Pete Docter’s Flipbook Tribute to the Nine Old Men

The Archive Series–Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: The Flipbooks will release on September 18. This pet project of UP director Pete Docter is among the more unique book concepts, and pays tribute to the work of the Nine Old Men in the best way possible: by displaying scenes their animation work. Amazingly, none of the Nine Old Men’s full animation scenes have been made available to the public before, which makes this both a valuable historical and educational project.

There’s no better choice than Docter to spearhead the project; he’s a big fan of the flipbook format and creates a flipbook ever year as his personal Christmas card. Here’s the official book description:

This box set of nine flip books pays tribute to Walt Disney’s original animators–the Nine Old Men: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Milt Kahl. Each flip book features a scene from an animated Disney feature in its original line-drawn form, having been selected from among a wide range of films for great movement and classic characters. Such iconic clips from the reel of Disney animation history include: Lady and the Tramp’s moonlit spaghetti dinner; Sorcerer Mickey’s ordeal with a horde of mops; and Thumper’s announcement that a prince has been born! In addition to the flip books, the box will contain a booklet providing additional information about the artists.

List price is $60, but pre-order for $37.42 on Amazon.


  • http://www.onanimation.com Daniel

    Very cool. One day I’ll get around to doing something with nineoldmen.com

  • A Painter

    I still haven’t gotten those Walt Disney Animation Archive Series yet. I need that background & layout paintings book

  • Mac

    I remember a talented, young story man in my class ask a veteran Disney story man how “we must all define our relationship to Milt khal”. The Disney guy didnt know what he was talking about. It made me sick.

    • http://mayersononanimation.blogspot.com Mark Mayerson

      What made you sick? The classmate or the Disney story man? I can see it working in either direction.

    • Dino

      Not to make you sick or anything, but I don’t understand the question either.

    • Mac

      The student made me sick. Pete Doctor makes me a little sick. Jerry Beck doesn’t make me sick because he’s a historian. I don’t think Glen Keane or most television board artists are guilty of this psychology I’m perceiving in other people, but I’ll try to explain what “makes me sick”.

      Does the influence of the nine old men have such a prominent place in the future of the medium of animation, which becomes more open to infinite formal possibilities every day? Personally, I’m tired of hearing about them all the time as some kind of unquestionable foundation of this highly liquid form. They aren’t to animation what the renaissance was to observation of the visual world, but even saying that might be controversial. They made highly specific choices and abstractions for a very specific process of making movies with pencil and paper, and ink on plastic, and xerography.

      To a certain extent they could be ignored or minimized, as the nine old men didn’t have themselves to worship and they came up with beautiful artwork. If people weren’t so fixated on the nine old men as animation gods, more artists of today could come to other aesthetic conclusions as legitimate and beautiful as they did. They do it all the time. Drawing on the history of the Disney men’s observations is a great shortcut if you just want high production values and something that you know works, but that should be a conscious choice of choosing only one specific aesthetic path in order to achieve other ends. This psychology of the relationship to milt khal actually influences the structure of studio production. What the hell is a “story man”? These days it’s a cameraman character designer layout actor writer. who draws like milt khal. Thats a great, complicated skill and they should all be proud of themselves. It’s useful to assess what these things actually are and recognize them as arbitrary arrangements of skills in a certain context for an ultimate end(sound/image).

      On every level, every day, I see people in their own way trying to justify themselves via their “relationship to milt kahl”. They feel guilty for being CG animators, or even drawing into TV Paint. They include crappy figure drawing in their portfolios when it doesn’t even matter to what they’re actually doing. They try to show that they are somehow heirs to the legacy of the nine old men. Like that kind of “elitism” is what is important, as opposed to finding ways to connect to an audience however they can, in whatever production context they find themsleves in. That is what makes me sick.

      • Andreas Wessel-Therhorn

        While there is some validity to the argument, can we at least honor the man by spelling his name correctly? It is Milt KAHL

      • Liz

        To me, the argument is pointless. How can you argue about artistic adoration? People get sentimental and emotional about artists who have made them happy or stirred their emotions whether it is a cartoonist or a singer or a painter or a writer… That shouldn’t prevent other artists fom creating their own masterpieces. If anything, I would think seeing how much people love things like Disney movies and how timeless they are would be inspiring. Saying their adoration is undeserved just sounds a little like sour grapes.

