Having battled through setbacks and medical issues all his life, from his little corner of the world in Adamstown, animator MJ Booth’s influence was felt all over the world.
ributes poured in this week for “a real character” and “an extraordinary talent” who was partly responsible for such major animations as ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, ‘Zorro’, ‘Budgie the Little Helicopter’ and ‘Dino Babies’ to name but a few.
Life was not always the easiest for MJ. Suffering from a severe form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone Disease, breaking bones and being laid up was a regular occurrence. Later in life, while in Dublin, he suffered a brain haemorrhage following a fall and subsequently developed epilepsy – a dangerous condition for someone with brittle bones.
However, he bore these works with tremendous dignity and a trademark sense of humour. “Having epilepsy and brittle bones is like an earthquake in an egg factory,” he would joke.
In some ways, his condition led directly to his career in art. While other children his age were out playing sports and climbing trees, MJ would spend hours drawing, coloring and playing with plasticine.
He went on to achieve a certificate in Visual Studies from Waterford RTC in 1981 and later picked up a National Diploma in Art in 1984, earning an Art & Design certificate the same year.
MJ applied to study Fine Art in the National College of Art and Design, but at the time he was told they couldn’t accommodate a wheelchair user. However, it didn’t matter much to him as bigger things were calling.
In 1991 he received a call from a friend stating that an animation studio had opened in Dublin and advising him to give it a go. With the quality of his work shining through, MJ was instantly offered the job with American animation company Murakami-Wolf and went on to work on a whole host of legendary cartoons, beloved by children across the globe.
The work required massive attention to detail as MJ was among a team of 12 artists working on backgrounds etc which would have to look exactly the same. In those days, every 25 minute animation required between 300 and 400 backgrounds with a crew of 130 artists turning over a new show every six weeks.
MJ subsequently worked as a Color Key Artist in Germany for a time before returning home and commencing work as a freelance artist from the comfort of his own home and it was around this time he was awarded the Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholar of the Year Award in recognition of his talents.
After returning to Adamstown, MJ became involved in a whole host of community projects, working with local schools, painting backdrops for the local Panto group and designing postcards and calendars for charity.
He also had a keen interest in history and chaired the local historical society for a time. In 2005, his efforts in his local community were recognized with a County Wexford People of the Year Award.
Aside from his artistic and community endeavors, MJ loved a game of cards, be it 45s, Texas Hold ‘Em or Gin Rummy, and he was also a regular at the pool table in Cullen’s where he was often spotted with a cue in one hand and a Coke in the other.
While being interviewed for this newspaper back in 2010, MJ stated: “I often say to people if there is a God and he came down on earth and said ‘MJ, you can be anyone you want to be in this world,’ I wouldn’t ‘t change at all.”
MJ was a beloved brother of Leo, Liam, Betty and Mary. He is sadly missed by his loving brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, great nephews, great nieces, extended family and friends.
MJ’s remains will be resting at St Abban’s Church Oratory in Adamstown on Thursday, August 11, from 6 pm to 9 pm and again on Friday, August 12, from 2 pm to 9 pm
His funeral mass takes place on Saturday, August 13, at 1.30pm in St Abban’s Church, followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.