On November 18, 1928, a star was born. A mischievous mouse named Mickey sprang to life on a New York movie screen in an animated short that propelled him to fame and the twenty-seven-year-old Walt Disney to fortune. Innovator and visionary, Disney carried the art of animation to new heights through the brilliant characters he went on to develop: Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Bambi. Dozens of Academy Awards later, in 1958, Walt Disney encouraged Bob Thomas to write The Art of Animation, the book that would finally give full credit to the animators and explore the process.
Now, thirty-three years later, with his original book long a collector’s item, Thomas is back with a brand-new, lavishly illustrated and lovingly designed look a the Disney animation. He brings Disney’s history up to date, and celebrates the magic of the animation through the production of Disney’s newest animated feature film Beauty and the Beast. The basic techniques are explained and examples of story sketches, layouts, animation drawings, and background paintings – all the elements that go into the making of an animated film – are illustrated. With the full cooperation of the Walt Disney Productions and total access to the studio’s archives, the author conducted dozens of interviews with the animators themselves, and the result is a remarkable tour behind the scenes of the magic we see on the screen.
There are so many beautiful pictures, interesting sketches and fun facts in Bob Thomas’s The Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast! There actually wasn’t that much new information that I didn’t already know (mainly thanks to Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in It’s Golden Age by Michael Barrier) but the book almost makes up for it with such interesting photos, movie posters, etc. I really liked the concept art and I’m looking forward to when some of the movies featured become available on 2-disc DVD.
I disliked how the book only (very) briefly went into the Disney animated movies. Some don’t even get the courtesy of having a whole paragraph about them! At least until you get up to the end of the book and then nearly 80 pages are used to talk about Beauty and the Beast... which of course came out around the same time as the book.
I just wish that the rest of book seemed as dedicated to the rest of Disney’s animated movies as it did to Beauty and the Beast. If it had, then I would be more than willing to buy The Art of Animation but as it stands, I’m glad it’s just a library book. Hopefully when the Disney company start making great animated features again someone will update this book that had so much potential.
~ Note: In 1997 Bob Thomas wrote a sequel called The Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules)
I have a review on Hollywood Cartoons by Michael Barrier
Snow White Behind the Scenes: