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 workâ€¦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 Ã la Pecos Bill, a character Kimball once animated brilliantly.Â Author Amid Amidi lassoes the electric, essential Ward Kimball in all his turbulent multifaceted glory in this profusely illustrated, extraordinarily candid biography. Â The full, intimate portrait that Amidi skillfully paints is supported by impeccable research, including Kimball’s private diaries. Â 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.”