I caught up with Leonard Maltin last week and he told me about two new books he contributed to – and I think you ought to to know about them too.Leonard wrote an introduction (actually “an appreciation”) for Fantagraphics’ new collection of Walt Kelly’s OUR GANG comics. This first volume reprints, in color, Kelly’s comic book work from 1942 and 1943 and is printed on a nice smooth/thick paper stock. Leonard’s appreciation, and an intro by Kelly historian Steve Thompson, really put this early work in perspective – both Kelly’s work for Western Publishing, and Our Gang’s literary history. Kelly wrote and drew these comics shortly after leaving Disney and moving back east, and it’s fun to see his take on Spanky, Buckwheat, Mickey (Robert Blake) and Froggy – especially during the war years, the last days of the MGM shorts series. Oh, and Jeff Smith (of “Bone”) also contributed a great cover.The other book Leonard showed me isn’t available on Amazon.com, Disneyland, nor at your local bookstore. And yet it’s published by Disney Editions and anyone can purchase it – if you know how. Disney Insider Yearbook 2005 is an interesting publication aimed at hard-core Disney buffs. Apparently, the folks who published the now defunct Disney Magazine have rounded up their writers to create a special annual limited-edition book, packed with unique articles on different aspects of Disney history – yesterday, today and tomorrow. Twenty six heavily illustrated articles are featured, including Leslie Iwerks on Pixar, Charles Solomon on the artists behind BAMBI, Paula Sigmond Lowery on the new Walt Disney Family Library currently under construction on San Francisco, Brenda Chapman and Mike Gabriel offer tributes to Joe Grant and Joe Ranft, and Leonard Maltin discussing the Disney Treasures “Rarities” DVD. Other notable contributors to this volume include David R. Smith, Jim Fanning, Brian Sibley, Jeff Kurtti and Tim O’Day.It’s over 170 color glossy pages of material that really adds to your Disney I.Q. There is a softcover version available for $24.95 or a hardcover edition (which comes with a limited edition lithograph and a bonus DVD of stuff) for $49.95. More information, and ordering instructions are located here.