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Van Citters’ Magoo’s Christmas Carol Book


If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. Animation director Darrell Van Citters (Renegade Animation) has written and self published one of the best animation books of the year. Scratch that… one of the best animation books ever! Van Citters has documented the creation and production of the classic UPA TV special Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol with thorough details (wonderfully written I might add) and lavishly illustrated with rare production art (the book layout is superb). This is a must-have for anyone interested in animation history – and specifically, if you have any interest in UPA, animator/director Abe Levitow, songwriters Jules Styne and Bob Merrill, artists like Corny Cole, Gerard Baldwin, Bob Singer and others, not to mention actors Jim Backus, Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy, Paul Frees… you will want this. Van Citters dug up rare behind the scenes photos, cels, storyboards, backgrounds, pencil sketches… a treasure trove of art material that alone justifies the purchase. It gets my highest recommendation.

If you want to see pages from the book, check out Darrell’s Magoo’s Christmas Carol webpage, where he is taking advance orders for a special edition of the book signed by the surviving cast and crew.

The book will go on sale July 23rd at the San Diego Comic Con. You can find it exclusively at the Van Eaton Galleries booth and Darrell will sign copies on Friday and Saturday at 11am and 3pm each day (animator Bob Singer will join Van Citters to sign on Saturday). You can pre-oder autographed copies here. Buy this book. Order it now!

  • Karl Wilcox

    I can remember watching “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” when it
    first aired on NBC, in 1962. I definitely plan to purchase this book
    in the near future.

  • This looks great, and it pointed me to, which I hadn’t seen before, and I’m geeking out over now :)

  • Mike Russo

    I can’t be the only one who doesn’t see what makes Magoo’s Christmas Carol so great, can I?

  • bert klein

    this is the best animation history book i have had the pleasure to read in many years. darrell is a great writer and i hope he writes more books and articles in the future.

  • Having a room that faces Darrell’s office at Renegade, I can say first hand how passionate he has been in regards to his first published book.

    He put his efforts into creating a very detailed ‘art of’ book that should gain respect from any artist that is interested in the history, the art of design, and the first hand stories and photos from artists who created the show.

    I truly hope that another project comes forward that causes him to dive in once more to take on another book.

    If it is as interestedly detailed and well thought out as his first book,
    from the stories, to the photos, to the artwork, it will be yet another success.

  • All I can say is I didn’t even finish reading this article before dashing off to prepurchase mine! Gotsta have it!!!!!!!

  • David Breneman

    To answer Mike Russo’s question, I suppose it makes a big difference how and where you first encountered this program. I was 3 when it first aired. I don’t remember if I watched the premiere broadcast (although I remember attending the world’s fair earlier that year) but I do remember it always being, as Orson Welles said about Lionel Barrymore’s version of the same story, “a tradition for many and many a Christmas.

    “A Christmas Carol” is, certainly for a kid, a very scary and, in places, sad story. The framing device of “it’s only a play” I feel helped many little kids get through the story without running in fear out of the room (as I did at about the same age when watching “The Wizard of Oz”). But it was also an adult cartoon. It wasn’t just a bunch of gags strewn together.

    Despite the limited animation (which UPA used as a style rather than a crutch) it was obvious that a lot of talented people put a lot of time and effort into it, and it holds up extremely well lo these many yuletides. And it was the first of its kind, something we shoud remember when faced with vapid fare like “Frosty the Snowman” and even Disney’s own “Christmas Carol” film from decades later. It really set a high bar for the “christmas special genre” that few have been able to approach, let alone meet.

  • Joel Brinkerhoff

    Love Magoo’s Christmas Carol! I was so happy the hear Darrell was writing a book about it and even happier to hear it’s available. Of course I must have it!

  • Darin M

    Kick ass! Can’t wait to pick this up!

  • Jean Guy Jacques

    When I first saw Mr.Magoo in the theater in Montreal I said to myself I want to work at UPA… I enrolled at Chouinard Art Center in Los Angeles and studied animation… I got a part time job doing xerox cells for UPA… there I had all the drawings in front of me… I was in heaven… I met John Urie who was in chage of the commercial division… we became very good friends… but I was a bit too late to get a job at UPA… the studio closed shortly after… John Urie opened his own studio and he called me to do some story boards and I never left… I worked with John for ten years… We did the famous Hawaiian Punch commercials and a thousand more… the studio was called John Urie & Associates… I can say that Mr. Magoo changed my life…

    • Lynn (Smith) Della Guardia

      Jean Guy!
      And I can say that John Urie changed my life!!!
      I missed you at his memorial in 2010.

  • Janet Diel

    THis was such a wonderful show that it is a delight to relive the time and tale with the book. My mom was many of the voices for characters, Laura Olsher, so we always watched from the very first airing……thank you Darryl for bringing the story back to the next generations……my grandson loves seeing his g gma in the book and watching the movie….he dances to the music.

  • Darrell was kind enough to send me a review copy…Within the next week, I plan to do my own review of the book for my Cleveland Classic Meedia Blog(linked above) as well as a tribute to the program using other materials..Magoo’s Carol was the first animated special I remember seeing as an 8 year old (1965) in Canton, Ohio on a Black and White TV set..As far as what made it special, The actors pretty much understated their roles perfectly for the most part..creating a simplicity in the storytelling that hasnt been matched since in other Christmas TV specials..The music was top-notch as well..I think it is a crime that NBC only ran this for 6 years (1962-67) and subsequent Syndicated/Cable airings were badly chopped up..

    Cleveland Classic Media is simply a TV/Radio blog dedicated to Cleveland/NE Ohio TV’s past, though I write about national subjects as well..