2012 Animation Book Preview

The future of animation books, like the rest of the publishing industry, isn’t rosy. Page counts and print runs are shrinking, and publishers seem more reluctant than ever to take risks with unconventional subject matter. Despite the uncertainty, there is still a fairly promising line-up of animation-related titles being released in 2012, including a much-needed biography of the McKimson brothers (most notably Bob, but also Chuck and Tom), the definitive history of UPA, and an intriguing flipbook project by Up and Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter. My list below is by no means complete. Publishers still haven’t released their winter ’12 titles, and others books will certainly pop up throughout the course of the year. If you know of other animation-related titles coming out in 2012, please comment below.

FEBRUARY 2012
Character Mentor
Character Mentor: Learn by Example to Use Expressions, Poses, and Staging to Bring Your Characters to Life by Tom Bancroft, foreword by Adam Hughes (Focal Press).

Book description: You’ve researched your character extensively, tailored her to your audience, sketched hundreds of versions, and now you lean back content as you gaze at your final character model sheet. But now what? Whether you want to use her in an animated film, television show, video game, web comic, or children’s book, you’re going to have to make her perform. How a character looks and is costumed starts to tell her story, but her body language reveals even more. Character Mentor shows you how to pose your character, create emotion through facial expressions, and stage your character to create drama. Author Tom Bancroft addresses each topic with clear, concise prose, and then shows you what he really means through commenting on and redrawing artwork from a variety of student “apprentices.” His assignments allow you to join in and bring your drawing to the next level with concrete techniques, as well as more theoretical analysis.Character Mentor is an apprenticeship in a book. Professional artists from a variety of media offer their experience through additional commentary. These include Marcus Hamilton (Dennis the Menace), Terry Dodson (X-Men), Bobby Rubio (Pixar), Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Spiderman animated), and more.

Swiss animation
Animation.CH: Vision and Versatility in Contemporary Swiss Animated Film by Christian Gasser (Benteli Verlags).

Book description: Swiss animated film is currently in one of its most productive, ambitious and successful historical periods. Never before have so many films been made and never before have these films enjoyed such international success. At the centre of animation.ch are conversations with 20 film makers who represent the variety and uniqueness of Swiss animated film – from short author films to children’s productions, from television series to feature film projects, not to mention art and commercial productions. animation.ch explores the development of Swiss animated film over the last 20 years, examines current trends and looks at what’s to come in the future. With Georges Schwizgebel, Jonas Raeber, Samuel and Frédéric Guillaume, Ted Sieger, Yves Netzhammer, Claudius Gentinetta, Claude Barras, Isabelle Favez, Jadwiga Kowalska, Rafael Sommerhalder, Adrian Flückiger, Marina Rosset, Basil Vogt, Dustin Rees, Zoltán Horváth,Izabela Rieben, Maja Gehrig, Anne Baillod, François Chalet and Claude Luyet.

MARCH 2012
Art of John Carter
The Art of John Carter: A Visual Journey by Josh Kushins (Disney Editions). Artwork from the first live-action feature by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E). Not necessarily animation-related but of likely interest to fans of Stanton’s Pixar films.

When Magoo Flew
When Magoo Flew: The Rise and Fall of Animation Studio UPA by Adam Abraham (Wesleyan University Press). Read our preview of When Magoo Flew.

Animating the Unconscious
Animating the Unconscious: Desire, Sexuality and Animation by Jayne Pilling (Wallflower Press). British animation historian Jayne Pilling has also compiled a three-part DVD series focused on the same theme.

This Sweater is for you
This Sweater Is for You!: Celebrating the Creative Process in Film and Art with the Animator and Illustrator of “The Hockey Sweater” by Sheldon Cohen (ECW Press).

Book description: One of the most beloved stories of all time–The Hockey Sweater–is celebrated in this heartfelt recollection. Reflecting on the original short story and mortifying real-life moment that started it all, the account relates how the resulting film is as much about childhood emotions and the desire to fit in as it is about hockey, the clash of cultures, and a harkening to bygone times. Canada’s tireless devotion to the film is illustrated, emphasizing how it is also loved by many more around the world. Delving into the artist’s notebooks, photographs, and memories, this record recreates the movie’s entire development, journeying back to the people and places that inspired its original imagery. The director’s additional films and illustrations are also explored, chronicling a 40-year career and providing rich insights into the creative process.

MAY 2012
McKimson brothers bio
“I Say, I Say . . . Son!”: A Tribute to Legendary Animators Bob, Chuck, and Tom McKimson by Robert McKimson Jr., foreword by John Kricfalusi (Santa Monica Press).

