It should be clear by now that the subject of Walt Disney is inexhaustible, especially when scholars dig into the archives. Four new books offer fresh information, background material, and artwork that not only justify their existence but make them imperative for every Disney bookshelf.


THEY DREW AS THEY PLEASED: THE HIDDEN ART OF DISNEY’S MUSICAL YEARS THE 1940s – PART ONE by Didier Ghez; foreword by John Musker (Chronicle)

No one has done more to document Walt Disney’s golden age and the artists who worked for him than Didier Ghez, notably in his series of books called Walt’s People. Here he turns his attention to five of Walt’s concept artists, gifted people whose drawings, sketches, and paintings inspired the story men and directors responsible for Disney’s musical features of the 1940s, from Fantasia and its proposed sequels to Make Mine Music. Their names—Walt Scott, Kay Nielsen, Sylvia Holland, Retta Scott, and David Hall—may be unfamiliar even to staunch Disneyphiles (except for the well-respected Nielsen), but through interviews, private correspondence and studio memoranda Ghez paints a sympathetic portrait of each artist and defines his or her importance to the studio. The beautifully reproduced artwork would be enough to justify this volume, but learning about their careers, artistic aspirations and frustrations gives us a real sense of them as individuals. Didier also maintains the Disney History blog and the Disney Books Network. You can buy it HERE  



The indefatigable Jim Korkis (author/editor of such useful books as The Vault of Walt) has come up with yet another valuable resource for Disney fans, researchers, and scholars: a compendium of quotes from The Man himself. To quote the official description: “Now you’ll know for sure, in this comprehensive collection of Walt Disney’s wisdom, as delivered through interviews, articles, speeches, TV appearances, and more. Each of the over 800 quotes in this book is authoritatively sourced as well. You’ll be surprised by what Walt said—and what he didn’t say!” Nuff said. You can buy it HERE


THE WALT DISNEY ARCHIVES: THE ANIMATED FILMS 1921-1968 Edited by Daniel Kothenschulte (Taschen)

Anyone who has ever held, or beheld, a Taschen book knows the publisher’s reputation for unstinting quality, but nothing could have prepared me for this formidable 13-pound volume. Editor Kothenschulte, a lifelong Disneyphile, spent months selecting 1,500 images from the studio archives and commissioning (as well as writing) articles about Walt Disney’s career. Contributors include such stalwarts as Dave Smith, Russell Merritt, J.B. Kaufman, Charles Solomon, Brian Sibley, Robin Allan, Mindy Johnson and myself (I contributed essays on Song of the South and So Dear to My Heart). This is the first of a series of Disney volumes planned by Taschen, and it explores the glory years of Walt’s career, with rare images by such legendary Disney artists as Gustaf Tenggren, Albert Hurter, Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, Tyrus Wong, and Carl Barks. There is even a Davy Crockett rendering I’d never seen before by Thomas Hart Benton. This massive tome is so heavy it must rest on a table to be read, but it promises many rewards in its text and illustrations. I am proud to be a contributor to such an obvious labor of love. Given the cost of average coffee-table volumes, its $200 price tag doesn’t seem out of line; there will also be a limited Collector’s Edition of 2,500 copies, with facsimile of Fantasia storyboard sketches and portfolio of five cel setups from the Silly Symphonies. For information contact collectors@taschen.comIn the meantime, Taschen has posted a brief but enjoyable interview with Disney veteran Floyd Norman which you can watch HERE. And you can buy it HERE

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