Phil Roman Reflects on a Career Spanning 'The Simpsons' to 'Peanuts'

Phil Roman - P 2016
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This story first appeared in the Feb. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

When Phil Roman was learning to draw in the 1940s, he took a correspondence course from an art school in Minneapolis. His homework would come back with his teacher’s signature — “Sparky” — scrawled on the bottom. That teacher was Charles M. Schulz. “I still have letters from him,” says Roman, 85. “I learned the basics from him.”

Roman — who will receive the International Animated Film Society’s Winsor McCay Award for his lifetime contribution to animation — spent his early years working on such films as Sleeping Beauty and such TV specials as How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then, in the 1970s, he helped his old teacher bring Peanuts to television, growing from animator to director. But Roman’s longest-running gig has been on The Simpsons; his company, Film Roman, has been animating Homer and Bart since 1992. “People ask me, ‘How do you create a classic?’ ” he says. “If I knew, everything I did would be one.”

The Simpsons