Of Mice and Magic – 30th Anniversary

Hard to believe its been thirty years since the publication of Leonard Maltin’s Of Mice and Magic. The book came out sometime in the springtime of 1980 (I don’t recall the exact publication date), originally in hardcover from McGraw-Hill (pictured above left). It was issued as a trade paperback by NAL in October 1980, updated in 1987 (pictured above right) and hasn’t been out of print since.

It was different then… no internet, no DVD collections, and only a handful of serious books on the subject of animation history. Working on this book as Leonard’s research assistant was my college-level crash course on the subject – and I loved every moment of it. I recall it took three years to research, compile and write. The project was, for me, a dream come true and I’ve been proud of its success ever since. I still consult the book often to this day.

Brew reader Derek Tague gave me a extra hardcover copy of the book and suggested I get Leonard to sign it to commemorate the occassion. I have done so and will give it away to one lucky Brew reader tomorrow in a special contest which will appear in a separate post tomorrow (7/2/10). Our server crashes when we pre-determine a contest date and time, so I will not say when the contest will appear. You’ll just have to keep checking in and be lucky.

Below are several souvenirs from my files I thought would be worth posting on this occasion (click thumbnails below to enlarge image): Pete Emslie’s caricature of Leonard; the cover and interior of the Nostalgia Book Club’s offer of the original hardcover; the cover and interior of an industry “blad” which boasts of an ad campaign being planned for the paperback release; and one of those ads, clipped from the October 30, 1980 issue of Rolling Stone.



  • Mike Kazaleh

    Wow! Time flies! I myself have consulted this book many times in the past thirty years. This may well have been the first American animation history book that was actually researched!

  • http://andothernonesuch.blogspot.com Lucky Jim

    I love this book; it’s such a loving and informative tribute to the golden age cartoons, and I can’t imagine somebody reading it and not becoming an instant fan.

    Thanks to Jerry and Leonard for this tremendous book.

  • Gary Flinn

    I got the softcover original version, but it got so worn that I had to get it rebound by a local bookbinder so it’s hardcover now.

  • Gary Flinn

    Rereading the book’s preface, do you still love Bosko?

  • JP

    I borrowed a copy with that cool, original cover from the city library for many a research paper in grad school.

    Once I finished school, I bought my own fresh copy that I’m now (re)reading all over again!

    Thanks Jerry & Leonard!

  • Willy Hartland

    I still have my first edition…. mine is also falling apart, LOL… BUT still a great resource!

  • uncle wayne

    I can NOT believe it’s been 3 decades! (And I was one of the FIRST handful of people to get mine!!) My Bible!! I love it!

    (And, damn….i have NEVER seen that caric of Leonard b4! Flawless!!)

  • top cat james

    I received this book for Christmas 1980 along with Danny Peary’s “The American Animated Cartoon: A Critical Anthology” (also celebrating its 30th), and is responsible for turning animation from an interest into a lifelong passion for me. My original copy is in rough shape-with the color plates falling out-from years of rereading cover to cover. I can recollect envying Leonard for being able to watch all those great -then unobtainable- cartoons wondering if I would ever have the opportunity to view such films as “Coal Black”, “Fritz the Cat”,”Der Fuehrer’s Face”, Max Fleischer’s “Superman” series, and many others. Cable TV, home video, and the Internet have brought my yearnings of long ago to fruition, but I have to thank Leonard for igniting that initial spark within me, and for letting me know to never be embarrassed or ashamed for my interest in animation-cartoons are for all ages! Thank you, Leonard (and Jerry).

  • http://www.chuckrekow.com Chuck R.

    My copy got worn out pretty quickly too. Maybe it’s time I got the revised edition.
    Congratulations Leonard and Jerry! —it’s still a fantastic book and a tremendous achievement. It was the second serious book on animation I ever owned. (Christopher Finch’s The Art of Walt Disney was my first.)

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I think that book has a lot to do with the revival that happened in the 80′s. Just getting people thinking about it all and reminding them that there was a time when great things were being done in the art.

    Maltin’s Book, Shamus Culhane’s autobiography and “Illusion of Life” form almost the entirety of my mental image of that time.

