Give Books: “Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation” by Amid Amidi
Books make the perfect gift: They’re intimate. They’re beautiful. They can inspire creativity and transport you to another world. Driven by a shared love of books, reading, and a commitment to support bookstores and literacy, Chronicle is launching a community-driven campaign to Give Books this holiday. We’re partnering with authors, artists, bloggers, bookstores, and librarians to share their favorite reads and inspire your gift-giving this season. Whether you love the smell of books, the feel of paper, or the sight of colorful spines lining the shelves, join us this holiday and Give Books. And now through December 31, enjoy 30% off + free ground shipping on all holiday orders at ChronicleBooks.com! Enter discount code GIVEBOOKS at checkout.
UPDATE–BOOK CONTEST!: All this week I will be reviewing books courtesy of Chronicle Books. And all this week one of you will have a chance to win all ten books featured on this site. To enter, simply post a comment on this site that reads “WHO DOESN’T LIKE BOOKS?!?” under one of the “Give Books” posts (five in all this week), followed by a nice statement about cats. Why a statement about cats? Because I’m running this contest. The winner will be chosen the very old-fashioned sweepstakes method–by my drawing one name from a hat. Just note, however, that multiple entries will still only result in one name slip in the hat (which I am now renaming the “Contest Entry Receptacle”). Contest Ends Sunday, November 18th. Good luck!
Anyone who knows me (or at least knows my comic strip avatar Ted Forth, who shares my geek passions and, sadly, my doll-like wrists) is well aware of my love of cartoons. From the “In a cartoon you can do anything” mantra of Tex Avery to the Brooklyn-bred woodland creatures of Warner Brothers, the sheer scope of canvas (and the inspired lunacy of the Goofy shorts) of Walt Disney to the unrivaled depth of character, narrative, and humanity that is Pixar–making certain to side-step the travesty of Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and Ruby-Spears that nonetheless defined most of my happy childhood Saturday mornings–I have long been not just a fan but a fanatic of animation history and the artists who moved the craft forward.
But being the son of a graphic illustrator who got his start at the forefront of the Mad Men era, I’ve always had an almost heliotropic pull to the commercials designers who helped define that period by eschewing the bland attempts at realism that defined so much of thirties and forties print ads and magazine design. Consequently, I have a special place in my heart for the animators who took that very approach to cartooning, veering away from attempts to simply portray reality to bring animation to the modern world with abstract wit and bold sophistication. And fortunately for me (and hopefully you) there is a book that tells that story of the seismic shift in one media that helped an entire period of art.
Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation has in the few years since its publication become a bible of an epoch in cartoon (and winner of the Theater Library Association Award). Replete with stunning visuals and encyclopedic knowledge, it’s a book I return to again and again for ideas, for inspiration, or just for a fantastic read. Written by Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew fame (and who goes into further detail about his book on its own blog), Cartoon Modern illustrates both literally and figuratively how a handful of animators and especially one studio (UPA) dramatically changed the look of cartoons, commercials, educational and industrial films, poster and print design, and what the audience at large came to expect from all such media.
If you or someone you know loves animation, modern design and pop sensibilities, or–like Ted Forth– the “modern cartoon” classic Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, this is certainly a great holiday book to give and get this season. And since it is the holidays, help Ted Forth ring in the season with one of his favorite songs from one of his very favorite animated specials (and the very first animated holiday program ever produced specifically for television). Enjoy!
Special Note: The “Give Books” logo is by the very talented Julia Rothman.