ILLUSION OF LIFE Plugged on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life is a book by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two Disney Legends of animation counted among the famous group of Walt Disney’s  Nine Old Men. The book topped the list of “best animation books of all time” in a poll at AWN, and is still used as a reference for inspiration on character animation.

I have this book and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants to better understand the animation process. After reading it, my own drawing skills improved noticeably!

In 1980, they appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to plug the book and chat about animation. Here they are on stage:

During the interview, Carson mentions that they are almost unknown, despite the fact that they had worked on some of the most famous animated films of all time. They replied that they liked it that way!

Frank Thomas

They mentioned that when they would sit in a theatre to watch their films with children, they would almost die. Why? Because children could be so cruel! No wonder they preferred to hide back in the studio.

Ollie Johnston

Carson asked about the rumors that Walt Disney was a cold man and hard to work for, among other things. Both men answered that he was all of those things. However, they clarified that it was also a great pleasure to work for Walt because he was so inspiring, albeit awfully tough! Perfection was expected at all times.

Carson next marvels at how animators are able to give life to even inanimate objects, so Frank and Ollie pulled out the following drawings to illustrate the point:

And last but not least:

Who Wouldn’t Be?

It was great to see these Disney Legends chat about their passion for animation. But it almost wasn’t to be! Frank wanted to be a landscape artist and Ollie was heading towards a career in magazine illustration. But Disney put out a casting call and both answered, arriving at the studio to become lowly In-betweeners before rising in the ranks to full-fledged animators.

The Interview Ends

Look to the left in the above picture and you’ll notice another Disney Alumni, Suzanne Pleshette (January 31, 1937 – January 19, 2008). You may remember her for her roles in The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard’s Ghost, and The Shaggy D.A.

Also, if you look to the far right in the above picture, you can see Carson holding up the book in question (blurry though it is).

For the full interview (5:54), please take a listen. It’s well worth it:

Frank and Ollie on Carson

‘Walt Disney’s Disneyland’ Book Review

Walt Disney was a master of promotion. His Disneyland television show was basically a weekly commercial advertising his upcoming theme park. And in that theme park, he continued this self-promotion with the release, each year, of souvenir booklets, pamphlets, and hardcover books, all designed to keep guests dreaming about Disneyland long after the visit was over!

This post is a review of one such publication:

This 70-page book has no ISBN number and no publisher but does reference Walt Disney Productions. It was printed in the U.S.A. possibly in February of 1971. However, the copyright date is 1969.

This book was first published in 1964 and was re-released every year afterwards. For how long, I don’t know. Slight changes to this publication likely would have been made as new attractions were added to the park and others removed.

The book is filled with beautiful two-page spreads of popular attractions. The Jungle Cruise, above,  is a personal favorite!

One of the best reasons for purchasing such an old book is because of the history it contains. Attractions like The Skyway, now gone (but rumored to be returning to Walt Disney World), are fun to see again!

Young and Old Enjoy Disneyland

A panoramic shot like this one shows both the Columbia and the Mark Twain. Would you like to be sitting on one of those benches right now?

Beautiful!

The book covers many of the classic attractions with colorful pictures and informative text.

The book actually starts with a brief history of the construction of Disneyland. It then covers each of the cardinal lands in turn: Fantasyland; Adventureland; Frontierland; Tomorrowland; and of course, Main Street U.S.A.

Next it covers the first and second decades of the park in their own sections. New Orleans Square and the updated Tomorrowland are also featured. The book ends with a ‘what is to come’ page featuring the soon-to-be opened Walt Disney World.

COOL FACTOR: 4.5/5

For the casual Disney fan, this book would be a fun read. For the diehard fan, it is an essential read of the history of Disneyland!

I would have given it a higher rating if not for the fact that it is merely a reprint of earlier, essentially the same, publications. But even so, I highly recommend it!

I picked it up at a thrift store for just $5.00 CAN.

Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

First off I must admit that I am a huge Dick Van Dyke fan. So I went into this memoir with an open mind (albeit somewhat clouded by fandom) and a desire to get to know the man a bit better.

I got what I hoped for! I hope you enjoy my…

B O O K    R E V I E W

 

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Type: Autobiography

Date: 2011

Pages: 290

ISBN: 978-0-307-59223-1

The forward is written by Carl Reiner who helped to put Van Dyke on the map back in the early 60’s with a certain little sitcom we all remember and love, The Dick Van Dyke Show. After reading this memoir, it’s obvious these two men have a great deal of respect for one another!

With Mary Tyler Moore in 1963

That brings me to the first thing I liked about this book. Van Dyke is generous with his praise of, and the giving of credit to, the many talented people who worked with him over the years. No ego here!

The book gives a nice overview of his childhood and the challenges of his early life trying to break into show business. I didn’t realize how many challenges he faced! But after his signature show was a success, things began to roll along nicely.

With Julie Andrews in 1964

I was happy to hear that he enjoyed working with Andrews on Mary Poppins as I am also a huge Disney fan!

With Walt Disney

The book contains one of my favorite Van Dyke/Disney stories involving how Van Dyke got the role of the old banker in Mary Poppins. Look for other insider tidbits about that movie also.

One disappointment as a fan of Van Dyke’s work was learning how he felt about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

With Sally Ann Howes in 1968

I won’t get into too many details about his issues with the movie. Suffice to say he had some valid points… but I still love his work on the piece!

He touches on many of the projects he did between Chitty and his Diagnosis Murder television triumph as well as his battle with alcoholism. On this point, I’d like to quote directly from the book to show what Van Dyke’s goal was in writing this memoir:

A word of warning about this book: If you are looking for dirt, stop reading now. I have had some tough times and battled a few demons, but there is nothing salacious here…. I have tried to write an honest story, with lightness, insight, hope, and some laughs.”

In my opinion, he has succeeded on all counts!

In the end, he leaves you believing he is as happy as he looks in the picture above.

COOL FACTOR: 5/5

Anyone with as extensive a career as Van Dyke could easily pen a larger volume and cover much more ground, but Van Dyke only hits the key moments with insight and asides designed to give the reader a nice look into his life without wearing him out with needless details.

Even if you aren’t a big Van Dyke fan, there is enough Hollywood name-dropping to keep you interested, but the book is interesting enough without it.

And for the rabid Dick Van Dyke fan I say, “Buy it! Read it! Love it!” I did.

Funnies: Book Review – Color Sundays (of) Mickey Mouse

I love reading about the history of things. When I was a kid, up until I was a young man, I collected comic books. Superhero stuff mainly but I always dabbled in comic strips as well. Sunday Funnies were a particular favorite and really the only part of the newspaper I ever read.

So when I saw this book entitled Color Sundays Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, I knew I had to buy it!

History and Funnies!

Publisher: Gary Groth & Kim Thompson (Distributed by others)

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 280

ISBN: 978-1-60699-686-7

Year: 2013

Floyd Gottfredson (May 5, 1905 – July 22, 1986) had a long association with the Disney company.  He was an American cartoonist best known for his defining work on the Mickey Mouse comic strip.

He has probably had the same impact on the Mickey Mouse comics as Carl Barks had on the Donald Duck comics. Two decades after his death, his memory was honored with the Disney Legends citation in 2003 and induction into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006. Both well-deserved honors!

Color Sundays is the second volume to cover this talented mans contribution to Mickey’s Sunday outings. As such, it picks up from 1936 and covers until the end of his run as a substitute to the strips in 1961.

The book is divided into too many sections to list in this review. To start though we are given a little history on the man and how he came to the assignment of the Sunday Funnies.

Next is the first section of actual strips:

Guess who’s coming to dinner!

We start with Mickey as the plucky hero who has to fight against the bigger foe to win the day or the heart of his true love, Minnie. No matter how hard he tries, something always goes wrong!

