Friday, November 17, 2017

I just got Pierre Lambert's new book today and it's a masterpiece as always. It is slightly smaller than his previous volumes, but it is also much cheaper and the quality of the art reproductions is stunning, which will not be a surprise for any of you. The text is in French, but as you know, Pierre's books are first and foremost about the art. This is a "must have" from my standpoint.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Finally! Walt's People - Volume 20 has been released.

Walt's People: Volume 20 features appearances by Sam Armstrong, Leland "Lee" Payne, Bob Givens, O.B. Johnston, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Hannah, Tom Oreb, Iwao Takamoto, Herb Ryman, and Alfred and Elma Milotte.

Among the hundreds of stories in this volume:

- O.B. JOHNSTON analyzes the Disney Studio's early merchandising efforts, and his own four decades with the company as the head of its character merchandising division, in this book-length memoir.

- WILFRED JACKSON recalls the triumphs and tribulations of his three decades as a director of numerous Disney cartoon and features, including Snow White, in two lengthy interviews with Michael Barrier and Milt Gray.

- HERB RYMAN talks about his early years at MGM, his experience as an art director for the Disney Studio, his transition into Imagineering, and his close friendship with Walt Disney.

- Animation historian Amid Amidi evaluates the career of TOM OREB, a little-known character designer and storyman who worked at the Disney Studio during the 1930s through the 1950s.

The entertaining, informative stories in every volume of Walt's People will please both Disney scholars and eager fans alike.

As always there is some extremely rare material in this volume which is made available for the very first time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What is Call Me Walt?
By Jim Korkis

My most recent book, Call Me Walt: Everything You Never Knew About Walt Disney (Theme Park Press 2017) was inspired by a seemingly simple question:

Who was Walt Disney?

Amazingly, that is a much more difficult question to answer than many people imagine.  After all, there are dozens of biographies about Walt Disney both in English and multiple foreign languages as well as additional references to his life in countless other books. 

Magazines and newspapers for decades have published a summarized overview of Walt’s life.  Even The Walt Disney Company beginning in the 1930s had a pre-printed, multi-page biography to give out to journalists.   Walt himself often gave interviews to reporters or made speeches where he recounted his life.

We all know the story of the poor Midwest farm boy who only attended one year of high school and went on to become an entertainment legend thanks to his dreams and hard work. 

Yet all of those accounts have the same fatal flaw. 

As TV Guide writer Edith Efron wrote in her July 17, 1965 article about Walt: “(Walt’s) accomplishments are unnecessary to list.  There can be few people in this country who have not been exposed to some of them.  If his name and achievements are a matter of household knowledge, the man behind the name is not.  The fascination of his activities have tended to divert eyes from the man engaging in them.”

When we think about Walt, we all immediately think about Mickey Mouse and his animated friends, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Disneyland, Audio-Animatronics and similar milestones that transformed not only entertainment but the entire American culture.  
Despite his showmanship and being in a bright spotlight most of his life, Walt Disney the man himself is still a mystery to almost everyone.

Where did he buy his clothes?  What different cars did he drive?  Did he also have cats as pets besides dogs?  What charities did he donate to without fanfare?  Did he believe in God and did he pray every day?  What did Walt and Lillian like to do on warm summer evenings with great frequency?  What two television game shows did they love watching in the evening as they ate on trays?

What were Walt’s political views?  What things did he do with his grandchildren that they still remember vividly fifty years after he died?  How much did Walt Disney weigh?  Who was his ophthalmologist who prescribed reading glasses that Walt never wanted to be photographed wearing? 

The answers to all those questions and many, many more like them are in the book along with documentation. 

Since his death, Walt has come under many attacks but those vicious misrepresentations are often at the brand that Walt created around the name “Walt Disney” rather than the man himself who remained very private and hidden from just about everyone.

I felt it was time for a book that concentrated on Walt and not his accomplishments.  So my book features no mention of Mickey Mouse or Disneyland. 

