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Drawing—And Admiring—Mickey Mouse

Learn to Draw Mickey MouseWhen I was a kid my first ambition was to be a cartoonist. Walt Disney’s Magazine printed tips on
how to draw his most famous characters, which always began with a perfect
circle. I found this challenging, which is one reason I never became a
professional artist, or even a good amateur. Still, I retain a fascination with
drawing and treasure my copy of Walter
Lantz Easy Way to Draw
, which Mr. Lantz graciously signed for me many years
after I’d marked up its pages with bad renderings of Woody Woodpecker and Wally
Walrus.

I also got to meet Preston Blair, who created the first
manual for aspiring animators in 1948 for the venerable Walter Foster
publishing company. (In his much-sought-after original edition he used examples
from Disney and MGM cartoons, which he was forced to “paraphrase” for
subsequent printings.)

That same Walter Foster company has now published a
delightful hardcover volume called Learn
to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends: Through the Decades
.
The reason I’m calling it to your
attention, is that it’s not just for would-be artists: it is also a lively
mini-history of Disney animation featuring a number of rare pieces of artwork
culled from the Disney Archives.

Steamboat Willie by Ub Iwerks-680This is primarily the work of Disney expert and aficionado
David Gerstein, a Mickey Mouse savant who wrote the text and thrives on digging
up rare studio artifacts. He was immensely helpful to me on the last round of
the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs…and if
you’re not already familiar with his definitive multi-volume collection of
comic strips, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse,
from Fantagraphics, you ought to be.

With colorful, eye-appealing illustrations by John Loter,
and an ongoing “animation timeline” that runs through the book, this volume
also serves as a wonderful way to introduce children to Disney history, as it
reveals the sometimes-subtle ways Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and
others have changed over the years.

I still can’t draw for beans, but I do recommend this book,
especially for sharing with your family. (For more serious aspiring animators,
I urge you to check out Richard Williams The
Animator’s Survival Kit
and Eric Goldberg’s Character Animation Crash Course!)

           

2 comments

  1. Anne Landa & Rebecca Razo says:

    Thank you for the lovely review and comment. We at Walter Foster are proud of our long standing heritage and of having the privilege to publish art books for aspiring artists and art enthusiasts around the world.

  2. Harrison Engle says:

    Bless you, Leonard, for calling attention to animation, as you always do, and to the Walter Foster books and others that inspired millions to try to draw. I also followed those original books. Indeed, my first film was a shot cartoon called "How to Make Home Moves." This was long before today’s film schools and advanced technology, but I treasure my early efforts. How great that the books have been updated and that there are other tools for aspiring animators which you have brought to our attention.

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