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Sue Nichols Maciorowski (1965–2020), Disney animation artist on “Hercules,” “Mulan”

by Linnea Crowther

Sue Nichols Maciorowski was an animation artist who worked on beloved Disney films including “The Lion King,” “Mulan,” and “Hercules.”

Helping shape the Disney renaissance

Maciorowski began her career in animation while she was still in college, working as a model designer for Jim Henson’s (1936 – 1990) “Muppet Babies” as part of a team that won an Emmy Award. She got her start with Disney in 1991 with “Beauty and the Beast,” for which she was a visual development artist. Maciorowski went on to work on many of the classics of the 1990s Disney renaissance, and her art and concepts were key influences on the movies’ style and character development. One of her unique talents for Disney was working with a variety of animators to teach them to use the animation style that was chosen for a film. Maciorowski worked on Disney animated films including “Aladdin” (1992), “The Lion King” (1994), “Hercules” (1997), “Mulan” (1998), “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000), “Lilo & Stitch” (2002), “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), and “Moana” (2016).

Maciorowski on designing Mulan

“When I was designing Asian characters for ‘Mulan’ you would not believe how many animators complained that they needed the large (Ariel Type) cheeks in order to act out feelings. The money in the company was afraid we would lose mass appeal (and box office cash) if the characters were too ethnic specific. People need a generic ‘every-man’ to relate to. Thank GOD we now embrace the beauty of our differences and know it is the story that sells tickets, not how generic we draw our people. ‘Mulan’ helped us move in the right design direction.” —from Maciorowski’s website

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Tributes to Sue Nichols Maciorowski

Full obituary: Syfy Wire

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