The Best Animation Books of 2009

Here are my picks for the best animation books of 2009.

Colors of Mary Blair and Iwao Takamoto

The Colors of Mary Blair —A catalog for an exhibition that happened earlier this year at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. I don’t have a copy myself and don’t even know how you can obtain one, but this book does it right with page after packed page of animation concepts, personal watercolors, advertising art, and illustration work. It works well as a companion to John Canemaker’s 2003 bio The Art and Flair of Mary Blair.

Iwao Takamoto: My Life with a Thousand Characters by Iwao Takamoto with Michael Mallory — An entertaining, fast-paced and personal look into the life and career of now-deceased artist Iwao Takamoto that shows he deserves to be remembered for more than just designing Scooby-Doo.

South of the Border with Disney

South of the Border with Disney: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program 1941-1948 by J.B. Kaufman — A masterful piece of research that proves not every stone has been unturned in the field of Disney history.

Walt Stanchfield books

Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes, Volume 1 and Volume 2, by Walt Stanchfield, edited by Don Hahn — A lifetime’s worth of knowledge and wisdom is contained within these two paperbacks. The material is taken from Stanchfield’s handouts used in his classes for Disney animators. These books belong on any animator’s bookshelf, whether beginner or expert.

Starting Point and Fantastic Mr. Fox

Starting Point: 1979-1996 by Hayao Miyazaki, translated by Beth Cary and Frederik L. Schodt — I have yet to read a single page of this book, but if you ask Mark Mayerson and Richard O’Connor, it’s nothing short of amazing. It sounds like an eclectic and thought-provoking collection of opinions from one of today’s master animation directors, and it’s the animation book that I’m currently most looking forward to reading.

The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox — This elegantly compact volume, designed by Angus Hyland of Pentagram, injects fresh blood into the tired ‘art of’ book format. I’ve personally resisted writing any more feature film ‘art of’ books, but something as original and distinctive as this one might force me to reconsider.

Feel free to share your favorite animated-related titles published in the past year and tell us why.

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