Next is a Robin Hood adventure, a section focusing on gag strips with Goofy as the main guest star, Sheriff of Nugget Gulch which puts Mickey and Goofy into the Wild West, and then:

Service with a devious smile

Mickey starts to show his mischievous side in this section as he isn’t above a little skullduggery to get his way, as seen in the picture above! The book stops every now and then to give us a look at some miscellaneous examples of Gottfredson’s artwork:

Goofy’s Inventions

After the above look at a panel from Mickey Mouse Magazine #59 (1940) we go back to a section highlighting an adaption of one of Mickey’s most famous Shorts:

Next we have a section dedicated to Gottfredson’s later years when he was only filling in on the Sunday Funnies. It’s mainly a collection of short gag strips.

Gottfredson mainly focused his work on the adventures of Mickey Mouse, but he did handle a long list of guest stars as well, such as:

Guest stars included Donald Duck, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, The Seven Dwarfs in a solo adventure, a Sleeping Beauty adaption, and a 101 Dalmatians tale (and yes, I did that on purpose).

Lastly we are treated to an archival section:

This section treats us to some original concept artwork, original cover reproductions, full-page paintings, and:

Some very nice looks into some of the characters Gottfredson worked with. The book ends with a brief visit with the heir to Gottfredson’s work on the Sunday Funnies, namely, Manuel Gonzales.

COOL RATING: 5/5

As a huge fan of both Mickey Mouse and comic strips this publication was a welcomed addition to my library. The book has a nice balance between informative back story and just page after page of funnies.

It was enlightening to learn about another man behind the mouse!

I purchased this book for the purpose of this review

Book Review: Along Interstate 75 by Dave Hunter

“The ‘must-have’ Guide for your drive to and from Florida!” This is how Along Interstate 75 is billed on the cover and I can say from personal experience that it’s that and so much more.

Type: Soft cover

Pages: 206

Publisher: Mile Oak Publishing Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-896819-198

When my wife and I were planning our first drive down to Florida in 2007 we felt a little apprehensive. We hadn’t driven that far into the States before and had no idea how to plan hotel stays and how to find out what to see along the way. Of course, every State has a Welcome Center as you cross the border, but we wanted to do some advanced planning.

We were used to using Birnbaum guides for planning our itinerary at Walt Disney World, and so we checked the travel section at our local book store for similar travel guides. We found Dave Hunter’s Along I-75 and have never looked back!

With 19 years of publication behind it this guide is quite probably the most comprehensive tourist guide of its kind. Part map, part guide-book, it really does have everything the traveler needs to enjoy the drive between Detroit and Florida and back again.

This publication also doubles as a history book. If the drive is starting to bore you simply have your navigator (spouse/travel companion) read from the many white pages and enjoy hours of interesting stories about the people and events that happened all around you along the I-75.

But the main use of this publication is as a map. As mentioned, there are separate pages for going to Florida from Detroit, appropriately with yellow borders (for the sun you know!) And another set of pages for traveling back.

Speed limits, speed traps, exits, alternate routes, gas and food, entertainment, and trivia are all found on each and every page.

The key feature is the ‘upside down’ orientation. If you place the publication on your lap, you can follow the route from the bottom of each page to the top, mimicking the forward direction of your driving. Each page covers approximately 25 miles or 30 minutes of driving time. So if you want to eat in 2 hours, simply turn four pages ahead and check to see what restaurants are available in that area. Want to stop for the night in 4 more hours time? Turn 8 pages ahead and pick your favorite hotel.

Every vacation must come to an end and you eventually have to drive back to Detroit from Florida, so you simply follow the blue pages home again. Blue for cold. Snow. And depression!

Review: I can’t imagine a more comprehensive but easy to use guide! It is one of the few publications out there that deserves a full 5 out of 5 Stars. I’d give it more if I could!

We hope to put this 19th Edition to good use early next year as we once again take to the American highways (the I-75 specifically) to visit our happy place in Florida. In case you’re wondering, our happy place in Florida is Walt Disney World. Duh!