Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Some exciting material coming up at auction via Van Eaton Galleries.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

While I eagerly await the first physical copy of They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 4, which should arrive in about 2 weeks, I spent a large part of Thursday, Friday and Saturday finalizing all the elements of Volume 5. The text was fully written last year and edited last month, all the close to 400 illustrations have been selected and this allowed me to put together over the past few days the massive caption file which will guide the designer Cat Grishaver over the next few months.

This is a massive amount of work, but I have a feeling all of you will love the end result. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Now on pre-order on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

John  Musker just sent me this morning the cover drawing for Walt's People - Volume 21. Just a few more weeks to wait and that new volume will be ready. It contains some truly stunning new material.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Quick reminder: Do not forget to check out the catalog of this stunning upcoming auction!

Monday, June 04, 2018

This book by JB Kaufman and David Gerstein will be one of the best books of the year. Can't wait!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The next animation art auction by Heritage Auctions will take place on June 16 and June 17, 2018. The catalog contains some truly spectacular items. Here are three of my favorites: Above are pieces by Eyvind Earle created for an abandoned Disney project from the late '40s and early 1950s about the history of jazz; below is a splendid concept drawing by Mary Blair from Alice in Wonderland; and at the bottom are some character designs for the Horned King from The Black Cauldron by Mel Shaw.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Not sure yet what this new book is worth but I plan on finding out soon.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I just received my own copy of the second part of Steve Hulett's autobiography, Mouse in Orbit, and I love it. Steve relies on his memories but also on dozens of interviews that he conducted with artists from Disney and other studios to tell the story of animation's new golden age. If you are interested in that time period this is a "must have." 

Monday, May 28, 2018

I was happily surprised by the re-release of the autobiography of Disney director Dave Hand by Theme Park Press. I initially thought that the book would be a straight re-print of the book that had been released in the mid-'80s, but when I got my own copy of this new version, I realized that it contained quite a bit more, including a large section of gag drawings (non-Disney-related), memories by Dave's son, remembrances by his colleagues and even a few illustrations which did not appear in the original book. Sadly, in the core of his autobiography, Hand does not discuss his career at Disney in any depth. Thankfully this flaw is compensated by Michael Barrier's interview with Hand included at the end of the book.

So, if you do not already have this book and are interested in the career of Disney's right hand man on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this volume is definitely worth picking up.

Friday, May 25, 2018

After disappearing for a few weeks, the 4th volume of my They Drew As They Pleased book series, The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era (The 1950s and 1960s) is again available for pre-order on Amazon.

The book contains chapters about Lee Blair, Mary Blair, Tom Oreb, John Dunn and Walt Peregoy, and, as always, is full of never-seen-before artwork (more than 400 never-seen-before illustrations)!

It will be released on August 7.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In a few weeks Heritage Auctions will conduct another of their amazing animation art auctions. I will be highlighting a few key pieces when the catalog comes fully online, but I have to admit that I could not resist to already mention those three drawings. This is the only example I have seen to date of drawings created (probably by Joe Grant) for the abandoned project The Hollywoods. In a memo to Ted Sears dated December 23, 1935, Walt wrote:

"Joe Grant and Bill Cottrell are quite enthused over this Hollywood idea where all the personalities of Hollywood are gathered together in bird and animal form in the big wood called Hollywoods. It is an idea that could be done in a travelogue style where Mickey, the Goof and the Duck have come back from a big expedition. They have brought back motion pictures and are showing them to the group -- the barnyard group -- or the animal group that we work with all the time. A lot of side play could come in between the characters presenting this thing and the characters watching it."

Monday, May 21, 2018

I read the first part of Steve Hulett's Disney memoirs (Mouse in Transition) with immense pleasure and can't wait to put my hands on this second instalment, Mouse in Orbit.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Life and Times of Ward Kimball: Maverick of Disney Animation by Todd James Pierce is now available for pre-order on Amazon. I have read the manuscript. It is really a great book. Can't wait.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Since They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 5 got the official go-ahead a few weeks ago and is already written (yes, I wrote it way before getting the official greenlight), I am now working on Volume 6, which features Joe Grant, Tim Burton, Hans Bacher, Mike Garbriel and Mike Giaimo.

While researching the abandoned project My Peoples / A Few Good Ghosts on which Mike Gabriel worked for a short time, I discovered this clip, which I believe many of you will enjoy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It looks as if Carsten Laqua's book will finally be released in English in August of this year. I simply cannot wait to read it. I have had it on my bookshelf in German for years and know it is a very important book. If this is real, this is excellent news!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Many of the drawings by Albert Hurter included in the books He Drew As He Pleased and in the first volume of They Drew As They Pleased remain mysterious even in the eyes of experienced Disney scholars. I am still trying to figure out, for example, why Hurter created a large series of drawings of mechanical jungle animals. I strongly suspect that they were developed for a proposed Silly Symphony that was later abandoned, but I am yet to find any concrete information about that specific project.

