Sunday, July 19, 2009

The MegaCollector's Preston Blair

Click on thumbnails for full-page images

No big shocker that the MegaCollector has a signed first edition of Advanced Animation, Preston Blair's Walter Foster book.

But for those familiar with the seminal work by the well-known animator and textbook author, there are some surprises inside that particular edition ...

Unless you also own a first edition, you won't be familiar with the images above and below. That's because after the edition appeared, a friendly MGM lawyer reminded the Walter Foster people that they hadn't gotten permission to use the characters. So subsequent editions omitted the cat and mouse (which, we do not hesitate to remind you, are TM and © Turner Entertainment), in favor of generic characters of Blair's own design.

True story: many years ago I was a teaching assistant to an AAI animation class taught by Charlie Downs. One of Charlie's first assignments was to draw a horse-run cycle. As I shot the pencil tests, even my uneducated eye caught that there was an identical gremlin at the same point in each cycle.

A little detective work on Charlie's part determined the culprit. The students had cribbed from a horse run cycle on the cover of Blair's Cartoon Animation -- but two of the drawings were missing from the cover art!


Scotty said...

Would MGM have really sued Walter Foster for this? Couldn't they have come to some kind of agreement? After all its just cartoon characters in a how to draw series.

Kevin Koch said...

Stephen Worth published a full reprint of the original Preston Blair book over on the ASIFA Animation Archive site a while back. I'll see if I can find the link.

The original version really is a lot more useful than the revised version. It's a shame Blair/Foster had to change it.

Floyd Norman said...

My grandmother bought me the original Preston Blair book when I was twelve years old. I had told her I wanted to be an animator, and she thought that was pretty cool.

On the other hand, my parents had no idea what an animator was.

Kevin Koch said...

Here's the promised link:

First Edition of Advanced Animation

David said...

The way I heard it the use of the MGM characters in the original Preston Blair book was based on a handshake agreement between Blair and MGM Animation boss Fred Quimby. Then later it turned out that MGM lawyers got wind of it and decided Quimby had no such powers to grant the use of those characters , so the original edition was withdrawn and Walter Foster had Blair redraw the pages that had the MGM characters.

Interestingly, Walt Disney never objected to Blair's use of his (Blair's) animation drawings of the Owl from Bambi which have been in the book from the beginning and are still in it to this day. Nor did Disney ever object to Blair's use of the rough experimental drawings he did of the alligator and hippo ballet dancers from Fantasia. Some editions have a discreet "© WDP" on those pages , but apparently Disney never had a problem with it.

Chris Sobieniak said...

Nowadays it would've been kinda nice if Walter Foster Publishing would try to get in touch with Warner Bros. over possibly allow those drawings to go back into a later edition of the book, though I doubt that'll ever happen.

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