With more animation books being published than ever before, finding the perfect book for the beloved animation fan in your life can be a big challenge. Here’s a selection of unique gift-book ideas that will inform and inspire anyone who loves animation and drawing.

Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books

Michael Barrier, one of the doyens of American animation history, turns his attention to classical animation’s sister field, the funny comic book. His focus is on the comics of the 1940s and ’50s published under the Dell label, with new research on comic giants like Carl Barks (Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge), John Stanley (Little Lulu), and Walt Kelly (Pogo).

Masaaki Yuasa: Sketchbook for Animation Projects

You’ll have to order this one from Japan, but how else are you going to have a massive sketchbook of artwork by the innovative Japanese animation director Masaaki Yuasa? It includes work from all of his major productions including Mind Game, Tatami Galaxy, Kick Heart, Kaiba, Kemonozume, Cat Soup, Genius Party, Crayon Shin Chan, and Maruko Chan.

A Mickey Mouse Reader

Dozens of rare articles and essays about Mickey Mouse, written by a who’s who of 20th century culturati including John Updike, Diego Rivera, Walter Benjamin, Maurice Sendak, Gilbert Seldes, and E.M. Forster. Compiled and annotated by art historian Garry Apgar, whose definitive Mickey history Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit will be released next year.

The Art of Tante Hilda!

This one is only available from the website of French animation studio Folimage, but it’s worth tracking down. Focused on the design and development of the recent hand-drawn French feature Tante Hilda!, it’s easily the most original art-of book of the year, filled with spirited drawings and graphic inventiveness that, even more amazingly, was translated intact to the screen.

The Art of Jay Ward Productions

Even a fan of Jay Ward’s TV cartoons might question the widsom of an entire art book dedicated to the micro-budget TV animation studio—but the wealth of never-before-seen artwork unearthed by animation director Darrell van Citters makes a compelling argument that a lack of budget should never be an excuse for a lack of creative expression in TV animation.

Winsor McCay, The Complete Little Nemo 1905-1927

All 549 episodes of Winsor McCay’s masterpiece Little Nemo printed in color and nearly as large (but not quite) as the original newspaper comic. The book is so big it comes in its own cardboard suitcase-with-handle, and if any comic reprint deserves its own suitcase, it’s this one.

Criterion Designs

No one does movie packaging better than the Criterion Collection, and this book examines thirty years of Criterion’s output featuring covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art plus a gallery of every Criterion cover since the collection’s first laserdisc in 1984.

The Dodals: Pioneers of Czech Animated Film

When I first received this beautifully designed book-and-DVD set, I thought it was some kind of elaborate made-up historical prank. But nope, it’s all true. Karel Dodal, his first wife Hermína Dodalová, and second wife Irena Dodalová were indeed Czech animation pioneers. They made unofficial Felix the Cat shorts in the 1920s, and because of 20th century political upheaval, lived in exile in Paris, Minneapolis, and Buenos Aires.

The Lost Notebook: Herman Schultheis & the Secrets of Walt Disney’s Movie Magic

We’ve already said everything there is to say about this project, but John Canemaker’s latest book is among the most beautiful ever published about Disney animation. Every fan of the studio’s early feature films, especially Pinocchio and Fantasia, needs this book.

Gustave Dore 1832-1883: Master of Imagination

French comic artist Philippe Druillet says, “Doré was born before his time. Today, he’d be making movies.” Known primarily for his engravings, Doré’s output also included drawings, paintings, and sculptures, all of which are beautifully represented in this image-heavy, information-packed book.

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