I love the work of William Wray.
When I first met him a number of years ago, he went by Bill Wray, and was working on painting backgrounds for Nickelodeon’s show The Mighty B. His work was well-known in the animation industry having had a tremendous influence on the look of The Ren & Stimpy Show among other films and TV shows, and he contributed to comics over the years, including MAD Magazine.
Besides being a brilliant cartoonist, Bill started doing incredible fine art painting where his subject matter of choice is primarily urban landscapes, and he started going by his more formal name. He seems to get so much emotion with what seems like minimal paint strokes in his work, but as any artist knows, it takes YEARS to hone such skills to know how to lay the paint down, and how much to leave out. In short, whether cartooning or fine art painting, William Wray makes my jaw drop.
Back in 2018, I got my first in-house gig at Warner Bros. TV Animation as part of the story team for the Netflix show Green Eggs & Ham. (Hopefully our Season 2 gets released soon!) I really didn’t know who all I might have known was already at WB, so on my first day I went down to the commissary alone to look over day 1 paperwork while I ate. Who should I bump into but William, who promptly welcomed me to WB and joined me for lunch. Turned out that he was working downstairs from me as the Art Director for the Harley Quinn show.
As I learned over the year that I was at WB, William loved to sketch folks at lunch without them knowing it. It’s a great way to stay sharp by observing people and their behavior, and I do it from time to time, but William was a fiend for it. What a treat one day to find that I had become one of his subjects from across the dining area!
Earlier this year I heard that great illustrator Jason Seiler was going to be interviewing William as a part of Jason’s podcast series Face the Truth. Jason often invites fans to send in drawings of his interview subjects, so I thought it would be fun to contribute something to his talk with William.
Well, there you have it. Artists drawing artists. It’s what we do, and sometimes we fall prey to each other. One way or the other, it’s always an adventure.