It does, however, point out that he had a box at Santa Anita horse race track (along with one at the Hollywood Park race track) that he frequented as well as one at Dodger Stadium about three rows up behind first base.  

While Walt was concentrating on the Florida Project, Mineral King, California Institute of the Arts, Mary Poppins (1964) and so much more, he was spending a good deal of his time participating in lawn bowling tournaments with his hand-tooled bowling bag.

Even today, there is an annual international lawn bowling tournament that awards a four-foot tall perpetual trophy made of solid Brazilian redwood with imbeds of Walt’s four personal lawn bowls along the base and is topped by a golden foot-high Mickey Mouse figurine.
The book is not another biography.  It is not chronological.  It is not definitive. Every chapter is self-contained like many of my books. 

The book is about Walt as a person, a son, a brother, a husband, a father, and a grandfather.  While I freely admit I have great fondness and respect for Walt and that may influence the tone of the text, it did not prevent me from simply stating the facts both good and ill.  Several chapters are devoted to his flaws from his temper to making fun of others.
I have included twelve chapters to debunk some of the most common myths about Walt including that he was frozen, born in Spain, was racist, dishonorably discharged, an FBI informant, a freemason and more.

The foreword to the book is by Disney Legend Floyd Norman who among other things shared: “I personally never saw any racist behavior or words from Walt.  When I was there in the 1950s and 1960s, I knew Claude Wilson who was the black janitor at the studio. A janitor is pretty much invisible in that people never pay much attention to him so he was able to overhear uncensored conversations as he was cleaning up.  He never heard Walt being racist or others talking about Walt being racist.

“He also moonlighted as a bartender at many of Walt’s parties when they were held at Walt’s home in Holmby Hills.  This older black gentleman who ran the bar always spoke well of Walt and loved working for him.  Since we spoke privately, had there been anything to indicate racism, this old guy would have made his feelings known to me to warn me to be careful.  I was always struck by Walt’s openness, fairness and honesty.”

The more I tried to uncover Walt Disney, the more surprises I encountered.

Disney Legend Van France remembered in 1991 his first meeting with Walt, “Somehow I'd imagined that Walt Disney would have the soft, delicate hands of an artist drawing Mickey Mouse.  But my hand met the firm grip of a man who had grown up doing hard farm labor and working for his father in construction.”

“He was a lot shaggier in real life than he appeared in a nice pressed suit on television,” said his nephew Roy.  “He was a pretty casual dresser and didn’t pay a hell of a lot of attention to whether his hair was combed or not.”

One of Walt’s favorite pastimes when he went to the mountains to ski was ski-joring [a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, a dog (or dog team) or a motor vehicle] and so that activity might have ended up at the never completed Mineral King ski resort.  Walt still owned shares in the Sugar Bowl ski resort as the time of his death.

I dedicated the book to Walt’s late oldest daughter Diane Disney Miller who was so supportive of my writing and getting out the true stories about her father.  I quote extensively from our conversations and e-mails including:

“I don’t think anybody really knows him anymore. His name is so familiar and the brand is everywhere. As a daughter, I have been very upset by things that have been written and said about him that were not true.   He was my trusted friend.  I could tell him anything and everything and know that he would understand.  He loved being a daddy and a grandather.

“I remember going through Dad’s dresser drawers one time looking for something.  He kept things in them like a collection of matchboxes and soap packages from hotels and I used to find those fascinating.  I found a newspaper clipping one time with the headline on it about his mother’s death.  He would never talk about her death.”

This book may not really be everything you never knew about Walt but it is filled with many things that are usually not covered elsewhere with some items that may still surprise even the most diligent Walt scholar.  If this type of information interests you, you may want to consider putting the book on your list to Santa this year.

