William Joyce (writer)

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William Joyce
Joyce promoting The Man in the Moon in November 2011
Joyce promoting The Man in the Moon in November 2011
BornWilliam Edward Joyce
(1959-12-11) December 11, 1959 (age 64)
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
  • Author
  • illustrator
  • filmmaker
EducationSouthern Methodist University
Years active1981–present
SpouseFrances Elizabeth Baucum Joyce (1960-2016)

William Edward Joyce (born December 11, 1959) is an American writer, illustrator, and filmmaker. He has achieved worldwide recognition as an author, artist and pioneer in the digital and animation industry.[1][2]

He has written and illustrated over 50 children’s books and novels which have been translated into over 40 languages.

He began his film career as a concept artist for the 1995 hit film Toy Story and has since been active in both animation and live action. He subsequently landed credits on the films including A Bug's Life (1998) and Robots (2005). He wrote the book A Day with Wilbur Robinson, which was adapted into a feature film by Disney as Meet the Robinsons (2007), having direct involvement in the film.

Among his many awards, Joyce has won 6 Emmys, 3 Annies and an Academy award for his short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011).

Joyce was named by Newsweek magazine as “one of the 100 people to watch in the new millennium. His feature films, all based on his books, include Epic, Rise of the Guardians, Robots, and Meet the Robinsons. His television series include the groundbreaking computer animated Rolie Polie Olie for which he was creator and showrunner.

He has also painted numerous covers for the New Yorker Magazine. His new company, Howdybot Studios, is focused on Joyce's stories in a variety of mediums and media. Joyce’s latest short film Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat (2022) has won awards at a number of film festivals in the U.S. He is also in pre-production on an animated version of The Great Gatsby. Both projects are in collaboration with DNEG Studios and Epic Games.

His novel Ollie's Odyssey was adapted into a live action/CG limited series on Netflix in August 2022.


Children's literature[edit]

He has written and illustrated over 50 children's books including George Shrinks, Santa Calls, Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, Rolie Polie Olie, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs and A Day with Wilbur Robinson, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, The Guardians of Childhood series and many others.

His first book “Tammy and the Gigantic Fish” by James and Katherine Gray was published by Harper & Row (now Harper Collins) in 1983. After the retirement of his longtime editor there Laura Gerringer, in 2011 Joyce moved his backlist and all subsequent books to Simon & Schuster where his editor is Caitlyn Dlouhy.

Since being at Simon & Schuster Mr. Joyce has produced a number of bestselling titles, including The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore which debuted at Number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in July 2012, a position it held for several weeks. Morris Lessmore has been translated into over 40 languages and was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best children's books of all time. Morris Lessmore is the most expansive and experimental of Joyce’s stories. With his company Moonbot Studios, Joyce along with his partners, produced the Lessmore story in a variety of media and mediums simultaneously. A short film was in production (using handmade miniature sets) while the book was being illustrated (along with Joe Bluhm) and an interactive story app was being devised.

The story app of Morris Lessmore received overwhelmingly positive attention and in August 2011 briefly dislodged Angry Birds as the bestselling app in the world. It was voted into the app hall of fame soon after.[3]

Film and television[edit]

Joyce has received three Emmys for Rolie Polie Olie, a Canadian animated television series based on his series of children's books that aired on Disney Channel (part of Playhouse Disney block) and is currently on Disney+. His second television series, George Shrinks, used to air daily on PBS stations. He has received three additional Emmys for other animated projects.

Joyce created conceptual characters for Disney/Pixar's feature films Toy Story (1995) and A Bug's Life (1998). In 2001 Pixar founder John Lasseter introduced Joyce to animation director Chris Wedge. At this time Wedge’s fledging animation studio Blue Sky was completing its Oscar winning short film Bunny and hoped to begin developing feature animated films, which they soon did with the Ice Age franchise.

In 2002, after Joyce and Ice Age director Chris Wedge attempted to adapt one of Joyce's book Santa Calls into a feature film Santa Calls, during that process they both came up with the idea for the computer-animated feature film Robots (2005). Besides being one of the creators, Joyce also served as a producer and production designer.[4]

In 2005, Joyce and Reel FX launched a joint venture, Aimesworth Amusements, to produce feature films, video games and books.[5] The new company announced plans to make three feature films:[6] The Guardians of Childhood, The Mischevians, and Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo.[7] The first of those projects, The Guardians of Childhood was developed by DreamWorks Animation into the feature film, Rise of the Guardians. It was released in 2012 and is based on Joyce's book series and the short film Man in the Moon, directed by Joyce.[8] Joyce was originally slated to direct the film, however early in the production his daughter Mary Katherine, his wife Elizabeth and his sister Cecile were diagnosed with terminal illnesses. He continued on as an executive producer along with his friend Guillermo del Toro. At the beginning of the end credits Dreamworks dedicated the film to Joyce’s daughter who died before the film's release.