Book description: The first survey dedicated to the work of the McKimson brothers, this book offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the upper echelon of 20th-century animation and examines the creative process behind the making of numerous popular characters and classic programs. Featuring original artwork from the golden age of animation, this book includes a wealth of material from many professional archives–screen captures, original drawings, reproductions of animation cels, illustrations from comic books, lobby cards, and other ephemera from the author’s collection–while surveying the careers of three groundbreaking animators whose credits include Looney Tunes, the Pink Panther, and Mr. Magoo. Beginning in the 1920s and then tracing the brothers’ work together at Warner Brothers Cartoons in the following decades, this history details Robert McKimson’s creation of such beloved characters as Foghorn Leghorn, the Tasmanian Devil, and Speedy Gonzales; Tom McKimson’s work at Warner Brothers, Dell Comics, and Golden Books; and Chuck McKimson’s long career working in comic books and then later at Pacific Title, creating animated film titles and commercials, including his award-winning work on Music Man, Cleopatra, and The Sound of Music.

Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook: Models, Artwork and Memories from 65 Years of Filmmaking by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, foreword by John Landis (Aurum Press).

Book description: Designed in the form of a scrapbook, this visual feast for Harryhausen fans reveals models from unrealized projects, such as dinosaurs from the unfinished film Evolution; prints of outtakes from various films; early concept drawings and storyboards; color transparencies of Ray at work; written artifacts such as letters, production budgets, and a diary that details Ray’s first meeting with his mentor Willis O’Brien; early film treatments and script extracts; publicity posters and brochures; and more. Some items show Ray’s earliest artistic endeavors such as watercolors painted when he was 15 years old and marionettes of creatures from King Kong that he made when he saw the film in 1933. The result is a treasure trove of rare artifacts and material which not only offer new insights into how Ray created particular effects, but bring the worlds of his films to life in a new way and paint a fascinating visual portrait of the man himself and his creative imagination.

Animation Under the Swastika
Animation Under the Swastika: A History of Trickfilm in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945 by Rolf Giesen and J. P. Storm (Mcfarland & Co.)

Book description: Among their many idiosyncrasies, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, remained serious cartoon aficionados throughout their lives. They adored animation and their influence on German animation after World War II continues to this day. This study explores Hitler and Goebbels’ efforts to establish a German cartoon industry to rival Walt Disney’s and their love-hate relationship with American producers, whose films they studied behind locked doors. Despite their ambitious dream, all that remains of their efforts are a few cartoon shorts–advertising and puppet films starring dogs, cats, birds, hedgehogs, insects, Teutonic dwarves, and other fairy-tale ensemble. While these pieces do not hold much propaganda value, they perfectly illustrate Hannah Arendt’s controversial description of those who perpetrated the Holocaust: the banality of evil.

JUNE 2012
Art of Brave
The Art of Brave by Jenny Lerew (Chronicle Books)

Robots Feel Nothing When They Hold Hands
Robots Feel Nothing When They Hold Hands written by Alec Sulkin, Artie Johann, and Michael Desilets, and illustrated by Joe Vaux and Dominic Bianchi (Chronicle Books). It’s described as an “R-rated picture book of jokes” by writers and artists who work on Family Guy. Expect 192 pages of this.

AUGUST 2012
The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey by Charles Solomon (Disney Editions)

SEPTEMBER 2012
Animation Flipbook Box Set by Pete Docter (Disney Editions)

FALL 2012
Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal by Karen Falk (Chronicle Books). Book description: Compiled directly from the Henson workshop archives, this elegant and inspirational gift book adapts the diary that Jim Henson faithfully kept throughout his career, collecting rare sketches, concepts, photographs, and ideas from the creator of the Muppets and one of the twentieth century’s most influential artistic talents. Throughout, archivist Karen Falk offers behind-the-scenes details and insights into Henson’s writings and drawings and offers insights into Henson’s life, his magical creations, and the artistic process.

Part of a Complete Breakfast: Cereal Advertising Characters of the Baby Boom Era by Tim Hollis (University Press of Florida).

The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” by J. B. Kaufman (Walt Disney Family Foundation Press).

Ward KimballFull Steam Ahead: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball by Amid Amidi, foreword by Brad Bird (Chronicle Books). This is my own book, which I’ve been working on for the past five years. I announced the project a few months ago.


  • Toonio

    I’ll buy the Tom Bancroft book when it comes out.

  • Future CEO

    Out of all the brain trust at Pixar, Pete Docter has to be my favorite. Dude has an imagination beyond comprehension. Up has to be one of the most out of their stories I have heard of. Plus the new one that takes us into the mind of a girl. I can’t wait to see that Art of book

  • Jay Sabicer

    Looking forward to several of those books, including your bio of Ward.

    ‘Tis true, print is taking a beating these days, but niche books like the aforementioned ones will have a willing and paying audience. I think once the iPad and Kindle Fire (and their descendants) gain a deeper hold with the public, you will see the publishing industry transform itself, with better integration of multimedia elements: e.g. having a Kimball pencil-test of some of his more famous work would add a level of value that you couldn’t get either in a video documentary or a standard printed text.