  • Duane Fulk

    I also used my paper bound copy so much it fell apart. Then, about 4 years ago, I purchased a “library bound” hard copy . . . which I highly recommend.
    This newer version updates the original with corrections and the addition of several pages.
    This book, full of posters, photos and detailed information is perfection!

  • http://www.itsthecat.com Mark Kausler

    Congratulations on the 30th anniversary of this well-read tome, Leonard and Jerry! Now re-issue the book with the filmographies up-dated and corrected, and throw in a filmography of all the USA silent cartoons while you’re at it. Also, please revise Leonard’s wonderful book on the great Live-Action short subjects and add complete filographies to that while you’re at it! (Like the Taxi Boys, Joe Penner shorts, Easy Aces, and so many more.)

  • Steve Gattuso

    The first serious history of the form I ever read. And one that could use an update, I wager.

  • http://spritzer93436.tripod.com/ Art Binninger

    I had to put the original paper cover in “protective custody” years ago to avoid any more accidental tears. The hardcover version still sits in my bookcase ready for action. I think “The Rest of the Story” section of the book would have turned out sadly different without this book. Happy 30th Anniversary!

  • Animation Nerd

    This is one book that screams to be updated to 2010. Get on it guys! (With Love).

  • http://www.brucelaing.com Bruce Laing

    Congrats on the 30th Anniversary of “Of Mice and Magic” Leonard and Jerry.

    One of the very first books on animation I ever bought :)

  • George

    8 years ago Of Mice and Magic was the first Animation History/reference/appreciation book that I bought. I read it to and from work on BART in under a week.

    This book still holds a place of prominence in what is now an animation art/history/reference/appreciation library 300+ strong.

    Thank you Leonard & Jerry for setting the bar! And thank you two both again for all the amazing work you’ve done since!

  • http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com David Gerstein

    It’s been that long, huh? I’d puzzled over the Peary book at seven; but OF MICE AND MAGIC, as an eighth birthday present in 1982, was the book that truly taught me how far animation went beyond Disney and Felix. The first I’d ever read in depth about Bugs, Porky, Daffy, Bosko, Tex Avery, Betty and Bimbo, the Fox and Crow and Flip the Frog.

    And did I mention the filmography…?

    Thanks so much, fellas.

  • Alfons Moline

    I discovered OF MICE AND MAGIC in the Summer of 1980 on a holiday trip to England (during the same I also bought the chock-full of exciting info but also chock-full of incredible mistakes ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ANIMATED SERIES by Jeff Lenburg). In addition to allow me to learn more about my favorite cartoon characters and the people who brought them to life, OMAM helped me discover many obscure and lesser-known cartoons, like COAL BLACK, THE DOT AND LINE, or MARVIN DIGS, which I eventually would be able to see. Virtually every book covering the Golden Age of American animation owes something to OMAM (I still have my original paperback copy, pretty worn out and with several pages falling out). Thanks for everything Mr. Maltin… and how about an updated edition?

  • FleischerFan

    My original trade paperback fell apart years ago (but I still keep it because of the notes I have scribbled in the filmography).

    It has been joined by a hardcover edition (which I found on a close-out table at a book store many years ago) as well as a copy of the revised and updated.

    It remains the foundation for anyone seeking to know more about the Golden Age of Hollywood animation!

  • http://crisafullidoodles.blogspot.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    I’m not sure where I’d be without this one- I’ve always been fascinated with the different studios, who was where when, and how they all influenced one another. If you’re a studio animator and have never read this book, please take the time.

  • Cole Johnson

    Thirty years of cheers for Leonard Maltin and OF MICE AND MAGIC. It was an important work that made a major influence in my life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/#!/gerarddesouza Gerard de Souza

    My 1980 softcover’s cover is off but I have Maltin’s autograph taped to the first page! I just saw this used somewhere for cheap.Hmmm. maybe I should pick up that copy too.

  • Bob K.

    I stumbled upon the book at my college library, and that’s how my true passion for animation really began. Thanks, Leonard!

  • http://www.inthebackofbeyond.com BPearce

    I don’t think I could begin to express what this book meant to me when I first discovered it — it was given to me as a Christmas present the year it was published, and I must have spent the rest of the day reading it, and devouring it.

  • Jerry Sciarrio

    I have to add my name to the list – this is truly a book no animation fan or student cam do without. I am passing my copy on to my son who, at age 7, is a true Looney Tune.