The striking cover was done by talented animator, cartoonist and director Dave Bennett and was inspired by a similar sketch he did for the animation fanzine Animato! #10 (1986) with some significant changes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

I just received this book and for those of us who can read Italian, this looks like an excellent read indeed.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Pierre Lambert's new book about Bambi has now been released and is available on Hurrah! I am already eagerly awaiting my copy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Not a huge lot to say about this new book: 100 Mickey Mouse heads re-interpreted by artist Tennessee Loveless. The format and layout of the book are beautiful, and if you enjoy Tennessee Loveless you will really love this volume.

Monday, November 06, 2017

This just in from Theme Park Press:

[Sunday Nights with Walt

What were you doing on Sunday night? For many Americans, starting in the 1950s, the answer was: watching Walt Disney's TV show. Richard Rothrock's comprehensive history of that show, in its many forms, will take you back to long-ago Sunday nights spent together with family...and Walt Disney.

Rothrock combines meticulous backstories and episode synopses with insight into how Walt's TV show shaped American culture and how it shaped his own childhood and adolescence, gently exposing him to the wide, wonderful world outside his rural town—a world not just of Disney, but of nature, technology, history, foreign cultures, and even romance.

Organized thematically, Sunday Nights with Walt covers both well-known and lesser-known characters and episodes, from Zorro, "Man in Space", and "Disneyland After Dark", to Bullwhip Griffin, "A Country Coyote Goes Hollywood", and the Whiz Kid.

If you recall your own Sunday nights with Walt, Rothrock's book packs the ultimate nostalgia buzz; and if you're too young to imagine a family sitting together in front of a TV, with no iPhones or Facebook or email to distract them, this is your window into a bygone era, and a new way to appreciate the importance of Disney in our lives.

It's almost time. Dad's got the RCA Victor warmed up. Mom's bringing down the popcorn. And now your host, Walt Disney...]

Friday, November 03, 2017

I am just back from a quick business trip to Mexico, but unfortunately I was neither able to stay for the Day of the Dead celebrations nor did I have time to screen Coco, which was released in Mexico before its launch in the US. I did see some of the decorations of the city, though, and some of the arresting (and huge) paper monsters that were on display in the main avenue of Mexico City (Paseo de la Reforma).

Which is why, when I came back home two days ago and discovered The Art of Coco, I could not wait to see what it contained. I was not disappointed. The artwork is absolutely beautiful, I adore the character designs and the mood the Pixar artists created for that movie, and I simply can't wait to discover this new animated feature, which excites me more than any in quite a while.  

Thursday, November 02, 2017

My good friend and fellow animation historian Joe Campana stumbled a few days ago upon the autobiography of animator James A. Pabian, Immigrants' Son. There are only about 30 pages dealing with Pabian's career in animation at Iwerks, Schlesinger and Harman-Ising but I found them to be of extreme interest and I thought that a few of you would like to know that this book exists.

And there is an excellent interview by Martha Sigal with James' brother Al and his wife Joan courtesy of Harvey Deneroff which was posted at this link by Jerry Beck from Cartoon Research. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The blog will be updated again on November 3.
One last reminder for those of you in LA!!

If you live in LA, here is an event you do not want to miss. On Saturday, October 21, I will be selling and signing copies of They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age at the Wonderful World of Animation Gallery (9517 Culver Blvd., Culver City) from 2PM to 5PM.

This will be the only time this year that I will be in LA and this will mark the official launch of the third volume in the They Drew As They Pleased book series.

Mindy Johnson will also be there selling and signing her seminal book about Ink and Paint - The Women of Disney's Animation. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Some great pieces of concept art that I had never seen before are being sold by Van Eaton Galleries right now. The two above are by Mel Shaw for The Great Mouse Detective. They will not be included in They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 5, sadly, as they feature smoking and drinking.

