Created six years after John Lennon’s assassination in 1980, Yoko Ono and Oscar-winning animator and historian John Canemaker’s cartoon short John Lennon Sketchbook has finally appeared on YouTube. Executive produced by Ono and designed, directed, and animated by Canemaker, it is a poignant peek into the fertile mind of a Beatle whose prodigious talents extended well past creating immortal music.
“It was created from original drawings by John Lennon and a soundtrack that I also edited together, consisting of snatches of conversation between John and Yoko and song excerpts,” Canemaker told Cartoon Brew. “It is the first time a large general public has seen it (on YouTube).”
The short first came to life in 1985, after Canemaker visited Hiroshima for Japan’s first International Animated Film Festival and serendipitously found himself with an interpreter named Yoko Ninomiya (no relation to Ono), according to a 1987 How magazine explainer. After engaging in small talk about Yoko Ono, Ninomiya contacted Ono, and Canemaker received a scant few months later a holiday card from Lennon’s widow, marking the beginning of their collaboration.