  • http://hitchcockandme.wordpress.com/ Bonzodog

    I got my first copy when it was published in 1980, took it with me to college, and have since read it and read it till it fell apart. Great, great book!

  • John Ford

    …w0w… I got my hardcover *thirty* years ago?? I mostly go to the softcover I got later, ’cause my hardcover’s autographed by Mel Blanc when he lectured at SUNY Buffalo. This book and Mr. Beck’s LT/MM filmography are two of the most important works out there. Happy anniversary Leonard (and Jerry!)

  • Gummo

    My original paperback is in tatters too.

    I must have read & reread my favorite chapters dozens of times.

  • Dan Riba

    I was lucky enough to attend Leonard’s Lectures/film screenings at The New School in New York, back in the late 70′s. Jerry used to take the tickets at the door. The lectures and films were amazing, the only place in the world(it seemed) to see these rare and marvelous films. The book felt like a take home version of those lectures.

    Like so many people who have already commented, my book fell apart from constant re-readings as well.

    Happy anniversary Leonard (and Jerry), and thank you for all that you’ve done for animation history! Animation fans around the world are indebted to you.

  • Roberto Severino

    This book is amazing, and it’s been quite a wonderful resource to refer to whenever I forget something important about the Golden Age of Animation. Happy anniversary Leonard and Jerry and great job with Of Mice and Magic!

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    Such an outstanding book. Leonard was kind enough to autograph a copy at a NuArt Cartoon festival that year. Comprehensive, informative, insightful and fun to read to boot–at times it’s almost as much fun as watching the films themselves. This is the book these films always deserved. Simply the best.

    Happy Anniversary!

  • http://invaderpetblog.blogspot.com Brandon Pierce

    I bought a copy of this book last September, and I couldn’t put it down. To me it puts Michael Barrier’s Hollywood Cartoons to shame, which is so scatterbrained, and mish-mashed, while Maltin’s was more in order, and usually didn’t express a biased opinion on any specific studio.

  • http://funideas.50webs.com Mark Arnold

    THIS was the book (along with Leslie Cabarga’s “The Fleischer Story” and Joe Adamson’s “Tex Avery: King of Cartoons”) that got me SERIOUSLY interested in the subject of animation and also the desire to be an animation scholar when I first read it in 1980. Thanks Leonard and Jerry!

  • Tory

    I don’t own that book but I checked it out front the library a lot in my youth and I am truly thankful for it.

  • Charles Carney

    A simple, affirming example that some good things DO last.

  • Robert Barker

    ‘The Art of Walt Disney’
    ‘The Fleischer Story’
    ‘Of Mice and Magic’ – it’s that important.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    still the best.

  • http://anotherstinkincartoonblog.blogspot.com/ Jack G.

    “Now re-issue the book with the filmographies up-dated and corrected, and throw in a filmography of all the USA silent cartoons while you’re at it.”

    I echo this comment as well.

    Like others here, my copy (the paperback) is quite warn out.
    I’ve definately gotten my money’s worth out of this since I got it in the early 80s.

    Congrats to Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck. You did a good job.

  • Mac

    This book was one of the nice things the ex-wife gave me,as I didn’t even know about it when she gave it to me,Christmas,1980. This book never stayed under the tree,it stayed bedside where it put me to sleep every night for weeks(a good thing). Besides all of the goodies about the obvious studios,this was the first time I read about VanBuren and the Charles Mintz/Columbia ‘toons that were fleeting in my childhood memory. The first time I knew about “Coal Black” and saw that my beloved Tom Terrific stood along the greats in animated storytelling. Filmographies to boot and just in time for home video.It would be a few more years till I purchased a VCR but,sure enough,my first purchase pre-recorded tape was a bargain “Tubby the Tuba” by George Pal. In fact ,”Of Mice” was a great reference tool for finding which were the original studios for those rip off cheap tapes. I’ve probably reread this 5-6 times cover to cover and I think only “Catch-22″ ranks up there in return joys(the older I am, the more “Catch-22″ reads like history and not fiction). A true desert island book,along with the Penguin Guide to Jazz,my Blue Note LP Cover books,a couple more music books,Charlotte’s Web and my biggest Thurber anthology.