Which is why I was glad to finally find out a few days ago, why those scarecrow drawings were created. The answer could be found in an extremely rare list of Disney story ideas, compiled in December 1939, in which we find the following idea, submitted by story man Webb Smith:

[Scarecrows come to life in the twilight of an autumn corn field; they drink from a jug of liquor and go into a dance…with male and female scarecrows. They go to a barn nearby, find trunks of period costumes and some old musical instruments. They put on a barn dance. Next, they go to the old swimming hole, toss their clothes on the bank and jump in. This reveals their bodies as being sacks of straw. When they come out they put on any clothing they find, since it has become mixed up. They go to the deserted darkened village in a truck and break into a bakery. As dawn is breaking they furiously crank the truck which finally starts and go back to their perches.]

Monday, May 14, 2018

Two interesting magazine covers about Disney's corporate acquisitions. One from the US and one from France.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Do not miss today:

Changing Trains in Chicago by Michael Barrier.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

I just received a copy of The Art of Incredibles 2. What excites me most about concept art is usually character designs. Since Incredibles 2 is a sequel there is much less character designs in this book, of course. And yet, like all of other Chronicle Books' "art of" volumes this one is beautifully produced and makes you look forward to the movie release. I thoroughly enjoy it.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Great new blog about The Making of Roger Rabbit launched a few days ago by author Ross Anderson. Definitely worth a daily visit!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Sad news: Dave Michener, Animator on 'Sleeping Beauty' and 'The Jungle Book,' Dies at 85.

You will find my interview with Dave in Walt's People - Volume 5.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

I just learned that the Spring 2017 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly contains an excellent article titled "'When You Wish Upon a Star': The Musical Legacy of Utah Composer Leigh Harline." I have a feeling that some of you will be interested in knowing this.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The autobiography of comic book artist Freddy Milton has just been released. Can't wait to read it.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Do any of you live in Osaka or plans to visit Osaka at some point over the next few weeks? If so, could you please email me at 

I am desperately trying to buy a copy of the catalog of the Walt Disney Archives exhibition which is currently taking place at the Daimaru Museum until May 15. Thanks in advance!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I have to admit that I am really looking forward to seeing Amid Amidi's biography of Ward Kimball released by publisher Antibookclub. It is now scheduled for some time in 2019 apparently.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

I just noticed that The Art of Incredibles 2 can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I was helping a friend with some Disney history research this weekend and stumbled upon this great WWII poster.

As David Lesjak explains in his seminal book Service with Character:

[In 1941, United China Relief, an organization was formed to aid the people of China, set a goal to raise five million dollars in donations. The Sino-Japanese War, which had started in 1937, caused untold misery for hundreds-of-thousands Chinese citizens who suffered under the yoke of Japanese occupation. The main purpose of United China Relief was to raise money to help ease the suffering of the displaced and sick, as well as aide wounded Chinese servicemen and guerilla forces fighting in the country’s northwest region.]

Thursday, April 05, 2018

A few stunning items in this upcoming auction, including an extremely rare concept painting by Mary Blair for Susie, the Little Blue Coupe (page 10 of the catalog).

One mistake in the captions: the drawing on page 40 by Ken Anderson is not from The Jungle Book but was created for the abandoned project Scruffy.

You can download the catalog here

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Interesting auction coming up at Van Eaton Galleries.

Monday, April 02, 2018

This just in thanks to Garry Apgar and Robert Neuman:

[Canteen Muralized

New York’s successful Stage Door Canteen has set off echoes in cities from coast to coast. The latest is the Hollywood Canteen, in which glittering motion picture stars administer to the recreational needs of servicemen stationed in the vicinity.
To brighten the Canteen, the sponsors called in the Screen Cartoonist’s Guild, which in turn assigned Elmer Plummer and Mary Blair, shown above, to design and supervise the painting of a mural. The Guildmen worked nights and in five working periods turned out a bright, gay pictorialization of a cowboy’s dream of heaven. Beer, blondes, cards, gold dust, horses (some starry-eyed from inhalations of schnapps), and blowzy red-nosed semi-angels lend gaiety and sparkle to the walls.
Calcimine color, Plummer reports, “was used to get the most brilliant effect. For instance, the skin tones varied from magentas to greens on the characters; cloud colors ran true to fantasy, etc. Plenty wild, eh?” In a postscript to the DIGEST Plummer added, “Oh yes and we also had to add clothes to our plump nudes (old stuff).”
The artists, besides their work as screen cartoonists with the Disney studios, are serious painters, their work appearing in major museum exhibitions throughout the country. Assisting in the execution of the four-paneled, 336-square-foot mural, were Lee Blair, Marc Davis, Earl Murphy, Retta Scott and Virginia Plummer.