In 2007, Disney released Meet the Robinsons, a feature film based on his book A Day with Wilbur Robinson, to which Joyce served as one of the executive producers of the film along with John Lasseter and Clark Spencer. Joyce had written several drafts of the screenplay and did production design on a number of key characters and sets for the final film.

In August 2009, Joyce and Reel FX co-founder Brandon Oldenburg and producers Lampton Enoch and Alyssa Kantrow founded a Shreveport-based animation and visual effects studio MOONBOT Studios.[9] The studio produced an Oscar-winning animated short film[10] and an iPad app[11] The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The short film went on to win an Academy award. A book adaption was released in summer 2012.[12] The studio released in January 2012 another app, The Numberlys. A short film and a bestselling book followed soon after. The Numberlys film was short listed for the 2012 Academy Awards animated short film Oscar.[13]

His book The Leaf Men was adapted by Blue Sky Studios into a 2013 feature film titled Epic, with Joyce as writer, executive producer, and production designer.[14]

In 2021, Joyce wrote and directed the short film Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat with the visual effects company DNEG. DNEG also announced they would be producing a feature animated film adaptation of The Great Gatsby directed by Joyce and written by noted author Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret).[15]

Joyce’s acclaimed young adult novel “Ollie’s Odyssey” has been adopted as a live action/CG hybrid show by Netflix and premieres on August 24, 2022. It is the second of Joyce’s works to be adapted by Peter Ramsey (Rise of the Guardians, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).

Awards and accolades[edit]

Joyce in March 2012 holding an Oscar for his short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore during a parade in his and Brandon Oldenburg's honor held in downtown Shreveport.

Joyce received the 2008 Louisiana Writer Award for his enduring contribution to the "literary intellectual heritage of Louisiana." The award was presented to him on October 4, 2008, during a ceremony at the 2008 Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge. On February 26, 2012, he won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Newsweek called him one of the top 100 people to watch in the new millennium.[16]

Gold medal from the Society of Illustrators for Santa Calls.

Three silver medals from the Society of Illustrators.

Academy Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result
2012 The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore Best Animated Short Film Won

Emmy Awards

Year Nominated Work Category Result
1998-1999 Rolie Polie Olie "Little Sister, Big Brother" Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation Won
1999-2000 Rolie Polie Olie Outstanding Special Class Animated Program Won
2004-2005 Rolie Polie Olie Outstanding Special Class Animated Program Won
2013-2014 The Scarecrow Outstanding New Approaches - Original Daytime Program Won
2014-2015 Silent Outstanding Special Class Animated Program Won
2016-2017 Taking Flight Outstanding Special Class Animated Program Won

Personal life[edit]

William Joyce lives with his son Jackson Edward Joyce in Shreveport, Louisiana. His daughter, Mary Katherine, died on May 2, 2010, at the age of 18, due to complications of brain cancer.[17][18] Rise of the Guardians, a film inspired by stories Joyce told her while young and later resulted in The Guardians of Childhood book series, was dedicated to her memory, reading “For Mary Katherine Joyce, a Guardian Fierce and True” during the credits.[19] The main character of Epic, which is also based on Joyce's book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, was named after her.[20] His wife, Frances Elizabeth Baucum Joyce, who was a Shreveport attorney, died on January 20, 2016, at the age of 55, due to complications of ALS.[21] He remarried on the 31st July 2020.[22]

In 2006, Joyce founded the Katrinarita Gras Foundation to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. He is selling prints of his unpublished Mardi Gras The New Yorker cover through the foundation with all profit going to Louisiana artists and arts organizations.[23]

Works by William Joyce[edit]


In May 2017, Atheneum Young Readers released the picture book Bently & Egg, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, of which the film version is entitled Meet the Robinsons, and Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo. All are under the label The World of William Joyce.[24]

