Full Steam Ahead Full Steam Ahead
BooksDisneyWard Kimball

Pre-Order “Full Steam Ahead!,” the Ward Kimball Biography

April 2, 1934. Seventy-eight years ago to the day, a twenty-year-old kid started working at Walt Disney Productions. His name was Ward Kimball, and animation hasn’t been the same ever since. This fall, I’m celebrating his life in Full Steam Ahead: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball, a coffeetable book that is as much a how-to manual on being a creative innovator as it is a biography of a fascinating individual.

I announced the book last September, and I’m pleased to report that it’s finally available for pre-order on Amazon. The first printing of my previous book for Chronicle Books, The Art of Pixar, sold out in five weeks because of the short print run. The print run for the Kimball bio is similarly limited, so I’d recommend jumping on this if you want a first edition.

Here’s the official jazz from my publisher:

“Ward’s the one man who works for me I call a genius,” Walt Disney once noted. Ward Kimball’s career as an animator and Academy Award-winning director at Disney between the 1930s and the 1970s is legendary, but the work he created outside of the animation studio was equally fascinating, including building a functioning full-size railroad in his backyard and founding a successful jazz band. Director Brad Bird states in his foreword to the book that “Amidi’s meticulous research into Kimball’s life and work…gives a first-time glimpse into the life of one of the true kings of character animation.” With unprecedented access to his personal archives and private journals, celebrated animation historian Amid Amidi unearthed hundreds of never-before-seen drawings, paintings, comics, letters, and photos, including concept art and stories from his occasionally turbulent career at Disney. Featuring interviews with dozens of Ward’s colleagues, relatives, students, and friends, Amidi paints a complex portrait of one of animation’s most irreverent and influential artists in this definitive must-have biography.

Advance praise for Full Steam Ahead from John Canemaker, Oscar-winning animation filmmaker and author of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men & The Art of Animation: “Capturing Ward Kimball’s long, lusty, eclectic personal and professional life on the printed page is like seizing lightning à la Pecos Bill, a character Kimball once animated brilliantly.  Author Amid Amidi lassoes the electric, essential Ward Kimball in all his turbulent multifaceted glory in this profusely illustrated, extraordinarily candid biography.  The full, intimate portrait that Amidi skillfully paints is supported by impeccable research, including Kimball’s private diaries.  Writing with insight, passion and compassion about his mercurial subject, Amidi takes readers directly into the life and private thoughts of a uniquely modern Renaissance man whose contributions continue to resonate in American popular culture.”

Pre-order on Amazon for $29.70.
  • I can’t wait to read it!i attended one of his panels at San Diego Comicon and he was amazing.

  • Ryan

    Well done. Looks to be a fantastic retrospective on the artist, his life & his works. And hopefully it sheds light and informs us about a lot of his lesser know projects and pieces too.

  • Justin

    This looks like an awesome book! I can’t wait to read it!

  • It looks fantastic. A fitting tribute to a creative genius. I love the cover picture.

  • I’ve actually had my fill of reading about Kimball lately. But I’m still looking forward to this cause he’s just so amazing. Easily my favourite animator.

  • Ken Coleman

    Already ordered! What a great year for books. Thanks for all the hard work!

  • Ron

    Looks great! A bio on Ward Kimball is long overdue. Congrats Amid! I can’t wait to read it.

  • Angry Anim

    I love your stuff Amid… and Ward is absolutely amazing. His perspective on the entire Disney experience always appears to be the most accurate… that he just tells what happens. I hope this gets into what exactly he felt between what happened between him and Walt, because I’ve always been a bit unclear on the whole thing, although I’ve read about it several times. I have no idea how him and Walt interacted in the 60’s at all.

    I will completely pick this up. Thanks, Amid!

  • Didier Ghez

    I had a chance to read the manuscript and this will be the very best Disney History book of 2012 by a wide margin, hands down. Do not miss this book!

  • THIS is it! Ever since reading Canemaker’s book on the 9 Old Men I thought they merited a book EACH! Well done on completing this epic task.
    Does Searle get a mention?

  • Really looking forward to this book. Also, does anyone know where I can get a copy of “Inside UPA”? It’s apparently really difficult to find. I wish I would have bought it when it was released.

    • Nate – For Inside UPA, go to the “Shop” section of UPApix.com. If you’re unable to get it from that site, contact me.

      • Thanks so much, Amid. I just ordered one.

  • Bob Harper

    You see folks! Whenever we get to “hating” Amid for having opinions that don’t gel with ours, he goes and makes books like these so we have to forgive him for all of his transgressions. I can’t wait till it comes out!

  • Mike

    Aaaand..pre-ordered! Can’t wait for this!

  • Robert Schaad

    Pre-Ordered! I know that there’s a LOT of of time and effort in this.

  • Jorgen Klubien

    I don’t like the cover from a design point of view. Sorry, to say that but I love the man, and hope the book will do him justice… the inside pages look good. Will buy for sure. Thanks for making it regardless of how the cover looks.

    • Hi Jorgen, The cover isn’t final yet. The image choice is, but we’re still working on the layout. If you have any suggestions, please speak up.

      • Dino

        I’ve already pre-ordered and can’t wait to read it, but I agree with Jorgen… The cover looks like a photo pasted with a few bits of graphic clutter, like random stickers slapped on a Trapper Keeper. The title is at two different perspectives/angles and doesn’t look like a unified statement. The train doesn’t work at all, at least not that tiny and that marginal. In the same way, Jiminy, pushed all the way to the edge of the book looks like a weird afterthought. The subtitle, signature, and byline look just fine, but there’s no overall composition here.

        Picking nits, of course, but as a fan of your other work, I’d love to see this with a great cover.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    Are there any character sketches,model sheets,or storyboards of the animated sequences from Bedknobs & Broomsticks in the book? Kimball directed them as you know.

    • Andrew – No artwork from it in the book. My sense is that Ward wasn’t involved intimately with the animation decisions. He handed off the supervision to Milt Kahl and Art Stevens, and dealt primarily with the live-action shoots that would be mixed with animation, supervising recording sessions and pulling it all together.

  • Really looking forward to getting a copy. A fascinating subject. If it is anywhere near as good a book as Cartoon Modern it’s going to be a great read!

    Can I check, it is going to be available in the UK isn’t it…? amazon.co.uk don’t have a pre-order as yet…

    • Lamar

      I’d like some info on this too
      I don’t want to have to pay loads to get it shipped to the UK

  • Doug

    When one “pre-orders” a book, is the credit card hit at the time of preordering or at the actual time of shipment? Thanks!

  • Gerard de Souza

    Stop putting out great books! I’m gonna need rehab for all the books I buy!

  • Didier Ghez

    Doug: If you mean “on Amazon”, then the answer is that the credit card is only hit when the book is shipped.

    • Doug

      Thanks Didier!

  • Mark Sonntag

    Awesome, got mine ordered. Can’t wait.

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  • DisneylandIsHome

    Just received the cancellation message from Amazon. Does anyone know if this book is going to be printed?