    These are exciting times. If Simon, Schuster and the rest of them don’t want to come to the party, more’s the pity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.hollis Tim Hollis

    I might throw in that another Fall 2012 release will be PART OF A COMPLETE BREAKFAST: CEREAL ADVERTISING CHARACTERS OF THE BABY BOOM ERA by yours truly (University Press of Florida). Since it is just now entering the layout and design stage, though, as of yet there isn’t a cover design to post, or any sort of “coming soon” link. It’s coming, though Fall 2012 doesn’t exactly qualify as “soon.”

    • amid

      Added you to the list above, Tim! Keep us posted on the book.

    • Fraser MacLean

      Very interested to hear about your book, Tim…! I’m guessing it concentrates on U.S. animated TV advertising campaigns? And roughly what time period is covered by “the baby boom era”? Certainly during the ’80s anyone who passed through any of the London animation studios would have worked on a ton of the Kellogg’s or General Mills campaigns – many still do: from Tony the Tiger and Snap, Crackle and Pop to Count Chocula, Frankenberry and the Cinnamon Toast Bakers….. Odd to find myself being vaguely nostalgic for it all now – it was often kind of nightmarish at the time…!

  • Murphy

    A book detailing the lives of the talented McKimson brothers is long overdue. Bob McKimson created many major crown jewel WB characters, drew the definitive Bugs Bunny model sheet and directed and animated a classic LT short entirely by himself. In the decades since Chuck and Friz obscured his contributions by their incessant self-promotion, the time has come to reveal just who Bob McKimson was and how WB cartoons were enriched by his indefatigable creative presence.

  • Don Adams

    Any release date on the Maurice Noble book by Tod Polson yet?

    • amid

      Tod’s Maurice Noble book is 2013 now. John Canemaker also has an incredible book scheduled for ‘13 so it’s going to be a good year.

      • Jenny

        Anything further at all that can be shared about the Canemaker book?

        All of these upcoming titles add up to a great reading year to look forward to. Can’t wait for your Kimball take.

  • http://www.daganm.blogspot.com Dagan

    Can’t wait to get the ol’paws on that UPA book… And really excited about the Kimball book, too!

  • TheDirtyVicar

    Animation aficionado? Maybe so, but it’s entirely too respectable. Hitler’s only legitimate claim to animation history is as an absurd cartoon character himself, in wartime classics like Disney’s Der Feuhrer’s Face and Clampett’s Russian Rhapsody.

  • B.Bonny

    Link to a German WW2 animation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOjS0134-jU

  • Nancy Beiman

    I can’t wait for the UPA book. I’m sorry to hear that Tod Polson’s isn’t out til 2013 but it will be worth the wait.

    And just to let you know…the second edition of PREPARE TO BOARD! is coming out in the fall of 2012. Not technically a ‘new’ book, but I think it is much improved. Thanks!

  • http://lifeincartoonmotion.org Tünde

    Great, another book about the cartoon modern era! And just in time for me to use it as reference/inspiration for my graduation project, awesome. Looking forward to it.

  • http://comicsradio.blogspot.com Tim DeForest

    I appreciate these lists. I’m kind of the defacto person in charge for keeping track of animation titles that the library at the Ringling College of Art and Design needs to acquire and this site has become one of our main resources for keeping up on new publications. We’ll probably be adding every book on this list. (So you have at least ONE guarenteed sale, Amid.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/booksonanimation Books on Animation

    Here are a few more:

    ANIMATION.CH: Vision and Versatility in Contemporary Swiss Animated Film, by Christian Gasser

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/3716516937/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=animatsuperh-20

    Recalling Carl [Barks] by Joseph Robert Cowles

    http://disneybooks.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-am-really-looking-forward-to-this.html

    And not one, but TWO books on environmental themes in animation!? How bizarre.

    That’s All Folks?: Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features by Robin L Murray and Joseph K Heumann

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0803235127/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=animatsuperh-20

    Enviro-toons: Green Themes in Animated Cinema and Television by Deidre M. Pike

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0786465921/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=animatsuperh-20

    Also, Lou Scheimer: Creating The Filmation Generation by Andy Mangels and Lou Scheimer is back on the schedule, this time for February, but we’ll see if that actually happens.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1893905969/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=animatsuperh-20

  • E. Nygma

    Can’t wait to get that art of Brave book on the shelf with my complete art of Pixar Book set. Chronicle Books does an amazing job with those books, and they look so great as a set.

    A lot of great book in this list, but so many look like they could use better cover design. Maybe it’s the graphic designer in me, but C’mon folks let’s treat these like the art books they are. Not to kiss butt, but the UPA & Robert McKimson books could use a nicer slick design like “Cartoon Modern” or something like that.

    • David

      Yes, a cartoony cover for a Robert McKimson book. Graphic designers must always remember that content should never dictate form.

  • http://youtube.com/user/Mesterius1 Mesterius

    Please enlighten me… what exactly is Pete Docter’s “Animation Flipbook Box Set”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/booksonanimation Books on Animation

    Here’s another one: Tashlinesque

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0819572403/

    • amid

      That’s weird, I’m pretty sure I’d already posted that one, but it’s not on the list anymore.