New Books of Note

Three new books popped into my mailbox this week. What were they? Funny you should ask…

I’m a big fan of Chronicle’s Art-Of books for Disney and Pixar’s recent animated features – but this one, based on Laika’s new stop-motion feature, is one of the best yet from the publisher. The Art and Making of ParaNorman is not only loaded with the usual gorgeous pre-production art and character designs – it’s got that in abundance – but it takes you through the entire process of making a modern stop motion feature. Jed Alger’s text goes beyond the usual artist interviews and tells us the whole story – the book is crammed with behind-the-scenes images; illustrating all the puppet parts, the sets and the people behind them. Bravo! This is a wonderful peek behind the curtain for anyone who loves hand-crafted animation – and if stop-mo is your thing, this book is a must-have.

This is an unusual surprise: a newspaper comic strip I never heard of, The Adventures of Buck O’Rue and his Hoss, Reddish written by animation legend Dick Huemer (Scrappy) and Disney animator and comic book artist Paul Murry (Mickey Mouse, Goofy). It lasted about two years and was unsuccessful, but now Huemer’s son Richard, and comic book editor Germund von Wowern have collected all the strips (daily and Sunday) in this beautiful volume, augmented with several articles, prefaces, epilogues and appendiices filled with rare Murry and Huemer art, newspaper clippings, photos, the stories behind the men, their careers and newspaper syndication. The strip itself is an amusing parody of cowboys and western lore – but it’s the “bonus materials” that bookend the strips that make this a must-get. The project as a whole an interesting footnote to the history of Huemer and Murry – and, by extension, to the history of Disney.

Iwao Takamoto’s 2009 autobiography (written with Michael Mallory) was an excellent account of the animator’s career. Now his step-daughter, Leslie E. Stern, has written another account, Living With A Legend, from her point of view and its a nice memoir of a life with Iwao behind the scenes. Her publisher send me an advance copy and I can attest that its a well done tribute. Apparently their will be several versions of the book available at various prices. For anyone, everyone, who grew up with Hanna Barbera, this is a treat.