Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age

Michael Barrier, Author, James Matthew Barrie, Author Oxford University Press, USA $39.95 (672p) ISBN 978-0-19-503759-3
The fruit of exhaustive research, from interviews with more than 200 cartoon creators to the unearthing of piles of personal papers, dusty artwork and even hectographed memos from the 1930s, this long-awaited survey of American animation has taken Barrier (during the 1960s, the editor and publisher of Funnyworld, a periodical devoted to animation) more than 25 years to write. Barrier has screened thousands of films, including hundreds of silent pictures and ""almost all the short sound cartoons produced for theatrical release by the Disney, Harmon-Ising, Schlesinger, Warner Bros., MGM, UPA, and Iwerks studios,"" and his command of the material is astounding. He covers everything from creative character development to artistic influences, budget limitations, box office returns and technological advances such as the introduction of Xerox copiers to transfer pencil drawings directly as black lines, eliminating the inking stage. In addition to profiles of major talents, Barrier presents glimpses of Disney's earliest sketches, the insights of film critics, studio accountants and even psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, as well as countless anecdotes, such as one artist's memory of Disney's new 1939 air-conditioned Burbank studio, where ""any animator could pick up his phone and call the coffee shop and have a soda delivered, or hot coffee, hot chocolate, ice cream--anything. And a waiter would come running down the hall, with service right to your room."" This cartoon cornucopia is both a delightful entertainment and a serious study, easily ranking as the definitive overview of the animation industry's accomplishments. In addition to the archival art and rare photos is a nice bonus of several flip-book sequences written into the page corners. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
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