2009 Animation Book Preview

While the Internet has killed off the print animation magazine (or at least the demand for such publications), it hasn’t yet diminished our thirst for print animation books. To the contrary, there are more and better quality animation books being published today than ever before. This new year promises to be no different with a lot of interesting books slated for publication. Here is Cartoon Brew’s look at some of the forthcoming titles.

Two Guys Named Joe

Let me put this one front and center. The book that I’m most looking forward to in 2009 is, without question, John Canemaker‘s dual-biography of Disney story artist Joe Grant and Pixar story artist Joe Ranft. Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft will be released in Fall 2009 from Disney Editions. According to the official description, “This book explores the interplay between personal creativity and the craft of animation storytelling, as seen through the lives and art of two of its most inventive and imaginative practitioners, Joe Grant (1908 -2005) and Joe Ranft (1960 – 2005).” It’s a novel setup. Looking at Grant and Ranft through the same prism should shed fresh insights into the common storytelling values that have made classic Disney and Pixar such successful enterprises. Combined with Canemaker’s always infallible research, this book should be a real gem. No online pre-order info available yet but we’ll be posting plenty more about this book in the coming months.

British Animation - The Channel 4 Factor

British Animation:The Channel 4 Factor takes a look at the glory years of Britian’s Channel 4 and their dedication to bringing quality animation to television. Since 1982, they’ve aired works such as The Snowman, When the Wind Blows, Street of Crocodiles, Girls Night Out, Feet of Song, The Village, Creature Comforts, Screenplay, Bob’s Birthday, Abductees, City Paradise, Rabbit and Peter and the Wolf. In addition to this amazing line-up of animation, the channel also set up the Animate initiative with the Arts Council of England, and backed the animator-in-residence program hosted by the British Film Institute’s Museum of the Moving Image. The book, which will be published in February by Indiana University Press, should offer plenty of insider details because it’s written by Clare Kitson, who was the commissioning editor at Channel 4 from 1989 until 1999. Channel 4 is one of the bright spots in TV animation history and I’m looking forward to learning more about the people and circumstances that made their artistic approach to TV animation possible.

If you want to get your own animation onto the air, don’t get your hopes up for a supportive forward-thinking broadcaster like Channel 4. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying. David Levy’s Animation Development: From Pitch to Production will guide you through the icky process of getting a TV show produced nowadays. It’ll be out in September from Allworth Press. Levy is an industry veteran, president of ASIFA-East, and proprietor of this fine blog. His first book Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive is packed with solid common-sense advice from successful artists working in the biz. I know he’s interviewed a lot of people for this new book and I’m sure it’ll be a valuable handbook for anybody who wants to create their own TV shows.

Pixar books

Two Pixar art books are coming out courtesy of Chronicle Books. The Art of Up by Tim Hauser presents all the artwork from Pete Docter’s new film. The Art of Pixar Short Films is by yours truly and it’s scheduled for release later this month. The book, which is a companion piece to this dvd, documents the studio’s shorts going back all the way to the 1980s. Because of its historical nature, there’s more text than the typical Pixar art of book. I haven’t seen the finished item yet but I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turned out. My experience working with the publishing team at Pixar was one of utmost smoothness and efficiency. Everybody went out of their way to make sure it turned out right, and I’m hoping the results reflect everybody’s hard work on the project.

And there’s more ‘art of’ books. Coraline: A Visual Companion is officially released this week though I hear it’s already in some bookstores. The Art of Monsters vs. Aliens is out in February. Also, later in 2009, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog will receive ‘art of’ book treatment from Chronicle Books.

Mickey Mouse, Hitler and Nazi Germany

Mickey Mouse, Hitler, and Nazi Germany: How Disney’s Characters Conquered the Third Reich by Carsten Laqua has quite the eye-catching cover. It was originally published in the early-1990s in German. This English translation is eagerly anticipated by Disney book expert Didier Ghez which means that it’s probably worth picking up.

Disney Edition books

Disney Editions is releasing a bunch of Disney-related art books: A Disney Sketchbook 1928-2008, Disney’s Neglected Prince: The Art of Disney’s Knights in Shining Armor (and Loincloths), Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from any of these books until I saw a recent book by Disney Editions called Disney’s Dogs. It’s a mini-book designed for kids and Disney fans, which means they could have put together a slap-dash collection of cheesy film still artwork, but instead they turned out a wonderful volume packed with carefully chosen and never-before-seen artwork from Disney’s Animation Research Library. If that’s any indication of the new direction Disney Editions is taking with their animation-related books, then all three of the above books should be worth a look.

If Disney is not your bag, then be sure to check out The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes (working title) by fellow Cartoon Brewer Jerry Beck. The book will be out in the fall from Insight Editions. More importantly, the online community is currently helping to choose the titles that’ll appear in the book. Submit your choices for the book on this special Cartoon Brew page.

From University Press of Mississippi comes Iwao Takamoto: My Life with a Thousand Characters, which is the story of the late Hanna-Barbera art director and Disney artist Iwao Takamoto. The text is in his own words, with editorial collaboration from historian Michael Mallory. University Press of Mississippi deserves credit for publishing a number of animation artist bios in recent years though they’ve been a mixed lot; I was disappointed with the depth of research and quality of writing in last year’s Maurice Noble biography but the Martha Sigall memoirs they released a few years back were charming and fun. Here’s to hoping the Takamoto text reaches to the standard of the Sigall book.

