Cover image for Hollywood cartoons : American animation in its golden age
Hollywood cartoons : American animation in its golden age
Barrier, J. Michael.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xviii, 648 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NC1766.U5 B37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
NC1766.U5 B37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In Hollywood Cartoons, Michael Barrier takes us on a glorious guided tour of American animation in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, to meet the legendary artists and entrepreneurs who created Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, Wile E. Coyote, Donald Duck, Tom and Jerry, and many other cartoonfavorites. Beginning with black-and-white silent cartoons such as Winsor McCay's "Gertie the Dinosaur," Barrier offers an insightful account of animation's first flowering, taking us inside early New York studios and such Hollywood giants as Disney, Warner Bros., and MGM. Barrier excels at illuminatingthe creative side of animation--revealing how stories are put together, how animators develop a character, how technical innovations enhance the "realism" of cartoons. Here too are colorful portraits of the giants of the field, from Walt and Roy Disney and their animators (including Ub Iwerks, BillTytla, and Ward Kimball), to Dave and Max Fleischer, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. And along the way, Barrier gives us an inside look at the making of such groundbreaking cartoons as "Out of the Inkwell" (with KoKo the Clown), "Steamboat Willie" (the firstsuccessful sound cartoon), "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and "Bambi." The years from the Depression through World War Two witnessed a golden age of American animation. Based on hundreds of interviews with veteran animators, Hollywood Cartoons gives us the definitive inside look at this colorful era and at the creative process behind these marvelouscartoons.

Author Notes

Michael Barrier is a recognized authority on film cartoons. For many years he was the publisher and editor of Funnyworld

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

As animation scholar Barrier notes, the pleasures found in the best Hollywood cartoons appeal more to adults than to children. With great expertise and insight, he identifies and explains those pleasures in an informative chronicle of the cartoon industry: its early black-and-white and silent days in New York, its move to Hollywood and sound, the pioneering feature films of Disney, and its decline in the face of changing studio economics and the rise of television. He is especially insightful about the cartoons of the 1940s, the genre's golden age, when its creators perfected the amalgam of story, character, and technique in landmark films. The fact that Barrier draws on nearly three decades' worth of interviews (200) with directors, animators, and other industry figures attests to the collaborative nature of cartoon filmmaking. Considering the colorful anecdotes he elicits from his subjects, Barrier's prose is often surprisingly prosaic. And scholarly tome or not, more illustrations would have been welcome. Even so, and although Leonard Maltin's Of Mice and Magic (1980) covers much the same ground in breezier fashion, libraries desiring more thorough and authoritative coverage should find Barrier's effort the definitive history of the field. --Gordon Flagg

Publisher's Weekly Review

The fruit of exhaustive research, from interviews with more than 200 cartoon creators to the unearthing of piles of personal papers, dusty artwork and even hectographed memos from the 1930s, this long-awaited survey of American animation has taken Barrier (during the 1960s, the editor and publisher of Funnyworld, a periodical devoted to animation) more than 25 years to write. Barrier has screened thousands of films, including hundreds of silent pictures and "almost all the short sound cartoons produced for theatrical release by the Disney, Harmon-Ising, Schlesinger, Warner Bros., MGM, UPA, and Iwerks studios," and his command of the material is astounding. He covers everything from creative character development to artistic influences, budget limitations, box office returns and technological advances such as the introduction of Xerox copiers to transfer pencil drawings directly as black lines, eliminating the inking stage. In addition to profiles of major talents, Barrier presents glimpses of Disney's earliest sketches, the insights of film critics, studio accountants and even psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, as well as countless anecdotes, such as one artist's memory of Disney's new 1939 air-conditioned Burbank studio, where "any animator could pick up his phone and call the coffee shop and have a soda delivered, or hot coffee, hot chocolate, ice creamÄanything. And a waiter would come running down the hall, with service right to your room." This cartoon cornucopia is both a delightful entertainment and a serious study, easily ranking as the definitive overview of the animation industry's accomplishments. In addition to the archival art and rare photos is a nice bonus of several flip-book sequences written into the page corners. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Based on archival research and hundreds of interviews, this volume provides a comprehensive survey of American animation up to the late 1960s. An authority on film cartoons, Barrier traces the development of such studios as Disney, Warner Brothers, and MGM. His cast of characters includes animators like Max Fleischer, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. By extension, it includes Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Porky Pig, Gerald McBoing Boing, and a host of other wondrous creations. Barriers account reveals the interplay between studio politics, technical innovation, and the business side of Hollywood. The highly readable result is neither weighted down with scholarly discourse nor demeaned by trivial anecdotes. In much the same way that David A. Cooks A History of Narrative Film (Norton, 1996) covers cinema as a whole, Hollywood Cartoons might well become the standard survey in its area. All libraries should consider for purchase.Neal Baker, Earlham Coll., Richmond, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
About the "Flip Books,"p. xix
Introductionp. 3
Part I Cartoon Actingp. 7
1 Beginnings, 1911-1930p. 9
"Flip Book": Rubber-hose Animationp. 61
2 Disney, 1930-1933p. 63
3 Disney, 1933-1936p. 109
4 Disney's Rivals, 1928-1937p. 153
5 Disney, 1936-1938p. 193
6 Disney, 1938-1941p. 235
"Flip Book": Stretch and Squashp. 257
7 Declines and Falls, 1937-1942p. 287
Part II Cartoon Realityp. 321
8 Warner Bros., 1933-1940p. 323
9 The Disney Diaspora, 1942-1950p. 367
10. MGM, 1939-1952p. 403
11 Warner Bros., 1941-1945p. 433
"Flip Book": Smear Animationp. 437
12 Warner Bros., 1945-1953p. 467
13 UPA, 1944-1952p. 501
14 The Iris Closes, 1952-1966p. 533
Afterwordp. 569
Notesp. 575
Indexp. 627