Cartoonist, writers, social observers, and imagineers.
1. Walt Disney. In my early teens Walt was everybody’s dream uncle. The father of Mickey Mouse. The creator of feature length cartoons, live action adventure movies, The Mickey Mouse Club, Disneyland the TV program, and Disneyland the magic kingdom theme park known as the happiest place on Earth. And I won’t mention sitting next to Mr. Disney on the Main Street trolley at Disneyland and too scared to say anything.
The book: Walt Disney, an American original, by Bob Thomas, biography 1976 and 2017
Library of Congress annotation: Biography of the animator and entrepreneur based on interviews with family and friends and on private papers and letters. Recounts Disney’s life from his austere boyhood in Kansas City through his long-lived success.
A book about Walt and his brother Roy Disney slogging through many financial and emotional ups and downs. Seemingly almost to the brink of bankruptcy. But saved by very successful feature length cartoons like Snow White. With his obsessions with steam engine trains Walt comes up with the idea of building a theme park which included a full size steam engine train and much more. A most comprehensive book about the brothers Disney. Read it. You might like it.
2. I couldn’t wait to get home after junior high school and read the afternoon Los Angeles Mirror newspaper. Just inside and top of the second page was the comic strip Peanuts. All alone. No other comics on that page. All the others were in the comic section near the back pages. A fat headed boy named Charlie Brown wearing shorts and a zig-zag patterned sweater seemed to be the main character bantering with the dark hair snarky mouth Lucy Van Pelt. . Trailed behind with her little thumb sucking and crib blanket toting wise and philosophical brother. Drawn and scripted by Charles M Schulz.
The book: Schulz and Peanuts, a biography by David Michaelis 2007
Library of Congress annotation: Biography of Charles Schulz, the creator of the comic strip Peanuts, which he drew from 1950 until his death in 2000. Describes his childhood, the realization of his long-held desire to be a cartoonist, his family life, his two marriages, and the autobiographical aspects of his characters. Always in search for the ‘Little Red Hair girl.’ Schulz was Charlie Brown. Read it. You will never trust Lucy with the football again.
3. My junior year English teacher called me up front to her desk and asked me to read aloud a book to the class. I don’t recall the title but it was written by Dr. Seuss. Maybe Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham. Not sure. It was the first time I had ever heard of Dr. Seuss.
The book: Becoming Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel, the making of an American Imagination. By Brian J Jones 2019.
Library of Congress annotation: Biography of children’s author and illustrator (1904-1991) famed for his simple but engaging rhymes and whimsical drawing style. Discusses Geisel’s more radical side, which can be seen in the themes of The Lorax. Also covers his writing process–which could last years.
My favorite is ‘The Butter Battle’ an anti-war theme written by Geisel in 1984. Mostly about the nuclear arms race but written with humorous rhyme and fantastical weaponry. Enjoy your reading.