Depending on your opinion of the film, the 1980 live-action Popeye works great as either a stocking stuffer for your loved ones or for the individual who deserves a lump of coal in their stocking. The film had some fine names attached to it—director Robert Altman and cartoonist-turned-screenwriter Jules Feiffer—while Robin Williams handled the titular role.
Woody Woodpecker Late Night Hangover Panty—$6.50
Who needs Victoria’s Secret when you can have Woody’s secret?
Despicable Me Duct Tape—$10.71
It’s no use trying to avoid the Minions. Plus, yellow makes your packages stand out.
Introduce kids to the art of animation without a computer, TV, or camera. Animation doesn’t get much more old school than this.
Nobrow 8: Hysteria—$17.22
Nobrow is among the most useful resources for up-to-the-minute trends and new discoveries in illustration and comics. Not surprisingly, some of the artists featured in the publication also work in animation.
Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils—$19.89
The favored pencil of Vladimir Nabokov, Truman Capote, John Steinbeck, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, and many directors and animators of animation’s Golden Age, including Chuck Jones and some of Disney’s Nine Old Men. Production of the pencil abruptly stopped in 1998, but California Cedar’s Palomino division recently revived production of the pencil. They’re not exactly like the original and they won’t make you a better animator, but at least you’ll feel like a star when holding one between your fingers. [Disclaimer: Palomino has been a sponsor of Cartoon Brew in 2013.]
The Lost Art of Matt Baker Vol. 1: The Complete Canteen Kate—$19.95
A comic book combining screwball and cheesecake set during the Korean War? Drawn by a pioneering African-American comic book artist in the 1950s? I’ve never heard of Canteen Kate, but I’m intrigued by this latest release from Lost Art Books.
The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse—$21.42Mickey Mouse has received a lot of attention in his 85th year including a new series of TV shorts and the theatrical extravaganza Get a Horse! Animation historian Jim Korkis has put together the definitive unauthorized guide to the character covering all his appearances from film to print to theme parks.
After years of working for American animation studios—UPA, Terrytoons, MGM—animation legend Gene Deitch launched his own cartoon character, Nudnik, in a 1960s cartoon series produced in Czechoslovakia. Deitch, who is 89 years old and lives in Prague today, recalls the creation of the character in this visually-packed book. The real highlight is the reproduction of complete storyboards from three different Nudnik shorts. The storyboards are beautiful works of art in their own right, colorfully rendered in full detail owing to the fact that Deitch was working with non-English speaking animators and had to be precise. A DVD of all the Nudnik shorts was recently released and is a perfect companion to the book.
VIP: The Mad World of Virgil Partch—$27.78
The first issue of Playboy magazine had two images on the cover—a photo of Marilyn Monroe and a cartoon by Virgil “VIP” Partch. Partch’s public recognition has declined since his heady days as a celebrity cartoonist, but his drawings are still among the maddest, funniest and most creative cartooning ever committed to paper. This lovingly compiled tribute by Jonathan Barli is an absolute must-have, even in spite of the cheap hardcover binding and the botched color reproduction.
Don Graham was the man responsible for Disney’s legendary in-house training program of the 1930s that prepared artists to make the studio’s greatest films—Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. Years later, Graham wrote Composing Pictures, a book about drawing—and just as important, seeing—of which Chuck Jones has said, “If you want to be an animator, you MUST read and draw this volume. It is not a luxury to you; it is a necessity.”
The Noble Approach: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design—$29.70
A dazzling combination of layout tips and animation history, this volume by Tod Polson is one of the best animation books of 2013. Read our in-depth review.
Giants’ First Steps DVD—$29.95
Everyone has to start somewhere, and this DVD presents freshly remastered student films by many of today’s biggest feature animation directors including Pete Docter, Brenda Chapman, John Musker, Nick Park, Chris Sanders, Henry Selick, Andrew Stanton and Chris Wedge. While the standards of student filmmaking have risen in the decades since these shorts were made, the early efforts of these filmmakers will inspire students and enlighten animation enthusiasts.
The CG Story: Computer-Generated Animation and Special Effects—$46.93
As computer animation matures, expect more historical retrospective books like this lush, oversized coffeetable tome that features stills from most computer animated and VFX-heavy films of the past three decades. The text by Christopher Finch (The Art of Walt Disney) is well written, though obviously by someone with limited knowledge of computer animation processes.
Microsoft – Surface Pro 2 with 64GB – Dark Titanium—$1,028.47
With their line of Surface tablets, Microsoft has made a serious push into providing affordable and functional hardware for the animation community. The Surface’s main draw is its portability, making it an attractive option for the animator-on-the-go. Superjail! creator Christy Karacas reviewed an earlier generation of the Microsoft Surface Pro, which he found to be invaluable.
(Gift guide photo via Shutterstock)