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Gift Guide

Cartoon Brew Gift Guide 2013

Finding the perfect gift for the animation lover in your life isn’t always the easiest task. Here’s a few of our suggestions ranging from a few bucks to over a grand. Share your cartoon gift suggestions in the comments.

More Cute Stories: Vol. 1: Disneyland History & Vol. 2: Animators and Imagineers—$4.99
One of the most enjoyable animation artist memoirs from the past couple years was Rolly Crump’s It’s Kind of a Cute Story. Now, to supplement the book, Crump is recording new stories and releasing them as audio recordings.

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.

Animation Praxinoscope—$11.04
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.

Nudnik Revealed!—$22.56
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.

Composing Pictures—$29.14
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)

  • cckrad

    don’t forget the amazing soundtrack by Harry Nilsson!

    • Anniemation

      Hey there cckrad, how are you?

      Those are some cool products btw. I especially like the Woody Woodpecker underwear!

  • Pedro Nakama

    This is actually a good gift guide. Last on my list would be the “The CG Story” book. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover but seriously, look at that horrible cover art. And if it’s truly about CG shouldn’t it be an e-book? Hmmm…

    • meh

      Oh goody! A coffee table book of computer rendered imagery!

  • Roberto Severino

    I could use some Blackwing pencils right about now. I’ve never tried them out before. Thanks CB!

  • Dana B

    “Microsoft has made a serious push into providing affordable and functional hardware…”
    Price for Surface: $1,028.47

    Affordable is a strong word :S
    It’d be really awesome to have, though. I got a HP touchsmart tm2 a few years ago. I kinda stopped using it since the color depth wasn’t great and I couldn’t make color accurate drawings. That and the fact I use my iPad all the time now, just because it’s so easy to take out and do what you want without waiting for it to boot up. I’d probably get one with a removable keyboard, I don’t needs more fingerprints on my screens…

  • George Comerci

    I want all of these!!!

  • Barbara

    I tried the Surface Pro 2 (128GB) for a week and returned it. I was away from my home setup and was actually doing freelance animation work on it, and though it was fine drawing and moderately faster than working on a wacom intuos, I found the hardware to be less impressive than what I was hoping for for such a steep price. The “palm rejection” technology often glitched with my hand on the screen and would cause a lot of frustration working. I was wishing that there were a way to toggle the touch off and have the pen be the only recognized input, but was told that there was no way to do that…so I couldn’t keep it. For a $G I expect something to work pretty flawlessly. The battery was pretty unimpressive too, 5-6 hours at most.

    • Luke (stoneseeker)

      For the form factor, SP2’s 5-6 hours is actually quite impressive. Compare it to the previous generation of slates and you won’t find anything getting those kind of hours while actually working. As far as palm rejection, I turn off touch all the time. Simply turn off the touch service (separate from stylus) in services.msc. If you want to be able to toggle it on and off with ease there are simple homebrew programs written for windows 8 (found free at tablet pc review forums for instance) that other artists like yourself wrote for easier access to turn off touch. Or, wear a pinky glove on your drawing hand, if that suits you better. It just takes a tiny bit of adjustment, and honestly, $1100 is a steal for a Wacom penabled hybrid or tabletPC. Similar spec units are all above $1400 upwards to $3000 so it really is a very affordable tabletPC. Artists can get just as much or more from a Samsung 700ATIV or T902 of course, but the Surface Pro strikes a nice balance for artists.

  • Phil M

    Hey! Where’s the Art of Jay Ward Book up there!???? It’s AMAZING!

  • Tres Swygert

    I think there were some books that animation lovers/students could’ve seen on this list. Not everyone has the copy of Illusion of Life (and it’s a must to have as an animation lover!)

    Instead of the Microsoft Surface, a Cintiq would’ve been a better choice. 13-inch or the Companion are priced the same for the price of the Surface, and they serve a better purpose.

  • Musti
  • Strong Enough

    i knew a 1,000 dollars was affordable lmao

  • Megan

    the books are so beautiful. Even if i don’t own them, they would be awesome to have them in a collection

  • Aaron R.R.R. Nance

    Some great ideas here. Thanks Amid.

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about these Blackwing pencils. What makes them so especial?

  • Bob McLain

    Thanks for including Jim Korkis’ “Book of Mouse” in your list. For those interested, there’s an excerpt from the book available here:

  • Joe Procopio / Lost Art Books

    Great to see the “Lost Art of Matt Baker” on this list. Here’s a cool video for that book:

  • alt animation podcast

    I really enjoy my praxinoscope!