Walt Stanchfield books

Students, get out your credit cards: Focal Press is releasing two volumes of the legendary lecture notes by Disney in-house instructor Walt Stanchfield. Here are the Amazon links to Volume 1 and Volume 2 . Photocopies of these notes have been passed around animation schools for decades. It’ll be nice to have them collected in one place. The series is edited by Disney producer Don Hahn.

The other big how-to book of 2009 is focused on a long-neglected aspect of the animation process. Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation by animation veteran Joseph Gilland is also from Focal Press, the publisher of the Stanchfield books. According to fx animation guru Michel Gagné, the book is “fantastic.” Gagné wrote on his blog recently that, “I can assure everyone that this will be a ‘must have’ reference for animation students and those interested in the art. The book will feature step by step demonstrations covering all the main categories: liquids, fire, smoke, explosions, magic, transformations, and spiritual entities. In addition to Joe’s art, the book will display photographs, diagrams and artwork from various artists in the field.” Joe Gilland has also started a blog about the book.

Art of Harvey Kurtzman

Finally, one comics-related pick that I had to mention: The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics. Kurtzman is one of the few uncontested geniuses of the comic world, and his achievements are impeccable both artistically and editorially. This book draws upon his vast archives and spans everything from his early Hey Look! and EC war comics to Help and Playboy‘s “Little Annie Fanny”, as well as including comic layouts, illustrated correspondence, and vintage photos. It’ll be out in April from Abrams and on my bookshelf shortly thereafter.


  • Dan

    Thanks Amid! There are some interesting books afoot. This blog is the best.

  • http://www.captain-chants.net/blog CaptainChants

    Oh my goodness!! I’m practically drooling at all these art books.

    Cheers for the heads up on what’s coming out this year. Can’t wait to get my hands on some of these!

  • http:www.warrenleonhardt.com warren

    Uh oh. Better get a few gigs just to cover these…Amid, when it comes out, can you let us know what the ‘Art of Harvey Kurtzman’ offers that the really great ‘Comics Journal Library #7 – Harvey Kurtzman’ doesn’t already have?

  • Graham

    Ugh! What a time to be unemployed!

  • http://pupick.blogspot.com/ Rick Roberts

    This is a cartoons fan wet dream ! Honestly, I don’t know which one to pick.

  • top cat james

    Where’s the John K book?

  • sean w.

    i still have those photocopies of stanchfield’s notes in a binder. can’t wait to see what the published tomes will look like. i’ll definitely consider those!

    thanks for the heads-up. i’ll also be checkin’ out your book too, amid. i love the early pixar stuff.

  • Bill Perkins

    Great post Amid.
    I agree with you about the book on Maurice Noble and was surprised there wasn’t more buzz (pro/con) about it on the web. I was very disappointed in it. It struck me as being written for a grade school student. That said Martha Sigall’s book was a charmer. I know her quite well. and may be betraying a bias but she is a lovely person and it was nice to see her stories of the industry compiled in book form. She’s a real treasure and her book was a great insiders look at the business.

  • Dave

    I bet John K. will just love that book “Disney’s Neglected Prince: The Art of Disney’s Knights in Shining Armor (and Loincloths)”. Or maybe not … ;-)

  • http://stephenneary.blogspot.com pizzaforeveryone

    psyched for the joe squared bios. two all-star story guys for the price of one book.

  • http://mattjonezanimation.blogspot.com Matt Jones

    Hubba, hubba-I’ll take ‘em all! I knew there was an upside to a recession!

  • Brad Constantine

    wow!! so many choices, so little bookshelf space…I’m just gonna have to get another bookcase..Thanx fer the heads up on these.
    When do we get a Bill Peet book, guys?

  • Paul N

    Aw man! I just got the Maurice Noble book for Christmas, and was really looking forward to reading it! Thanks a ton :0)

    Looking forward to the Stanchfield books, Canemaker’s book, and the various “art of” volumes.

  • Dude

    There already is a Bill Peet book, written by Peet himself.

  • http://weirdocorner.blogspot.com Eric Noble

    I want the Harvey Kurtzman book. That will be on my shelf as well.

  • matt

    Whoa Amid! Thanks for the info!

    Well, I know I want them ALL, but which one first? I had no idea about the “two Joes” book, and by Canemaker no less! To borrow an internet expression, woot!

  • http://gavinball.blogspot.com Gavin Ball

    Thanks for the recommendations. Not really helping the book addict in me though!

  • http://wickednellie.blogspot.com Janelle

    Wow what a great post! I’m always looking to expand my animation library (and library as a whole). I can’t wait for payday :)

  • http://www.imaginerding.com George

    Amid…

    Great list! It is 8 months till my birthday, though.

  • http://parkablogs.blogspot.com Parka

    I’ve also shortlisted some books I’m going to buy in 2009 on my blog. Great to see that some are on this list as well.

    I’ll be getting the Disney sketchbook, Pixar art books (I’ve all of them), Monsters vs Aliens, Coraline.

    Glad to see that there’s a book coming out for Joe Ranft and Joe Grant as well. Have been hearing their names popping up way too often.

    Harvey Kurtzman’s book looks great too.

    Can’t wait for them to come out and buy them all.

  • abdo

    Great list! It is 8 months till my birthday, though