New Animation Books

Here’s some animation and cartoon-related books coming out in the next few months…

Heard any good Mark Twain quotes lately? CHUCK JONES: CONVERSATIONS, edited by ANIMATION JOURNAL’s Maureen Furniss, compiles numerous interviews with Warner director Jones. There’s already more than enough history books about Golden Age animation where historians interpret what happened, so it’s refreshing to see books of unedited interviews, like this and the new WALT’S PEOPLE series, which give us the opportunity to hear the artists relate stories and experiences in their own words.

An updated edition of Hal Erickson’s reference tome TELEVISION CARTOON SHOWS: AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1949-2004 will be out in May. Unlike the previous edition which was a pricy book aimed at libraries and schools, this one seems aimed at consumers and is fairly affordable at $45. I’ll definitely be picking up a copy for my library.

Ed Hooks, actor and author of ACTING FOR ANIMATORS, was telling me about this book at Annecy last year and it sounded really interesting. It’s called ACTING IN ANIMATION: A LOOK AT 12 FILMS and it breaks down the acting performances in a dozen animated films including classics (PINOCCHIO, DUMBO), cg (TOY STORY 2, MONSTERS INC.), recent hand-drawn films (TARZAN, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO) and anime (SPIRITED AWAY, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES).

OUT OF THE INKWELL: MAX FLEISCHER AND THE ANIMATION REVOLUTION is a book by Max’s son, live-action director Richard Fleischer. According to the book description, this biography is “one of a creative genius struggling to fit in with the changing culture of golden age cinema. OUT OF THE INKWELL captures the twists and turns, the triumphs and disappointments, and most of all the breathless energy of a life vibrantly lived in the world of animation magic.”

Despite my personal lack of interest in the subject, I thought VINYL WILL KILL: AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE DESIGNER TOY PHENOMENON was a pretty cool (if tackily designed) book, packed with a lot of sketches and insight into how they make these toys.

Fans of Steinberg will appreciate this one. STEINBERG AT THE NEW YORKER by Joel Smith is a collection of all of Saul Steinberg’s NEW YORKER covers, as well as over 130 examples of inside magazine art, ranging from his line drawings to color portfolios.

Last, and most definitely least, there’s CARTOON COOL: HOW TO DRAW NEW RETRO-STYLE CHARACTERS, a book that’s wrong on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin complaining. The atrocious cover should be the first clue that Christopher Hart hasn’t the wildest clue about how to draw “retro-styled” characters. Then again, when has Hart ever done a book that’s actually taught anybody how to draw anything correctly. Should make a good gag gift for your designer friends.

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