Books 2021 Books 2021

Pixels, Minions, Ducktales, and Brits: the subjects of this year’s line-up of new animation books are as varied as they are enticing.

We’re spotlighting six books that look promising — this is by no means a complete list of forthcoming titles. Keep an eye on our reviews for deeper evaluations of which books are worth reading, and why.

A note: publishers, like film studios, often shift release dates for titles, so although these are the currently planned dates, it is possible that some books won’t be available on these dates.

The Art of Eric Guillon
The Art of Eric Guillon: From the Making of Despicable Me to Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and More

by Ben Croll

Designer and art director Eric Guillon, Illumination’s secret weapon, is the subject of that rare thing: an animation art book devoted to a single artist who isn’t primarily a director. And with good reason: his contributions to Illumination’s films, which include designing the Minions and Max from The Secret Life of Pets, have played a key role in the studio’s success. This book showcases more than 1,200 pieces of Guillon’s artwork — including alternative designs for the Minions — alongside in-depth interviews with the man.

Released on June 15 by Insight Editions.

A Biography of the Pixel

by Alvy Ray Smith

Having left an indelible mark on computer science, Smith has now turned historian of the field. By organizing his account around the pixel, the author sets up a wide-ranging narrative that covers everything from Turing machines to Pixar (a studio he co-founded). Arguing that the pixel is the organizing principle of most modern media, Smith approaches his subject from multiple angles: art, technology, entertainment, business, and history.

Released on August 3 by MIT Press.

The Disney Afternoon
Cover not final
The Disney Afternoon: The Making of a Television Renaissance

by Jake S. Friedman

Late Eighties and early Nineties nostalgia gets the studio-book treatment with this, an official history of the Eisner-era Disney programming block. The book explores the creation of shows like Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Talespin, and Ducktales, incorporating interviews with the creative teams and behind-the-scenes artwork.

Released on September 21 by Disney Editions.

The Story of British Animation
The Story of British Animation

by Jez Stewart

As a Brit, I often marveled at the lack of a complete history of my country’s animation production, until I heard this book was in the pipeline. The story is a rich one, running from Victorian pioneers to Peppa Pig via Lotte Reiniger, Yellow Submarine, and Aardman. Stewart is well placed to tell it: as animation curator at the British Film Institute, he is steeped in the subject, and writes regularly about it for magazines like Sight & Sound. The book features around 100 color illustrations.

Released on September 23 by the British Film Institute.

The Man Who Leapt Through Film: The Art of Mamoru Hosoda

by Charles Solomon

In the wake of the summer release of his feature Belle, lauded anime auteur Mamoru Hosoda will get an art-of book penned by veteran animation critic Solomon. Few details are available about the title other than that it will be 272 pages.

Released on November 16 by Abrams.

Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts

by Wolf Burchard

Just like his name, Walt Disney’s cultural palette had roots in France, as this monograph explains. Burchard explores Disney’s fascination with French decorative arts, displaying photos of European artifacts alongside film stills to argue for the French aesthetic influences visible in Disney’s theme parks and animated films (both during Walt’s life and afterward). The book is tied to an exhibition that will launch at the Met in New York — where the author is an associate curator — in December, before moving to London.

Released on December 7 by Yale University Press.