66 books like The 50 Greatest Cartoons

By Jerry Beck,

Here are 66 books that The 50 Greatest Cartoons fans have personally recommended if you like The 50 Greatest Cartoons. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

From my list on understanding the history of animation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

David Perlmutter Why did David love this book?

This is the book- the one that helped me to understand why animation is and always will be important.

Maltin is thorough and impartial, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of classic animated films with clarity and skill. He has been the standard I have always sought to emulate in my own animation writing.

By Leonard Maltin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Of Mice and Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Film historian Leonard Maltin recreates a whole era of Hollywood cartoons, from Betty Boop to Spielberg's "An American Tail". It also brings the reader up to date on the modern work of Walt Disney and the Warner Bros studio, plus new developments in animation. The book includes a filmography of cartoons and sources for video rental.


Book cover of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation

J.B. Kaufman Author Of Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

From my list on American animation history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like so many others, I discovered Disney in childhood. When I was five years old my parents took me to see a Disney movie in a theater, and the experience was so overwhelming that I still recall it vividly. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for classic films, a passion that has led me to a career as a film historian. For me, writing a book about a film is mainly an excuse to do the research, to get inside a film and explore it, and find out what makes it tick. It’s invariably a fascinating journey, and if I can share that fascination with readers, I’m happy.

J.B.'s book list on American animation history

J.B. Kaufman Why did J.B. love this book?

An Academy Award®-winning animator in his own right, John Canemaker has combined his firsthand knowledge of the craft with superior writing skills to produce a series of outstanding books on animation history. You can pretty much close your eyes, pick any one of Canemaker’s books at random, and come up with a winner. But I’m highlighting this one as the definitive study of the “Nine Old Men,” the Disney artists widely recognized as the leading masters of animation. For each of the nine, Canemaker provides a detailed biography and a cogent analysis of the artist’s work, heavily illustrated. It’s a fitting testament to a royal legacy of talent.

By John Canemaker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Noted film historian John Canemaker brings to life the team whose combined individual genius defined the art of character animation. Think of your favorite moments and characters in Disney films from the thirties to the seventies and chances are most were animated by one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men." Through the span of their careers, these nine highly skilled animators exhibited an unparalleled loyalty to their employer. This book explores their artisitic breakthroughs, failures, and rivalries, and their individual relationships with each other and with Walt.


Book cover of Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age

J.B. Kaufman Author Of Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

From my list on American animation history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like so many others, I discovered Disney in childhood. When I was five years old my parents took me to see a Disney movie in a theater, and the experience was so overwhelming that I still recall it vividly. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for classic films, a passion that has led me to a career as a film historian. For me, writing a book about a film is mainly an excuse to do the research, to get inside a film and explore it, and find out what makes it tick. It’s invariably a fascinating journey, and if I can share that fascination with readers, I’m happy.

J.B.'s book list on American animation history

J.B. Kaufman Why did J.B. love this book?

During the 1960s, a wonderful periodical called Funnyworld began to chronicle animation history with unprecedented depth and eloquence. It was the work of Michael Barrier, and as it continued, it offered glimpses of the research he was conducting for a book to be published by Oxford Press. The book was finally finished and published more than three decades later, and reflects Barrier’s depth of insight, the thoroughness of his methods, and his dogged perseverance; his research included interviews with literally hundreds of artists from every American cartoon studio. Hollywood Cartoons stands as a definitive study of its subject, an essential reference (and enjoyable read) for any lover or serious student of classic animation.

By Michael Barrier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hollywood Cartoons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 cartoon favorites.
Beginning with black-and-white silent cartoons, Barrier offers an insightful account, taking us inside early New York studios and such Hollywood giants as Disney, Warner Bros., and MGM. Barrier excels at illuminating the creative side of animation-revealing how stories are put together, how animators develop a character, how technical innovations enhance the…


Book cover of They Drew as They Pleased, Volume 1: The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age, the 1930s

J.B. Kaufman Author Of Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

From my list on American animation history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like so many others, I discovered Disney in childhood. When I was five years old my parents took me to see a Disney movie in a theater, and the experience was so overwhelming that I still recall it vividly. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for classic films, a passion that has led me to a career as a film historian. For me, writing a book about a film is mainly an excuse to do the research, to get inside a film and explore it, and find out what makes it tick. It’s invariably a fascinating journey, and if I can share that fascination with readers, I’m happy.

J.B.'s book list on American animation history

J.B. Kaufman Why did J.B. love this book?

During the golden age of the Disney studio, the “concept artists” were those who created sketches and paintings to suggest mood, theme, and atmosphere for the inspiration of the production artists. Their works were used internally, during production, and sometimes were outstanding works of art in themselves, but were never seen by the public. Now Didier Ghez singles out four of those top concept artists, documents their careers, and provides a generous gallery of their drawings and paintings, almost all of them previously unpublished. If you enjoy this book—and you surely will—there’s more good news: this volume is the first of six, all retaining the same format and the same high standard of excellence, and following the trail of Disney history well into the 21st century.

