Reviews
March 8, 2021 posted by Jerry Beck

Shout-Outs and Short Takes 2021 – Part 1

The minute I posted my last run of book reviews back in November, I started getting a bunch more just as worthy of mention. I haven’t had a chance to post about them till now – but now that gift-giving season has passed, consider this quick book review solely for your own enjoyment and edification.

It’s All In The Mind: Inside The Beatles Yellow Submarine Vol. 2 by Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D and Laura E. Cortner

Way back in 2002, radio broadcaster and Beatle music expert Robert Hieronimus published the definitive history of Yellow Submarine – a must have book on the conception and production of this landmark 1968 animated feature. That first book, Inside The Yellow Submarine, is still availble via Amazon and I urge you to get it. Nineteen years later Hieronimus has compiled more thoughts and more research into a companion volume – a perfect addendum to his original tome.

The new book, It’s All In The Mind by Hieronimus and Laura E. Cotner, is self published, 356 pages, with color photos throughout. It’s a deeper dive (if you will) with additional material about the film, theories on its inner meanings and insights into its creators – including directors George Dunning and Bob Balser, producer Al Brodax, designer Heinz Edelmann, animators Jack Stokes, John Coates, Malcom Draper, Duane Crowther and other crew members.

If you love The Beatles and/or Yellow Submarine this is a must have. The film was truly an original. It was unexpected – even the Beatles were surprised how well it turned out. It was a hit when it came out – and fifty-plus years later its become a classic.


SPIDER-MAN ON TV! A Full-Color Episode Guide to the Grantray-Lawrence Animation Series by J. Ballman

Back in April 2019 I raved about a book devoted to the 1966 Marvel Iron Man cartoons by Grantray-Lawrence. Now author J. Ballman is back with a new volume based on the 1967 Grantray-Lawrence Spider-Man cartoons – and I’m wild for it as well.

Ballman self-publishes these books, and they contain lots of inside, behind the scenes material from the collection of collector Vince Olivia. This new volume is a “part 1” (38 cartoons) as it covers only the first season (a future volume promises to cover the Culhane-Bakshi periods). I know these cartoons are considered trash – but my nostalgic love of Marvel Comics from this era transcends any common sense.

With frame grabs, script pages (with notes by Stan Lee), storyboards, pencil layouts and more, Ballman covers every episode so throughly, you’ll never have to watch them again. And that’s just the way I want it. RECOMMENDED for Marvel Zombies (like me) only.


Australian Animation: An International History By Dan Torre and Lienors Torre.

Here’s a book from 2018 that I just discovered recently. It’s a well written and concise history of animation and animators from down under. It’s hard-covered, 262 pages and covers things from 1910 through present day. There’s a whole chapter about Felix The Cat, as Pat Sullivan was an Aussie. The chapters covering 1930-1960 are most fascinating with Eric Porter Studios and early television shows I’ve never heard of (but am dying to see). There are chapters covering the saga of Sheldon Moldoff’s Marco Polo feature (aka The Red Red Dragon), Yoram Gross (the “Dot” films), Alexander Stitt (Grendel, Grendel, Grendel), and the establishment of the Australian Hanna Barbera studio (aka Southern Star). Later chapters cover Footrot Flats and subsequent studios including Burbank Films and Animal Logic among many others. If any of this interests you, I recommend this book. It’s not for everyone, but I’m glad its on my shelf.


THE DISNEY PRINCESS: A Celebration of Art and Creativity By Charles Solomon (Disney Editions).

This book is quite a surprise – mainly because it’s much better than you might suspect. A Disney publication celebrating its animated princesses is not the sort of thing I would add to my library, but author Charles Solomon gone deep into the creation of each character with great research into the people who made these women immortal. Loaded with rarely seen concept art, model sheets, paintings and sketches, it’s quite an enjoyable read and a visual feast.


3D Disneyland: Like You’ve Never Seen It Before by Dave Bossert

Well this book couldn’t be more timely. With Disneyland closed for over a year, it’s a joy to behold this magnificent hardcover collection of over 150 photographs – from 1955 through the 1980s – of Disney’s original theme park in glorious 3-D! Disney effects animator Ted Kierscey took these incredible photographs, and Dave Bossert and his wife Nancy assembled them into a book gallery exhibition (complete with 3-D glasses included). It’s certainly one of the most unique Disney books I’ve ever seen. If you are into Disneyland or 3D, this one’s for you.


Pearl Jam: Art of Do The Evolution by Joe Pearson

In 1998, animation producer Joe Pearson (Epoch Ink Animation) got an assignment to create an animated music video for Pearl Jam – for their track Do The Evolution. He worked for 12 weeks, collaborating with Eddie Vedder and Todd MacFarlane, to make a four-minute mini-masterpiece still beloved by Pearl Jam fans. “An animated history of mankind in four minutes – for stoners.” 23 years later, Pearson has penned a coffee-table book on the making of the video detailing every shot, with art, boards, and interviews with every involved, including director Kevin Altieri (Batman: The Animated Series). The book is an incredible document of a unique production – beautifully designed and well written. In other words: it rocks.


