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Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age Paperback – November 6, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195167295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195167290
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The fruit of exhaustive research, from interviews with more than 200 cartoon creators to the unearthing of piles of personal papers, dusty artwork and even hectographed memos from the 1930s, this long-awaited survey of American animation has taken Barrier (during the 1960s, the editor and publisher of Funnyworld, a periodical devoted to animation) more than 25 years to write. Barrier has screened thousands of films, including hundreds of silent pictures and "almost all the short sound cartoons produced for theatrical release by the Disney, Harmon-Ising, Schlesinger, Warner Bros., MGM, UPA, and Iwerks studios," and his command of the material is astounding. He covers everything from creative character development to artistic influences, budget limitations, box office returns and technological advances such as the introduction of Xerox copiers to transfer pencil drawings directly as black lines, eliminating the inking stage. In addition to profiles of major talents, Barrier presents glimpses of Disney's earliest sketches, the insights of film critics, studio accountants and even psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, as well as countless anecdotes, such as one artist's memory of Disney's new 1939 air-conditioned Burbank studio, where "any animator could pick up his phone and call the coffee shop and have a soda delivered, or hot coffee, hot chocolate, ice creamAanything. And a waiter would come running down the hall, with service right to your room." This cartoon cornucopia is both a delightful entertainment and a serious study, easily ranking as the definitive overview of the animation industry's accomplishments. In addition to the archival art and rare photos is a nice bonus of several flip-book sequences written into the page corners.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Based on archival research and hundreds of interviews, this volume provides a comprehensive survey of American animation up to the late 1960s. An authority on film cartoons, Barrier traces the development of such studios as Disney, Warner Brothers, and MGM. His cast of characters includes animators like Max Fleischer, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. By extension, it includes Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Porky Pig, Gerald McBoing Boing, and a host of other wondrous creations. Barriers account reveals the interplay between studio politics, technical innovation, and the business side of Hollywood. The highly readable result is neither weighted down with scholarly discourse nor demeaned by trivial anecdotes. In much the same way that David A. Cooks A History of Narrative Film (Norton, 1996) covers cinema as a whole, Hollywood Cartoons might well become the standard survey in its area. All libraries should consider for purchase.Neal Baker, Earlham Coll., Richmond, IN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I really appreciated reading this book.
Raphael A. Souza
Mr. Barrier gives informed insight to Hollywood animation history, it's creative players, and it's process.
John Carter
"Cartoons" was one of the sources for my own book, An Animation Miscellany.
P. Neuhaus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Covering much of the same ground as Leonard Maltin's Of Mice and Magic, Hollywood Cartoons is packed with interesting insights and comments from both the author and those that participated in the creation of an American art form. Michael Barrier's exhaustively researched book covers the Golden Age of Hollywood animation and the movers and shakers that had an impact on the art form.
At nearly 650 pages Barrier's book takes a fair balanced look at Disney, Warner Bros., Fleischer and other contributors to this dying art form. It's actually a perfect companion piece to the newely released boxed set of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes classics. Barrier avoids the Disney worship that marred other books of this type and, like Maltin's marvelous but less indepth book, he manages to point out the key contributions of the most important animation directors/producers of the era.
While it does overlook or give only a cursory overview of some important figures in the industry, Barrier's scholarly aproach manages to recognize the merits and flaws of each studio, their system and directors. Although not as well illustrated as Maltin's book, the pictures do provide a glimpse of many of the essential classics that impacted the art of animation. Since much of the documentation for the creation of some of the early Warner classics are long gone, Barrier has to rely on many of the same sources and pictures as other authors. The book could have been improved if he had gone more to private collectors for rare animation cels, production photos, model drawings and notes. I also would have liked many of these illustrations to be reproduced in color. Seeing them in dark black and white illustrations does little justice to the artistry of these pioneers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As an animator with more than a mild interest in the subject, I found the book to go beyond the history. It's the first book about animation to really delve into the ART of the medium. We see how the inventors of the medium are overtaken by the artists who are overtaken by the financiers. It's a magnificent book with absolute precision in its source material backed up by more than the usual number of interviews. It's not another promotional book for ANY studio. The coverage of Disney is greater because the focus is on the period when Disney built the medium. Anyone interested in the medium should read this.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John McWhorter on August 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a marvelous achievement but I'm not sure its title is appropriate. Barrier is concerned with charting the development of excellence, and as such his perspective appears to be "hats off to Disney, kudos to Warner Brothers and Tex Avery, and polite nods to everybody else". The ranking is unexceptionable, and the coverage of Disney and Warners' is rich and incisive. But surely a survey of "Hollywood Cartoons" would ideally have more than a few pages each on Terrytoons, Walter Lantz, Popeye and Betty Boop. Especially the latter three, while obviously not pinnacles of the art, have more than their share of moments worth examination, which a book honing so closely to linear development must leave aside. Obviously a book giving more equal coverage to the well-loved also-rans would be an intimidating doorstop, but one almost wishes Barrier had written one book on Disney and another on the other cartoons. However, Barrier is a sterling scholar and analyst; I repeatedly found myself first shaken by his criticisms of cartoons I have long held sacrosanct, only to usually agree with him in the end.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Samerdyke on March 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
This was a very good book, with a few caveats.
The first chapter, on silent cartoons, is hard going. Not until Walt Disney shows up does that chapter start flowing.
BUT from that point on, until the chapter on UPA, I had a hard time putting "Hollywood Cartoons" down. Barrier doesn't take the usual perspective on cartoons. He doesn't care how they appeal to the casual viewer but how they look to the pro. I didn't agree with all his judgments, but I respect his judgments.
I have read several histories of cartoons, and Barrier still managed to surprise me or say something new. He had the best discussion of the origins of Bugs Bunny I've ever read. His description of the working of MGM's cartoon studio was fascinating, and his views on Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones showed real insight.
Barrier states his opinions strongly. He doesn't like Fleischer or UPA cartoons, and he doesn't think Friz Freleng is worth a lot of discussion. (I would disagree about Friz, but agree on the other stuff.)
In all, this was a fine book on this subject, and I am glad I read it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Doug Hillman on November 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As some of the previous reviews have stated, Barrier obviously feels that Disney was the most important thing to ever happen to animation. While that may be true, I would have liked to have seen a bit more coverage of the other studios. That being said, this is a great work which seems to present an objective view of all the big names in animation's golden age. Despite his focus on Disney, the author in no way glosses over his mistakes and personality faults. The one serious problem I have though, is the lack of pictures. There are many references to character design, layout, etc. which certainly call for an illustration. The absence of visual aids in a book about animation sticks out like a sore thumb. The one other complaint I have is the lack of a glossary. While someone knowledgeable in animation may have understood the more technical terms, there were several things talked about throughout the book which I didn't really have a good grasp on. I may have just missed the definitions in the text, but a glossary would certainly have been helpful. The inclusion of these two missing peices would have made this a five star book. As it is, I'll never be able to watch cartoons again without thinking a bit about the technical aspect.
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