Book Review: Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?

Author: Jim Korkis
Publisher: Theme Park Press (Editor – Bob McLain)
Type: Soft Cover
Pages: 276
Price: $19.95 US (Kindle $7.99)
ISBN: 978-0-9843415-5-9
Press Release:
Disney historian and best-selling author Jim Korkis is not afraid of the classic but forbidden Disney film Song of the South.
So who is afraid of it?
The Disney Company, as Jim explains in his new book Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories, available now from Theme Park Press. In his book, Jim provides the first definitive account of the film, its history, its production, and the controversy that still surrounds it. Is Song of the South racist? Is it inappropriate for modern audiences? Why has Disney refused to release the film theatrically since 1986? Using a multitude of sources, including personal interviews with those who worked on the film, Jim examines every aspect of Song of the South’s troubled and troubling history: the problems writing the screenplay, the background of the live actors, how the animation was created, Walt Disney’s personal contributions, why the film remains controversial today, and every other aspect of the film you can’t but should see.
The book features a lengthy foreword by Disney Legend Floyd Norman, Disney’s first black animator and storyman.
Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? isn’t just about the film. Jim also shares seventeen amazing — and equally forbidden — stories the Disney Company wishes were never told. You’ll learn about Disney’s sex education film, Walt’s plan for Mickey Mouse to commit suicide, Tim Burton’s depressed stint at the Disney Studios, Ward Kimball’s UFO obsession, Walt’s owl nightmares, the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, and lots more.
Jim’s authoritative but friendly and accessible style makes Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? a treat not just for film buffs and academics but for Disney fans everywhere.

Review:

When I read books on Disney or Disney history, I usually end up learning a lot of things I already know, albeit in a new and/or entertaining way. So I’ve come to accept this and not judge a book to harshly for that fault. After all, I’ve read so many books on Disney by now that I challenge any author to surprise with me something new!
So in that regard, I have to say: ‘Thanks for the surprises, Jim!’ Mr. Korkis has put together a very entertaining book that connects all of the little bits of information you may already know about Song of the South, and adds them to a whole bunch of new stuff you don’t know. And context is everything, and is what this book delivers in spades!
If you’re a Song of the South fan (and who isn’t?) and like me are ready to march on Disney’s corporate headquarters to demand a BluRay release, you must read this book first!
But wait, that’s not all! The second section of the book (explained above in the Press Release) is just as entertaining. Suicide, UFOs and orgies. Need I say more?
Everybody says that ‘I couldn’t put it down’ when reviewing a book, but in this case, it just happens to be true! Jim Korkis is one of those writers who manages to get volumes of facts across while never losing sight of the entertaining value of the printed word.
Conclusion:
I don’t often give a book 5 out of 5 stars, but in this case, I’m going to. I can’t think of any way that this book could have been better. Pictures maybe? Actually, Jim’s writing is so colorful, pictures wouldn’t have augmented the book at all. Final words: Buy it!
I’d like to thank Theme Park Press for making me pay for this review copy
LOL – It was worth it!

Book Review: Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men

Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men
The Flipbooks
 Author: Pete Docter
  • Hardcover: 1408 pages
  • Publisher: Disney Editions; Gft Dlx edition (Mar 12 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423151050
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 14.7 x 17 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 Kg
  • Price: $60.00 US / $60.00 CAN

Content:

