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Of Mice and Magic


I was rummaging through my stuff and found this ad I clipped from the October 30, 1980 issue of Rolling Stone.

Of Mice and Magic came out in Spring 1980 (I don’t recall the exact publication date), originally in hardcover from McGraw-Hill. It was issued as a trade paperback by NAL in October 1980, updated in 1987 and hasn’t been out of print since.

I still can’t believe the publisher took out an ad in Rolling Stone! Considering the state of animation back then, I can’t believe they advertised it at all.

  • That truly is quite a find, Jerry. When I first acquired an interest in animation history, this was my “bible”–it was from that book that I first learned of studios generally neglected in animation histories, such as Van Buren. My current obsession with forgotten and unusual cartoons stems from it.

    Strange, though–I’d always thought the first edition of the book had a different cover, and the second edition used the one with the cartoon-character silhouettes.

    On that subject–when I taught cartooning back in the nineties, I used to use the cover of that book to illustrate to students how to make a character distinctive and recognizable, as well as “readable.” Even in silhouette, it’s easy to recognize those characters.

    The ad’s appearance in Rolling Stone may not be all that unusual–in the sixties and seventies, it was the counterculture who kept interest in animation alive, correct? (As films like “Yellow Submarine” and the work of Ralph Bakshi would attest).

  • George

    The first edition I have of that book, and every first edition I’ve ever seen, has the mostly yellow cover with the book title and an inkwell. Maybe there was a rights issue just before printing?

  • Rachel,you are correct. What was left of the counterculture by 1980 was still interested in classic animation, as well as the newer being produced (for example Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings” was 1978 no?).

  • joecab

    And remember that Rolling Stone was also where DC Comics advertised Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, and it’s presumed that it got a big dose of sales and legitimacy because of it.

    Of Mice and Magic was the book that “sealed the deal” on my love for cartoons as well. I still have it as well as its updated edition later. I’ve read that book more times than I can count.

  • George, I think you’re speaking of the disparity between the hardback (which featured the “Inkwell Image”—sorry, Ray) and the softback, which to the best of my knowledge always pictured the cartoon character silhouettes seated in the cinema.

  • I believe my copy is the ’87 edition, although I only picked it up a couple years ago. It was in a sales section of a comic store along side the first edition of the Anime Encyclopedia and Animation Now! Naturally I snapped the lot up, especially as they only came to $20 total. =)

  • Del Walker

    When Turner / TBS aquired the MGM and WB film libraries in the mid and late 80’s I was able to view cartoons that I’d last seen in the 60’s. I started recording these in the early days of VHS, and after a trip to the library, found “Magic” and it’s invaluable filmographies. Ordered my first copy ( a soft cover ) so I could check off the films I’d recorded, and list those to keep an eye out for. It still sits in my library, despite dog eared corners and many loose pages, with all my notations. I’ve since aquired a hard bound copy of the first edition, and the 1987 update, and the hardbound is now the active reference book.

    I’m sure additional material to cover the 1987-2007 period could be written for another udated edition, but I’d lobby even more for the inclusion of more material and actual film stills for the Universal and Columbia studio sections. These seemed comparably weak compared to the others.

  • amid

    Del – Sorry, I accidentally marked your comment as spam.

  • I had both editions. I totally ruined my 1980 edition with notations, mostly all the screen credits I could find (in inital form). It eventually fell to pieces and I lost some of the screen credit notations I had made. (Bummer.) My 1987 edition is in slightly better shape.

    It’s been 20 years, Leonard Maltin… anything happen in animation since then? And why never a chapter about DePatie-Freleng?

  • Dave: I wrote a review of Of Mice and Magic on Amazon.com that asks some of the same questions you did–namely, why hasn’t Maltin updated this book, and why he didn’t also include studios that produced animation for television (of course, they would probably be better served by a separate book).

    I would most certainly want to read Maltin’s take on the “toon boom”–and bust–of the nineties. Because the last edition of the book came out in 1987, it naturally doesn’t mention “Roger Rabbit”, the feature that briefly turned animation around, or “The Simpsons”, which made prime time safe for animation again. That really should be remedied.