Reporting Lisa Sigell
BURBANK (CBS) — Tim Walker’s passion for cartoons started as soon as he laid eyes on them as a boy. Drawing was his life, until life took an unexpected turn.
“I’m no genius. I’m no saint. I’m just a little cartoonist from Burbank, who loves what I do, and got hit in the face with real life,” Walker said, as he sat in his office on the Warner Bros. lot.
It was always his dream to be an animator and it came true.
“I can remember when I was 4 or 5-years-old at my grandparents’ house in North Hollywood seeing a cartoon on television and I was hooked. I used to ride my bike after school right up to Hanna-Barbera Studios and jump in the dumpster, because they used to throw away the drawings,” Walker recalled.
It’s a different picture now — one of his first jobs was at Hanna-Barbera and his career went on and on from there.
“I worked on a lot of ‘Smurfs’. I’ve worked on the ‘Flintstones’, ‘Top Cat’, ‘The Jetsons’, ‘Scooby Doo’, ‘Tom and Jerry’, ’Bugs Bunny’,” Walker said.
The Emmy Award-winning animator, producer and director had a sketch of the perfect life, but five years ago things changed when he started to notice weakness in his right arm.
Tim was diagnosed with Lateral Parkinson’s disease. The right side of his body was going numb and the hand that helped build his career was now failing him.
Walker figured his career was over — that he would simply have to watch it disintegrate right in front of his eyes. He felt that way for about 30 seconds and then he decided he was not done.
It was a second chance that came straight out of left — he would learn to draw with his other hand. He bought a new sketchbook and started from scratch.
“The first thing I did was write drawings from the left. This was my first attempt at a left-handed drawing,” he said hold up a sketch.
He never looked back and he never gave up.
“I’m not smart enough to over-think anything. I took the pencil out of my right hand and I put it in my left. And I knew that I would get something on there and that something would get better if I kept doing it over and over again,” he said.
Tim never intended his drawings to be anything more than his personal journey, until he was convinced it was so much more. That is how his book, “Drawings from the Left or Parkinson’s Pictures”, came to be.
“I fully believe that my career at this point is inspiration. You don’t throw in the towel. You fight to the bitter end. You never ever give up,” Walker said.
The irony of Tim’s Diagnosis is that 99 percent of the time people, who get Parkinson’s disease laterally, get it on their left side. Tim blamed Murphy’s Law for the disease affecting his right.
Tim said that he will never stop drawing, no matter how difficult it gets.
For more information on how you can purchases a signed hardcover of “Drawings from the Left or Parkinson’s Pictures“, visit amazon.com. For moreon Tim Walker, visit his website, jamestimwalker.com. Please be advised that both the the book and website contain some adult-themed cartoons that may not be suitable for children.