Note: All books are written and illustrated by William Joyce, except as noted

  • My First Book of Nursery Tales, retold by Marianna Mayer and illustrated by William Joyce (1983)[25]
  • Tammy and the Gigantic Fish by Catherine & James Gray, illustrated by William Joyce (1983)[26]
  • Waiting-for-Spring Stories by Bethany Roberts, illustrated by William Joyce (1984)[27]
  • William Joyce's Mother Goose, illustrated by William Joyce (1984)[28]
  • George Shrinks (1985)[29]
  • Shoes, written by Elizabeth Winthrop (1986)
  • Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo (1988)
  • Humphrey's Bear by Jan Wahl, illustrated by William Joyce (1989)
  • Some of the Adventures of Rhode Island Red by Stephen Manes, illustrated by William Joyce (1990)
  • A Day with Wilbur Robinson (1990)
  • Nicholas Cricket by Joyce Maxner, illustrated by William Joyce (1991)
  • Bently & Egg (1992)
  • Santa Calls (1993)
  • Don't Wake the Princess: Hopes, Dreams, and Wishes, Cover art (1993)
  • A Wiggly, Jiggly, Joggly Tooth by Bill Hawley, illustrated by William Joyce (1995)
  • The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs (1996), Play (premiere at Strand Theatre, Shreveport) - 1998
  • Buddy (1997)
  • World of William Joyce Scrapbook by William Joyce, photos by Philip Gould and design by Christine Kettner (1997)
  • Life with Bob (board book) (1998)
  • Baseball Bob (board book) (1999)
  • The Art of Robots (2004)
  • The Art of Rise of the Guardians (2012)
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2012)[30]
  • The Mischievians (2013)[31]
  • The Numberlys, co-illustrated with Christina Ellis (2014)[32]
  • A Bean, a Stalk and a Boy Named Jack (2014)[33]
  • Billy's Booger (2015)[34]
  • Ollie's Odyssey (2016)[35]
  • Bently & Egg (2017)[36]

Rolie Polie Olie series[edit]

  1. Rolie Polie Olie (1999)
  2. Rolie Polie Olie: How Many Howdys? (board book) (1999)
  3. Rolie Polie Olie: A Little Spot of Color (board book) (2000)
  4. Rolie Polie Olie: Polka Dot! Polka Dot! (board book) (2000)
  5. Snowie Rolie (2000)
  6. Rolie Polie Olie - Character Books: Olie, Spot, Zowie, Billie (2001)
  7. Sleepy Time Olie (2001)
  8. Big Time Olie (2002)
  9. Busy Books - Peakaboo You!, Rolie Polie Shapes, Be My Pal!, Rocket Up, Rolie! (2002)

The Guardians of Childhood series[edit]

  1. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, written with Laura Geringer (2011)[37]
  2. E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core! (2012)[38]
  3. Toothiana: Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies (2012)[39]
  4. The Sandman and the War of Dreams (2013)[40]
  5. Jack Frost: The End Becomes the Beginning (2018)
Picture books[edit]
  1. The Man in the Moon (2011)[41]
  2. The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie (2012)[42]
  3. Jack Frost (2015)



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Toy Story Conceptual and art design
1997 Buddy Screenwriter & Co-Producer Screen story
1998 A Bug's Life Conceptual and art design
2005 Robots Writer[a]
Producer & Production Designer
2007 Meet the Robinsons Writer[b]
Executive Producer
2007 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Production Designer Main title sequence design
2011 The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore Director & Writer
2012 Rise of the Guardians Writer[c]
Executive Producer
2013 Epic Writer, Production Designer, & Executive Producer
2013 The Scarecrow Executive Producer
2013 The Numberlys Director, Writer
2014 Silent Executive Producer
2014 The Cask of Amontillado Director
2022 Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat Director
TBA The Great Gatsby[15] Director Animated film adaptation

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1998–2004 Rolie Polie Olie Created by, based on the book series of the same name
2000–2003 George Shrinks Created by, based on the book of the same name
2022 Lost Ollie based on the book Ollie's Odyssey


  1. ^ Uncredited.
  2. ^ The original book A Day with Wilbur Robinson.
  3. ^ The original books The Guardians of Childhood and The Man in the Moon.


