The Vault of Walt by my old friend Jim Korkis is a great read and must have for anyone interested in the history of Walt Disney. Korkis has collected over 35 untold tales about Disney and his company – “Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told” is the sub-title. I love the little details, the nooks and crannies of both Disney films and Disney the man – and that is what Korkis supplies, the fascinating stories behind the little things left out of all the big biographies of Disney’s life and legacy. And true to its source, it’s as much fun to read as any vintage Disney movie – you really sense Jim’s enthusiasm on every page. You’ll read about Chuck Jones four months at Disney Animation (in 1953), the short-lived radio series Mickey Mouse Theatre of the Air, Disney involvement with his last film, Blackbeard’s Ghost (1967), and what happened when he returned to his home town, Marceline, in 1956 — and much much more. This is stuff I always wanted to know about and I’m delighted its all been committed to print. An absolute joy and highly recommended!

Animation – Art and Industry edited by Maureen Furniss is a book I picked up at the Ottawa International Animation festival last month. It was published in 2009 by John Libbey out of the United Kingdom and distributed in the US by Indiana University Press. Somehow it escaped my sight until now but I’m glad I caught up to it. It’s a compilation of academic papers – but unlike some of those other tomes, this has some very readable and important pieces by some of my favorite writers: Karl Cohen on blacklisted animators, Charles Solomon on Disney’s wartime cartoons, J.B. Kaufman on pioneering animation distributor Margaret Winkler, John Canemaker on – what else? – Winsor McCay, Linda Simensky on Bugs Bunny Merchandising, Michael Frierson on Gumby, Helen McCarthy on Miyazaki’s Totoro and on and on… absolutely great stuff. Authoritative and a very enjoyable read. It’s a good one. Get it.

The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories continues Craig Yoe’s string of beautifully designed hardcover comics compilations. This time he’s rounded up the rarely seen holiday-themed comic book stories by Walt Kelly, John Stanley, Richard Scarry, Al Fago, Jack Bradbury, Melvin “Tubby” Millar, and many others, from 1940s and 50s vintage comics, lovingly restored in a bright Christmas package. Buy two – one for you and one to give as a gift. It’s perfect for anyone – comic book fans, animation buffs, and/or everyone who enjoys the fantasies of the holiday season. Fun!

Long before there was a Google, there was Barney Google. This is all explained in Craig Yoe’s new hardcover Barney Google book. Creator Billy DeBeck was one of the great cartoony “big foot” cartoonists of the 1920s, and his star character became a national sensation during that decade. This book mainly reprints original strips from 1922 that led to his first story with Spark Plug, Barney’s race horse. As usual, Yoe devotes the first 45 pages of the book to a survey of DeBeck’s career with rare photos, drawings, publcity art and memoribilia. Great stuff and a perfect introduction to Barney’s “Goo-Goo-Googly” world.

Jerry Beck