The Best Animation Books of 2009

Here are my picks for the best animation books of 2009.

Colors of Mary Blair and Iwao Takamoto

The Colors of Mary Blair –A catalog for an exhibition that happened earlier this year at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. I don’t have a copy myself and don’t even know how you can obtain one, but this book does it right with page after packed page of animation concepts, personal watercolors, advertising art, and illustration work. It works well as a companion to John Canemaker’s 2003 bio The Art and Flair of Mary Blair.

Iwao Takamoto: My Life with a Thousand Characters by Iwao Takamoto with Michael Mallory – An entertaining, fast-paced and personal look into the life and career of now-deceased artist Iwao Takamoto that shows he deserves to be remembered for more than just designing Scooby-Doo.

South of the Border with Disney

South of the Border with Disney: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program 1941-1948 by J.B. Kaufman – A masterful piece of research that proves not every stone has been unturned in the field of Disney history.

Walt Stanchfield books

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes, Volume 1 and Volume 2, by Walt Stanchfield, edited by Don Hahn – A lifetime’s worth of knowledge and wisdom is contained within these two paperbacks. The material is taken from Stanchfield’s handouts used in his classes for Disney animators. These books belong on any animator’s bookshelf, whether beginner or expert.

Starting Point and Fantastic Mr. Fox

Starting Point: 1979-1996 by Hayao Miyazaki, translated by Beth Cary and Frederik L. Schodt – I have yet to read a single page of this book, but if you ask Mark Mayerson and Richard O’Connor, it’s nothing short of amazing. It sounds like an eclectic and thought-provoking collection of opinions from one of today’s master animation directors, and it’s the animation book that I’m currently most looking forward to reading.

The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox – This elegantly compact volume, designed by Angus Hyland of Pentagram, injects fresh blood into the tired ‘art of’ book format. I’ve personally resisted writing any more feature film ‘art of’ books, but something as original and distinctive as this one might force me to reconsider.

Feel free to share your favorite animated-related titles published in the past year and tell us why.


  • http://www.atomicbearpress.com Brian

    The Mary Blair book is available at the Cartoon Art Museum Bookstore and when I was there on Wen (Dec 23) night they still had copies for sale. The book is beautiful, stunning. If you want to order one, call (415) CAR-TOON ext 310 or email bookstore (at) cartoonart.org. They are open Tue-Sun 11-5:30.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Allow me to nominate three other 2009 titles to your list:

    MISTER MAGOO’S CHRISTMAS CAROL: The Making of the First Animated Special (Oxberry Press) by Darrell Van Citters – a perfect combination of first class research, writing and rare animation art. A must-have.

    THE ART AND MAKING OF CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (Insight Editions) by Tracey Miller-Zarneke is one of those “art of” books that allows us to see the preliminary sketches and character designs behind this surprisingly good movie. The book itself is oversized and goreous. I highly recommend it.

    And finally, THE ART OF PIXAR SHORT FILMS (Chronicle) by some guy named Amid Amidi, covers an oft-neglected part of Pixar’s history with insight and rare artwork. It too was one of the year’s best.

  • Scott

    They have the Mary Blair book on Ebay, but it goes for a pretty high price! http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=Colors+of+Mary+Blair&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=

  • Pedro Nakama

    I picked up the 2 Drawn To Life books. Excellent! I would rank these books up there with The Illusion of Life, The Animator’s Survival Kit, Preston Blair’s Animation Book, The Human Figure In Motion and Animals In Motion as books that all animators and animation students should own.

  • Nerd

    I saw the Mary Blair books at Stuart Ng’s store in Torrance last week as another possible location to find it.

  • Sam Sleiman

    What about “The Animator’s Survival Kit: Expanded Edition”?

  • Alfons Moline

    The selection is pretty good, but I would like to add the book on Total TV Productions by Mark Arnold. This is a well-researched, longtime overdue essay on an animation company which, despite having created such cult favorites as Underdog, King Leonardo (who will be celebrating his 50th anniversary in 2010!) and Tenneesee Tuxedo, little is known about its history and the people behind it.

  • Cooper

    The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco will have the Mary Blair catalog later this year (2010) for a normal price and they also carry South of the Border.

  • Lloyd Carter

    I’d like to add The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Comics by Helen McCarthy. Where else can you get a great book on Tezuka and a bonus DVD…

  • http://artornothing.com/duffy Brian

    Starting Point is blowing me away. I’ve got highlighter on every other page. The way he talks about animation is such a breath of fresh air. Every student needs to read this book.

  • http://thft.home.att.net Mark Arnold

    Thanks Alfons. You are a lover of fine things and man of good taste.

  • steve w.

    Add my vote for MISTER MAGOO’S CHRISTMAS CAROL: The Making of the First Animated Special (Oxberry Press) by Darrell Van Citters. This is a work that needed to be done for a film that’s too often overlooked with all the animated holiday clutter. A great book for a TV special that really was special.