 The one below is a very early concept for Winnie the Pooh by Mary Blair from the late '30s or early '40s. It is too late to include it in  They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 4 (I am reviewing the galleys at the moment), but you will be glad to know that another piece by Blair from Winnie the Pooh will make it into the book.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Excellent article released by Jerry Beck a few days ago on Cartoon Research:

Louella Parsons on the Great Disney Films

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today is the day!! They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age has finally been released. If you are curious about Disney's Character Model Department and the elite artists who worked for it, get that book as soon as you can. If you want to see close to 400 pieces of stunning artwork which have never been seen before, get that book. If you want to know a lot more about how the Disney Studio really worked in the late 1930s and in the 1940s, get that book.

Also, please remember that sales of this volume are critical if we want to ensure the future of the series, If possible, try not to delay your purchase, please!

Finally, a quick reminder for those of you in LA:

If you live in LA, here is an event you do not want to miss. On Saturday, October 21, I will be selling and signing copies of They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age at the Wonderful World of Animation Gallery (9517 Culver Blvd., Culver City) from 2PM to 5PM.

This will be the only time this year that I will be in LA and this will mark the official launch of the third volume in the They Drew As They Pleased book series.

Mindy Johnson will also be there selling and signing her seminal book about Ink and Paint - The Women of Disney's Animation. 

Friday, October 06, 2017

On June 12, 2018, Disney Editions will release The Disney Monorail: Imagineering the Highway in the Sky by by Jeff Kurtti and Vanessa Hunt. This is definitely a book I will pick up.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

I have just received a copy of Walt Disney's Nine MORE Old Men - The Flipbooks, presented by Pete Docter.

If you liked the first flipbook box-set, you will love, love, love this one. Finally animators other than than the Nine Old Men get their due: Ub Iwerks, Norman Ferguson, Ham Luske, Art Babbitt, Grim Natwick, Bill Tytla, John Sibley, Hal King, and Freddie Moore.

What a treat!!  

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Walt's People - Volume 20 will be released before the end of November. I just received the cover drawing by John Musker yesterday and I love it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Here is a great interview about the making of They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 3 by yours truly. Please, please pre-order the book, which will be released in just one week!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Very interesting auction coming up at Bonhams with a tremendous amount of Harper Goff material (way too expensive for me, unfortunately). [Thanks to Michael Goldberg for the heads up.]

Friday, September 29, 2017

SAVE THE DATE (If you live in Los Angeles)

If you live in LA, here is an event you do not want to miss. On Saturday, October 21, I will be selling and signing copies of They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age at the Wonderful World of Animation Gallery (9517 Culver Blvd., Culver City) from 2PM to 5PM.

This will be the only time this year that I will be in LA and this will mark the official launch of the third volume in the They Drew As They Pleased book series.

Mindy Johnson will also be there selling and signing her seminal book about Ink and Paint - The Women of Disney's Animation.

See you there soon!!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kem Weber: Furniture Designs for the Disney Studios by Dave Bossert

I love this new initiative by Dave Bossert (click on the link above) and I am planning to support it next week.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

OK, now that Irma is behind us, that I enjoyed a relaxing two-week vacation and that my computer issues are fixed, I am finally back.

I think many of you will enjoy the interview that Dave Lee conducted with me about the making of the third volume of the They Drew As They Pleased book series which will be released in just a few days, on October 10.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Dear all: Have you been considering buying They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 2 but postponing your decision? If so, please think about buying it as soon as possible and possibly pre-ordering Volume 3. Both volumes are selling at a 55% discount on Amazon.

If sales do not pick up sharply for those two volumes before the end of the year, I am afraid that the future of the series may be at stake, which is a major concern on my end.

Those books are a labor of love. They are the books I have dreamed of writing my whole life. They can't exist, however, if sales are luck-warm. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Project Updates

The blog will be silent for two weeks (until September 25), so I thought it might be time to give you a quick update about ongoing projects. Here is what I am working on at the moment:

1. They Drew As They Pleased

Volume 3 (The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age) will be released on October 10 this year. Later this week I will be able to start reviewing the first layout of Volume 4 (The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era, which focuses on artists Lee Blair, Mary Blair, Tom Oreb, John Dunn and Walt Peregoy). This also means that I am now hard at work conducting research about Ken Anderson and Mel Shaw for Volume 5.

