If Al Bohl had followed the direction that aptitude tests had pointed him, he would have become a funeral director. He, however, felt that his professional career lay in a more artistic direction. After traveling and singing Gospel music for years, he finally settled on writing, illustration, design and filmmaking as his best means of communication.
Since earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal and fine arts in 1984 from Louisiana State University, Shreveport, Bohl has enjoyed a prolific free-lance career. Among other things, he has designed covers for and written or illustrated nearly fifty books, including his futuristic superhero, Zaanan and a high school level textbook entitled Guide to Cartooning.
Al married Doris Gibson from Pensacola, Florida in 1975. Doris has been a surgical nurse for over 25 years. They have three grown children and one grandchild. All three children are married and gainfully employed.
In 2007, Al won best new idea for an animated TV series “Tales from the Bayou” at the Red Stick International Animation Festival in Baton Rouge, LA. The next year he won the best new animated TV series pitch for his concept “Way Out There!” at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in Canada. He sold the show to 9 Story Entertainment in Toronto but the series has not found a network.
Al and his daughter Allison produced the award-winning feature length documentary “Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle.” (www.TarzanLordLAJungle.com.) They also re-edited the original 1918 silent film classic motion picture “Tarzan of the Apes” complete with an all new original score written by Kermit Poling.
In 2012, Al and Allison premiered the documentary at the first licensed Tarzan festival in the 100 year history of the character. The citizens of Morgan City led by the Cajun Coast Tourism director Carrie Stansbury hosted the festival. Thanks to the help of Representative Henry Burns, Governor Bobby Jindal proclaimed April 13, 2012 as Tarzan day in Louisiana. Jim Sullos, CEO of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and the great granddaughters of Edgar Rice Burroughs were presented the proclamation on the floor of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Al was also the guest curator for a year-long Tarzan exhibition at the Louisiana State Museum in Patterson, LA. That same year at the international Tarzan Centennial celebration in Tarzana, CA, Al and Allison were given the prestigious “Golden Lion Award” for their efforts by the Burroughs Bibliophiles.
Currently, he teaches stop motion animation in the Bossier Parish School System. His students are part of the Talented Arts Program and come from various schools. He not only teaches during the school day but after school three days a week.
Al developed a course of study called “GEN4 Stop Motion Animation.” Animation was developed not long after the motion picture camera was devised. The first great stop motion animator and visual effects wizard was Willis O’Brien who’s famous for his landmark film “King Kong” in 1933. He is the first generation or GEN1.
As an eight-year-old boy, Ray Harryhausen saw Kong in the theater and decided that he wanted to follow in O’Brien’s footsteps. Eventually, Ray worked with his mentor on the film “Mighty Joe Young.” Ray went on to make many, many films such as “Clash of the Titans,” Earth vs. the Flying Saucers,” “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad,” and “Jason and the Argonauts.” Ray is considered GEN2. Ray’s influence spread quickly and before long his work inspired the GEN3 generation. Phil Tippett, Nick Parks, Wil Vinton, Tim Burton, LAIKA artists and many more have kept stop motion animation alive or been a dominating force in the use of CGI (computer graphic image). Today, Al is teaching the next generation or GEN4. His students average making about 200 short films per year.
In 2014, Al raised $9,000 in his community and purchased professional filming, sound recording and lighting equipment. His students work with the very equipment used by the professionals.
Al continues to write and illustrate. He is writing a new Zaanan novel entitled “Zaanan and the Mermen of Immersia”. He is also illustrating a “Tales from the Bayou” story called “The Trouble with Monkeys.” At the same time he is finishing a feature length screenplay “To Hold the Shining Dawn.” He plans to keep making short animated films. An avid reader and movie buff, Al also enjoys collecting Roy Rogers, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton films and memorabilia. He also is a student of any form of animation. Especially, he enjoys the silhouette films of Lotte Reiniger and her husband Carl Kochs.