There are plenty of coffee-table books on the films of Walt Disney, one, it seems, for virtually each Disney feature. This tome's different, though. It's a serious look at the silent films Disney made in the 1920s before he revolutionized the industry with the first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie
. Its first section affords an incisive critical overview, showing how these early, often pedestrian "apprentice" films--which reflected Disney's midwestern values and showed the influence of live-action comedies--laid the groundwork for later animation techniques and conventions. Many characteristics of these cartoons resurfaced in Disney's later work--particularly the personality-based comedy that was as integral to the popularity of Mickey Mouse as initially was the gimmick of sound. The book's lengthier second section, based on studio records, promotional materials, and interviews with survivors, is a detailed history of this period of Disneyana. An important and valuable contribution to film scholarship. Gordon Flagg
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A scholarly and entertaining book that is a combination of film critique, studio history, and oral history illustrated with wonderful original animation drawings, storyboards, and rare photos." -- John Canemaker, New York Times Book Review
"Merritt and Kaufman have delved deep into the business of the art as well as into the art itself... They show us genius emerging by trial and error, not in a puff of Aladdin's lamp." -- Simon Louvish, Sight and Sound
"Merritt and Kaufman's enthusiasm is infectious and they point out much that is new and important about the early work." -- Robin Allan, Animation Journal
"Scholarship has rarely been so engaging and charming as in Merritt and Kaufman's detailed study of the silent film animation of Walt Disney. The work is, simply, wonderful." -- Choice
"The whole fascinating 8-year period predating Mickey is chronicled in [this] meticulously researched book... The authors point out interesting links to the work of other animators (of such characters as Felix the Cat and Krazy Kat) and also demonstrate parallels to the routines of such silent clowns as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin." -- Linda Rosencrantz, Miami Herald