on February 5, 2002
If you are interested in silent cartoon films or Walt Disney, then you must buy this book! Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman have done an incredible job of documenting this little-known part of Disney's career. This book is also packed with storyboards, pencil sketches, scripts, and production photos from these cartoons. There is a very detailed filmography of all of Disney's cartoons from 1921 through 1929.
The first chapter is an analysis of these cartoons -- what was better than the competition (Felix the Cat), or not as good. They explain how the animated characters evolved from just moving figures into "character animation." Next, the historic detail from each period is described in a chapter each on the LAUGH-O-GRAMS, the Alice cartoons, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and the beginnings of Mickey Mouse. The authors go into great detail on the working methods of the animators, and Disney's business and distribution problems. Believe it or not, Mickey Mouse might never have happened if producer Charles Mintz had not pulled Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and most of Disney's animators away from him in a needless "power play". Highly recommended for silent film enthusiasts.