New and Notable Animation Books

Animation-A World History

(CRC Press/Focal Press)

ANIMATION: A WORLD HISTORY Volume 1: Foundations/The Golden Age; Volume 2: The Birth of a Style/The Three Markets; Volume 3: Contemporary Timesby Giannalberto Bendazzi (CRC Press/Focal Press)
“Monumental” is the only word to describe this comprehensive history of world animation. Bendazzi also does what few film historians even attempt by placing each era of animation into the larger framework of what was happening in the world, especially in the arts. With the aid of a knowledgeable team of contributors, he traces animation’s prehistory and pioneering days, then surveys the contributions and achievements of each major country around the globe—including little-documented nations in Africa and South America. I daresay this coverage is unprecedented in its sweep. Nowhere else will you find useful entries on Émile Cohl, Len Lye, Chuck Jones, Fyodor Khitruk, Norman McLaren, Osamu Tezuka, George Griffin, and John Kricfalusi in one place. Bendazzi is opinionated, which makes reading and browsing this epic work all the more interesting, but his subjective views are based on wide-ranging knowledge and scholarship. Students of animation will be indebted to him for years to come.

No one is more passionate or eloquent about the work of great Disney artists than Andreas Deja, a master animator and lifelong Disney aficionado whose work has distinguished the studio’s output since the 1980s. Andreas was lucky enough to forge close ties with seven of Walt’s legendary “nine old men” and is the perfect person to show us what made each one unique. Using original animation drawings—and generous sequences of penciled artwork—he identifies the qualities that set Ward Kimball’s output apart from, say, Milt Kahl’s or Frank Thomas’s. Seeing these expressive and beautiful, drawings through Deja’s eyes is revelatory and makes this one of the most valuable animation books ever published—for fans and professionals alike.

Mickey Mouse-emblem-american spirit

(Courtesy of Walt Disney Family Foundation / Weldon Owen)

MICKEY MOUSE: EMBLEM OF THE AMERICAN SPIRIT by Gary Apgar (Walt Disney Family Foundation/Weldon Owen)

This lavishly illustrated book explores Mickey Mouse’s impact on our culture, tracing Walt Disney’s career in a parallel stream. Art historian Apgar (who compiled the equally interesting A Mickey Mouse Reader) proves that a scholarly study doesn’t have to be dry or dense. His clear-eyed assessment of Mickey’s many roles (movie star, merchandise king, American symbol, corporate spokesperson and more) makes for compelling reading, even if you think you know all there is to know about this unique and ubiquitous character. Illustrations are derived from an impressive variety of sources worldwide, showing Mickey’s influence on modern art, political cartoons, and pop culture, among other realms. This book is a valuable addition to Disney scholarship with relevance beyond the usual boundaries of an animation book.

How to be a Disney Historian

(Courtesy of Theme Park Press)

HOW TO BE A DISNEY HISTORIAN by Jim Korkis; foreword by Leonard Maltin (Theme Park Press)
Jim Korkis has contributed so much to our knowledge of All Things Disney that he impressed Walt’s daughter, the late Diane Disney Miller, who wrote a foreword to his book The Vault of Walt. I, too, am in his debt for his indefatigable research and willingness to share his knowledge with the world. That’s why I agreed to write an introduction to this volume and explain how my 1973 book The Disney Films came about. Jim feels that a new generation of devotees, researchers, and scholars should learn from the experiences of those who preceded them—hence this book, which calls on longtime Disney archivist David R. Smith as well as such respected authors as Michael Barrier, Alberto Becattini, Jerry Beck, Greg Ehrbar, Jim Fanning, Sam Gennawey, Didier Ghez, J.B. Kaufman, Jeff Kurtti, David Lesjak, Todd James Pierce, Russell Schroeder, Brian Sibley, Paula Sigman Lowery, and Werner Weiss, as well as Theme Park Press publisher Bob McLain. I can hardly be objective about this volume but I hope it proves useful to budding Disney authors and researchers. You couldn’t ask for a better guide to the field than Jim Korkis and the many contributors he has called upon.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024