28 books like Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation

By John Canemaker,

Here are 28 books that Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation fans have personally recommended if you like Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation. 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 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 The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals

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?

Ordinarily I don’t believe in “greatest” comparisons, but this book is different. Animation historian extraordinaire Jerry Beck surveyed more than a thousand historians and animation professionals to ascertain their picks, compiled the results into a list of fifty “greatest” cartoons, and then created this book with a separate entry for each film. It’s both informative and an endless delight, with well-illustrated celebrations of classic cartoon gems from the Disney, Warner, Fleischer, and MGM studios as well as the smaller, more obscure companies. You may disagree with the rankings or the choices, but this is undeniably a deep dive into a cornucopia of treasures. And Jerry didn’t stop there; fifteen years later he followed up with a similar but more specialized volume, The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes.

By Jerry Beck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 50 Greatest Cartoons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Showcases some of the greatest cartoons of all time, including characters from Disney, Warner Brothers, Fleischer Studio, Walter Lantz, MGM, and others.


Book cover of Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons

Susan J. Napier Author Of Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art

From my list on if you love animation or Japanese popular culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Goldthwaite Professor of Rhetoric and Japanese at Tufts University. I’ve lived in Japan for 8 years beginning when I was 17 when I travelled to Tokyo and lived on my own, teaching English, and studying Japanese. I became a scholar of Japanese literature, and then in the 1990s became interested in Japanese animation (anime) and in animation in general. I’ve written five books on either Japanese literature or anime-related subjects, and I am currently working on a project comparing the animated films of the Walt Disney Studio with the films of Studio Ghibli.

Susan's book list on if you love animation or Japanese popular culture

Susan J. Napier Why did Susan love this book?

This is a book for animation aficionados who really want to think about the nuts and bolts of animation. As someone with a tendency to revel in the world building of the finished product of animation, be it a Miyazaki movie or a Disney film, this book re-orients me to the materiality of the medium itself. And yes, traditional animation is a material medium! Frank looked at thousands of animation cells, literally frame by frame, and in her book provides us with a glimpse of the enormous labor, expertise, and occasional mistakes that go into creating even a seven-minute short subject. She brings back from the past the many women who were the inkers and in-betweeners in American animation studios and makes us realize the enormous effort (and tedium) that went into producing the fluid and flexible cartoons that Hollywood is known for.

Along the way, Frank touches on the…

By Hannah Frank,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At publication date, a free ebook version of this title will be available through Luminos, University of California Press's Open Access publishing program. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more.

In this beautifully written and deeply researched study, Hannah Frank provides an original way to understand American animated cartoons from the Golden Age of animation (1920-1960). In the pre-digital age of the twentieth century, the making of cartoons was mechanized and standardized: thousands of drawings were inked and painted onto individual transparent celluloid sheets (called "cels") and then photographed in succession, a labor-intensive process that was divided across scores of artists and…


Book cover of The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation

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?

This book celebrates the artistry and legacy of Walt Disney’s key talents not only in animation but in the theme park attraction design. Mary Blair’s influence can be seen in animated classics like Disney’s Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Peter Pan (1953) to Disneyland’s It’s a Small World and the mural at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World, just to name a few. In a studio dominated by men, Blair rose to the top based on her talent for design and color styling. A wonderfully written book that showcases an artistic genius who brought magic to every project she worked on at Disney.   

By John Canemaker, Mary Blair (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art and Flair of Mary Blair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For more than a dozen years, a soft spoken, unassuming woman dominated design at The Walt Disney Studios with a joyful creativity and exuberant color palette that stamped the look of many classic Disney animated features, including Cinderella and PeterPan.
Favorite theme park attractions, most notably the It's A Small World boat ride, originally created for the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, were also among her designs. Now the story behind one of Walt's favorite artists is celebrated in this delightful volume of whimsical art and insightful commentary. In her prime, Mary Blair was an amazingly prolific American artist who…


Book cover of Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man

Stephen Silver Author Of The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design

From my list on to inspire you to sketch.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stephen Silver has been a professional working artist, character designer, and teacher in the industry for over 30 years. He developed intellectual properties for some of the largest media companies in the world; such as Disney, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Sony, MAD Magazine, Reel FX, Bento box, Hasbro, Universal, DreamWorks, and more. Stephen is responsible for the visual character development and design of some of animation’s most iconic shows; including Disney’s Kim Possible, Nickelodeon’s Danny Phantom, and Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series, to name a few.

Stephen's book list on to inspire you to sketch

Stephen Silver Why did Stephen love this book?

This book is filled with artwork and sketches that are filled with energy. I love that Mark Davis offers a variety of different styles and development roughs that are so inspiring and make you want to sketch. The value I received from acquiring this book was giving me a greater sense of appreciation for playing with different mediums.

By Disney Book Group, Marc Davis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Walt Disney once said of Marc Davis, “Marc can do story, he can do character, he can animate, he can design shows for me. All I have to do is tell him what I want and it’s there! He’s my Renaissance man.” As such, Davis touched nearly every aspect of The Walt Disney Company during his tenure. He began as an animator, whose supporting work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi inspired Walt to promote him to full animator.

In the ensuing years, Davis breathed life into a bevy of iconic Disney characters, including Cinderella, Alice (in…


Book cover of Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire

Kaye Baillie Author Of Railroad Engineer Olive Dennis

From my list on girl-power picture book biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning children’s author who lives in Australia. I love reading and writing picture books, and although I mostly write fiction, I also love writing biographies. I am drawn to stories about women who have achieved something inspirational and unexpected and who may have not received wide recognition at the time or that any recognition has faded from public knowledge. I find it exciting to work with a team, that is the illustrator and the publisher, to create books that will find their way to children and allow them to imagine and feel another person’s life, and to see that everyday people do amazing things.

Kaye's book list on girl-power picture book biographies

Kaye Baillie Why did Kaye love this book?

This colorful and joyous cover enticed me to learn about Disney artist, Mary Blair. As a child, Disneyland was a regular part of my television viewing in Australia. Had I known back then that girls could be anything they wanted, I would have been excited by the possibilities. Mary Blair created eye-popping work full of delicious colors and adventurous ideas. Seen as too unusual, Mary’s work was stymied, and she left Disney. But then Walt Disney had a special project and he knew Mary was the perfect artist for the job. I love this book for its kid-friendly vibrant illustrations and I hope children will see that each one of them deserves to shine in their own way. 

By Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, Brigette Barrager (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pocket Full of Colors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, and Brigette Barrager team up to tell the joyful and unique story of the trailblazing Disney artist Mary Blair.

Mary Blair lived her life in color: vivid, wild color.

From her imaginative childhood to her career as an illustrator, designer, and animator for Walt Disney Studios, Mary wouldn’t play by the rules. At a time when studios wanted to hire men and think in black and white, Mary painted twinkling emerald skies, peach giraffes with tangerine spots, and magenta horses that could fly.

She painted her world.


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 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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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

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

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