For the first time ever, noted animation historian and animator John Canemaker documents the lives and works of Disney's "inspirational sketch artists" from the 1930s to the present. These are the people who visualize all the details surrounding each character in the initial creative period before the grueling labor of animation begins. "Through daydreams and doodles, they attempt to 'find' the film." The happy result of these flights of fancy are dancing ostriches and personality-rich broomsticks. Drawings and paintings of Disney characters leap right off the pages of this lush book, where you'll find pastels from Fantasia
, faux wood-cuts of the Seven Dwarfs, paintings of Alice in Wonderland, and hundreds of other delightful, rarely seen images.
The stories of artists such as Ty Wong, who created Bambi, and Bianca Majolie, the first woman to join the story department at Walt Disney (in 1935), are as provocative as their art. Canemaker does a fine job of placing the artists' lives and interactions with Disney studios in the historical context of modern art. Before the Animation Begins is a beautiful book.
From Library Journal
Both of these heavily illustrated books look at two less celebrated sections of the Disney empire, and the rare artwork that both contain is their strongest asset. Canemaker's book is on the people who created preliminary sketches "that explore the visual possibilities in a literary property." These possibilities for any proposed cartoon include the visual style of the film, how the characters will look, the way a major scene could be portrayed, and so on. Specific sketch artists have put their individual stamp on the entire look of the finished film in such cases as Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, and Night on Bald Mountain. In addition, they have created memorable minor characters, such as Pocahontas's raccoon pal and Beauty and the Beast's Mrs. Potts. Canemaker primarily concentrates on the feature-length cartoons, and he gives special attention to Fantasia. By chronologically examining the life and work of the significant sketch artists, he ably demonstrates their contributions. An interesting look at a neglected aspect of the Disney films. With a combination of imagination and engineering skill, the Imagineers create all elements of the Disney theme parks, from the rides, attractions, shops, and restaurants to the signs, light fixtures, trash cans, and landscaping. Starting with Disneyland and continuing up to the present day, this book attempts to show how "imagineering" created so many memorable experiences. Even with the aid of copious illustrations-never-before-seen artwork from the Imagineering Division's own files-the act of imaginative creation is difficult to re-create, and this work doesn't completely succeed in showing how the Imagineers brought their creations into being. It is further hampered by a once-over-lightly writing style. But that is a minor quibble in what for the most part is a fascinating before-the-curtain-rises look at the Disney theme parks. Both books are highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.Marianne Cawley, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.