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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first "serious" scholarly history of cartoons
This is the book that turned me on to animated films. Well-known movie critic and buff Leonard Maltin wrote the third great book on American animated cartoons (the first two being "The Art of Walt Disney" and "Tex Avery: King of Cartoons"), and he gives us a look at all of the great cartoons of old, from Betty Boop and Koko the Clown through the...
Published on March 2, 2000 by Modemac

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3.0 out of 5 stars Outdated
I needed this for my history of film class, otherwise I wouldn't have purchased it. It could use more color pictures and it only goes up to the 80s which is really sad. There's over 30 years of animation history it doesn't cover. Wouldn't recommend unless of course you HAVE to buy it like I did for class.
Published 1 month ago by Summer Brooker


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first "serious" scholarly history of cartoons, March 2, 2000
By 
Modemac (Cambridge, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
This is the book that turned me on to animated films. Well-known movie critic and buff Leonard Maltin wrote the third great book on American animated cartoons (the first two being "The Art of Walt Disney" and "Tex Avery: King of Cartoons"), and he gives us a look at all of the great cartoons of old, from Betty Boop and Koko the Clown through the eras of Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Mister Magoo, and even Fritz the Cat. His book is somewhat out of date now, as this book was published in 1985. Three years later, 1988 proved to be a watershed year in animation with the rebirth of Disney animation in "The Little Mermaid," while "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" made it okay for adults to enjoy cartoons. (Disney's "Duck Tales" also led the way to a new beginning of quality animation for TV, leaving the shoddy kiddie toy merchandising fodder in the dust...almost.) The years following these animation landmarks opened the gates to a flood of terrific cartoons that Maltin's book doesn't cover, including Spielberg's "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs;" Disney's "Toy Story;" the mainstream popularization of Japanese animation; quality children's cartoons with "Rugrats," "Bobby's World," and "Doug;" Warner Bros.' animated "Batman" and "Superman;" animation aimed at older audiences with "The Simpsons" and "South Park;" and so much more. The the animation renaissance of the past dozen years or so has brought a new rebirth to the animation industry...and in fact, the definitive book on the new era of animation hasn't been written yet. But the cartoons of the Golden Age are widely available, and indeed, they are still broadcast on TV every day, more than fifty years after such great live-action contemporaries as Bogart, Cagney, and so many others have passed into the archives of movie history. Maltin's book is an exceptional, delightful look into an innocent era of animation that has finally taken its rightful place in film history.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of cartoons (to the 1980s), May 26, 2006
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This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
When I think of the history of animation, I tend to divide things into three periods: The Golden Age, noted for early Warner Brothers cartoons and the classic Disney movies such as Snow White and Fantasia; The Age of Mediocrity, where creativity seemed to reach its nadir, as seen most notably in the bland Hanna Barbera cartoons; and the Modern Era, with the resurgence in cartoon creativity, which, starting with The Little Mermaid in the movies and the Simpsons on TV, animation reached a new level of popularity and respectability. Leonard Maltin's book, Of Mice and Magic, shows that my own view of cartoon history is roughly correct but also overly simple: there was plenty of mediocrity in the Golden Age and plenty of decent stuff in the Age of Mediocrity.

Maltin starts off with a chapter about the silent era, when animation was just beginning. Over time, experience would refine the process, but the big leap would occur with sound, in particular with Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie featuring Mickey Mouse. After the silent era chapter, there are chapters that serve as "biographies" of the major animation studios, starting with the biggest of them all, Disney.

The Disney characters are among the most popular in cartoon history (or film history in general). Mickey Mouse may have been the biggest name, but he didn't have much of a personality, so he started being pushed aside in favor of more developed characters, especially Donald Duck, the first major Disney character with any sort of edge. In fact, this is a constant theme in the book: that the weakest cartoons from any studio were the ones that featured characters with no distinct personalities.

Success would often come with the most offbeat and edgy characters, such as Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Popeye and Daffy Duck. But some of the studios had a mercenary nature that would put quantity ahead of quality; probably the worst in the bunch was Terrytoons where good cartoons were the exception, not the rule. Although even Terrytoons would have some memorable characters - in particular, Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle - even many of the cartoons featuring them were not very good (which is why in the world of cartoons, the Terrytoons characters will never outshine even some of the Disney or Warner Brothers second-stringers).

