Walt Disney: the Art of Animation.

The story of the Disney Studio contribution to a new art. By Bob Thomas with the staff of the Walt Disney Studio.

Burbank: Walt Disney Productions, 27 June 1957 Stock Code: 142454
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The definitive work on Disney animation, extensively annotated by Walt Disney himself

An important early draft, corrected and annotated by Walt Disney throughout, for The Art of Animation, "one of the pillars of Disney bibliography" and the definitive work on Disney animation to that date. In addition to corrections, Walt provided steer to the content, such as noting on p. 103, "Bob possibly too much history & not enough of Sleeping Beauty in chapter III"; for the published version, issued the following year, Thomas altered the chapter to conclude with a section entitled "The voices of Sleeping Beauty".

When Walt Disney was producing Sleeping Beauty, the most expensive Disney feature to that date, he decided to create a touring exhibition showing the history and development of animation, entitled "The Art of Animation: A Walt Disney Retrospective". "Ever the master of the cross-plug, Walt used the soon-to-be-released Sleeping Beauty to tell the story of animation in the book" (Johnson, p. 53). He wanted to publicise the "high art" style of the film as well as give a reply to all the enquiries that flooded the studio from young artists interested in how animation was done. The book primarily concentrates on the making of Sleeping Beauty, which arrived in cinemas in April 1959, using elements from the film itself to explain the animation process, as well as using other Disney films to create an overview of all aspects of Disney animated filmmaking. Thomas explains basic animation techniques and provides examples of story sketches, layouts, animation drawings, and background paintings.

For years there had been discussions at the Disney Studio of producing such a book, but Walt had trouble selecting a writer who found the right tone for it. Don Graham, one of the professors at the Chouinard Institute who ran the art school for Walt's animators, was his first choice. "Don worked for several years on the project, compiling some very valuable research material but Walt found Don's writing too 'scholastic'. He wanted the book to be one of general interest, not just for artists" (Johnson, p. 52). Walt found the style of the next writer on the project, Howard Barnes, "too breezy", feeling that Howard was not making enough use of Don Graham's research. Barnes was dismissed, and Bob Thomas brought on board. Thomas successfully utilized Graham's resources and collaborated with staff at Disney Studios to create an accurate guide to the process of animation that would be accessible to the general public. It also included a compilation of animation credits, "the first such listing of the creative contribution of Walt Disney's organisation" (Johnson, p. 52) an indication of Disney's evolving attitude towards publicising his staff.

A detailed list of the key points of difference between the published work and this proof is available.

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Quarto (285 x 225 mm), pp [x] [1] 2-205, numbered recto only. Bound in thick blue card with brass butterfly hinges and typescript Disney logo label on white paper pasted to the front, dated 27 June 1957.


Map of the Disney studio.


Wrappers somewhat creased and nicked, contents fresh and clean. In excellent condition.


Inside the Whimsy Works: My Life with Walt Disney Productions, By Jimmy Johnson, 2014.


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