Weekend Brew Reviews

While waiting for the ultimate video presentation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to come out this week on Blu-Ray, I’ve just caught up with Charles Solomon’s somewhat-recently released book Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and The Beast. Solomon relates the entire fascinating behind-the-scenes story of how this landmark film got made, through its box-office and industry success, to its re-release in Imax (with additional footage) and right up to the forthcoming 3-D version. He begins with a history of the original 1757 story itself, and its subsequent film and TV adaptations. He then devotes a chapter to the 1980s Disney animation re-birth and the early Michael Eisner era. Through interviews with key personnel we get an insider look at how the pieces came together to create this modern Disney classic. Of course, being a Disney book, it is lavishly illustrated with pre-vis materials, cast and crew photos, and loads of production art. Definitely worth a spot on your bookshelf.

Insight Editions sent me a copy of their latest Dreamworks tie-in book, The Art of Megamind (by Richard von Busack). I haven’t seen Megamind yet, but the book and the production art herein is very cool. Say what you will about their films, you cannot deny the artists at Dreamworks Animation and PDI are some of the best in the field — and these “Art Of” books are a godsend to those of us who appreciate the hand drawn artistry that never makes it to screen. Sketches, paintings, boards and much more from names you should know like Tony Siruno, Craig Kellman, Andy Bialk, Kory Heinzen and Tim Lamb (and many others) fill the pages.
Had a chance this weekend to finally check out the 5th box set of The Animation Show of Shows and had a wonderful time doing so. This set (previous sets reviewed here and here) contains 18 award winning shorts, on six separate DVDs, Volumes 25-30 (3 shorts per disc). All completely different (in tone, technique and subject matter), in perfect presentations, the best possible way to preserve these contemporary classics. The CG stop-mo Madame Tutli-Putli (Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski), clay-animated Oscar winner Harvie Crumpet (Adam Elliot), and hand drawn Your Face (Bill Plympton) exemplify the wide range of material offered here. Recommended for your video library. For complete contents and ordering information, visit
Rhode Montijo, a co-creator of Happy Tree Friends, has gone on in recent years to a successful career as a children’s book writer and illustrator. He sent me two of his books and they are an absolute joy. Cloud Boy, which came out in 2006, is a gentle minimalist classic about a lonely cloud with a big imagination. His latest book has just come out, The Halloween Kid, about a heroic masked avenger who protects kids candy on Halloween eve. If this were ever animated it would become a Halloween classic — as it is, its a perfect storybook for the little ones to read after a night of candy gathering… and beautiful to look at for anyone, of any age.