Over the Moon: Illuminating the Journey by Leonard Maltin

One of the most beautiful animated films of the past year, Netflix’s Over The Moon, has been given the “Art of” book treatment which it richly deserves. The film is a US/Chinese co-production, with director Glen Keane supervising a crew in Shanghai – bringing a Chinese legend to life in a way Western audiences have never seen before. The conceptual art is simply gorgeous. This book is lavishly illustrated, and Leonard Maltin (!!) provides the text. Keane is certainly an exciting guy to watch – since leaving Disney every project he’s taken on has been surprising and satisfying – and his dedication to hand drawn character animation is admirable. Bravo Glen!


The Art of Pixar’s Soul Introduction by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers

And finally, Soul, Pixar’s latest masterpiece. These Chronicle Disney and Pixar art books no longer have “authors”, as they are simply catalogs of production art (with credits to the artists) – but I have to admit, the art is what we care about. This one’s another winner. Voice actress Tina Fey provides a brief Foreward and directors Pete Docter and Kemp Powers pen intros. The rest of the 175 glossy pages contain character designs, color layouts, pencils and painted inspiration art. Love it!

6 Comments

  • I just ordered Australian Animation: An International History, and was promised delivery in three days!

    A colleague of mine did ink and paint for Hanna-Barbera in the seventies and then was an animator for Yoram Gross before changing careers. I’ve asked her many questions about her work in animation, but it was so long ago that she doesn’t remember a lot of details like people’s names, or exactly what cartoons she worked on, so I’m hoping to jog her memory with this book. She says that Yoram was a “hands on” kind of boss, if you know what I mean, but the man certainly led a remarkable life. Several years ago I met his son, composer Guy Gross, and he showed me some photos of the monument that had just been erected to Yoram in his hometown of Krakow.

    In his autobiography “A Cast of Friends”, William Hanna wrote that he had “a great respect for the intrinsic intelligence and industriousness of Aussies as a people.” It’s not every day that the country that coined the word “bludger” gets praised for its work ethic!

  • Once again, never knew most of these books even existed so adding them to my ever-growing “wish list” since books have become so prohibitively expensive I can’t just impulse buy all the ones I want.

    Very glad to see that this is just Part One so I can expect to discover some more treasures maybe next week. Thanks. I always tell people the hardest thing is not researching and writing a book but letting those who might be interested in buying it that it even exists.

  • There’s a section on the Australian Disney unit in that book? It may be worth a purchase just for that alone.

  • No mention of the ongoing “Comic Book History of Animation” miniseries from IDW Publishing? Plays a little loose with the facts here and there, but definitely a fun read.

  • Reminding me of the Australian book… a while back, I got a cheap, discounted copy of Denis Gifford’s “British Animated Films, 1895-1985: A Filmography”. It only covers theatrical material and not TV material (and the ton of wonderful commercials that was made for the small screen) but is still a wonderful source in itself. Gifford also covered British features AND live action shorts up through the early 1990s in volumes separated into fictional/entertainment and educational/documentary categories. I would love to get if they weren’t so scarce and expensive. Excerpts can be read online.

    What is fun about the animation book is that it not only covers the regulars like Anson Dyer, Halas & Batchelor, David Hand’s Gaumont-British, Bob Godfrey, Richard Williams and, of course, YELLOW SUBMARINE but even George Pal’s Netherlands made puppetoons that were British financed (although his dating of these may be a little off compared to the more accurate dates of many other titles listed). Gifford (who passed away a while back) went out of his way to include fairly complete credits and the date in which each cartoon was either released or first reviewed by a periodical.

  • Australian Animation: an International History was in my post office box just 36 hours after I placed the order! I couldn’t pick it up until the next day, but still, that’s some lightning-fast service!

    It’s an interesting book and indispensable to this country’s animation fans. However, I am continually frustrated, as I so often am with books these days, by the poor editing. Hardly a page goes by without some misspelling, missing or misplaced punctuation, incorrect pronoun, or subject/verb agreement error that should have been ironed out before the book went to print. For example, Hanna-Barbera’s “The Funky Phantom” is repeatedly referred to as “Funky Phantoms”, plural. (Granted, there were two phantoms on the show if you count Boo the cat, but that wasn’t the title!) A list of animators who worked on the Trans-Lux Felix the Cat series includes such luminaries as Cliff “Augestin”, George “Geranetti”, Frank “Enders”, John “Gentella”, and George “Ruhfle”. Doesn’t anybody proofread any more?

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