      • Scarabim

        As I understand it, aspiring animators include figure drawings in their portfolios to prove they can DRAW. If you can render the human form convincingly, you can tackle just about anything else. Or are drawing skills completely irrelevant to CGI animation?

      • Mark Sonntag

        While I agree with some of the argument I find it ludicrous to ignore the advances these men and their contemporaries made, they showed us the way.

        Yes I agree in some cases the hero worship can prevent some from reaching their full potential but as an animation practitioner myself I find their work inspiring. While I don’t want to copy, knowing what has been accomplished only highlights what has yet to be.

        Besides, as was said they had nothing to work off but then why should we ignore what they learnt? Why reinvent? Da Vinci, Michaelangelo all those artistic greats served apprenticeships honing their talents to the knowledge of the past while still forging into unknown territory in their own work. The nine old men and the other animation artists of the past gave us foundations to build on.

  • uncle wayne

    Oh MY! Christmas is early!!

  • http://www.slaptoons.com Gavin

    Sounds good, but I’ll wait for the Fred Moore flipbook :)

    • http://aalong64.blogspot.com Aaron

      Where’s my Jim Tyer flipbook?

      • Dan

        Where’s my Carlo Vinci flip book?

  • John V.

    I’m so buying this!!!

  • Matthew Koh

    Finally, something all students can study!

  • Brad Constantine

    Can’t Wait!!Thanks fer sharing!!

  • Tak

    Good to see Docter & the team being so entrepreneurial, good for them. Wonder why no one originally from The Walt Disney Animation Studios ever through of harvesting & capitalising on the archives before. These look like wonderful tomes & I’m sure I’ll be persuaded to invest in one. I’m sure it’ll be a highly successful business strategy for e’m, be sure to target the budding Animation enthusiasts, Freshman, Sophomores & Graduates. There sure are enough of them.

  • http://artnote.blog.com Stephen

    The description on Amazon refers to the Nine Old Men as “Disney’s original animators.” I think I hear Ub Iwerks spinning in his grave.

    • http://classiccartoonreviews.blogspot.com/ Nicholas John Pozega

      As well as Wilfred Jackson, Les Clark*, Norm Blackburn, Hugh Harman, Rudolph Ising, Friz Freleng, Rollin Hamilton, and others that I can’t remember or am unaware of off hand.

      *Yes, Les is one of the Nine Old Men, but he was still one of Disney’s earliest animators.

  • Tim Hodge

    This is a great idea! When Frank & Ollie’s “Bambi” book was published, it came with a flip book with four different scenes in it.
    Disney also published a series of flip books in the late 80s that featured clips from several shorts and a few features, including “Little Mermaid”. Each book has two scenes, one one the front and one on the back. But those were final color images, not rough pencil lines. I’ve got a dozen or so of these beauties.
    In the 90s, they also released flip books from “Beauty & the Beast” and “Lion King” with final frames on one side, and the same scene in rough animation on the other. (They may have done this with other recent films, but these are the only two I have.)

    I hope this series does well, and warrants more.

  • http://wingingitstudios.deviantart.com/ Alissa

    I know what I want for Christmas now!

  • guest

    where is the ipad version?

  • question this…

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  • simple math

    Can we please retire this “Nine Old Men” title? It unfairly excludes many other great animators. Freddie Moore and Bill Tytla were as vital to Disney’s history and as good as any in the group.

    • optimist

      I’m pretty sure Pete Docter would agree with you about the other, incredibly gifted and deserving animators whose work would make for just-as-terrific flip books-but I’d bet that the familiar “9 Old Men” thing is what got the Disney publishing arm to agree to do these at all. And something great is better than nothing.

  • http://classiccartoonreviews.blogspot.com/ Nicholas John Pozega

    What, no Bill Tytla flipbook? >:o(

  • http://animationreview.wordpress.com Gijs Grob

    i think this is a great series of flipbooks, and to please all the whining classic Disney animation lovers above: there should be a second series with Disney’s eight even older men:

    Ub Iwerks
    Norm Ferguson
    Dick Lundy
    Fred Moore
    Grim Natwick
    Hamilton Luske
    Art Babbitt
    Bill Tytla

  • Dan

    One of the underrated, John Sibley!!