Space limitations prevent me from going as in depth on this subject as I would like, but suffice it to say that after reading this book, I still do feel justified in defining an Age of Mediocrity. It was not that every cartoon in that period was bad, but the good ones were few and far between and classics were very rare indeed. The Age of Mediocrity was filled with bland cartoons that were more cute than funny, often repeated the same gags over and over again, and had few remarkable characters.

What about what I call the Modern Age? It would have started right after this edition of the book was published (1987), so it is understandably, but sadly omitted. Also missing is any real look at TV cartoons, so Bullwinkle, Underdog, Yogi Bear and the Super Friends, among others, are only mentioned in passing. Maltin admits up front that this book won't cover these TV cartoons, nor non-American products, hence the omission of international fare such as the Italian Fantasia-like movie, Allegro non troppo.

The strengths of this book, however, far outweigh the shortcomings. While my opinions sometimes differ from Maltin's on the quality of various cartoons, these are a matter of individual taste (overall, he tends to go easier on the films than I do; for example, he has a more favorable opinion on the UPA cartoons than I do); besides, this book is more of a history of cartoons than a critique of them. In addition to good writing, we gets lots of pictures (only a few in color) and an extensive filmography for all the chronicled cartoon studios.

You probably need to be a certain age (probably at least 30) to fully appreciate this book, as younger readers may not have really grown up with these cartoons and may not have even seen them as adults (and since many of these cartoons were geared only to kids, they would not even have much appeal to those over 10). But if you remember these cartoons and look back at them with fond nostalgia, this is a great book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that changed my life -- really!, June 12, 2001
This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
I first encountered this book years ago when I was a young motion picture projectionist at a small theatre in Iowa. We could never afford the top-shelf cartoons to run before our features, so we ran obscure old Krazy Kat cartoons and the like. Maltin's book offered the best description yet available on the importance of these early films and their place in animation history.
Moreso, it contained a chapter on the Ub Iwerks Studio. I never really knew much about old Ub until we happened to get one of his gorgeous Comicolor Classic cartoons (Jack and the Beanstalk) in place of the usual Krazy Kats. I of course went to "Of Mice and Magic" to find out more and whetted my appetite to learn more about this forgotten genius.
Decades later, my youthful interest turned into a full-time pursuit. My biography of Ub Iwerks, "The Hand Behind the Mouse" (ISBN: 0786853204) co-written with Ub's granddaughter Leslie, is now available. Ironically, (or not so) Mr. Leonard Maltin kindly wrote the introduction for our book, thus bringing my foray into animation history full circle. I have always considered Maltin to be like an Old Testament prophet in the field of animation history. "Of Mice and Magic" is still the finest animation book ever written -- which is saying alot (there are many great ones -- ours included.) For anyone who loves animation and the world of cartoons, this is THE essential book and my life has been so much richer because of it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on theatrical animation, February 9, 2001
This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
I first read this book some ten years ago, and was astounded. Not only did the book include little-known information on the studios and cartoons we know and love, but those which have passed into history. (Anyone remember the Van Buren Studio? Or Columbia-Screen Gems? Or that the latter produced a "L'il Abner" animated series in the mid-forties?) Maltin's love of animation is obvious, and it makes one wonder why did not choose to devote an entire book to one studio in particular (the sometimes unfairly maligned Terrytoons deserves one, certainly). My sole complaint echoes that of others here--Maltin should update this book more thoroughly, and more often. Even the "updated" version is out of date, and leads one to believe the industry is dying (which was the common belief until "Roger Rabbit" came along). Other than that, I have but one suggestion for Maltin--he should give made-for-TV cartoon studios the same treatment in a follow-up volume. Here's hoping he reads these reviews...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Golden age of American studio animation, July 3, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
I am not an animation student, merely an ardent fan with many years of armchair learning to my credit. My copy of this book is now nearly 20 years out of date and the softcover spine is wrecked beyond repair, but I still frequently refer to Maltin's incomparable history of the subject, by studio, and to the exhaustive filmographies in the back. No matter what turns up on Cartoon Network from the classic age, I'm ready for it, with insight and clear, impassioned writing on the subject. It isn't for nothing that this book has become a standard in classrooms.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE place to go to learn about animation history, June 18, 2002
