to-video effort “Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes.”

Kress joined the Animation Guild’s executive board in 1995 and was elected VP in 2004.

“As a union officer he was known as a tireless champion of animation writers’ rights,” the guild said on its website. In the 2006 contract negotiations, Kress championed a proposal to guarantee health benefits for any writer who wrote at least one half-hour script in a coverage period, thus greatly increasing benefit coverage for freelance animation writers.

Services will be held Friday at noon at Forest Lawn’s Old North Church, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive.

More News Coverage

This ran today in the Glendale News-Press…

Earl Kress (1951-2011)

Bells Are Ringing in Heaven

Earl was a writer, an actor, a producer, a puppeteer, a voice artist and an animation historian. More importantly, he was a loving husband, son, brother, stepfather, grandfather and friend. Earl spent his entire career entertaining kids of all ages. He relocated to the Los Angeles area in 1976 from his home in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where he began his career as a writer/entertainer. He spent three and a half decades in the entertainment industry and his writing knew no bounds. He wrote for feature animated films, television animation, comic books and more. He won two Emmy awards and several nominations for writing on Pinky and the Brain and Animaniacs as well as an Annie Award and a Prism Award. He was most proud of his writing of the last Road Runner theatrical short, Little Go Beep. Earl’s most recent animated project, the Direct-to-DVD movie Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, was released in 2010. He ghosted a book for Yogi Bear, Life is a Pic-a-Nic that was released to tie-in with the recent movie.

Earl’s body of work speaks volumes for his success as a writer but it has been the outpouring of love that accompanied the news of his early passing at the age of 60 from cancer that confirms what those close to him have always known. He was loved by all who had the very good fortune to know him.

Earl leaves behind his beloved wife, Denise, his stepchildren Ryan, Katy and Megan, his two grandchildren Matthew and Samantha, as well as his mother Sylvia, his sister Elise and a large, extended family of close and loyal friends.

Services were held at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills on September 23rd,, 2011. His three “best men” – Rick Greene, Mark Evanier and Bob Elyea read passages from “The Story of Earl.” It was an extraordinarily good read.

Earl and the Animation Guild

Earl was very active in Local 839, the Animation Guild. Its Business Agent Steve Hulett posted the sad news on the Guild’s blog along with the following personal thoughts…

Earl Kress was the guy I knew longest in the animation business.

When I started at Disney, he was already on staff, working on “The Fox and the Hound.” For the first year I was there, his office was next to mine on the third floor of the old animation building. I was in a space the size of a broom closet. Since Earl was the senior guy, he occupied the office with the square footage of one-and-a-half broom closets.

Years later, Mr. Kress and I were both freelancing for Warner Bros. Animation at the same time when the studio was launching "Tiny Toon Adventures." Shortly thereafter, I abandoned the writing game and became Business Representative for Local 839, but Earl stuck with his first love of creating animated cartoons. It wasn’t long before he was on the WBA staff full-time, writing "Pinky and the Brain" and winning Emmys.

And it wasn’t long after that Earl became a board member of The Animation Guild, and then Vice-President. He was on the TAG negotiating committee every time negotiations rolled around, adding his passion and expertise. (As noted above, the fact that animation writers under TAG can write two half-hour shows and qualify for health benefits AND a qualified pension year is largely due to Mr. Kress, who pushed for improvements in writers’ benefits and wages tenaciously and energetically.)

Earl kept writing almost to the very end of his life. His devoted wife Denise told me that even after he fell ill, he was still in the game, waiting to hear back from producers on an outline he’d completed. He left us way too soon, but the fact that he continued as a professional writer from his entry into the business in 1975 to 2011 is cause for celebration. Very few talents stay employed for thirty-five years in a field they love, particularly when the field is the movie business. But Earl made it happen.

Wherever you are now, Mr. Kress, I expect you’re doing funny voices for the other angels, and writing funny dialogue. And telling the winged denizens about the history of the cartoon business that you had such a hand in shaping.