- Categories: 20th Century
Joy Batchelor was born in Watford, England, in 1914. By the time she answered John Halas’s advertisement for an animator in 1938, she was already an experienced illustrator/animator – a rare thing for a woman in the mid- Thirties. John immediately recognised her talent and their collaboration began with a series of films that were made in Budapest. However as it turned out, the funding ran out, the couple were forced to return to London. The year was 1939, and the world was on the brink of war.
Back in England, with no employment Joy took their graphic work around the advertising agencies, publishers and magazines. Eventually the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson asked them to make animated film ads, for Kellogg’s Train Trouble and Lux soap Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard. In order to be paid they had to become a company so in 1940 they established Halas & Batchelor Cartoon Films, and were married in the same year.
From the outset Joy was more that just an animator, she took on writing, directing and designing the films as well as producing them. Her sense of humour counterbalanced John’s ambition and drive and they were united in their belief that animation should be recognised as an art form and that through it they could make a difference.
Joy wrote and co-wrote literally hundreds of scripts, commercials, propaganda, educational and entertainment films including the first Charley films made for the COI in 1946 to introduce social security, Animal Farm (1954), George Orwell’s classic allegorical fable, The World of Little Ig (1956) a story of a prehistoric boy that pre-dated Hanna-Barbera’s Flintstones and For Better for Worse (1959) a sponsored film for Philips about the potential benefits and evil of television.
Joy was the often unseen driving force behind most of the work even in the later years when she no longer came into the studio John relied heavily on her critical overview. Her feature film, Ruddigore (1964), was the first animated operetta, perfectly capturing the tongue in cheek quality of its creators, Gilbert and Sullivan. By the mid 1970s she retired through ill health, but continued to teach at the London International Film School, where she remained a governor until her death in 1991.