Thursday, December 14, 2017

BEST DISNEY HISTORY BOOKS OF 2017

It's this time of the year again. Here are the Disney history books which I feel are the very best of 2017. In no particular order. This has been a very, very good year.


Mindy Johnson: Ink and Paint - The Women of Disney Animation published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Don Hahn:Yesterday's Tomorrow: Disney's Magical Mid-Century published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Dave Bossert and David Gerstein: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit - The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Marcy Carriker Smothers: Eat Like Walt: The Wonderful World of Disney Food published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Pierre Lambert: Bambi published by Huginn Muninn; 2017.

Didier Ghez (editor): Walt's People - Volume 19 published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Didier Ghez (editor): Walt's People - Volume 20 published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Anderson, Paul F.: Jack of All Trades: Conversations with Disney Legend Ken Anderson published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Jack Hannah and Jim Korkis: From Donald Duck's Daddy to Disney Legend published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Jim Korkis: Gremlin Trouble!: The Cursed Roald Dahl Film Disney Never Made published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Jim Korkis: Call Me Walt: Everything You Never Knew About Walt Disney published by Theme Park Press; 2017.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A new book from Italy which will be of interest to some of you.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I just received on Friday Don Hahn's new book Yesterday's Tomorrow. I was excited by what I saw: the book is extremely well-researched, covers an era which is seldom discussed in Disney history books and showcases a huge amount of material which we had never seen before in book form. This is clearly one of the very best books of 2017 and one understands (if one hadn't until now - which would be odd) why Don received the June Foray Award two years ago.

Of course since I am hard at work on They Drew As They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era (The 1950s and 1960s) which will be released in 2018 and feature Lee Blair, Mary Blair, Tom Oreb, John Dunn and Walt Peregoy, I was particularly fascinated by a few pieces of art from John Dunn which I had never seen before. I knew when I saw them that Don had truly looked into all nooks and crannies. Way to go!   

Friday, December 08, 2017

Heritage Auctions stunning animation art auction is happening this weekend. Not to be missed.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

It turns out that there is another Ingeborg Willy scrapbook in addition to the one that was purchased a few years back by the Walt Disney Family Museum from Bob Cowan. And it is being auctioned off this week by Swann Galleries. I really hope it gets bought by someone in our community who will value it. (Thanks for Joe Campana for the heads up).

And here is a video that shows its content.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Looking forward to the new deluxe version of Pierre Lambert's Pinocchio book!

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 Amazon.fr. 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.