avalon mists / fan interviews / Shaun "BrooklynX" Donagher

Fan Interview: Shaun "Brooklyn X" Donagher Animation Cel Collector
article by: Siryn
issue date: 9/2/03
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Ever since the animation first started (even in its black and white stages), animation cels have been a vital part of the animation process. Animation cels are sheets of nitrate (or more commonly used now acetate) with handpainted characters or objects on them. After an animator was done cleaning up a sketch, the sketch would be hand painted or photocopied onto the acetate, and then the character or object on the cel would be painted with the appropriate colours.

Now, however, the process is expanding. Cleaned up drawings are no longer photocopyed onto acetate, but scanned into a computer, and coloured onscreen instead of painted by hand. The drawings and backgrounds are assembled into a computer, and music (etc) are added. Disney currently uses the CAPS system, (which the company developed itself) that accomplishes these tasks. The first Disney movie to use the CAPS system was Beauty and the Beast. This means the last Disney film to use traditional animation cels was the Little Mermaid.

So what does this have to do with Gargoyles?

Although Disney was creating animated motion pictures without cels anymore, they still continued to use them for television productions (like Gargoyles) and still do for a few of their series even today. Because of this, you CAN by animation cels from the gargoyles show. Also, there is original production artwork, storyboards, and scripts of the show floating around. (However, most of these are only available at the Gathering of the Gargoyles Convention). However, sad to say, most american tv shows throw out most of the cels and drawings they use, so consider yourself very lucky if you find a cel! (especially some nice ones!)

Several collectors have sprung up in fandom among the years, but Shaun Donagher currently holds the record the gargoyle animation cels and production artwork. Even Victor Cook (one of the storyboard artists for the show) was quoted to have said, "He's got more cels than Disney!", when he saw Shaun's collection.

I got a chance to sit down with Shaun, and talk to him about his collection, and advice he might have for those wanting to start.

[Siryn] So Shaun, exactly how many animation cels from Gargoyles do you have?

[Shaun] Right now, I have 33 at my house. I have one coming in the mail from Aimee sometime in the next week or two, which would make 34. It's likely by the end of the month, it will be up to 35.

[Siryn] Wow! That's a lot! What got you collecting animation cels in the first place?

[Shaun] I'm not fully sure how, but I ended up learning that the show was done on cels and what they were. As soon as I returned home from the Gathering, I started searching for them on E-Bay. So I've been collecting them since around the middle of August 2000.

[Siryn] So E-bay would be a definate place to look if someone was interested in finding a Gargoyles Cel? Anywhere else you could suggest?

[Shaun] E-Bay would be ones best bet. I would say about half of my Gargoyles collection was from there alone. Most of the rest came from other collectors who wanted to sell it and let me have first dibs. As to other places, sometimes one can get lucky and find an online animation cel gallery that might have one or so in stock. It can be real tricky searching through those for Gargoyles cels.

[Siryn] If someone was interested in purchasing a Gargoyles cel, what price range would they be looking at?

[Shaun] On average, around $300.
The price will be higher depending if it's framed. How many characters there are. How many layers, if it's a key cel or not. Plus who is selling it as well, as some of the folks will try to get more money out you than the cel is worth. Plus you have to consider how rare the cels are as well, which will drive the price up as well.

[Siryn] Well, since your cels are worth so much, where do you keep them? Do you frame them? Or have them in a binder?

[Shaun] All but one are in a cel book, which is really nothing more than an art presentation book. The one that is not in a cel book is between two pieces of carboard due to the size of the background piece that came with it. I would love to frame a large number of these, but two things prevent me from doing so. One is the cost of framing. Depending on the type of the frame (metal versus wood) and the numbers of mats, the type of glass (plexiglass versus regular versus UV coated) and where you go to have it framed. Two would be due to not having a very large area on my south wall to hang them. This is important because sunlight can cause it to fade and crack. The UV coating on the glass can protect against this, but you have to weigh if you want to risk the off chance that damage is still likely to occur over time.

[Siryn] Which character do you have the most cels of?

[Shaun] *Laughs* I would have to say Goliath.

[Siryn] Because he is your favourite? Or is he the easiest to find cels of?

[Shaun] Largely because he's the easiest to find cels of. Roughly 2/3's of my cels have Goliath, which shows you just how easy it is to find him

[Siryn] I know I've asked you this personally, but are there any gargoyle dream cels you're just dying to have?

[Shaun] It's really hard to say I have one dream cel from Gargoyles. Now if I had to pick one, I know which one I would go for. Most people I've seen dream cel wise, want the one of Elisa and Goliath kissing or right after they break the kiss. As much as I'm happy to see the two falling in love with one another, those cels wouldn't be considered dream cels for me. What I would love to get would be when Goliath and Elisa are both gargoyles and they've in flight. Right when Goliath is looking at her and is smiling, just before he says, "I never realized how beautiful you are."

[Siryn] How does it feel to be unofficially dubbed the 'Gargoyles Cel Collector?'

[Shaun] Hmm, hard to fully say. I would have to say happiness, maybe some pride.

[Siryn] Lastly, any tips for any interested would-be collectors out there?

[Shaun] Hope you don't end up bidding against me on E-Bay! *laughs*
On a more serious note. If you are buying a cel in person at say, a convention, take a good look at the cel. Look to see if the paint is missing in any areas or if the lines are fading. Some times this can't be helped due to the age of the cel. Pay attention as to who you're buying the cel from. Is it a person or a company that sells them? You might be more likely to get the cel cheaper from a person than a company. If you can't afford to frame your first catch or catches right away, get an art display book, one that is acid free of course. These offer good protection for your cels until you frame them, if you choose to do so. If you get them framed, get a UV coating on the glass. It costs a bit more, but if gives those cels added protection

One last tip:
Most importantly, cels are an investment. Treat them well and treat them with care.

[Siryn] Thankyou very very much for this interview Shuan! And happy cel collecting!

[Shaun] Welcome! :-)

For more information on cel collecting and getting started:
The Ultimate Guide to collecting Animation Art

Other gargoyle cel collector sites you may want to vist:
Brooklyn X's (Shaun) Gargoyle Cel Collection
Aimee Majors Cel Collecton
Stephanie Lostimolo's Cel Collection
Jennifer Anderson's Cel Collection

Images credits & copyright: Donagher, Shaun. Shaun's website.
(http://www.shaunpup.com) - August, 2003.

Charlebois, Karine. Kanthara's Loft.
(http://www.kantharasloft.com) - August, 2003.

Steinberger, Aimee Major. Aimee's Studio.
(http://www.aimeemajor.com) - August, 2003.