- Paperback: 434 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (December 15, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226116670
- ISBN-13: 978-0226116679
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928 Reprint Edition
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From the Back Cover
Before we met Mickey Mouse in 1928, Felix the Cat prowled the screen. This witty and fascinating study reminds us that there was animation before Disney. Crafton is equally adept at explaining techniques of sketching and camera work, evoking characteristic styles.
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Likewise, Donald Crafton's "Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928," first published in 1982, represents the gold standard with respect to animation history prior to the creation of Mickey Mouse and the advent of the Golden Age of motion picture cartoons. Crafton's book is engagingly written, broad-ranging, and ambitious. One of his objectives, stated in the preface, was to set the subject "against the background of the industrial revolution and cultural environment of the time"—a lofty and ambitious goal, rarely attempted by authors of books on animation, including Crafton's fellow scholars.
Walt Disney would, in the 1930s, more fully than any of his contemporaries or predecessors, industrialize and thereby perfect the way animated cartoons were made. "Before Mickey" is must reading if only to better appreciate the nature and magnitude of that achievement.
The events that led up to this incredible success are laid out in "Before Mickey." The saga of animation is an interesting and much neglected part of cinema history. The book covers something that is almost never discussed: animation's origins in stop-motion. Everyone should read Crafton's account of "The Haunted Hotel" - a stop-motion film where objects "float" through the air and objects move on their own. It terrified audiences and gave impendance to animation with its success. From this it was almost a natural progression to drawings that moved and funny characters in funny situations.
Silent animation had its own life and own method of communicating. Everything was in the pictures, and early animation artists made the most of this. It remains, and will probably sadly remain, a very underappreciated art form. We're just too drunk with sound these days.
Luckily, you can read this book and get a taste of what those days must have been like, the stories of the pioneers that made it all possible (those in America, at least) and how far we've come in some respects and what we've lost in others.
Anyone interested in the early history of animation should read this(after all, there isn't much else out there right now). Also, if you can, buy the tape (is it available on DVD now?) that accompanies the book. It's filled with great animation but sadly missing "The Haunted Hotel." It does, however, include a GREAT Felix the Cat cartoon.