I had given up hope on owning the book Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men by John Canemaker.
I dragged my feet when it was readily available (I was super-poor and in Grad School at the time) and when I finally went to order it a couple years ago it had gone out of print.
It was selling for between $200 and $300 on Amazon (and still is).
I’ve been kicking myself for three years because of that.
But I now possess a brand new copy of the book and it’s a mini-miracle how it happened.
I’ll tell you the awesome story of how I came into possession of this book in just a minute but first: Why am I so excited about this?
Milt Kahl Is A Legitimate Phenomenon:
My favorite part of the book is the Milt Kahl section. Although Frank and Ollie hold a special place in my heart, Milt is one of my favorite draftsmen ever… …up there with Michelangelo, Gustave Dore, Norman Rockwell, Glen Keane and Tony Fucile (if you don’t know ‘em Google ‘em).
And I LOVE these four roughs from one of Milt’s scenes in ‘101 Dalmatians.’ These animation roughs, as you may have guessed, are featured in the ‘Nine Old Men’ book.
This Looks Like A Job For ANIMATED GIF!
The first thing I did when I got the book was scan in those four drawings and “animate” them in Photoshop.
I overlaid the final scene in the movie to register the spacing but it was kind of pointless to try and match the timing since they’re just four images pulled willy-nilly out of the scene. …and animated gifs don’t give you much control over timing anyway…
But even without the matched timing, you can see Milt’s incredible drawing skill on display, his knack for mechanics and dimensionality and his sense of humor. Oh, and those ARCS! Incredible style in the movement.
Here’s How I got the book:
On Friday I get a text message from my wife who was visiting Michael Jackson’s grave at the Forest Lawn Cemetery with a friend who is visiting from out of town.
I look down and see a photo of the cover of the book (which I recognize instantly - even at 40 pixels wide) with a message saying “Do we own this?”
Did I mention I LOVE my wife?
I shouted an expletive out loud, alone in my house and then wrote her back…
How much is it?!
This is insane. The COVER price is $60!
Buy it! It’s out of print and it goes for between $200 and $300 on Amazon!
Ugh! What’s going on?!
Ten minutes pass and her friend calls me. They had left the museum store where the book was because they didn’t get my reply and the store was going to close in LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES and they were lost in the cemetery!
Now, you have to understand. The Forest Lawn Cemetery is IN BURBANK and the museum store is about five minutes from Disney, Warner Bros. etc… Needless to say, Burbank is CRAWLING with animation geeks who would freak out even more than I did if they saw that book.
I later found out that the book had just been sitting in the back room and the owner of the museum store had just set it out for sale THAT DAY. He even KNEW how rare the book was and he STILL only charged us $45 for it.
After talking to my wife’s friend, I hung up the phone and called the museum store. Out of breath and sounding like a lunatic, I begged Monica (the clerk) to stay open. We didn’t even have to convince her. She knew the book was special too and she immediately understood how much we wanted it.
Thank God for Monica. She kept the store open until my wife found her way out of the cemetery and back to the museum store.
This absolutely made my day. I was already flying high from a successful launch of my new digital painting class. But this was just icing on the cake.
This book is so awesome, folks. SO. AWESOME.
The Moral Of The Story?
Go the extra mile for a stranger next time you have the opportunity.