Frames of Time...
068_04 - Pete Alvarado
Pete, along with being a legend in several industries, was also one of the good guys. Most folks who have been in the animation business for more than a decade seem to take one of two views: the sour "studios produce crap and are out to get you"; or the jovial "it's just a crazy business". Pete took the latter.
His career started at Disney with SNOW WHITE, and he was still working well into the 1980s. I ran into him when he began doing freelance storyboards for the GARFIELD AND FRIENDS show at Film Roman. I was producing the series, so I was often the one who handed out and accepted work. Either task was a pleasure with Pete. His round jolly face would bring a smile to almost anyone. He also took the time to chat a bit, because it was always more than "just business" with Pete.
As stated, Pete had a continually positive view of the business. He had seen studios come and go. He had been treated well and had been treated poorly, sometimes by the same studio. Yet he came through the confusion with a truly jolly attitude, and plenty of stories.
I think what kept him going so strong, and so long, was that he truly enjoyed his work. Whether he was working in animation at Disney (on films from SNOW WHITE to DUMBO), or Warner Bros (where he did backgrounds for various shorts, including the first Road Runner cartoon), or Hanna-Barbera or Film Roman, he enjoyed the work and the people he worked with. On top of all that, he also illustrated hundreds of comic books, coloring books and comic strips, as well as dozens of Little Golden Books. Often these featured animated characters.
What kept studios going back to Pete was his professionalism. He always gave 110% to his work. His boards were clean and well thought out. They had the scenes properly numbered, and even the page numbers were correct. On top of that, they were funny.
In fact, I enjoyed working with Pete so much, he was one of my first choices to interview for How to Create Animation (now long out of print). He graciously accepted, and again, had great stories about the past, and good advice on the present. Pete understood the importance of experience, as well as the necessity of new blood.
After I left Film Roman, I still bumped into Pete at various animation events for a few years. Always the gentlemen, he would have nice things to say about where he was currently working. I also read of his occasional appearance at some event speaking about his years' in the business. Upon hearing of his death, I realized I had not seen him in almost a decade.
It prompted me to pull out my copy of How to Create Animation and re-read his chapter. I was once again amazed by how much one man had done. I could even hear his familiar chuckle, as some of the stories went by. Pete was definitely, "one of the good ones".
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