Thursday, 27 November 2014


to all my American friends

Friday, 31 October 2014

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Monday, 14 July 2014

MICKEY MONDAYS: Manifestations of the Mouse

Mickey Mouthfuls... A delicious box of MM chocs for my birthday!!


Friday, 20 June 2014


Some of us just can't get enough of the wonderful art of Mary Blair (1911-1978), whose concept designs made a significant contribution to the look of several Walt Disney classic animated features and, later, elements of the Disney theme park attractions.

Much delight therefore in a new book from John Canemaker, Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair cataloguing the current special exhibition of the same title at the Walt Disney Family Museum...

The cover illustration from Mary Blair's concept art for the 1951 feature, Alice in Wonderland, is indicative of her hallmark style: dynamic in design and daringly vibrant in the use of colour.

 Although seemingly at odds with the Disney house-style (dictated by the predominant 'roundness' of animation art), Blair's dramatic layouts that focus on scale and boldly juxtaposition shapes into almost impressionistic collages had a powerful visual impact on a raft of Disney films including the South American features, Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros...

...several of the compilation films, such as Make Mine Music, Melody Time and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad, the live-action features Song of the South and So Dear To My Heart and a number of special shorts, notably, Susie the Little Blue Coupe and The Little House...

Blair's work for such films is well represented in this beautifully produced book as are her powerful designs for the trio of features that represent Disney's second 'Golden Age' in the 1950s: Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan...

Blair later returned to Disney to help design the it's a small world attraction for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, subsequently a permanent exhibit in Disneyland and all the Disney Magic Kingdoms...

Her designs of children in national costume (along with assorted animals and international landmarks) were perfect for the boat-ride through a world of peace and harmony devised by the Disney studio for the Pepsi-Cola sponsored UNICEF pavilion. Here are Walt and Mary with some of her drawings...

The book rounds out our appreciation of Blair with the inclusion of examples of her pre-Disney illustrative art, advertising art, fabric and mural designs and her notable work for the much-loved Little Golden Books...

John Canemaker's expert commentary combines an authoritative, critical text with an enthusiastic analysis and interpretation of Blair's art and a perceptive appreciation of its contribution to the world of Disney.

Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair by John Canemaker is published by the Walt Disney Family Foundation Press at $40 (but available at various on-line stores at considerably less).

! American readers can order a copy of Magic, Color, Flair here and British readers here.

A perfect companion volume will be found in John Canemaker's earlier work, The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation, originally published in 2003 and now updated and reissued by Disney Editions at $45.

Although there is a small degree of image overlap between the two books (and the colour reproduction of some of the pieces here is somewhat lackluster) it contains another wide selection of exceptional art that only celebrates Blair's talent but demonstrates exactly why Walt Disney was so excited by and enamoured of her striking visual imagination...


! American readers can order a copy of The Art and Flair of Mary Blair here and British readers here.

The exhibition Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco remains on show until 7 September 2014 and you can find more information including the facility to book tickets, here.


You can see more of Mary Blair's art on my Brian Sibley Blog.

Monday, 26 May 2014


This from Didier Ghez's Disney History (vis Gary Apgar): the cover of Men Only (November 1951) featuring Walt Disney as 'Coverman...

...proving how difficult it can be to successfully cartoon a cartoonist – even for the hugely experienced Edward Sylvester Hynes

Here's the cover story...

Monday, 17 March 2014

MICKEY MONDAYS: Manfestations of the Mouse

May the luck of Michael O'Mouse be with you today!

Thursday, 6 March 2014


However much you may think you know about Disney, Jim Korkis knows more and in his latest volume, The Vault of Walt Volume 2 he serves up another endlessly diverting potpourri of stories and anecdotes about Walt, his films, TV shows and parks. Like it's predecessor this is a classic bedside book – the perfect volume for dipping into with the guaranteed promise that wherever you dip you'll find some surprising new fact about movies, characters and theme park attractions that had somehow previously passed you by.

There are so many good reads in this book that it is hard to pick favourites: not surprisingly, I guess, I was particularly interested to read Jim's take on the the creative collision between Walt and P L Travers over Mary Poppins (now practically perfectly mythologised by the film Saving Mr Banks) but I also relished the behind-the-scenes detail on the making of those iconic Mickey Mouse projects, Steamboat Willie and 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' sequence in Fantasia; the unfilled plans for Disney's idea of a train-travelling diorama show featuring scenes of turn-of-the-century American life and the background to the design and building of EPCOT's Spaceship Earth.

