The Storied Life of

Broose Johnson

     Pacing in front of a wall covered with assignments created for a CalArts drawing class, our teacher paused at the sketch that I had pinned up and said, “Before we talk about the rest of these, I’ve got to ask you, Broose… what’s going on here?”


     I was startled. “Um, it’s just a brass hat stand,” I mumbled. “With a scarf and top hat hanging on it. That’s all.”


     “No, it’s more than that. It raises an intriguing question,” he said, scratching his chin. “Whoever owns this top hat and silk scarf is obviously rich, right? So, what’s he doing in a rundown shack like this?” 


     He pointed to the cracks I had drawn on the wall and ceiling behind the stand.


     “Is he visiting the poor? Is he there to foreclose on somebody’s mortgage? Was he once poor himself, and he’s visiting his family? What’s the story?”


     I was stunned. What do you mean, what’s the story? Like I said, it’s just a sketch of a brass hat stand with some stuff thrown around it to try and make it interesting. At least, that’s what I thought I’d been drawing.


     But what my instructor had said caught my imagination. I had set out to just create an image but had stumbled into a story!    

     Since that drawing class, back in 1984, storytelling has continued to fascinate me. Whether it’s animation, illustration, writing, directing, music, logo design, voice work or storyboarding, storytelling has been at the heart of all my work.


     Graduating from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in May of 1987, I started at Walt Disney Feature Animation in June.  Over the course of almost 17 years with Disney Studios I was blessed to be able to help create some of the Studio’s finest characters including Sebastian the Crab, The Beast, The Genie, Young Simba, Ling and Chien-Po from Mulan, and the dimwitted moose, Tuke, in Brother Bear, among others. Here’s a link to my imdb.com page.


     During the latter half of my time with Disney I worked extensively in story and development on Brother Bear and the short film John Henry on which I was Co-Head of Story with Tim Hodge, which involved storyboarding, script writing, character development, character and art design, and training of Disney’s Florida story team.


    Following the closing of Disney Feature Animation’s Florida studio, the Lord led me to Cecropia, Inc. to work on a very innovative video game entitled, THE ACT.  I was the animation director, head of story, game level designer and editor. That’s a lot of hats to wear! It involved the (hand animated!) adventures of a lowly window washer, named Edgar, who finds himself having to impersonate a doctor to save his brother Wally from…   well, hopefully you can find a YouTube video to watch a play-through to find out. It was released as a tablet/mobile game for a time, but, unfortunately, as far as I know, it can no longer be played even if you can find it. Bummer. I don’t believe it’s still supported. Hey! Good News! I found a trailer for the game on YouTube!  This is something I edited together, both audio and visuals. It’s here: The Act trailer.  It will open in a new window.


     Currently, I am the Art and Story Director for GrapeCity’s GrapeSEED and LittleSEED curriculums that teach English to kindergarten students all over the world. I also design the occasional logo here and there. Mostly for dog related events that my family is a part of – dog shows, sled dog races – that sort of thing. Other stuff as well. Do you have something that you need a logo or tee shirt design for? Let me know! Check out some samples on my Logos page!


     I’ve also embarked into a whole new adventure… writing! I vowed many years ago to write down a few of the many stories that I told my children when they were little, and I’ve finished the first one (of many, I hope!). Shockingly, rather than a short little children’s story, my first endeavor grew into a full-fledged Young Adult novel – perhaps a trilogy! You can learn more about Race Rexter in the Dinosaur Dimension on the NEWS! Race Rexter page.


     Another thing visitors to the site may not know is that I’m a double, above the knee, amputee and get around in an awesome pair of artificial legs. Even in the snow of Bozeman, Montana! Typically, when people ask what happened to my legs, I tell them that I was hit by a train during a shark attack. Really. I enjoy the curious looks on their faces as they try to work that out. After a moment of letting them stew, I tell them the infinitely less-dramatic truth: I was born this way. As my parents tell it, I had no usable – or even connected – bones below my knees. Weird! (And, even after many tests, they never found the reason. They would probably know today.) My dad said that he could turn my foot completely backwards and I wouldn’t even care. (Now, WHY my dad would want to do that is beyond me!) 🙂 My legs were amputated when I was just over a year old, and they had me trying to walk in a pair of artificial legs the next morning! Can you believe it? Seems too soon to me, but I guess the doctors and experts knew what they were doing because it worked! (Kids adapt fast – which they knew, of course.) I’ve been going strong ever since. I am very grateful.


     Side note: In my new book, Race Rexter in the Dinosaur Dimension, Race Rexter is a double-amputee as well. I wasn’t trying to make any great statement or anything – I was just looking for a reason that the character would not be accepted into the Air Force. That’s all. My original plans were to have him suffering with something “invisible” like asthma, for example. But I don’t know asthma, and I would hate to do a disservice to those that suffer from it by misrepresenting it. It was my wife Penny’s suggestion to have Race be an amputee – like me. Sure, that was an obvious choice – and it would certainly keep him out of the Air Force – but characters in a story already represent elements of their author. This seemed a bit too on the nose. My wife simply responded with, “Write what you know” one of the greatest writer’s creeds. She was right (as usual 🙂 ) and it actually turned into one of my favorite elements of the story. Hopefully y’all will get to check it out for yourselves someday soon!


     Nowadays, when I’m not drawing, you’ll most likely find me at our place in Bozeman, Montana working on a new book; playing my bass or guitar; leading worship music at our church; shoveling snow; enjoying a cup of coffee with my beautiful wife, Penny; or hanging out with a random assortment of our 10 grown kids, their spouses, and our grandchildren.


     …and I’ll probably be telling them a story.