RIP Kelly Asbury, Director of Shrek 2 and Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimmaron

Illustration for RIP article Kelly Asbury, Director of iShrek 2 / i and iSpirit: Stallion Of The Cimmaron / i

Photo: Andrew Toth (fake pictures)

Kelly Asbury, a prolific entertainer and director whose credits included Shrek 2, Spirit: Cimmaron Stallion, and over a dozen other high-profile ones animation movies, he’s dead. Variety reports that the cause of death was abdominal cancer. Asbury was 60 years old.

A CalArts graduate, Asbury started at Disney in the early 90’s, working as a storyboard artist on various projects, including The little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The rescuers down, and Toy Story, in addition to serving as assistant art director for Tim Burton, macabrely intricate The Nightmare Before Christmas. Then he made the switch to DreamWorks, where he worked for the next few years, serving as an artist and occasional story contributor in Prince of egypt, Chickens race, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and the second Madagascar movie.

During that same period, Asbury also earned his first directorial credit, working alongside Lonra Cook on the ambitious 2D animated film. Spirit. Focused on a young man Mustang, who lived in the American West in the 19th century, the film was praised for its magnificent images and serious tone. Several of the animators who worked on the project followed Asbury until Shrek 2, which was the first of several films where he also served as a voice actor, lending his voice to a handful of minor roles. (He got a slightly more prominent role in Shrek 3, although he did not direct).

Asbury continued to work steadily until 2019; His directorial credits from this era include Gnomeo and Juliet, Smurfs: the lost peopleand last year UglyDolls. In the meantime, He also appeared from time to time to help his former bosses at Disney, with art credits on both Frozen and Ralph breaks. And outside of his work behind the drawing board / computer, he was also apparently an entertainment historian; in 2003 he published Dummy Days, a well-considered story from the lives of five prominent ventriloquists of the 20th century.

Asbury’s career came at a pivotal moment in the history of western animation, like traditional 2D work. it constantly gave way to the rise of CG movies. It was there during several of those key moments: the occasional resurgence of stop-motion, the heights of Disney’s late era, the rise of Shrek and DreamWorks as a viable competitor force. Working from nothing but the movies that Kelly Asbury Borrowing your pen for, you could put together a fairly complete history of the changes that occurred in the industry at that time; all of that, and apparently wrote a very good ventriloquism history too.