New Books you should know about* (*if you don’t already)

Here are several new publications that were sent my way during the past month that I think Cartoon Brew readers will like, or love or at worst, should be aware they exist:

100 Animated Feature Films by Andrew Osmond (BFI/Palgrave Macmillan) is a great read. The animated feature is just coming into its own after decades of following one vision – that of the Walt Disney studio. Now that there are several strong voices to emerge in this medium, British film journalist Osmond has rounded up one hundred notable international animated features, studio and independent, to discuss, compare and contrast. This isn’t a “best-of” list, but a representative selection of worthwhile films culled from the first ninety five years of full-length animated movies. An important book for students of animation history – and anyone wanting to read intelligent commentary on where the field has come, and where its headed.

The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2 by Tracey Miller-Zarneke (Insight Editions). Whatever your opinion of Kung Fu Panda 2, one thing is undeniable: the artwork, art direction, character designs, color keys and all things visual are simply superb. Just based on “looks” this may be the best animated film of the year. We’ll see, but in the meantime Tracey Miller-Zarneke’s book lays it all out and gives credit where credit is due. Raymond Zibach, Nicholas Marlet, and Bill Kaufman are among the dozens of artists work given the lavish “art-book” treatment here – and their work deserves it. And you deserve to own this souvenir of Dreamworks’ summer blockbuster.
Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers written and designed by Craig Yoe, produced by Clizia Gussoni (IDW Publishing). Do we really need another book about Archie? The answer is YES, if Yoe and his wife Clizia are behind it. There’s been several recent compilation volumes devoted to Archie comics, from Dark Horse, IDW and Archie Publications itself, but this is THE BEST one. This is actually the only book about Archie you really need, as it covers everything about the Riverdale characters, their origins, the artists, writers, the nooks and crannies, including the coolest, rarest art, promotional pieces, photographs… the whole shebang! Yoe has a great chapter about Archie on radio, TV and animated cartoons, another highlighting oddball Archie merchandising – and in another part of the book, he offers a rare printing, off the original art, of the unpublished 1952 Andy Andrews, a serious detective story featuring Archie’s previously unknown cousin! It’s one of those books (like my Hanna Barbera Treasury) that you need to see – and when you see it, you’ll buy it. I love this book – take it from me, it’s really great. Highly Recommended!
The Art of Cars 2 by Ben Queen with Karen Paik (Chronicle Books). To be honest, I’m not revved up about Cars 2. That said, I have no doubt it will be a spectacular international success and huge moneymaker for Disney. Chronicle’s latest Pixar “Art-of” book for Cars 2 follows the formula of the subsequent volumes in this series – and is thus a must-have. There is no doubt that the artists at Pixar are some of the best in the business and, as usual, this book reflects in the incredible talents and passions of their animation pit crew. The book is written by Cars 2 screenwriter Ben Queen with Pixar’s creative development staffer Karen Paik. As they say in Drivers Ed class: Proceed with Caution!
Working With Disney By Don Peri (University Press of Mississippi). God bless the University Press of Mississippi. They are printing more important books about animators and cartoonists than perhaps any other publisher today. Their latest is this compilation of writer Don Peri’s personal interviews with animators, producers and “mouseketeers” including X. Atencio, Marc Davis, Bill Justice, Ollie Johnston, David Hand, Walter Lantz (!), and Frank Thomas among others. I’d never before read any interviews with animator Lance Nolley or assistant director Lou Debney, and never heard of early animator Gilles “Frenchy” deTremaudan until this book. This is good stuff and if you’re a Disney fan, you’ll want it. That said, it doesn’t compare to Didier Ghez’s more thorough Walt’s People volumes – but Working With Disney is a good companion to that series, and a great addition to the ever-growing well of Disney research. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll take all the information on Disney history I can get!
The Bozo Chronicles by Tom Holbrook and friends. This book is a mind-blower. Tom Holbrook has assembled a 600 page scrapbook of EVERYTHING to do with Bozo “The Capitol Clown” from 1946 thought 1956 (the year the clown was sold to Larry Harmon). This includes interviews with creator Alan Livingston, comic artist Dan Spiegle; bios on Pinto Colvig, Sara Berner, Billy Bletcher, Dave Barry, Jack Bradbury, Warren Foster and on and on… all surrounded by tons of merchandising art, reprints of trade magazine articles, rare still photos, album covers – no kidding, everything ever published on Bozo the Clown. This book is a limited edition self-published effort and I have no idea how many copies Tom has left, but if you have any interest in the Capitol Bozo and the people who made him famous, this is a must have item. Order it here.
Constructing Green Lantern by Ozzy Inguanzo (Universe). Last but not least, I just got this behind-the-scenes book on the new Green Lantern movie. I normally don’t review (or buy) these sort of books, but two things about this one – 1. I love the old Green Lantern comics and am actually looking forward to this movie (despite the fact that the trailers are not workin’ for me) and 2. there is apparently A LOT of GC in this film. Author Inguanzo, the films’ on-set Green Lantern expert and “Asset Manager”, didn’t get the memo about writing fluffy movie tie-in books and actually wrote a detailed and intelligent production memoir, loaded with photos from the set, pre-viz art, storyboards and final composite images that at least prove that the filmmakers set out to do the character justice. I have no idea if the film will be any good, but this book is excellent.

Note to publishers: I love books about animation, comics and movies. If you send me your book and I like it, I will tell our readers about it in future posts like this.