2. Walt's People

Volume 10 has just been re-released by Theme Park Press.

More importantly, Volume 20 will be released between the end of November and the first week of December.

3. Snow White's People - Volume 2

The manuscript is ready and the book should be released between January and February 2018.

4. My Life As A Cartoon by Leo Salkin

The recently re-discovered autobiography and diaries of Disney story artist Leo Salkin should be released around the beginning of next year at the latest.

5. Other projects

The Ward Kimball diaries are for the moment on the back burner for reasons outside of my control, but I am hoping that the project will be back on track at some point next year.

I recently located the lost autobiography of a Disney artist who was also a member of the Firehouse Five Plus Two. The book is quite fascinating, and while I can't give more details about the project yet, I am hoping that it will be released towards the middle of next year.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

For those of us who can read Italian, this book promises to be interesting. I will become available via on October 1.

Friday, September 01, 2017

This just in from Jake Friedman via Facebook:

[After SEVEN YEARS of research, last March I began writing my book about Art Babbitt and the Disney strike. 

My goal: to complete the first draft before the end of the summer.

Yesterday: mission accomplished!!! 

Stay tuned for the book "WAR IN THE FACTORY OF DREAMS".]

Can't wait!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I am really looking forward to this upcoming book by Jeff Kurtti, which should be released next year.

Monday, August 28, 2017

This sad news just in from Joseph Titizian:

[I was so sad to hear of the passing of Ginni Mack, the original model and true inspiration for Tinker Bell.

I was honored to meet Ginni and learn of her contributions to Disney Animation from the 1940s to the 1990s as an Artist and Supervisor at the Studio's Ink & Paint Department. I look forward to learning more about Ginni and the many unsung Disney women in Mindy Johnson's upcoming book, "Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation".]

Friday, August 25, 2017

I just got a copy of this new book by Jim Korkis. As always, this is an enjoyable, light read full of fun stories about little known-aspects of Disney history.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I just got this newly released book from Theme Park Press.

I love those short autobiographies of Disney's Imagineers and Parks Operations people. This one is no exception: it's a easy and fascinating read. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

This just in from filmmaker Aaron Pacentine:

[I'm a filmmaker and producer with I wanted to bring to your attention a brand new independent documentary film on The Parent Trap. Hayley Mills is participating and others from the 1961 film and sequels. I have already received clearance from Disney to go ahead with my documentary. We are also in the process of arranging to using music from the 1961 film as well.  

 We are trying to get the word out on the project and trying to raise the funds.]

I have no information about the project beyond this. I might support it this week.

Monday, August 21, 2017

I have not yet received this very specialized reference book but I know that some of you will want to know that it has just been released.

Friday, August 18, 2017

This book is pure images and no text. This is not a book for historians. It is one for Pixar hardcore fans and art directors.

I enjoyed it very much but I do not consider it a "must have."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Talk about a book that took me completely by surprise. With a title like this I was expecting a pure "marketing" product. Not so at all. This is an outstanding book, full of never-seen-before illustrations and photographs, and impeccably researched by Marcy Carriker Smothers, an author who clearly cares deeply about her subject matter.

This is a book that will be a pure delight to fans of Walt Disney himself and to Disneyland enthusiasts. I never thought I would say this about a book titled Eat Like Walt, but this is clearly a "must have" for many of us.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Outside world events rarely influence what is posted on this blog, but it happens from time to time.

They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 4 (Chronicle Books, 2018) will feature a chapter about Disney artist Walt Peregoy. Before he joined Disney for good, Peregoy created this beautiful drawing featuring the US, Russia and the UK defeating Hitler and Nazism...

Anyway... Brighter things tomorrow with a rave review of a book I was originally not expecting to like.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I just received recently a review copy of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons by Dave Bossert and David Gerstein. From my standpoint there is no doubt that this is a "must have."

