A little over a year ago I recommended Garry Apgar’s A Mickey Mouse Reader with much enthusiasm. Little did I realize that tome was a warm-up for Apgar’s larger work, his latest book, Mickey Mouse: Emblem Of The American Spirit.
You can now add Mr. Apgar to the ranks of Canemaker, Barrier, Kaufman along with our own Messrs. Korkis and Gerstein as one of the finer Disney historians writing today. I didn’t think another book based around Mickey Mouse was needed, but this new work – published by Weldon Owen, under the Walt Disney Family Foundation imprint – is the definitive history.
Apgar is an art historian – and he combines social history, art history and cultural studies, along with a healthy dose of new research, to cover everything leading to Mickey’s creation, his popularity and his long lasting social impact on America and in the larger world.
We’ve all read Disney’s history and about how popular the Mouse was and how important the character still is to the studio. But Apgar’s writing style is so breezy (and informative) and such a joy to read, it all sounds fresh. Packed with smart new insights, he breaks the Mouse’s life into four eras: first from 1928-1940, then post-Fantasia till 1955, next post-Mickey Mouse Club till Walt’s passing, and finally the later years as corporate icon, park mascot and his influence to fine artists internationally.
The book is beautifully designed and contains numerous images of Mickey (from films, comics, posters, storyboards, and multiple other sources) that fill the pages to supplement, remind, inspire and delight. My only quibble with the whole production is the small postage stamp size of some of the images along the page borders… but I got used to that and enjoyed their inclusion nonetheless.
Intelligent, detailed, thorough and important. The final word on the subject and a great read. This is a must-add to your library.
At 622 pages, Mark Arnold’s new book is perhaps too much of a good thing.
DePatie-Freleng Enterprises is certainly worthy of a historical survey. In some ways the studio was the 1960s/70s parallel to the saga of Paramount’s Famous Studios. DFE was to Warner Bros. Cartoons what Famous was to Fleischer Studios – a pale reflection of former glory for the principal artists – both creating memorable well-known characters, with handsome production values early on, before falling into a rut of cheap repetitious pictures of lesser importance.
Arnold tracked down numerous studio personnel, interviewed animators and enthusiasts, and reproduces (in black & white) every still photograph, advertisement, production art, video box and merchandise image he could find. The text pulls together the story of the studio and their shorts subjects, TV series, commercials, titles, TV specials and incidental bits of animation. All of this is posted with equal weight in the book – and for those who know what they are looking for, or those who are just fans of all things DePatie-Freleng – its great to have all this amassed in one place.
My only complaint is that Arnold doesn’t know when to stop. There is a wealth of material here, most of it excellent raw research, but a good editor would have helped shape the narrative and organize it to better effect.
Nonetheless I do recommend you purchase Think Pink for your library. Lord knows, someone had to take on this studio at some point (I did my part with my authorized Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide To The Coolest Cat In Town (2005), available used at Amazon for 47¢). Arnold certainly did his homework – and I’m glad he’s shared it all with us.
What can I say – this is another Thunderbean must-have. Regular readers here need no introduction to Private Snafu or this blu-ray set. Most of the vital statistics for this set are listed here.
I’m plugging it again because I feel so strongly about this collection – and it is one of the best and most important of all the Thunderbean releases (and that’s saying something). In case you don’t know: It’s the Ultimate Snafu collection – 30 rare World War II era cartoons made by Warner Bros. for the U.S. Armed Forces, starring Private Snafu (directed by Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin and Friz Freleng).
These are newly restored from 35mm elements – now in HD – Even if you’ve seen these before, you haven’t seen them like this. A vital companion to the Looney Tunes Golden (and Platinum) collections. Bonus features and audio commentaries by Eric Goldberg (who also drew the cover, above), John K., Mike Kazaleh, Mark Mayerson and yep, me. It’s not just a must-have, it’s an absolute military requirement! If you haven’t already – buy it now!