This box set of nine flip books pays tribute to Walt Disney’s original animators–the Nine Old Men: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Milt Kahl. Each flip book features an iconic scene from an animated Disney feature in its original line-drawn form, having been selected from among a wide range of films for great movement and classic characters. The films include Alice In Wonderland, Dumbo, Fantasia, Peter Pan, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, and Pinocchio. Such iconic clips from the reel of Disney animation history include: Lady and the Tramp’s moonlit spaghetti dinner; Sorcerer Mickey’s ordeal with a horde of mops; and Thumper’s announcement that a prince has been born!
In addition to the flip books, the box contains a booklet providing additional information about the artists
Review:
This is a different kind of book set. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to flip through the nine books and to catch a glimpse of what an animator sees when proofing his work. But it’s a few minutes well spent!
Pete Docter obviously put a lot of love into this publishing project and it shows. The introductory booklet provides a wonderful insight into each of the nine men featured along with a ‘remembrance’ from a modern animator currently working for Disney.
We’ve all heard of Walt Disney’s nine old men, but now we can really get to know them!
Docter concludes the booklet with a section describing The Animation Process.
Conclusion:
Again, this is a very special book set, and as such won’t appeal to everyone. For the Disney or animation fan, it will be a welcome addition to any existing library. But it doesn’t take long to flip through it, literally, and so some may question the value at $60.00 US.
I would give this release a 4 out of 5 stars, mainly because of the value issue for the general public. And even many Disney readers may end up looking at it once and rarely again. But for the Disney fan, obviously it will rate higher!
I’d like to thank Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me this preview copy. 

Book Review: Poster Art of the Disney Parks

Authors: Daniel Handke and Vanessa Hunt

ISBN: 1423124111

On Sale: 09/11/2012

Price: $40.00 US / $44.00 CAN
Ages: All

Imprint: Disney Editions

Description: Anyone who has ever walked through the gates at a Disney Park knows that there is a magical experience waiting to be had on the other side. Poster Art of the Disney Parks is a tribute to the colorful attraction posters depicting all the wonderful rides and shows created for Guests by the Imagineers.
Review: This is a beautifully illustrated 146-page large format book with high gloss paper. The images of attraction posters are clear and bright. A feast for the eyes, to be sure!
After the introduction by Tony Baxter, there are 9 chapters: Here You Leave Today…, Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, New Orleans Square and Liberty Square, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Disney California Adventure. The book ends with some acknowledgements and an Index by Artist.
What I like about how the chapters are broken down is that each covers the best of the poster art from all Parks around the world. This isn’t just a North American peek at the posters, but truly an International look.
So just what will you find inside the pages of Poster Art of the Disney Parks? Tony Baxter, in his introduction, says: “Many of the reproductions presented in this book qualify as great illustrations, while others define the word ‘poster’…” I couldn’t agree more!
Walt Disney intended the entrance to Disneyland to be like the lobby of a theatre, and so we understand why he lined the walls with attraction posters. They were meant to whet the appetite of the attendee for what was to come.
Each chapter has a few pages of text to explain something about the area of the Park represented, and some stories about the posters therein. This part of the book is valuable for Disney fans everywhere! Another feature of the book that I appreciated was the pages and pages of proposed attraction posters that never made it to the silk-screening process. We get a nice look at the rough layouts.
I’ll conclude my review with some fun facts:
  • Disneyland used silk-screening to render each poster, but Walt Disney World favored a 4-color lithography process.
  • An average poster could have 60 colors, take a month to complete, and cost over $30,000 just in the labor alone!
  • The poster program ended in the 1990’s but started up again in 2001 for the Tokyo DisneySea Park, thanks to the digital age.
Those are just a few of the fascinating facts you’ll learn in this book.
I’d give this one 5 out of 5 stars, which I hardly ever do! Normally, there is always something that the publisher could improve on, or something else that could have been included. But honestly, I can’t think of one thing that could have made this book any better!

 

I’d like to thank Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me this preview copy.

