Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I have not yet received copies of Heart And Darkness and The Backstories and Magical Secrets of Walt Disney World which have just been released by Theme Park Press, but I know that many of you will like to know that those books exist.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Anyone of you living in the Miami area? If so, just a quick note to let you know that I will be talking about the making of They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age this coming Friday (December 1) at Books and Books in Coral Gables at 8PM.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

It's hard to believe, but The Lion King musical just celebrated its 20th year in existence. To celebrate the occasion, Disney Edition just released two wonderful books: The Lion King: Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World by Michael Lassell and the autobiography of actor Alton Fitzgerald White, My Pride: Mastering Life's Daily Performance. If you love the show, both books are truly excellent read.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The upcoming animation art auction by Heritage Auctions  contains some spectacular stuff!!

Here are a just few of the highlights from my very subjective standpoint.

Concept art by Tim Burton for The Black Cauldron, original publicity drawing by Hank Porter for How to Play Football, original concept drawing by Ken Anderson for Alice in Wonderland and a splendid concept piece by Mary Blair for The Little House. What a feast for the eyes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I hate tooting my own horn, but the news that hit me today means so much to me that I have to mention it.
As most of you know, the Annie Awards (awarded by ASIFA-Hollywood) are the Academy Awards of animation.
Today ASIFA-Hollywood has announced this year’s slate of recipients for its Juried Awards honoring career achievement and exceptional contributions to animation.
I was stunned to learn that I am being awarded the June Foray Award (the award for significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation).
There is no honor that could mean more to me and no award that could excite me more that this one.
And of course, I would not have gotten it if it weren't for all the animation historians who helped me tremendously throughout the years and who carry on supporting me today.
I am humbled and just really, really happy. I hope to see some of you at the official ceremony on February 3, 2018 in Los Angeles.

Monday, November 20, 2017

There are two amazing auctions coming up. One focusing on Disney parks collectibles, the other one on animation art.

The Disney parks one is run by Van Eaton Galleries. The catalog is now available for purchase on Van Eaton's website, at this link. Some stunning stuff in there! (Thanks to Michael Goldberg for the heads up).

I will discuss the animation art related auction tomorrow.

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.