This story was updated on May 3rd with a new quote from Mike Judge.
We are saddened by the recent passing of two-time Emmy-nominated animation director and storyboard artist Tony Kluck, who worked on Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria and King of the Hill, of cancer, at 75. He died peacefully in Amsterdam on April 24, surrounded by his loving wife, Cecilia, and his devoted sons, Daniel and Timothy.
Kluck began his career at Toonder Studios in Amsterdam, working on projects such as the TV movie Gnomes (1980) and Als Je Begrijp Wat Ik Bedoel (The Dragon that Wasn’t) (1983). He entered the U.S. animation scene as storyboard artist and animation director on shows such as Beavis and Butt-Head and Daria. He was a sequence director and overseas animation supervisor on the Beavis and Butt-Head Do America movie (1995), animator on KaBlam!, sheet-timer on CatDog, animation director on Downtown and Celebrity Deathmatch, and animation director on Daria in Is It College Yet? movie (2002). Other credits include animation timer on Duplex (2003) and lead animation supervisor on The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003).
He also worked as a storyboard artist and animation on Blue Sky’s first Ice Age movie (2002), Cartoon Network series Sheep in the Big City (2002), PBS show Maya and Miguel (2004-2006) and FOX-TV’s Bob’s Burger (2012). He received two primetime Emmy nominations for his work on Downtown and King of the Hill.
Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill creator Mike Judge told Animation Magazine, “Tony was an incredibly talented animator and director. He did amazing work on Beavis and Butt-Head that made the show so much better. He was so good with physical comedy and when I look back at old episodes, I can always tell the stuff that Tony animated. In fact, in the new episodes we were doing, we were looking frame-by-frame at some of the scenes he animated, studying them and trying to recreate what he did — like the first scene in the first Cornholio episode where Beavis is going crazy eating food out of the cupboards and shaking his head wildly….Or the couch cutaway we used for years where Beavis stomps Butt-Head in the balls. Or the first time Beavis started saying “fire” over and over again. I also liked the way Tony talked too — I liked his accent. Tony was so talented and such a nice guy, and I’ll miss him.”
“Tony was a man of unwavering love and kindness, and his family was at the center of his world,” wrote his son Daniel. “He loved taking them exploring nature, collecting as many rocks and leaves as possible and sharing his boundless creativity. In addition to being a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother-in-law, Tony was also a talented and brilliant cartoonist. His imaginative stories and illustrations captivated the hearts and minds of all those that were exposed to his genius, and he will be deeply missed by his fans and admirers. Although we are heartbroken by our loss, we take comfort in knowing that Tony lived a full and meaningful life, and his legacy will live on through the memories he created with his family, friends and the impact he made on the world. Tony will be deeply missed but forever remembered for his love, kindness, and creativity.”
A Legacy of Professionalism and Laughter
Many animation industry veterans who had the pleasure of working with Kluck posted fond remembrances on MTV Animation’s and ASIFA East’s Facebook page:
Tom Warburton, creator of Kids Next Door and exec producer of Disney’s Muppet Babies wrote, “Tony radiated kindness, humor and talent in a six desk radius from wherever he was seated in a studio. That smile! That accent! That mustache! I’m honored to have known and worked with him.”
Animation veteran David B. Levy (head of Pingfong Studio) noted, “I loved working for Tony on Maya & Miquel sheet checking. I’d look forward to coming in once a week and present finished sheets and any questions to him on post-it notes. He was so patient, nice and encouraging. I was very sad when he made an offer to work on the show full time and I had a conflicting engagement. He was definitely an unofficial mentor figure to me.”
Director Ray Kosarin, who worked with Kluck on Daria and Beavis and Butt-Head shared, “I was very fond of Tony and admired his talents, most especially his instinct for comedy. I especially remember his passion when he directed on the Beavis and Butt-Head cartoons; he dove deep into those characters and analyzed their motivations and behaviors with exuberance and almost Freudian thoroughness. His stuff was damn funny.”
Animation director, art director and storyboard artist Nick DeMayo (The Venture Bros, Steven Universe) wrote, “I can’t begin to share the many memories made with Tony that I will always cherish. Whenever I’d get stressed out on a particularly difficult section, he’d turn to me and say in his thick Dutch accent, ‘It’s only ani-mation, dood!’ Farewell, my friend.”
Animation veteran Yvette Kaplan who co-directed Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, tells us, “There was so much life in Tony and in his sparkling eyes, it’s impossible to believe he is gone. Besides being one of the most joyous, delightful, and loving people in the world, Tony was an animation madman, one of the best, fastest, most possessed and prolific animators I’ve ever known. He was crucial to the show and to the movie in so many ways. He boarded and directed some of the craziest, wildest and most difficult episodes and sequences. But what raised him to the esteemed position as animation lifesaver in Mike Judge’s eyes — and to my great relief!— is that HE, and he alone, finally nailed the perfect Beavis fist shake, which had been, until then, an unreachable goal. He did it with four perfectly timed and staggered drawings — so simple, yet miraculous. That was Tony — a miracle. There will never be another like him.”
We send our condolences to Tony’s many friends, family and colleagues around the world.
(A special thanks to Yvette Kaplan for helping us gather info. and photos from Tony’s family and friends. Yvette directed the “Cornholio” episode of Beavis and Butt-Head which was mentioned by Mike Judge in his remembrance.)