Book Review – Disney Trivia from the Vault

Author: Dave Smith
ISBN: 1423153707

On Sale: 06/26/2012
Price: $9.99 US / $10.99 CAN
Ages: 12 and up

Imprint: Disney Editions

Description: Beginning with the July 1983 issue of Disney Channel Magazine, Dave Smith began answering Disney trivia questions from viewers of the Disney Channel. “Ask Dave” questions have come from Disney enthusiasts the world over, and have covered topics ranging from Cinderella’s last name (Tremaine) to the number of triangles covering the surface of Epcot’s Spaceship Earth (11,324 facets comprising 954 triangles.) Over 1,100 questions have been fielded by Dave Smith, the now-retired Chief Archivist of The Walt Disney Company, and this book is a compendium of the most interesting and revealing of those queries.
Review: The book starts with a one-page introduction by Dave Smith himself. He talks about the early beginnings of his connection with our Disney questions as the Chief Archivist of the Walt Disney Archives. He drifted from one publication to another until finally resting on the Internet on the D23 Web site, we he can be found now.
But many books have come out of Dave’s congenial willingness to answer an unending stream of Disney questions! The latest of which is this one: Disney Trivia from the Vault.After this brief introduction, Dave just dives right in with the first question, and doesn’t stop until the last page. There are no pictures in this book and no appendix, but the book is divided into 8 sections. I’ll list them for you, with one teaser for each:

Animated Features – Did Richard Chamberlain have anything to do with the Little Mermaid? Animated Shorts – Did Walt Disney ever draw Mickey Mouse for the screen? Disneyland – How many babies have been born at Disneyland? Live-Action Films – Were the Nannies in the street in Mary Poppins women or men? Publications – What year did Scrooge McDuck first appear in a Disney comic? Television – What was the movie in which Kurt Russell starred as a young rebel soldier? Walt Disney World – Pluto belonged to two other owners before Mickey. Who were they? Walt Disney – Is it true that ‘Disney’ is a changed version of Walt’s family’s original name?

I hope these 8 teasers have whet your appetite for this book!

I’d give this book a 3.5 stars out of 5 for the serious Disney fan, just because many of the facts given have been available before. But for casual or new Disney fans I would raise the score to a 4. The book is a treasure trove from the man who knows all, so should be on the bookshelf and in the hands of anyone who has ever asked a Disney question!
I’d like to thank Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me this preview copy.

Book Review – A Disney Sketchbook

Author: Ken Shue
ISBN: 1423165691

On Sale: 10/09/2012
Price: $50.00 US / $55.00 CAN
Ages: 18-30 (Lee’s Notes: Or any Disney fan, of any age!)
Imprint: Disney Editions
Description: Imagine if one sketchbook had been passed down through the decades from one Disney animator to the next, with each one making a contribution before leaving it in the talented hands of another artist. That idea was the inspiration for A Disney Sketchbook. Films and shorts from throughout the history of the company are featured—beginning with Steamboat Willie and ending with Tangled—demonstrating the ingenuity and skill that have remained a constant at Walt Disney Animation Studios since 1928.
Review: So goes the official press release of this beautiful publication. Now I’m going to impartially gush about it for the rest of the post!
 From the Foreword we learn that this book contains unprocessed, unlinked, unpainted, and un-rendered selections of Disney drawings. They come from the various stages of film development: Animation thumbnails, rough animation drawings, layout drawings, and other pieces used for story and visual development. And although the artists never thought of these drawings as stand-alone artwork, but only the means to tell a story, one can’t help but view them as one would a painting hanging in the finest art gallery!
These works have been organized in a rough chronological order, understanding that many of the films they represent overlapped in their production schedules.
So which artists are represented herein? A list: Ub Iwerks, Joe Grant, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Glen Keane, as well as many other Studio drawings and works by some unknown artists.
In the Introduction we find quotes from many Disney artists about how they approached their drawings. The text in this book is contained on only 4 pages, but what they contain is well worth the read.
On the Pages that follow, we find only bare drawings. No captions. No explanations. No credits. No… nothing. Just artwork. And I loved it! Part of the fun for any true Disney fan will be in trying to guess the film that the drawing is from. Actually, this is quite easy. But more challenging is trying to guess the Artist responsible! You’ll need to get your Disney Geek on to succeed in this!

Speaking of the pages, they are heavy card stock, much like a real sketchbook would be. It’s a real treat to turn these pages!

 
This is a great book to ‘read’ together as a family, with each age group getting something different out of it. I’d give this book 4.5 stars out of 5, only because some might prefer more text, however unnecessary it would be.
I’d like to thank Disney Publishing Worldwide for sending me this preview copy.