Hana Kukal, a Canadian animator, story artist and director who worked on beloved children’s series and feature film classics, has died after battling cancer. The 30-plus year industry veteran passed on Thursday, November 5, with her spouse Marc Beutreaux at her side. The news was shared with Animation Magazine by Kukal’s colleagues.
Kukal had worked in the animation industry since 1985, working on full-length theatrical features and animated series, traditional 2D and CG. A seasoned character designer, storyboard artist and director admired within the international animation community, she graduated from Carleton University with a geology degree and studied art at Algonquin College.
Over the course of her career, Kukal led teams as a studio director and animation director on syndicated series including Katie & Orbie and Dirtgirlworld. She also worked on hits like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, The Raccoons and PAW Patrol. Her feature animation credits include ’90s and early aughts fan favorites FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Anastasia, Space Jam, The King and I, Joseph: King of Dreams and Osmosis Jones.
“Hana was an incredible talented asset to our animation industry. She set high quality standards and led teams with her creative passion and positivity,” said Toronto-based animation producer Janice Walker (Luna Petunia, Dirtgirlworld, Super Why!). “I am grateful to have had multiple opportunities to work with Hana on both feature and series productions. She truly contributed so much love and energy to creating great content.”
Kukal’s friends and colleagues remember her as an inspiration and example to all women in the animation industry with its majority of male directors. The dedicated artist is also described as “an adventurous globetrotter … a passionate gardener, chicken wrangler and lover of border collies, who found time to create mosaic art with ceramic tiles whilst maintaining a natural ecosystem on her farm. Her contagious smile and laughter was a welcomed joy in every studio.”
Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, there are no immediate plans for a memorial. Donations can be made in Kukal’s memory to the Cancer Research Society.