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New Book Round-Up

Haven’t posted a book review in a while, and I’m pleased to report I have several new acquisitions that are well-worth talking about.

First up, another great Craig Yoe IDW hard-cover comics compilation that I’d be raving about even if I didn’t write a brief introduction for it or have my picture in it. Popeye, The Great Comic Book Tales is a perfect companion to the excellent Segar Popeye volumes presently available. This book takes a look at the other great Popeye cartoonist, E.C. Segar’s successor, Bud Sagendorf. These are selected comic book stories from 1948 through 1957 and they are what I personally consider Popeye in his prime. That may be because I grew up reading this Popeye, so I have a particularly soft spot for Sagendorf’s version – which comes off as a combination of Segar, Fleischer, Famous Studios and a unique brand of lunacy that was Sagendorf’s own; the fact that he was a terrific cartoonist and hilarious storyteller only adds the fun. Stories here include Popeye’s battles with Jetoe (“The Champeen Fighter of the Planet Mars!”), The Sea Hag and the “Misermites”; The time he ate “Shrink Weed” and washes with “Spinach Soap”… and years ahead of Seinfeld, Sagendorf places Popeye in a story about “Nothing”! As usual Yoe starts off with 15 pages of unique one-eye sailor man introductory matter which includes rare press material and photographs – and the book itself is a beautiful production, a pleasure to look at, hold and display. It’s really good – and has my highest endorsement. Get it today!

I am a huge fan of this year’s Oscar-winning short, The Lost Thing. Scholastic has just released Shaun Tan’s original short story from which the film was based, along with two other tales illustrated by Tan (originally published separately in Australia between 1998 and 2001) in a wonderful new hardcover book. A girl finds a bright spot in a dark world; a boy leads a strange, lost creature home; and a group of peaceful creatures lose their home to cruel invaders. Three brilliantly visual fantasy tales, and a book that is itself a dazzling work of art. See for yourself – here’s a sample spread. The book is called Lost & Found and its a genuine winner.

Didier Ghez‘ ongoing series of Disney artist interviews, Walt’s People, is one of the all-time great projects of animation history and Disney scholarship. In each edition, Ghez rounds up a dozen-or-two interviews with the animators, writers, filmmakers and other Disney collaborators, famous and infamous, in published or unpublished pieces by noted historians, self-publishing a 300-plus page paperback loaded with new information and insights. His latest volume, just out, Volume 10 contains over 40 interviews by Bob Thomas – conducted in researching his 1976 biography of Walt. Interviewees include Ub Iwerks, Dick Huemer, Wilfred Jackson, Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and on and on, including Disney himself, all in their own words. Jim Korkis provides additional insights and Diane Disney Miller contributes a Foreword. These volumes are vital to all who care about animation and how Disney created his world.
And finally, I want to give a shout-out to two animators who have just published new books that will certainly enrich their target audiences:

Celebrated animator and now educator Tony White preaches the gospel of 2D hand drawn every single day. He’s written several “How to” books and his latest is a bit different, but just as practical. It’s called Jumping Through Hoops, The Animation Job Coach and its essentially the primer for the aspiring animation artist. How to choose a great school; How to build a portfolio, find your first job and how to keep it – these are the topics Tony explores and discusses in frank, realistic terms. If you are just starting out – you should read this book.

Animator and character designer Brianne Drouhard (Batman Brave and Bold, Ben 10, etc), aka potatofarmgirl, has her first children’s book just out: Billie The Unicorn. It’s filled with gorgeous drawings of the type that used to be animated – this would have made a great TV special 25 years ago. In fact, it would make a great kids special or short childrens film today. I hope Brianne can figure that out – but until then, her new book will keep you and the small ones quite entertained.