Willie Ito (right) with Barbara Bazaldua, author of A Boy of Heart Mountain, a new young adult novel based on the experiences of Shig Yabu (left) at the LA Times Festival of Books, 2010.
WILLIE ITO (illustrator of Hello Maggie! and A Boy of Heart Mountain) -
A native San Franciscan, Willie spent his war years in Topaz, Utah. During this period in camp, his interest in cartooning flourished. Upon his return after the war, he continued his studies in art. He graduated from San Francisco City College and went to Los Angeles to study at Chouinard Art Institute. Willie initially worked for the Walt Disney Studios; and later for Warner Bros. Cartoons, Bob Clampett Prods., Hanna Barbera, and Sanrio. Willie returned to Walt Disney as Director of International Creative overseeing young Disney artists world-wide. After a 45-year career in the animation industry, he retired and is now pursuing children's book illustrating. Willie and his wife Rosemary have 3 sons, a daughter, and 5 grandchildren.