Treasures of Disney Animation Art
A (tiny) look at the art of the Disney studio
Treasures of Disney Animation Art
Robert E. Abrams
Abbeville Press
314 pp.
I admit it: I'm a sucker for pre-production artwork of any kind. I love looking at storyboards, pencils, model sheets, and layouts for a variety of reasons: they provide a glimpse into the creative process behind creating an animated work, they're more raw and individualized, and--well, they just look nice.

Treasures of Disney Animation Art is a treat, then; it contains highlights of the Disney studio's work in chronological order, mostly leaning towards pre-production work. Starting with an Ub Iwerks cleanup from Hell's Bells, the book eventually works its way through 311 illustrations, up to 1985's The Black Cauldron.

The book clearly favors Disney's golden age, with 139 of the images coming from the 1930s and 1940s. The 1980s get two images, less than the 1920s! As the book seems to be a recent release, one wonders at the lack of artwork from the post-Little Mermaid era.

The tiny size (roughly 4"x4") of the version I have is a mixed blessing; while I'm sure the smaller format kept the price down and the images are remarkably sharp, I would have liked to have seen some of these pictures in a larger size, say an extra two inches in each dimension.

My biggest nit to pick with this book has nothing to do with the book itself, and everything to do with the Disney corporation. There are some wonderful images in here from Disney productions that have not seen the light of day in ages. For instance, some of the sketches from the propaganda film Victory through Air Power are nothing short of stunning, and yet the film can't be found. I would be ecstatic if Disney gave their old shorts the same treatment as those from the Warner Bros. studio. The release of a collection of black and white Mickey Mouse shorts on laserdisc was a start, but it's merely a drop in the bucket. In the meantime, we'll have to be content with books like these.

Originally printed in fps #6 (Summer 1995)