I’ve long wanted to start writing book reviews here on Progress City, as recent years have been filled with a slew of great new titles dissecting every aspect of the Disney empire. Hopefully I can make time to do that, but this year looks to be filled with just as many interesting new tomes that it might be impossible to ever clear up the backlog.
I’m perhaps most excited about the upcoming release, on May 6th, of The Art of Walt Disney World. A companion volume to the excellent The Art of Disneyland, the book has already received a rave review from respected Disney historian Didier Ghez. Authored by prolific Disney authors Jeff Kurtti and the late Bruce Gordon – who, thankfully, left us with more posthumous releases than Tupac Shakur – this illustration-heavy edition will contain lots of little-seen conceptual art from the creation of the resort.
I’m incredibly excited about this release, as conceptual art from Walt Disney World has been much harder to find over the years than art from the development of Disneyland. We all know the handful of renderings that were released repeatedly in 1971; perhaps the only park to have its development well documented publicly was EPCOT Center, thanks to the now-legendary Walt Disney’s EPCOT Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow.
The only problem is that, incomprehensibly, this book will only be made available in stores at Walt Disney World. Not online, not at Amazon… nowhere. Why? A large swath of Disney fandom has been waiting for this book for several years – it has been delayed many times – and not all of us can just pop down to the Emporium to pick up a book we’re interested in. This is another of those odd instances when I’m raring to give Disney my money but they refuse to take it. Of course, if they want to send me a review copy…
Staying in the theme parks, today marked the release of The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The next in a series of pocket-sized editions that contain brief histories of various Disney parks, these “Field Guides” rarely have any earth-shattering revelations for die-hard fans but they always have some nice artwork and provide a good primer to the park and its history. I do think they missed a chance, though, by not offering a more expensive version without the dreaded Hat on the cover. I know I would have chipped in a few extra bucks not to have to see that on my bookshelf.
Heading to the world of animation, we have several new titles relating to Pixar and its films. The studio’s forthcoming feature Up has quite a few tie-in releases, most notably The Art of Up by Tim Hauser (The Art of WALL.E). Up also gets a Little Golden Book, and two picturebooks based on the film’s canine character Dug: Beware of Dug! and My Name is Dug, featuring art by Pixar vet Ronnie del Carmen.
Finally there’s The Pixar Treasures, also by Tim Hauser. Amazon says:
The Pixar Treasures is a scrapbook of instinct and inspiration, experiences readers can touch, and visions that exist only in the imagination. It begins with a group of animators who were inspired by Walt Disney films. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, and Joe Ranft were hired into an apprenticeship program at Walt Disney Productions. The last of Disney’s golden age artists, including animators Eric Larson, Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston mentored the young dreamers, and as Pixar later developed, their work would draw heavily from this direct connection with Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men.” The tale continues with Pixar’s foray into computer animation, and the resulting success of Toy Story. With chapters on A Bug’s Life; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo; The Incredibles; Cars; Ratatouille; and WALL*E, Hauser’s narrative covers the struggles, growth, and successes of an incredible animation studio. And it gives readers a sneak peak at the newest Disney*Pixar film, Up. Filled with unique removable keepsakes, The Pixar Treasures is an essential collector’s item for every Pixar fan.
UPDATE: Amazon has just listed Art of The Princess and the Frog, based on the next release from Disney Feature Animation. The book releases on September 1, and is authored by the omnipresent Jeff Kurtti. That guy is everywhere…
UPDATE THE SECOND: I smack my forehead as RandySavage points out in the comments below a very glaring omission from my post. On November 3, Disney will release Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real. This is a sequel to the popular 1996 edition, Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind-The-Dreams Look At Making The Magic Real. Also – and I really can’t believe I forgot this one – there’s South of the Border with Disney: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program 1941-1948, an October release that will tell the story of the Disney animators’ research trips to South America during World War II and the package films that followed – Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and the unproduced Cuban Carnival. This is one of my absolute favorite periods of Disney animation and I’m incredibly excited to see what never-seen surprises emerge from this book. Author J.B. Kaufman has discussed the project on the Walt Disney Family Museum site.
I also left out a couple of critical new animation titles such as June’s release of A Disney Sketchbook 1928 – 2008, a compilation of development art from the history of the Disney animation studios. October brings Walt Disney Animation Studios – The Archive Series: Animation, the next volume in the series of Disney Studios art that began with last year’s Walt Disney Animation Studios – The Archive Series: Story.