As a young man growing up in West Memphis, Byron Vaughns, a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff graduate and once again a Pine Bluff resident, dreamed of one day becoming a cartoonist, but he never thought he’d win a major award for doing what he loves.
To name a few, Vaughns has spent days and nights in the company of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Sylvester, Road Runner and Pepe Le Pew. As a child, he said he had met Bob Clampett, the creator of Tweety and a key cartoonist for Warner Brothers.
His cartoon friends helped him win an Emmy Award in 1992-93 for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program when he was directing “Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures” for Warner Brothers Television Animation.
Vaughns’ first paying job was drawing editorial cartoons for his hometown newspaper, The Evening Times, which led him to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts.
As a student, he continued to draw cartoons for the university’s newspaper, The Arkansawyer. He created local editorial cartoons and promo illustrations, Pine Bluff Paradise, which appeared in the Pine Bluff Commercial. He also drew gag cartoons (a single-panel cartoon, usually including a caption beneath the drawing) for Ebony Magazine, owned by Arkansas native John H. Johnson.
Following graduation, Vaughns worked for KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock, as a graphic designer with the news department. This opportunity led to him working as an artist-in-residence with the Arkansas Arts Council and as an animation director with the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.
Because he wanted to break into animation and the prospects were limited in Arkansas, Vaughns moved to California where he worked for various animation studios. His first job in California was “Hero High,” a CBS show, where the characters were going to high school to learn how to be heroes.
Following his first job, Vaughns worked his way up through the ranks in the animation profession as a storyboard artist, assistant animator, model designer, development artist, director, and a producer.
Vaughns has worked on “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Animaniacs,” “The Care Bears Family,” “The Pink Panther,” “Smurfs,” “Johnny Bravo,” “101 Dalmations,” “Casper’s Haunted Christmas,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz,” “My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure,” and many more including his first children’s book entitled “Fun Time With Grandmo Evelyn.”
He also drew promotional artwork featuring “Woody Woodpecker,” he worked on the nationally syndicated “Bugs Bunny” comic strip and created his own comic panel entitled “Clifton’s Crew.” He wrote and drew for the Tiny Toons Magazine and drew for the comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
When Spielberg wanted to get into cartoons and create pint-sized versions of Looney Tunes characters, teen-aged rabbits and ducks for television, Vaughns was there to help.
Stan Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics like Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among countless other characters, died early Monday morning, Nov. 12 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
When asked his thoughts about the passing away of the legendary Lee, Vaughns said “When I heard of Stan Lee’s death, it really stuck a nerve. Years ago I belonged to a Marvel fan club called The Merry Marvel Marching Society, which basically was an excuse that Lee used to promote his iconic characters along with various merchandise. Lee had a personality which was pervasive throughout his writings, and you couldn’t help but like his cornball humor and enthusiastic asides. Lee, along with his artists (especially Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby) created wonderful characters and storylines which to this day are still very popular and enduring.”
Vaughns and his wife, who has an art education degree, started their own studio, Byron Vaughns Productions Inc. after working for so many years in the television industry. Since starting the studio, they have been involved in many projects. They released a cartoon they created, wrote, and produced on black history entitled “Buddy T’s Little Theater.” The cartoon features young children playing famous African-American heroes of the past, such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. This project began in 1992 and was finalized in 2001 with the help of five other people including his wife.
Vaughns expressed that his greatest contribution was conducting the Animation Creations, a workshop studio for youth between the ages of 7 and 17. In the workshop studio, Vaughns, his wife, and other professional cartoonists showed the youth how to make cartoons come to life and critique them.
Vaughns, who has recently relocated back to Pine Bluff, is available and looking to do children’s books for independent authors. He is also available to do caricatures. For more information please contact Byron Vaughns at email@example.com.