Pixar character designer Dan Lee passed away Jan. 15 following 17-month battle with lung cancer. The 35-year-old had been with Emeryville, Calif.-based animation house since 1996, working on such enduring favorites as A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc. He recently contributed to the CG hit, Finding Nemo and was hard at work on an upcoming Pixar flick at the time of his death.
Among the characters Lee designed were Rosie, Princess Atta, Dot, Hopper and Tuck & Roll in A Bug’s Life, Waternoose in Monsters, Inc.; and Nemo, Marlin, Bloat, Nemo’s friends and the barracuda in Finding Nemo.
Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton told the Los Angeles Times, “One of the most important aspects of character design in animation is making appealing characters. That doesn’t always mean they’re cute or pretty; it means that there’s something pleasing to the eye for staring at them a long period of time on the screen, and Dan was very good at finding the appeal in the designs of his characters.”
Born in Montreal to Chinese immigrants, Lee graduated from the classical animation program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, where he received the Board of Governors Silver Medal for Academic Excellence. He went on to work in TV animation and advertising with Kennedy Cartoons in Toronto and Colossal Pictures in San Francisco.
Friends and family say Lee was a nonsmoker who bicycled to and from work at Pixar. He is survived by his mother and father, Kam Sau and Hung Yau Lee of Toronto, and his three sisters. The family suggests that donations in Lee’s memory be made to the:
Alta Bates Summit Foundation
2450 Ashby Ave.
Berkeley, Calif. 94705