“A real-life superpower”

Local animator and children’s author and Illustrator David McBride has inspired students across South Jersey with his works.

David McBride presents to students at Wedgewood Elementary School in Washington Township. McBride speaks to students at schools across South Jersey about his career and how animation works. Photo: David McBride, special to The Sun.

By Krista Cerminaro

David McBride discovered his passion when he was just a fifth-grader at Orchard Valley Middle School.

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“I always loved to draw and tell stories as a kid. That was always what I was going to do — something with drawing. I didn’t know what it was, at the time, until I was in the fifth grade, and I saw a special on the Disney Channel. It was made years and years ago, when Walt Disney was alive, and it kind of showed how the animation process works,” McBride said. “It inspired me, because it was like, ‘oh that’s a job — to make cartoons and animation?’ From then on, that’s where my focus shifted.”

McBride, a 2004 Washington Township High School graduate, went on to earn a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in animation from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2008, and a master’s degree in animation from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2012. He started his own animation studio, David McBride Animation, in 2009, where he’s produced animated short films — one of which aired at a film festival in Greece — and children’s books, ever since.

“It gives me a place to live out my dream, which is to create my own characters and stories, and entertain and inspire kids — and the kid at heart,” McBride said.

Like Disney inspired him many years ago, McBride now takes his passion to schools across South Jersey to inspire students.

McBride has visited James Johnson Elementary School in Cherry Hill, Oak Knoll Elementary School in Williamstown, Larchmont Elementary School in Mount Laurel, Wedgewood and Hurffville elementary schools in Washington Township. McBride also plans to revisit his roots, at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, for the fifth time.

The animator, author and illustrator reads his work aloud, tells the students and teachers about himself, shows his animations and explains how they’re created.

“I always say to the kids, ‘when I was little, and we just had Saturday morning cartoons and stuff like that, I was so excited to see them that, that would get me up early on a weekend. That’s how much I loved them,’” McBride said. “That was my goal — to create that same love and interest from others. [For them] to be interested in my work, my characters.”

McBride has two children’s books published — “Dimitri Has His Head In The Clouds,” a story about the importance of self confidence, something the author said he struggled with as a child, and “Kazumi the Racecar Pig,” which teaches kids to love people from all different cultures.

“You can create anything, and the limit is only your imagination. It’s almost like a real-life superpower,” McBride said. “That freedom — that form of expression — is thrilling to me. And, what also inspires me is going around, and getting to talk with the kids and show them my book[s]. Kids will say ‘oh, you’re my favorite author!’ and it’s really funny, because I’m like, ‘you just heard my story for the first time!’ They’re funny. That inspires me, how genuine they are. Every time I go to a school, I always leave feeling just high spirits.”

Currently, McBride is working on what he says has been the most exciting project thus far — the production of “Kazumi the Racecar Pig,” which will be his fifth animated short film and the largest production he’s worked on to date. Internet star Anna Brisbin will voice the character Kazumi, and Disney voice actor Jason Marsden will voice the character Pablo. McBride is also working with a music composer in Japan to compose the music for the production.

Despite his accomplishments thus far, McBride is certain of one thing — that seeing his characters come to life for the first time will never get old.

“When you’re first working on scene, you’ll do what they call ‘rough animation’ — which is just getting the drawing down and the acting of the character. And then you test it, in what’s called a ‘pencil test.’ And that is my most favorite part, because there’s no color — it’s just the rough pencil lines, and it’s the first time you see the character come alive. And that never gets old for me. It’s always a very exciting part,” McBride explained.

McBride said his advice to aspiring authors and animators would be to have passion, determination, perseverance and dedication.

“There are going to be challenges in anything you do in life. But every time you make a mistake and you learn from it, I always say it’s not a mistake. It becomes a lesson. You get stronger, and you gain more knowledge,” McBride said. “When you do have a time where you feel like you failed, or something didn’t go your way, you have to pick yourself up and keep moving forward.”

McBride credited his mother, who has remained supportive of his career goals.

“In the art field, sometimes, people worry that it’s a hard thing to make a living and make a life. But, from the start, I had tremendous support from my mother — who was like the equivalent of 10 parents. So, I was very fortunate.”

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