By Didier Ghez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Drew as They Pleased, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the Walt Disney Studio entered its first decade and embarked on some of the most ambitious animated films of the time, Disney hired a group of "concept artists" whose sole mission was to explore ideas and inspire their fellow animators. They Drew as They Pleased showcases four of these early pioneers and features artwork developed by them for the Disney shorts from the 1930s, including many unproduced projects, as well as for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and some early work for later features such as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Introducing new biographical material about…


Book cover of Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries That Inspired the Golden Age of Animation

David A. Bossert Author Of Claude Coats: Walt Disney's Imagineer: The Making of Disneyland from Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond

From my list on Disney from a Disney historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a student of animation and Disney history. As a Disney historian, I find much joy in writing the stories that intrigue and peak my curiosity. Stories that haven't been told or explored in-depth are exciting to bring to life because readers are hungry for new information on the Disney universe. And so am I. In choosing my writing projects it's important that no one else has written more than a cursory amount or nothing at all on the subject matter. I equally like to read books that shed new light on topics that I’m interested in and doing so in an authoritative voice. I hope you will enjoy the selection of books listed here.    

David's book list on Disney from a Disney historian

David A. Bossert Why did David love this book?

Wild Minds is a wonderful and engrossing history of the early days of the animation industry. From Winsor McCay to Otto Messmer, Max Fleischer, and Walt Disney, this book twists and turns weaving a fantastic tapestry of the talented and highly competitive artists that invented animation techniques that are still being used today. Read about the choices Fleischer and Disney made that ended the former and vaulted the latter into stardom. A wild read for any animation history buff. 

By Reid Mitenbuler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wild Minds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The vivid and untold story of the Golden Age of classic animation and the often larger-than-life artists who created some of the most iconic cartoon characters of the twentieth century

In 1911, famed cartoonist Winsor McCay debuted one of the first animated cartoons, based on his sophisticated newspaper strip "Little Nemo in Slumberland," itself inspired by Freud's recent research on dreams. McCay is largely forgotten today, but he unleashed an art form, and the creative energy of artists from Otto Messmer and Max Fleischer to Walt Disney and Warner Bros.' Chuck Jones. Their origin stories, rivalries, and sheer genius, as…


Book cover of Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation

Jake S. Friedman Author Of The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age

From my list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an expert in animation history, having written three books on it, dozens of articles, and appeared on TV documentaries about it. I've also been a college professor for about 13 years, so I know what a story needs to maintain interest. These books have that. They're about different chunks of American history, some political, some artistic, all cultural. But they're also focused on the people who made the history, and showing how they got to where they were, and why they matter. These books let me walk in the shoes of subjects, and whisk me back to their time and place. If a book passes the empathy/time-machine test, it has won me over.

Jake's book list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching

Jake S. Friedman Why did Jake love this book?

A treasure trove of artwork, photos, and most of all, a record of the women of Disney history. Expertly and lovingly researched.

This book chronicles Disney animation behind-the-scenes throughout its entire run, decade by decade. Sometimes arduous, sometimes creative, but generally positive. Who would have thought that among the women of the Ink & Paint department were actual chemists mixing colors?! These women have been widely unsung, making them the true underdogs of Disney animation. And I’m always a sucker for an underdog.

Not to mention the few women early on who rose through the ranks to become designers and even animators, lest they be forgotten. This book breathed vibrant life into a wing of Disney animation that I personally had never explored before.  

By Mindy Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ink & Paint as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the earliest origins of animated imagery, the colorful link between paper and screen was created by legions of female artists working on the slick surface of celluloid sheets.

With calligraphic precision and Rembrandtesque mastery, these women painstakingly brought pencil drawings to vibrant, dimensional life. Yet perhaps as a reflection of the transparent canvas they created on, the contributions and history of these animation artists have remained virtually invisible and largely undocumented, until now.

Walt Disney's pioneering efforts in animation transformed novelty cartoons into visual masterpieces, establishing many "firsts" for women within the entertainment industry along the way. Focusing on…


Book cover of Drawn to Life

Ron Husband Author Of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

From my list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been drawing for over 68 years and carrying a sketchbook for over 60 of those years. I've seen success as an author, I'm an award-winning illustrator of books and magazines and animated many classic Disney features. Am I an expert on sketching humans and animals? ...No. I'm constantly learning in my effort to capture humans and animals in action by following the basic principles of drawing as they apply to quick sketching. My learning is aided by these books as I prepare lesson plans or the encouragement and inspiration found within their pages. I'm married to LaVonne, my high school sweetheart of 50 years, and have three grown children and six grandchildren.

Ron's book list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist

Ron Husband Why did Ron love this book?

