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William Joyce

Children's Author

There’s no one like William Joyce. In this exclusive video interview with Reading Rockets, the unconventional and highly creative author and illustrator of George Shrinks and Rolie Polie Olie discusses topics ranging from King Kong to whoopee cushions to ice cream planets.


Whether it is a round robot or a green booger, William Joyce is not afraid to draw whatever is on his mind. To the delight of children, Joyce’s uncensored imagination creates wacky and cool alter-realities. His versatile artistic talents have brought these worlds to life, both in his books and on the moving screen. Two of Joyce’s books, Rolie Polie Olie and George Shrinks, have become popular animated television series. In addition to making books and coordinating animations, William Joyce has also co-produced a feature film and illustrated numerous covers for The New Yorker magazin

An early start

William Joyce grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, raised by “a congenial horde of Southern screwballs.” His eclectic family included artists, bongo players, photographers, opera singers, geologists, and actors. According to family legend, William Joyce was born with a pencil in his hand.

In the fourth grade, William wrote his first book and entered it in a school contest. “Billy’s Booger,” illustrated entirely in green crayon, was the story of a young boy who is struck by a meteorite that gives his boogers super mathematical powers. While Joyce’s story was applauded by his classmates, it earned him an unexpected visit to the principal’s office.

William Joyce’s parents encouraged his artistic ways. Joyce took art classes and later entered art school at Southern Methodist University. But when Joyce’s professors insisted on changing his signature style, Joyce quit the art school and entered film school. It was there that he studied animation, a skill that would come in handy later in his career.

After college, Joyce moved to New York City. At first, publishers told him that he couldn’t make books about such strange topics. In 1983, Joyce published his first book, Tammy and the Gigantic Fish. Two years later, he published George Shrinks. After establishing himself as a prominent author and illustrator, Joyce used his background in animation to produce the PBS television series George Shrinks and the Disney Channel series Rolie Polie Olie, for which Joyce won two Emmy Awards.

Today William Joyce lives with his wife and two children in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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