- "I never drew for the sake of drawing. I drew to make the paper go away."
Glen Keane is one of the most famous modern animators and arguably the most respected living artist in hand-drawn animation.
The son of Bil Keane, the creator of the famous comic strip The Family Circus—Glen Keane is "Billy" in the strip—Keane applied to the art school at the California Institute of the Arts, but in a lucky twist of fate, his application was accidentally sent to the Film Graphics school, where he was mentored under UPA veteran Jules Engel.
Keane graduated from CalArts in 1974 and became an animator at Walt Disney Productions. The studio's animated feature The Rescuers would be his first assignment, working on the characters of Bernard and Penny alongside famed veteran Ollie Johnston. Afterward, he animated the animated character Elliot for the otherwise live-action film Pete's Dragon (1977) before being promoted to supervising animator on The Fox and the Hound, where he animated the climactic showdown with a ferocious bear.
Throughout his career, Keane designed and animated many of the leading characters for Disney's films during the studio's "renaissance" era, from slender and charming characters like Ariel and Aladdin to unkempt, bulky brutes like the Beast and John Silver. Afterward, he was to be a director of the studio's CGI feature film Tangled, but due to "non-life threatening health issues", he stepped down and became an executive producer.
On March 23, 2012, Keane resigned from Walt Disney Animation Studios after 38 years of service. He has since started his own animation studio, Glen Keane Productions, to persue more personal projects, and joined Motorola's "Advanced Technology and Projects Group" to create interactive hand-drawn animation. In 2014, Keane premiered a new short film Duet at that year's Google I/O conference as the latest in the company's "Spotlight Stories" of interactive shorts made exclusively for mobile devices.
He's also insanely good at doing impressions of his mentors Disney's Nine Old Men.
- The Rescuers (1977): Animator
- Pete's Dragon (1977) (1977): Animator
- The Fox and the Hound (1981): Supervising animator for the climactic fight scene with the bear.
- Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983): Animator.
- The Great Mouse Detective (1986): Supervising animator for Ratigan.
- The Chipmunk Adventure (1987): Worked on the film during his time as a freelance animator.
- Oliver & Company (1988): Supervising animator for Georgette, Fagin and Sykes.
- The Little Mermaid (1989): Supervising animator for Ariel.
- The Rescuers Down Under (1990): Supervising animator for Marahute the eagle.
- Beauty and the Beast (1991): Supervising animator for the Beast.
- Aladdin (1992): Supervising animator for Aladdin.
- Pocahontas (1995): Supervising animator for Pocahontas.
- Tarzan (1999): Storyman and supervising animator for Tarzan.
- Treasure Planet (2002): Supervising animator for John Silver.
- Tangled (2010): Originally to be the film's director, he became an executive producer, animation director and storyman.
- Paperman (2012): Character designer. His last work for Disney.
- Wreck-It Ralph: Did early visual development for Sgt. Calhoun.
- Duet (2014): An animated entry in Google's Spotlight Series of interactive shorts for mobile devices. Directed and animated entirely by Keane himself.
- Dear Basketball (2017): Animated Adaptation of Kobe Bryant's 2015 farewell poem to basketball.
- Over The Moon (2020): Directoral debut.
- Doing It for the Art: Famously. As the page quote shows, he's a professional artist simply because he loves drawing.
- At one point during production of Beauty and the Beast, he was animating the famous scene where the Beast turns back into his human form and production. At first he wanted to get through the scene quickly as the film was fast reaching its deadline, but Disney allowed him to take all the time he needed. The result it one of the absolute most stunning pieces of animation in the studio's history.
- Keane has also taken the time to host classes on character animation to students and aspiring animators.
- What Could Have Been: He was originally slated to make his directorial debut with Tangled, but some minor health issues forced him to step down to executive producer and art director.