This two-book volume of notes, drawings, wise sayings, and philosophy are and have been invaluable assets to the learning curve of myself and numerous others. I have these same handouts, in storage boxes, saved over the years. I was there in the lunch-time drawing classes Walt taught at the Disney Studio. Before each drawing session he would hand out these xerox pages. On occasion some of my sketches were included in these handouts. With humor and enthusiasm, Walt encouraged us to push the models pose, see the possibilities and more, all with a goal of making better animation drawings. 

By Walt Stanchfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drawn to Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the lessons that helped bring about a new golden age of Disney animation!

Published for the first time ever, Drawn to Life is a two volume collection of the legendary lectures from long-time Disney animator Walt Stanchfield. For over twenty years, Walt helped breathe life into the new golden age of animation with these teachings at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and influenced such talented artists as Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Glen Keane, and John Lasseter. These writings represent the quintessential refresher for fine artists and film professionals, and it is a vital tutorial for students who are now…


Book cover of The Illusion of Life

Ron Husband Author Of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

From my list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been drawing for over 68 years and carrying a sketchbook for over 60 of those years. I've seen success as an author, I'm an award-winning illustrator of books and magazines and animated many classic Disney features. Am I an expert on sketching humans and animals? ...No. I'm constantly learning in my effort to capture humans and animals in action by following the basic principles of drawing as they apply to quick sketching. My learning is aided by these books as I prepare lesson plans or the encouragement and inspiration found within their pages. I'm married to LaVonne, my high school sweetheart of 50 years, and have three grown children and six grandchildren.

Ron's book list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist

Ron Husband Why did Ron love this book?

I was privileged to see firsthand these two Disney Legends and their passions for the craft of storytelling through animation. I worked with Frank and Ollie as a young animation trainee. I learned the basics of animation by ‘in-betweening’ scenes primarily for Frank. In addition to ‘in-betweening’ for Frank, he would give me scenes to animate under his supervision. The principles and philosophy of the ‘Disney way’ are explained within the pages of this book and I was fortunate to have absorbed them firsthand.

Applying the principles of animation that Frank and Ollie presented has had a tremendous effect on all aspects of my art. My book, my personal award-winning illustrations, and a 38-year career with the Disney Studio bear witness of putting these principles into practice.

By Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Illusion of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most complete book on the subject ever written, this is the fascinating inside story by two long-term Disney animators of the gradual perfecting of a relatively young and particularly American art from, which no other move studio has ever been able to equal.

The authors, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, worked with Walt Disney himself as well as other leading figures in a half-century of Disney films. They personally animated leading characters in most of the famous films and have decades of close association with the others who helped perfect this extremely difficult and time-consuming art form. Not to…


Book cover of Animation: A World History: Volume I: Foundations - The Golden Age

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

From my list on understanding the history of animation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

David Perlmutter Why did David love this book?

Bendazzi is one of the world's leading authorities on all aspects of animation.

This multi-volume set is his magnum opus, detailing the art of animation as it has evolved over the course of decades on multiple continents.

Thoroughly researched and documented, it is essential for any serious animation scholar's shelf.

By Giannalberto Bendazzi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Animation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A continuation of 1994's groundbreaking Cartoons, Giannalberto Bendazzi's Animation: A World History is the largest, deepest, most comprehensive text of its kind, based on the idea that animation is an art form that deserves its own place in scholarship. Bendazzi delves beyond just Disney, offering readers glimpses into the animation of Russia, Africa, Latin America, and other often-neglected areas and introducing over fifty previously undiscovered artists. Full of first-hand, never before investigated, and elsewhere unavailable information, Animation: A World History encompasses the history of animation production on every continent over the span of three centuries.

Volume I traces the roots…


Book cover of My Life in 'Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century

David Perlmutter Author Of The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows

From my list on understanding the history of animation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in media history and speculative fiction. I have been enchanted by animation since childhood and followed many series avidly through adulthood. My viewing inspired my MA thesis on the history of animation, out of which grew two books on the history and theory of animation on television, America 'Toons In: A History of Television Animation (available from McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows (available from Rowman and Littlefield). Hopefully, others will follow.

David's book list on understanding the history of animation

David Perlmutter Why did David love this book?

The autobiography of the co-founder of the legendary Hanna-Barbera studio is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the history of animation in the 20th century.

Barbera, who was as gifted as a raconteur as he was an animator, writes without flinching about many aspects of his career, and the difficulties he and business partner William Hanna faced in building and sustaining their careers.

Not boring at all but highly entertaining.

By Joseph Barbera,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life in 'Toons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author recounts his life and career, explains what inspired him to draw animated cartoons, and describes his long partnership with Bill Hanna


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in animation, the Walt Disney Company, and traditionally animated filmss?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about animation, the Walt Disney Company, and traditionally animated filmss.

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Traditionally Animated Filmss Explore 18 books about traditionally animated filmss