I ran into Willie Ito at The Animation Guild Holiday Party on Friday night in Burbank. Ito, as you may know, started his animation career at Disney in the 1950s and has worked on Clampett’s Beany & Cecil cartoons (and did many comic books and merchandising art for same), on some of the last (pre-1964) Warner Bros. cartoons and had a lengthy stay at Hanna-Barbera from the ’60s through the ’80s.
He gave me a copy of his hot-off-the-press, self-published children’s book Hello Maggie. The book is written by Shigeru Yabu and is a story taken from his childhood experiences in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. It’s a wonderfully upbeat tale about a difficult period in Japanese-American history. As far as I know, the only place you can get it (unless he hands you a freebie like he did to me) is at the Japanese American Heritage Source website. Ito is planning further publications and collaborations with Mr. Yabu through their Yabitoon Books (website to come).