The Art Digest, June 1, 1942, p. 18. ]

Friday, March 30, 2018

 As Disney historians, we are always trying to put faces on names. Here are three Disney story artists from the 1930s for whom I finally managed to find photos. At the top is Lew Landsman who worked for Disney then for Warner.

Below, the photographer is Peter O'Crotty, who also worked for Disney and then Warner before the war.

Finally, at the bottom is Dick Creedon, a prominent Disney writer in the 1930s.

Monday, March 26, 2018

This just in...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I really like the newly released cover of Jeff Kurtti's upcoming book!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I just received my personal copy of Mickey's Movies by Gijs Grob. I absolutely love this book. Gijs discusses all of Mickey's shorts and his insights are absolutely fascinating.

To be read in small installments. A "must have" for Mickey enthusiasts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I just received my own copy of the recently-released autobiography of Larry Watkin. This is a mus-read for all of you interested in Disney's live-action  productions. The afterword by Todd James Pierce about Watkin at Disney is also pure delight. 

Thursday, March 08, 2018

I just received a review copy of Travels with Walt Disney by Jeff Kurtti and I have to say that I love this book.

It is chiefly a book of photographs, which means the amount of text is very limited (but what there is is well-researched, of course).

When it comes to the photos, I had not seen at least twenty percent of them in any art book before. In other words, I discovered quite a bit in this beautiful volume. I was especially delighted to see a great series of WWI pictures of Walt reproduced in it. They had appeared before in the excellent book Service With Character The Disney Studio and World War II by David Lesjak, but the quality of the paper in Jeff's book is much higher, which allows us to appreciate all of the details for the first time.

From my standpoint this book is a "must have." Kudos to Jeff!

Friday, March 02, 2018

For obvious reasons (alcohol and cigarette) this stunning piece by Mel Shaw for The Great Mouse Detective sold recently by Van Eaton Galleries will not make it into They Drew As They Pleased - Volume 5, but I thought you would all enjoy it.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

This just in from Theme Park Press:

[A Few Words About Our Star...

In this definitive book about the cinematic career of Mickey Mouse, animation historian Gijs Grob analyzes each of Mickey's theatrical films, in chronological order, with introductory essays, plot summaries, and notes about the talented creatives who brought Mickey to the silver screen.

Grob divides Mickey's filmography into seven parts, beginning with his first primitive efforts in 1928 and continuing through Get a Horse! in 2013, with substantial sections about Mickey's "barnyard" years, the introduction of his friends and rivals, and his "settling down" to cartoon prosperity, as Goofy, Pluto, and Donald eclipse his fame.

The book also includes a look at Mickey's "doppelgangers," the little-remembered Foxy, Milton, and Rita; a list of Mickey's Academy Award nominations; comprehensive "show notes" that include release dates and the names of the animators, storymen, layout artists, musicians, directors, and others who created each Mickey film; and extensive notes and index.

Throughout, Grob stays opinionated, pointing out flaws where he finds them, and not letting Mickey (or Disney) off the hook for a poor performance.]

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Kosti Ruohomaa was a special effects artist at the Disney Studio from 1938 to 1941. After he left the Studio he became a professional photographer.

I just discovered a few days ago this fascinating biography which contains a great chapter about Kosti's work for Disney and about 15 never-seen-before photos that Kosti shot while he was working at the Hyperion studio and later in Burbank. From my standpoint, in themselves these photos are worth the price of the book.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Another photo found online which I had not seen before.

According to the caption, this is Walt Disney skiing at Sugar Bowl Lodge on September 5, 1941. That date does not make any sense, of course, since Walt was still in South America.

In reality the photo was taken during the first part of 1941, according to this article on the site of the Walt Disney Family Museum. I will find to find the exact date at some point...

Monday, February 19, 2018

I am so glad to see the autobiography of Larry Watkin released today by Pulp Hero Press. I had been looking forward to this release for more than a year.

Larry Watkin was a screenwriter on some of the best Disney live-action films, including Treasure Island, Robin Hood, and Darby O'Gill and the Little People, as well as a fascinating human being.

50 pages of the book are focused on his Disney career, not counting the in-depth afterword by Disney historian, Todd James Pierce.

I will pick up my own copy right away! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Just found online this photo of Walt at the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

This just in from Are Myklebust:

[I found this very interesting photo on a Charlie Chaplin website to day:

Members of United Artists at United Airport in Burbank, July 1933

L-R: Ed Finney, Hal Horne, Walt Disney, Al Lichtman, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Joe Schenck.

The first four were heading to Chicago for a convention of film exhibitors.

Link to the blog posting for details and identification:

Futher information about the four lesser known persons on the photo:

Edward Finney (1903 - 1983), film producer.
Hal Horne (1893 - 1955), publicity director for UA (and later a publisher).
Al Lichtman (1888 - 1958), businessman and film producer.
Joseph M. Schenck (1878 - 1961), Russian-born film studio executive.]