It is full of never-seen-before artwork, photographs and illustrations (and I mean from cover to cover) and the text will allow you to know absolutely all there is to know to date about all the Oswald cartoons. I was utterly fascinated when I read an early version of the manuscript a few months ago.

Then again, I am biased, since I played a small part in this quest by strongly recommending to Dave and David to work together on this project (the quest for the lost Oswald and Alice cartoons not the book itself). I can't tell you how excited I am with the results and with the number of "new" Oswald shorts that they have re-discovered.

Monday, August 14, 2017

I will be reviewing two wonderful new Disney history books over the next few days, but in the meantime my good friend and animation historian John Canemaker has just released the first review of They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age and I though you might enjoy reading it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation is a revolutionary book about Disney history. It finally gives the women of Walt Disney's animation (not just those from Ink & Paint) the place they deserve... and it's a very important place.

The book is also absolutely massive. You are definitely getting tremendous value for your money.

And it is chock full of brand new information and photographs... from start to finish.

I truly believe that this is a book that will remain THE reference on the subject in 50 years.

More importantly, I believe that this is a book that none of us can afford not to get. This one absolutely has to be part of your Disney history library.

The author, my good friend Mindy Johnson can really be proud of what she achieved!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Here are two new books that have just been released by Theme Park Press. The American Animated Cartoon is a re-release of a great book that had been long out-of-print. And here is what the publisher sent me about Passport to Pixie Dust, a biography I will definitely pick up:

[Ted's Excellent Adventures

Ted Kellogg sweltered through weeks in the jungle. He was far from civilization, and the natives were sometimes restless. The boats were leaky. The skippers were sketchy. The spiels were in Spanish. Fun times on the Jungle Cruise? Think again. This was no E-ticket ride...

Before Ted Kellogg began his 32 years in service to the mouse, he put on his figurative fedora and channeled his inner Indiana Jones. From tropical jungles to the open sea, Ted survived a deep-sea dive that went too deep, a monstrous storm off the coast of California that nearly wrecked his ship and killed his crew, robbers and night raiders in Central America, and other hair-raising encounters.

With the jungle and the sea out of his system, mostly, Ted took a job in Disneyland, but before long he transferred to Walt Disney World, then being built, and took charge of the park's many water craft. If it floated in or around the Magic Kingdom, Ted Kellogg knew about it.

Equal parts adventure story and Disney cast member memoir, Ted's tale is testament to the power of following your dream, whether on land, on sea, or in a certain Magic Kingdom.]

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

I discovered those two photos recently thanks to my friends Tom Morris and Jim Hollifield. Jim wrote:

[This photo (of Walt and the rabbit) was taken when Walt visited Hot Springs, Arkansas and met animals in the now defunct "IQ Zoo," an unusual organization which studied and demonstrated learned animal behaviors. The woman is Marian Breland, who operated the IQ Zoo with her husband. Here's another photo from the same day in which it appears Walt is wearing the same jacket and tie. A reporter who covered Walt's visit shared this with me. He remembered that Walt was hoping for some Hot Springs therapeutic relief from neck and back pain in late 1965; a colleague snapped the photo of him as he waited to talk to Walt. Sadly, this gentleman only took notes while he talked to Walt, and the reporter seen interviewing Walt for a radio station is now deceased. Perhaps there's a recording out there somewhere! Here's a link to a page with info about the IQ Zoo.

More info, including the original photo and Walt's follow-up letter.]

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

disney film on alchohol

I was interviewing artist Tad Stones a few days ago and realized that in the late '70s he had written and directed a Disney educational short that I had never seen, titled Understanding Alcohol Use and Abuse.

I just found it on YouTube and thought that some of you would enjoy it.

Monday, August 07, 2017

My good friend Sebastien Durand just attracted my attention to the fact that an upcoming exhibition at the Cinematheque de Paris will pay homage to the story man / writer of Asterix, Goscinny, and that part of it will focus on the fact that he was heavily inspired by Disney as a kid.