Born in Belleville, Ontario, on May 11, 1945, John Felix Weldon left for Montreal within a week, along with the rest of his family. He has been there ever since, obtaining his university degree in mathematics and psychology at McGill and a certificate from MacDonald’s Teacher’s College.It was while at MacDonald’s that Weldon made his first foray into arts and entertainment. He composed the book for a musical comedy called Genius is a Four Letter Word. “I never looked back,” he recalls. Soon afterward, his character The Thinker moved into a new medium, the comix, in The Pipkin Papers. That, along with a short animated film that he’d made, propelled Weldon into the National Film Board in 1970. He stayed for 33 years, winning an Oscar for Special Delivery, a Genie for The Hungry Squid and numerous awards around the world.
Weldon started out as an apprentice in a heralded animation unit that included Norman McLaren and Robert Verrall, the man who hired him. He worked as a tracer and cel painter with Barrie Nelson and Les Drew before landing his first directorial work on commissioned pieces that the NFB executed for Canadian federal departments. By 1977, he was making personal pieces, starting with No Apple for Johnny, a film based on experiences he had at teacher’s college. Within a year, he co-directed the sardonic multiple award-winning Special Delivery, assuring his status as a key animator at the Film Board.Weldon is a technical innovator, particularly fascinated by computers. His background in mathematics fuelled that interest, leading him to work informally as a computer programmer on musical and film programs in the mid ‘80s. Even before that, Weldon extended the form by combining live action with animation in Real Inside (1984), a film that blazed the path for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
In 1988, Weldon directed Of Dice and Men, adapting an MS-DOS program from Texas Instruments. Three years later, The Lump, which he directed, composed the soundtrack for and wrote, garnered acclaim for its combination of computer and cut-out techniques. His producer, Marcy Page, began to call Weldon’s approach recyclomation; the rough-hewn style attracted new audiences for the veteran artist. In 2003, The Hungry Squid, which added puppet animation to Weldon’s palette, garnered a Genie.
Soon afterward, John Weldon retired to his home in Montreal where he lives with his wife Margaret Griffin. Weldon continues to make music, write and illustrate comix and compose video pensées for his Web site.