I digress for a moment, here, to relate how, on the night of the Epcot opening party, I was (due to my friendship with Disney legends John Hench and Marty Sklar) a lone British journalist amoung the tuxedoed VIPs (my colleagues were being entertained in 'Rosie O'Grady's' in downtown Orlando) I was wandering past Spaceship Earth when I bumped into Ray Bradbury and one of his daughters and he asked if I'd like to ride "his ride" with them! An unforgettable evening...

Anyway, back to Korkisland: every reader will have favourite sections, for me the best are those providing insights into the man, Walt Disney. This provides an important contribution to American (and world) culture as time marches on and only sexagenarians are be able – with authority – to say, yes, Virginia, there is (or was) a Walt Disney!

I'll leave the last word to the luminaries (well, all bar one!) who provide the opening testimonials for this excellent book...

Not Disney, but classic animation...

Did you grow up with Bullwinkle and Rocky. George of the Jungle, Dudley Do-Right and (the original) Mr Peabody and Sherman? These classic '50s TV cartoons were the creations of American animation producer, Jay Ward and are now celebrated in a new book, The Art of Jay Ward Productions.

Researched and written by veteran animator, Darrell Van Citters (Disney – Fox and the Hound – Warner Bros and his own studio Renegade Animation) who previously wrote the definitive book on the making of UPA's Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol, this is a sumptuous volume of 352 pages, jam-packed with character-sketches storyboard drawings, concept art, backgrounds and meticulously detailed information on the exceptional team of artists and talents who worked with Jay Ward to give us 'Fractured Fairy Tales', 'Tom Slick' and 'Super Chicken', and whose work ranks alongside the best of the Hollywood cartoon studios.

A 'must' for all animation fans, this engaging slice of cartoon life, brilliantly captures an era in the revolutionary graphic style so redolent of the 1950s and the zany scripts by Ward's co-producer, Bill Scott, that combined wacky knockabout fun with sophisticated puns.

And an added bonus: the book has a Foreword by the voice of Rocky (and sundry Disney characters, including Lucifer, Witch Hazel and Magica De Spell) –– the one and only Miss June Foray!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

MICKEY MONDAYS: Manifesttions of the Mouse

Back in November, I announced the publication of Jim Korkis' latest publication The Book of Mouse. I have now had a chance to read the volume and want to tell you just what a brilliant addition this will make to any Disney fan's library.

People occasionally review books by saying that they are "The last word..." on their subject, although it is seldom true! In the case of The Book of Mouse it will only be the last word for a while because some new aspect or development of Mickey's seemingly unstoppable career will emerge that will, at least demand, an updated edition. But, meanwhile, it is the most thorough examination of the life and times and of the first and most enduring Disney icon.

Jim, who has a Sherlockian talent for sorting and sifting facts, has applied his talent to one of the most chronicled characters in the cartoon pantheon. The book is crammed with detailed information about all Mickey's films with in-depth discussion about key productions such as Steamboat Willie (do you know about Mickey's disappearing pilot's cap or what brand of tobacco Pete is chewing?) and Fantasia (who else has noted that his Sorcerer's Apprentice costume echoes that of Dopey whom some people at the studio were pushing to be cast in the role instead of Mickey?) as well as a surprising filmography of Mouse movies that never got made.

And that's just for starters, Jim has marshalled information on every aspect of the Mouse's career: on the big and the small screen, as leader of Club (or, in fact, clubs because Annette & Co, were not the first youngsters to rally round the Mouse) and in the Disney Parks through to his appearances at the Oscars and various forays into advertising.

Like every Korkis book: it is a perfect bedside read: whenever you pick it up and wherever you open it, you'll learn something that you didn't know you didn't know! What's more – along with those endearing oft-told anecdotes – you'll be surprised to find the author relentlessly exploding a number of popular 'facts' as nothing more than charming examples of Mouse Mythology. The Truth is Told about the creation of Mickey Mouse, his fluctuating birth-date, his alleged honouring by the United Nations and many another Mouse Tale that have been inaccurately perpetuated across decades by those who have previously written about Mickey's life story – including (I admit with abashed humility) myself!

It's a pity that – for whatever reason – Disney couldn't have officially got behind this book as it would have been enhanced by the inclusion of illustrations; nevertheless, that doesn't diminish its value to Disney scholars and fans alike. At a time when so many Disney books are appearing, it's not always easy to know if every new volume is truly essential reading; in the case of Jim Korkis' The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse there is no question about it: however Mouse-wise you think you are, there's plenty here to extend and enhance your Mousekaknowledge!

You can order your copy from or