The Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios have teamed up with Disney Worldwide Publishing to launch a series of children’s books created by animation artists and storytellers at each studio. The Animation Studios Artist Showcase program gives employees the opportunity to bring their artistic talents to the page in picture books featuring original art and characters.
Released this month, the debut Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase title is No Slurping, No Burping!: A Tale of Table Manners, conceived and illustrated by Disney visual development artist Lorelay Bové, with text by Kara LaReau. The Pixar Animation Studios Artist Showcase kicks off in September with Over There, a friendship story starring a shrew and a mole, by Pixar production designer Steve Pilcher.
The publishing program was the brainchild of John Lasseter, chief creative officer of the Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios (the latter was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 2006). Jessica Julius, creative executive at Disney Animation Studios, noted that the joint venture between the animation studios and Disney Publishing marks the first structured collaboration between these arms of the Disney organization. “John had wanted to start a program like this for many years, and finally, after the merger between the studios, the idea finally got off the ground,” she explained. “It grew out of the desire to highlight the original work of our many talented artists, and we were pleased that so many of them wanted to do their own book projects.”
Though the Animation Artist Studios Showcase titles are branded slightly differently for each studio – and which logo is used is determined by which studio the book creator is affiliated with – the books are considered part of one series, said Samantha McFerrin, executive editor of Disney Publishing Worldwide. Addressing the editorial focus of the line, she explained, “We are not establishing any guidelines, but are encouraging artists come to us with their ideas, and we then work with them to bring those original ideas into picture-book format. We’ve seen primarily fiction submissions, but we are also considering playful nonfiction ideas. Basically, we are interested in rich stories and great new characters.”
McFerrin said that some of the Animation Studios Artists Showcase volumes will be written as well as illustrated by the book creator, while others will feature text by an outside writer. The latter is the case with No Slurping, No Burping!, on which Bové, whose visual development projects for Disney include 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, collaborated with LaReau.
“I teamed up with Kara early on, and she worked from my synopsis and from little drawings and sketches I provided, to come up with some fun text that would work visually as well,” Bové said. “The two of us went back and forth, with me giving feedback about the text during the process.”
Though No Slurping, No Burping! is published under the Disney-Hyperion imprint, subsequent books in the series, beginning with Over There, will be Disney Press releases. McFerrin said that, depending on the number of proposals submitted by animation artists, the line is likely to add one or two picture books annually.
There are multiple benefits to the new publishing venture, McFerrin noted. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the relationship we have between the Disney publishing and studio arms,” she said. “And, of course, this give us the chance to publish our artists’ own, beautiful picture books.”
For Bové, the Disney Animated Studios Artist Showcase has provided the chance to branch out and create a children’s book on manners, which she said “I’ve always wanted to do, since I really loved manners books when I was little. I’ve done books based on Disney films, but what I really enjoyed most about this book project was creating something that I had had the idea for. This way, I had more creative freedom, which was a lot of fun.”
No Slurping, No Burping! A Tale of Table Manners, concept and pictures by Lorelay Bové, words by Kara LaReau. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 Apr. ISBN 978-1-4231-5733-5
Over There by Steve Pilcher. Disney Press, $16.99 Sept. ISBN 978-1-4231-4793-0