Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recommended Reading: John Canemaker's Felix the Cat: the Twisted Tale of the World's Most Famous Cat

It's not Canadian, but that doesn't mean I can't recommend it to Canadians.
This is a great book for those of you in Animation Colleges across our nation. If your experience was anything like mine, you're being given a lot of "how things are done" , but very little of why they're done that way. Context is in short supply in the Animation schools here in Canada. I remember being handed X-Sheets, board templates and field guides and feeling quite overwhelmed by the abstract-ness of it all. These are your tools, I was told. And I felt limited and constrained by them.
Years later, I tumbled across this book on the shelf at Dynomight Cartoons in Ottawa (the Cambridge Street location for any interested). Turns out it was put there by Nick Cross. Any of you who follow this blog will have heard his name before, and it should come as no surprise that he was educating himself on the history of the medium. It was an absolute eye-opener. Sure it told an entertaining story of an artist and a salesman and the meteoric rise of a cartoon cat to international celebrity, but it gave me context. It taught me about why we do things the way we do them and about the men and women who figured it out the first time. It humanized the process of making animation.
As far as I'm concerned, this book should be required reading for all young aspiring animators and should be on the curriculum at every respectable Animation College.
Go get a copy.

A couple of reviews can be found here and here.

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