Spent the weekend going over some new book acquisitions (and one DVD) and surprise! most were pretty good – and a couple were really great. Here’s what I’ve been reading (and viewing), in no particular order:
Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood (University of California Press), edited by Daniel Goldmark and Charlie Keil, is a fascinating collection of essays by noted animation historians and academics, exploring the link – from the outset of the medium to today – between comedy and animation. Fourteen pieces in all, including J.B. Kaufman comparing Disney’s characters to Chaplin and silent comedians; Mark Langer putting Fleischer’s early films in context to Vaudeville and comic strips of the era; Donald Crafton observing the effect of Hollywood cartoons on Depression era audiences; Linda Simensky on the influences of classic cartoons and earlier animators on the TV cartoon creators of today; and Daniel Goldmark writing about “funny music” in funny cartoons. This one is aimed at the scholarly – but is highly recommended (by me) to all!
Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman, A Celebration by Craig Yoe (Abrams Comic Arts). Another Krazy Kat comics compilation? Not quite. In fact, not at all. Once again comics archaeologist Yoe has unearthed a treasure trove – this time of all things Herriman and Krazy. And once again I’ll say that even if you know nothing about Herriman and his most famous creation, you MUST buy this book. If you love great cartooning, funny drawings, and 20th Century pop culture this is a absolute gotta-have-it volume. It is an absolute joy to leaf through these pages filled with rare unpublished Herriman art – in comics, paintings, doodles, merchandise, etc. This is a companion volume to all the incredible Herriman material now being reprinted – a collection of jaw-dropping “bonus material” (as we say in the DVD world) that even includes several pages devoted to the Charles Mintz animated cartoons of the 20s and 30s. The artwork overwhelms the reader, yet Yoe tops that by including several rare essays on the Kat from the likes of E.E. Cummings, Gilbert Seldes, Bill Watterson, Craig McCracken and Herriman’s grand daughter Dee Cox, among others. I’ve run out of space to continue raving. Only have room for four more words: Buy this book now!