This article can be found in the Spring 2019 edition of the Alumni Magazine.

May 15, 2019

As animator Joshua Bullock reflects back on his time at USF, he credits three educators with setting the tone for an unrelenting drive to succeed. Those mentors from opposite sides of the lake were Cougars football coach Kevin Donley on one side, with School of Creative Arts professor Matt White and
Communication Program Director Jane Martin on the other side. Donley’s time of influence was brief, since Bullock’s football career was derailed by a knee injury, but the coach’s direction took hold.

“Coach Donley and the coaches instilled determination in all of us,” Bullock said. “Unfortunately, I got hurt at the start and it kind of ended my football career. But that determination to continue to be better, to push through the hard times, stuck with me.”

Bullock, an animation major, considered switching majors during a frustrating, confusing time after his football injury. White, the program director of animation, saw too much promise in Bullock’s skills to let that happen.

“Matt came in, kicked my butt, and said, ‘No, you need to do this. You have the talent for this,’ ” Bullock said. “He wants me to start my own big animation company and, hopefully, I can do that one day. He’s getting that ball rolling. Jane Martin has also played a huge role in my discipline to keep pushing
through.”

Martin knew well of Bullock’s unrelenting focus on the projects he was handling.

“She would have students call me if I was late to class due to me staying up all night working on my animation projects.”

“She would have students call me if I was late to class due to me staying up all night working on my animation projects,” Bullock said.

Bullock, 29, is forging a challenging path in animation, working as a freelancer and creating his own original comic book. While watching the tributes last November to Stan Lee, co-creator of several of Marvel Comics’ iconic characters, including Spider-man and Black Panther, Bullock was inspired again to
set his sights high.

“Josh is incredibly talented and can pretty much get a job wherever he wants,” White said. “But he wants to be able to make his own way and do his own thing. He’s always had the work ethic, drive and vision to do that.”

Bullock worked with SmashBits Animation House in Evansville for two years before moving back to Indianapolis to become his own boss. He has several clients and produces work for Black Sands Entertainment, among others. He recently signed with a publisher, Noir Caesar Entertainment, to produce his comic, “Monarchs,” and it is featured on the Noir Caesar website. “Monarchs” is based on the style of the Japanese manga series, with heavy influence of African and African American culture, Bullock said.

Bullock’s YouTube channel, Skylegend Animation, has more than 63,000 subscribers and eight million views. His Instagram page for Monarchs has more than 10,700 followers.

Animation alum Josh Bullock sitting at a table with a laptop in front of him

“The biggest thing is, I love to tell stories,” Bullock said. “I’d love to create characters for people to lock onto. People don’t use the word nerd now, but (as a child), I was probably considered a huge nerd because I was into Pokémon and Saturday morning cartoons, up with my cereal, watching. I thought
how much I’d like to create a character and do this one day.”

Bullock originally tried to go the corporate route, applying for an internship with Disney, but didn’t land it. Instead, he says, his time with SmashBits offered him an opportunity to stretch.

“I quickly got to be an art director and work on character design,” he said. “If I was working at Disney, it would have taken forever to get to that point.”

His experiences increased while working on projects for WildBrain, which produces children’s shows. Being a freelance animator takes self-discipline, perseverance and the commitment to work long hours. “You don’t get a lot of sleep,” Bullock said.

White asked Bullock to be a mentor with current USF students and he helped extensively with “Black History Beats,” an animated tribute to African American culture and history, which aired nationally on PBS on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“I would love to give people characters they love to follow and see how a story unfolds,” Bullock said. “You look at the ‘Avengers’ and Marvel movies and see the reactions of people who have followed these characters. I want to create characters like that, that people grow up with and love.”