  1. ^ "Guardian of Childhood: William Joyce — The NCCIL". May 27, 2018. Archived from the original on May 27, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  2. ^ "William Joyce: Guardian of Childhood | Arkell Museum". www.arkellmuseum.org. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  3. ^ Kemp, Vivek (February 20, 2013). "Why Mr. Morris Lessmore's Creators Told Their Story App-First [Video]". Fast Company. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  4. ^ Jones, Malcolm (March 13, 2005). "Heavenly Metal". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  5. ^ Daly, Helen (June 1, 2005). "HOT HOUSE: Reel FX Creative Studios Ramps Up for Animated Fare". Studio Daily. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Webb, Cynthia D. (January 16, 2005). "Reel FX moves to larger digs in Deep Ellum". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  7. ^ Connelly, Brendon (April 23, 2009). "Dreamworks Teaming Up With William Joyce for the Guardians of Childhood". SlashFIlm. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  8. ^ McCarthy, Todd (October 11, 2012). "Rise of the Guardians: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  9. ^ "New Talent for Louisiana". PR Newswire. August 6, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  10. ^ LeBlanc-Berry, Lisa (January 2011). "William Joyce: Making art come to life". Ourhouse.biz. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  11. ^ Donahoo, Daniel (May 31, 2011). "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a Game-Changing eBook App". Wired. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  12. ^ ""The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" Nominated for Best Animated Short in 2011 Oscars". MarketWatch. January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Jon (January 11, 2012). "The Numberlys Invent the Alphabet in a World Run By Numbers". Read Write Web. Archived from the original on January 16, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  14. ^ Barnes, Brooks (January 10, 2010). "Taking Aim at the Big Names in Animated Film". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Giardina, Carolyn (February 22, 2021). "'The Great Gatsby' Animated Feature in Development". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 24, 2021.
  16. ^ Newsweek (April 21, 1997). "The Century Club". Newsweek. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  17. ^ Breznican, Anthony (March 29, 2012). "You'd better watch out for DreamWorks Animation's 'Rise of the Guardians' – NEW PICS & TRAILER". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  18. ^ "Mary Katherine Joyce Obituary". Shreveport Times. May 5, 2010. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  19. ^ Feinberg, Scott (October 15, 2012). "'Rise of the Guardians' Unveiled, Rises to Top Tier of Animated Contenders (Analysis)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 17, 2012. Ramsey included a dedication to her at the end of the film, a gesture for which Joyce said he is very appreciative.
  20. ^ Desowitz, Bill (May 16, 2013). "Immersed in Movies: Chris Wedge Gets 'Epic'". Animation Scoop. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  21. ^ Talamo, Lex (January 21, 2016). "Updated: Services announced for Elizabeth Joyce". Shreveport Times. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  22. ^ https://www.instagram.com/p/CSAbVRalkLa/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==; Anniversary post accessed on the 5th December 2023
  23. ^ "Cheney-killed New Yorker cover finds new life". New Orleans CityBusiness. September 13, 2006. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
  24. ^ Chere Dastugue Coen (May 1, 2017). "New title out this week by bestselling Louisiana author". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  25. ^ "My First Book of Nursery Tales". Archived from the original on April 16, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  26. ^ Gray, Catherine; Gray, James (March 1991). Tammy and the Gigantic Fish. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0064432637.
  27. ^ Roberts, Bethany (1984). Waiting for Spring Stories. Harper & Row. ISBN 0060250615.
  28. ^ William Joyce's Mother Goose. Random House. February 6, 1984. ISBN 9780679866558 – via Amazon.
  29. ^ Joyce, William (October 2, 1985). George Shrinks. Harper Collins. ISBN 0060230703.
  30. ^ "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore". Moonbot Studios. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  31. ^ "The Mischievians". Moonbot Studios. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  32. ^ "The Numberlys". Moonbot Studios. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  33. ^ "A Bean, A Stalk And A Boy Named Jack". Moonbot Studios. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  34. ^ "Billy's Booger". Moonbot Studios. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  35. ^ Joyce, William (April 12, 2016). Ollie's Odyssey. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781442473553. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  36. ^ Joyce, William (April 4, 2017). Bently & Egg. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781481489492. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  37. ^ Geringer, Laura (October 4, 2011). Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781442430488. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  38. ^ Joyce, William (February 21, 2012). E. Aster Bunnymund and the Battle of the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781442449916. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  39. ^ "Toothiana". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  40. ^ The Sandman and the War of Dreams. Simon & Schuster. November 5, 2013. ISBN 9781442430549. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  41. ^ Joyce, William (September 6, 2011). The Man in the Moon. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781442430419. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  42. ^ Joyce, William (October 2, 2012). Sanderson Man Snoozy (w.t.). Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781442430426. Retrieved March 3, 2012.

External links[edit]