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Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, Revised and Updated Edition Paperback – December 1, 1987

4.6 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Informative and delightful … wonderful personal observations … Maltin has presented a history both readable and captivating."
The Hollywood Reporter

"Lovingly detailed … wonderfully written … an excellent book."
New York Times Book Review

"The most complete history of animation available."
Los Angeles Times

"Maltin is an impressive archivist and a lively chronicler."
Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

Leonard Maltin is a respected film critic and historian, perhaps best known for his annual paperback reference Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, which was first published in 1969. He lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles and teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Jerry Beck is the author of over fifteen books on animation history. He writes about classic cartoon characters at CartoonResearch.com and blogs about modern animation at AnimationScoop.com. A former studio executive with Nickelodeon Movies and Disney TV, Beck currently teaches animation history at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA, where he lives.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Revised & Updated edition (December 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452259932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452259935
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John D. Kenworthy on June 12, 2001
Format: 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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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.
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Format: 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.Read more ›
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Format: 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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