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Tons of Toontown's secrets revealed in "Animation Magazine: 20 Year Collection"

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Tons of Toontown's secrets revealed in "Animation Magazine: 20 Year Collection"

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You have to admit that it's a pretty amazing time to be an animation fan.

By that I mean: The best reviewed film of 2007 was "Ratatouille." With "Enchanted" and "How to Hook Up Your Home Theater," we're getting our very first glimpses of the revival of hand-drawn animation at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Hell, even home premieres took a giant leap forward in the past year with the release of "Hellboy: Blood & Iron" and "Superman: Doomsday."

Of course, to get an appreciation of how far animation has really come, particularly over the past two decades ... Well, that's why you may want to have a copy of "Animation Magazine: 20 Year Collection" (Jean M. Thoren, October 2007) handy.

Now don't let the title of this handsome hardcover throw you. Sure, "20 Year Collection" does take a look back at the history of "Animation Magazine." But magazine editor Ramin Zahed was determined to do more than just put together your standard anniversary vanity publication. You know, the usual collection of memorable magazine covers. Which is why Ramin contacted 16 of Toontown's true heavyweights. Filmmakers like John Lasseter & Bill Plympton, animation historians like Charles Solomon and Leonard Maltin. Even voice performers like Nancy Cartwright. And Zahed then asked each of these talented folks to contribute an essay to the "20 Year Collection" where they could muse on the past, present and future of animation.

The end result is a 320-page coffee table book that's actually a very interesting read. I mean, where else are you going to hear Peter Lord (i.e. The co-founder of Aardman Animation)'s thoughts on why so many of the most recent CG films have under-performed at the box office?

"CG is the darnest thing. What most people feel is that there are too many films being made that look alike. All these releases are too close to each other. It would be the equivalent of what would happen in the live-action world if everyone just made romantic comedies. Now everyone is making these kid-friendly films, while aspiring to catch older audiences as well. Sometimes (these movies) all feel alarmingly alike. How do we break out of this cycle? We can't keep rehashing the same formulas over and over again, because we'll kill the whole thing ... We should alll be careful not to kill the goose that gives us the golden eggs."

Copyright 2007 Animation Magazine.
All Rights Reserved

Or -- better yet -- Burny Mattinson recalling his discussions with Michael Eisner. Back when the then-new head of Walt Disney Productions was quizzing this animation vet about "Basil of Baker Street." Wondering whether or not he should actually greenlight this new animated feature:

"Michael asked me, 'How much is this going to cost?' I said, 'About $35 million, and it'll take three or four years.' He said, 'Hell, my contract'll be up before you get it done: you've got $10 million and one year."

It's not often that you came across a book like "Animation Magazine: 20 Year Collection," where you get unfiltered stories from people who are actually in the know. But given that Zahed and his AM team have been dealing with a lot of these filmmakers for more than a decade now, it's easy to understand why these folks would then willing to share some of Toontown's more intimate secrets with Ramin.

So if you ever wondered what John Lasseter thinks of "South Park" ...

".... I remember seeing the short 'The Spirit of Christmas' by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I think they are terrific filmmakers ..."

... or wanted to know what Walt Disney paid himself back in the early 1950s ...

"Every Friday, Dolores Voight, Walt's secretary would call me upstairs and I would pick up Walt's check -- for $300. I'd get it cashed and bring the money back, a lot of times Walt would be there and I'd give it to him."

... "Animation Magazine: 20 Year Collection" is really the book for you. So help commemorate the 20th anniversary of this popular industry publication by picking up a copy today.

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  • Walt's paycheck was $300 ... wow!, I bet Michael Eisner was making more than $300 a minute when he groused about the budget and timeline for "Basil of Baker Street."

    Of course, Walt wasn't going to rape his company's coffers ... he needed the company to be prosperous so that he would have the seed money to fund his dreams and greater aspirations.

  • According to a historical currency converter I just used, in 2006,  $300.00  from 1951 is worth:

    $2,327.94 using the Consumer Price Index

    $1,973.71 using the GDP deflator using the value of consumer bundle *

    $3,736.09 using the unskilled wage

    $6,003.26 using the nominal GDP per capita

    $11,666.40 using the relative share of GDP

    *Data for consumer bundle is only available till 2005.

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