William, (Tuck) Tucker was born Lynchburg Virginia where he attended numerous public schools in town and in the surrounding suburbs. It was at Virginia Episcopal school where instructors Susan Rash, Jim Hopkins, and Bill Jenkins took a personal interest in his work, encouraging his artistic and biological interests. Those interests would merge and become blurred in his college career. After exploring these disciplines at Lynchburg College, he transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University and undertook that schools rigorous undergraduate art program with an emphasis on illustration and animation. In his final years there he found himself busy moonlighting at Candy Apple, the only animation studio in the state.
At the same time he worked full time for HBO films where he worked for Robert Preston, Sam Waterston, and Mary Tyler Moore as a production assistant. The HBO folks encouraged him to ply his animation trade in Los Angeles and upon completion of the Communication Arts program at VCU in 1984, he went to LA with his former teacher and Candy Apple employer, Steve Segal. His goal, to take animation by storm, and start animating for Walt Disney Studios.
Upon arrival in Hollywood, things turned bad almost immediately. The car that Segal and Tucker were driving was burglarized and ransacked leaving the pair no materials with which to find jobs in mainstream animation. Tucker ordered new prints of his student films and hastily started drawing to rebuild his portfolio. His luck changed when the town’s biggest animation employer, Filmation Studios offered to test him for the position of assistant animator. He passed and started working on some of the worst shows ever animated. He Man and She Ra were the studio’s staples and Tucker drew enough scantily clad heroes and heroines to last several lifetimes. The silver lining in this schlocky cloud was that animation was about to experience a renaissance, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Filmation went under in 1988 at about the same time that Disney Features started aggressively making new movies. The little Mermaid was a perfect place to jump ship for, and Tucker found himself employed as an assistant animator in the studio of his dreams. The only problem was that the studio was top heavy with talent. People like Andreas Deja and Glen Keane were animators getting million dollar salaries, but weren’t going anywhere, leaving Tucker little room to grow.
In comes The Simpsons. Once again Tucker would hopscotch to another production. It was there, working for his friend, director Mark Kirkland, that Tucker learned most of his craft as an animation artist. The job meant drawing all of the character acting for the shows numerous personalities. The only problem was that animators had very little to say about the content of the script driven show. With this in mind, Tucker jumped ship again.
Ren and Stimpy was gaining fame in the animation world at this time. The show’s enigmatic and often explosive tempered creator was John Kricfalusi. John was puttting together a team that would decide their own ideas from top to bottom without being a slave to scripts. It was like working in a 60′s style commune. People openly smoked and drank at their desks, and did a lot of other stuff we shouldn’t go into. We made great cartoons, but the show’s freakish stile and even freakier employees made Nickelodeon Animation a very nervous. On top of that, we were habitually late delivering shows. It was a hard job and people were brutally honest with their criticisms of each others’ work. This meant that we created some very powerful stuff. Unfortunately, it came at too high of a price for Nickelodeon. Ren and Stimpy was scuttled, leaving the artists scrambling for work. Luckily, Nickelodeon would be also the savior of some of these people.
Around 1995, Tucker was contacted by an aquaintance, Craig Bartlett. Craig was working on a pilot for Nickelodeon called Hey Arnold. He needed a director and Tucker jumped at the chance. Upon completion of the pilot, the studio ordered a season’s worth of episodes. Tucker would first direct on these episodes, and then later serve as the show’s supervising director, and ultimately go on to direct the feature film. Hey Arnold, The Movie.
While at Nickelodeon, Tucker would also work on AHH! Real Monsters and the Rugrats series. Later around 2001, he served as creative consultant for the Jimmy Neutron Show until being tapped to do animation for the SpongeBob Movie. From there he directed another animated movie for Cartoon Network, a western themed film called Partywagon. Then he directed two more pilots, one for Cartoon Network and one for Nickelodeon Studios. Soon after this, around 2005, he landed a job as staff writer on the SpongeBob Squarepants series where he now serves as Supervising Storyboard Director. It’s been here that he has been happiest, working with top writing and drawing professionals who really know their craft. The artists are not bound by scripts and are encouraged to think on their feet, which is the best possible environment for creating funny cartoons