Recommended Author and Historian: Michael Barrier
Recently Michael Barrier has posted excellent interviews on his site with Robert Mckimson, Milt Kahl, John Hubley, and as of today Fred Kopietz. This reminded me of Barrier’s great research and spectacular books, which I can tell you he worked very hard and passionately on for decades. The post also inspired me to reread his masterpiece, Hollywood Cartoons released in 1999. Any serious student or professional in the field of animation should absolutely read this book. For over 25 years Michael Barrier and his colleague Milt Gray(excellent Hollywood animator with great ambitions and dedication to high quality cartoons) interviewed over 200 artists, from names as familiar as Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett to as obscure as Otto Messmer, Howard Swift, and Lynn Knapp. Let’s just say these are some of the most important, detailed, thoroughly thought-out, and indisputably accurate interviews in the history of the medium. Instead of asking the same status quo as well as obvious questions Barrier and Gray asked the artists very specific questions that really give way into how different aspects developed as well as what inspired the work of their marvelous work. These interviews were used for the writing of Hollywood Cartoons, which is from my knowledge the best analysis of cartoon acting, studio life, and what makes the best cartoons the level of excellence they are. Personally I think if you’re a student it’s very valuable and rewarding to learn how quality animation developed and the different challenges faced at different studios on various projects. This really helps you learn why certain things are important in animation and in learning how to solve problems as well as overcome challenges to make great filmmaking. I highly encourage you to read both Hollywood Cartoons and Michael’s biography on Walt Disney the Animated Man. His hard work, dedication, and passion for high quality animation is apparent in every word in each of those books. Also I encourage you to read through all the interviews on his website (check Funnyworld Revisited for interviews with Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones as well as excellent columns from the great Fleischer animator and Disney storyman Dick Huemer.) You will learn a ton of specific, inaccessible details and stories from the interviews as well as some insight into the development of some of the best films and characters ever to come out of Hollywood.