This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
So you are flipping through the channels one night and you come across reruns of an old black and white Looney Tunes cartoon. And it's good. So you want to learn more about these cartoons. Well here is the source for you. Maltin takes a very broad subject, both in terms of years, styles and players, and condenses it into easy to follow chapters. While much attention in animation has been paid to Disney and his animators, there were a lot more out there (and still are today) that strive to work alone, or who wove in and out of the Disney history. Very readable, Maltin takes us through the ups and downs of the major studios. Here are the tales of the origins of characters (how Bugs Bunny got his name due to Bugs Hardaway), how Disney imagined Fantasia as an ever evolving film. How we went from the rich frenetic animation of the 40's to the stilted minimalism of the 60's. In addition there is a reference of output from various studios to help trace the story. Abundently illustrated (though it could always use some more color) it helps connect the names, with the faces, with the characters.
Animation has always been looked down upon and the poor cousin of features. Yet they were an integral part of the movie experience years ago, and still see their media explored, and celebrated today. There is certainly enough to fill several competing cartoon channels on TV today. Often our first exposure is the afternoon, or Saturday morning cartoons. But these are only the latest in a noble line of work, that almost suffered a demise in the 70's, only to roar back strong as ever today. If you want to know more about animated cartoons, be sure to start here!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lenny Maltin gives movies cartoons respect in this book, March 31, 2003
By 
Kevin S.Butler (Mamaroneck,New York,USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
In his second book about the history of animated movie cartoons.Leonard Maltin gives us all insight into the films from Walter Lantz,Paul Terry,The Fleischer Bros.,UPA,Rainbow Studios,Charlie Mintz ,The Looney Tunes and Walt Disney.Using extensive research ,interviews from the surviving creators of these cartoons,voice over performers and film/tv historians.Maltin looks into the creation,evolution and the success and flaws with these cartoon series and explains why these cartoons still have an appeal with movie and tv audiences.The book also contains an extensive filmography of the series and some wonderful cell reproductions from the films and some original character designs.No one before or since has given real respect to "Popeye","Betty Boop","Bugs Bunny","Heckle & Jeckle","Woody Woodpecker" or even"Mickey Mouse"before in a film history book.Leonard Maltin is the first film historian,author and lecturer to show another side to these forgotten aspects of film history.Bravo Lenny! Kevin S.Butler.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive view of the first 50 years of animation, April 29, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
I am an animation student and am reading this title because it is a required text. Mr. Maltin does a wonderful and comprehensive job of outlining the history of animation from the Silent Era, to the Golden Age, to a few subsequent years thereafter. Not only does the book chronical the different animation studios, he also gives a brief work history of the most influential animators of the time and gives us an inside view of the animation industry through personal interviews with them. The version I have has been updated, but it seems only through footnotes but I could be wrong as I haven't read the original. An excellent text for either historian, student, or anyone who just loves cartoons, get it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like movie cartoons, this is for you, August 29, 2000
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This review is from: Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition (Paperback)
One might not think animated cartoons would merit a scholarly study, but this is an excellent book for casual cartoon fans and dedicated film buffs alike. Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck trace motion-picture animation from its comic-strip-character beginnings to the latest technological developments. Some cartoon studios were celebrated (like Disney and Warner Brothers), others unsung (like Van Beuren and Columbia), but all make fascinating reading, enhanced by firsthand accounts by animators, directors, and producers. Excellent as a continuous read or for reference.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and informative!!, January 3, 2004
By A Customer
Leonard Maltin has a real knowledge of animation and his passion and enthusiasm for cartoons is apparent. The book traces animation from its beginnings at the turn of the century up to modern day. Extensive coverage is provided to all the major cartoon studios and many of the key directors. The illustrations are excellent. Maltin provides a fair amount of detail but not too much to overwhelm the casual fan. Anyone interested in the history of animation or just wants information on which films to see is well advised to pick up this very well written book.
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Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition
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