Books We Love

The Art of Shrek Forever After

By Jerry Schmitz

[Insight Editions, $24.95]

The fourth installment of DreamWorks’ tales of the grumpy and lovable green ogre has surprised many jaded critics because it looks great in 3-D, has a lot of clever surprises and is strangely poignant. Luckily, long-time animation insider Jerry Schmitz has done a fantastic job of interviewing director Mike Mitchell, studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and the other key creative forces behind this summer’s mega tent pole and collected some of the eye-popping concept art and illustrations created for his terrific movie. Featuring a forward by Cameron Diaz (the voice of Princess Fiona), this gem of a book belongs in every animation lover’s bookshelf. After all, who wouldn’t want to learn more about Walt Dohrn, the veteran animator who steals the show with his turn as the movie’s hilarious villain, Rumpelstiltskin?

The Art of Toy Story 3

By Charles Solomon

[Chronicle Books, $40]

How does the notion of owning 250 pieces of concept art grab you? Well, if you buy the new Art of Toy Story 3, all those great illustrations of Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang from this summer’s eagerly anticipated Disney/Pixar movie outing will find a home on your coffee table. Penned by well-respected animation historian (and Animag contributor) Charles Solomon, this fine tie-in volume also includes a “special gatefold” of color scripts and an extended introduction showcasing the art and story development of the original Toy Story and Toy Story 2. In addition, director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson provide an insightful foreword, which offers insights on the joys and challenges of adding a third chapter to the beloved franchise. The book’s preface is written by none other John Lasseter, who directed the first Cowboy Woody and Buzz Lightyear adventure, the movie that launched the Pixar empire and the CG revolution 15 years ago.

The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons

By Jerry Beck

[Insight Editions, $24.95]

Ask any die-hard animation fans about their favorite Looney Tunes shorts and chances are you will get a definite answer. Whether it’s What’s Opera, Doc?, Duck Amuck, One Froggy Evening or some of the more obscure Warner Bros. shorts that were made between 1929 and 1970, these charming works of animated genius hold a special place in our hearts. That’s why it’s such a great idea to compile a book devoted to what many fans consider that best 100 Looney Tunes shorts of all-time. Penned by prolific animation historian Jerry Beck, with commentaries from notable authors, animators and comic-book writers including Mark Evanier, Jeff Smith, Charles Carney, Paul Dini, Mark Newgarden, John Canemaker and Leonard Maltin, this 256-page hardcover features all kinds of fun facts, artwork and expert guest commentary. ‘Believe it or not, we don’t rank the films in numeric order,’ says Beck. ‘We list the cartoons alphabetically, because we think they are all number one! If I had to do it over again, I’d rename the book The 100 Looney Tunes Cartoons You Absolutely MUST See Before You Die!. That’s really what the book is’a guide to the essential Warner Bros. cartoons.’

Of course, we had to ask Jerry about his absolute favorite Looney Tunes short. ‘My favorite? That’s hard to say, but I can narrow it down to the ones directed by Chuck, Friz, Bob, Tex and Frank Tashlin!’ Forget the beach! The perfect vacation plan this summer will include thumbing through this colorful guide as you watch Looney Tunes Golden Collection editions on DVD!

Flash Cinematic Techniques

By Chris Jackson

[Focal Press, $49.95]

When Apple’s iPad was introduced last month, many animators were pulling their hair out because Mr. Job’s new toy doesn’t like to play with Flash. The good news is that everyone believes that sooner or later that major glitch is going to resolve itself because the multimedia tool has played a huge role in making 2D animation accessible to the public, as well as integrating video into web pages. Chris Jackson’s excellent new Flash primer does a great job of patiently focusing on important design principles and the effective methods of storytelling as they apply to the medium. Using a great number of illustrations and examples, Jackson discusses various ways to improve a project’s look and structure as well as incorporating virtual camera movements, simulated 3D spaces, lighting techniques, character animation and interactivity. If you get heart palpitations each time you think about taking your toon idea from paper to pixel to vectors, Jackson is the man who can calmly take you out of your tech nightmare.