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  • Bud Thon (b. 1938)


    William Charles “Bud” Thon is a retired American illustrator and Pixar alumni from Washington, Illinois. A resident of the San Francisco area for many years, Bud started his art career painting flames on cars and airbrushing sweatshirts. This led him to ad agencies, design studios, corporate art departments, and eventually to KPIX-TV as art director (1970–1973) before deciding to work for himself. Finishing up at the California Institute of the Arts in 1973, Bud likely began freelancing while in school and would do so for the next 25 years, sharing a studio with fellow artist John Mattos.

    Bud picked up his first video game work in 1982, illustrating the box art for the Atari 5200 release of Space Invaders. Although ultimately unused, Tim Lapetino’s book Art of Atari (page 122) features a Bud Thon illustration for Asteroids for the 5200, also likely 1982. Additionally during this period, beginning in September 1983, Bud illustrated several covers for Antic, a print magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit family of home computers and later the Atari ST. His next known box art would come in 1986 for Epyx’s World Games, a title that saw numerous ports using Bud’s art, including for the Milton Bradley-published NES release in 1989.

    Almost a decade after his initial video game work, beginning around 1991, Bud would complete a number of jobs for Sega. In addition to box art for Midnight Resistance (1991) and David Robinson’s Supreme Court (1992), Bud’s art duties for Sega included the packaging art for Sega’s “Championship Moments” VHS tape as well as a holiday card featuring Sonic and Tails.

    Outside of games, one of Bud’s most recognizable illustrations was the album art for Shooting Star’s 1983 album Burning. He additionally created the album art for Paul Kantner’s Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra, also 1983. From 1997 to 2002, Bud worked as a concept artist and designer for Pixar Animation Studios. His credited work for Pixar includes Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and the animated short Mike’s New Car; he may also have worked on the Toy Story series.

    OVGA has included below Bud Thon’s full known box art catalog:

    1. Space Invaders (Atari, Inc. | Atari 5200 | 1982)
    2. World Games (Epyx, Inc. | Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Commodore 64-US, NES, PC Booster | 1986)
    3. Midnight Resistance (Sega | Genesis | 1991) 
    4. David Robinson’s Supreme Court (Sega | Genesis | 1992)
    5. Rolo to the Rescue (Electronic Arts | Genesis | 1993)
    6. The Adventures of Dr. Franken (DTMC | SNES | 1994)

    Though ultimately unused, Bud also created art for the Super Nintendo game Combatribes, with another artist’s work being selected instead for the box art.

    William Charles Thon

    Bud Thon (b. 1938)
    Born: September 20, 1938
    Nationality: American
    Location: Washington, Illinois
    Education: California Institute of the Arts (1973); Bradley University in Peoria, IL
    Known For : Space Invaders (Atari 5200)
    Years Active: 1982–1994

    Additional Images

    Antic Magazine September 1983

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