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A Brace Of Books

There are a couple of new Disney-related books that have been released recently, and while I haven’t had a chance to read or review them yet I thought I’d let you know that they’re out there.

The first title is Warp and Weft: Life Canvas of Herbert Ryman, a “memoir biography” of the legendary Disney artist by John Stanley Donaldson. Donaldson was a friend of Ryman’s for thirty years, and the material for this 400-page biography was mined from his lifetime of notes, correspondence, diaries and audio recordings. In his career Ryman worked as an artist at both the Disney animation studio and Imagineering, and his concept art for EPCOT ranks among my absolute favorite pieces of Imagineering artwork.

The other new title, which just released last week, is Project Future, The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World by Chad D. Emerson. Emerson, a member of the faculty at Faulkner University‚Äôs Jones School of Law, spent two years researching the clandestine process by which Walt Disney Productions planned “Disneyland East” and purchased their 27,000+ acres in swampy Central Florida. He also interviewed a number of key players in the process, including Disney consultant Buzz Price, former Florida Governor Claude Kirk, and key Disney players Bob Foster and Tom DeWolf.

Review copies of both of these titles are winging their way to me, and I’m looking forward to both of them. I’ll even hide my jealousy over Project Future, since it’s obviously the kind of book I was planning to write! But nothing can beat actual first-person testimony, and it’s obvious that both these authors have that in spades. Check them out via the links above, and you can look for reviews in hopefully the near future!

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10 comments to A Brace Of Books

  • Middlebrow

    Herb Ryman was not an animator per se. He did work as an Art Director on animated and live action films.

  • Robin

    What would say are your favourite books on the subject of Disney and the Parks?

    I’ve read quite a few, but I’m always on the lookout for more.

  • Middlebrow: That’s a good point, and I’ll fix it. There’s definitely a difference between being an artist at an animation studio and being an animator. Just sloppy wording on my part.

    Robin: Just sticking to the parks, off the top of my head the list would include:

    – Richard Beard’s “Walt Disney’s Epcot Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow” (My favorite!)
    – Jeff Kurtti’s “Since the World Began”
    – Jason Surrell’s books about Pirates, Mansion, and Disney Mountains
    – Anything by Bruce Gordon, and/or David Mumford
    – “Designing Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance”

    There are many others, and it’s something that I need to write about…

  • Kurt

    I could be way off base here but “Project Future” sounds an awful lot like “Married to the Mouse”. Obviously, I would assume, done in a slightly different format.

  • Let me know I you need a copy of Cast Member Confidential for review. I’d be happy to send one over.

    Chris Mitchell

  • RO93461

    I am looking forward to the Ryman book. What I have read in the past has left holes as to the man was. I knew Herb pretty well. Herb was an illustrator who lent soul and depth to the whims of Walt Disney. The production designers were awash with design and details, but Ryman made it human, restrained it with good taste. and brought Walt’s vision together. Marvin Davis and Mad Ludwig designed the Castle, Herb made it Disney.

  • I owe an apology to both authors, because as soon as the books arrived I left town for more than a week. So I’m playing catch-up. So far, the Ryman book definitely looks to be revealing.

    I certainly envy your work with him, because time and again his work has really been among what I consider to be the most evocative of WED art. If I had to name a “favorite artist” of the classic age, it would flit around between so many people – Marc Davis for his character sketches, Hench for his big ideas, Sam McKim for his realistic level of detail… but it always comes back to Herb because he did so much crucial work on the project that affected me most at my most formative time – EPCOT. I don’t know how much time I spent as a kid poring over every detail of his watercolors for various unbuilt World Showcase pavilions, hoping for some illuminating detail that would reveal what was meant to be housed inside.

    For a long, long time my desktop background was his early rendering of the golden Spaceship Earth with the people milling about in front. Always such evocative, non-pandering people in his work. And nuns!

    Hopefully I’ll get reviews up for these soon…

  • And, needless to say Mr. RO93461, I very much value your comments and am honored to have you here. Your commentary is always welcome :)

  • RO93461

    I’ve read “Warp and Weft” and it is not your typical Disney Biography. Beyond Ryman’s past, the author builds to the claim that Herb Ryman willed his art collection to him and relates the series of events that allowed his sister Lucille to unlawfully abduct it. Quite a story within a story to say the least. So this creates the difficult situation of objectivity. In fact, some of the allegations are so powerful that they beg for direct substantiation. I found that all the stories Ryman told me firsthand that were also in the book to be consistently told. The author contends that he witnessed many of these events firsthand or were told to him by Ryman, and in some cases, cites original tape recordings of Herb himself or others as reference of his claims. Despite the 40 pages of reference notes, my hope is that these recordings that the Author has referenced will be posted in full context so we can all plainly hear Herb tell us firsthand what his wishes were and decide for ourselves.

  • RO93461

    The author has now added an audio recording of Herb Ryman discussing the fate of his estate. Incredibly powerful and tragic. As with everything else Herb did, it speaks volumes.

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