Experience Animation History in ‘Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder’

Books Crosspost Featured Reviews

My family had the opportunity to visit Disney’s California Adventure theme park the first month it opened. One attraction we enjoyed then and continue to enjoy after over 20 years is the Animation Academy. Here a Disney animator teachers guests to draw characters from Disney and Pixar animated movies. Our entire family will sit with paper and pencil and follow step-by-step how to draw Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Winnie the Pooh, and several other favorites. While I am not much of an artist, even I could do a pretty good job with the guidance of a professional. Not only did we learn how to draw characters, the animators would sometimes share stories or background about the drawings. Now you can have that same type of experience in your own home with the recently released book, Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder.

What Is Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder?

Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder is a new book which covers 100 years of Disney animation. Not only does it share the history, but also includes sketches of dozens of famous characters illustrating the basic steps in how they were drawn. The book is written by Jim Fanning, who is an internationally published author and Disney historian. In addition to historical works, Fanning has also written storybooks, comic books, audio productions, educational media, and other works for Disney and its licensees. Disney Legend Andreas Deja, who animated many famous Disney characters including Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Scar from The Lion King, and Lilo from Lilo and Stitch, wrote the forward and also provides exclusive behind-the-scene details. 

Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder is published by Walter Foster Publishing and is now available for sale from most book sellers including Amazon. The suggested retail price for the hard-cover, full color book is $40. 

The book’s introduction by author Jim Fanning. Image courtesy of Walter Foster Publishing.

The book is organized into 12 chapters with each covering a decade beginning with the 1920s and concluding with the future of Disney Storytelling. In addition to a narrative of that time period in the history of Disney animation, each chapter also includes sketches of several characters from that decade and explains the artistic style and how they were drawn. 

table of contents
The book is divided into decades as shown in the Table of Contents. Image courtesy of Walter Foster Publishing.

Here are some of the characters covered in the various chapters:

  • 1920s: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
  • 1930s: Donald Duck, the Big Bad Wolf, and Snow White
  • 1940s: Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi
  • 1950s: Cinderella, Alice, and Tinker Bell
  • 1960s: Cruella De Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Baloo from The Jungle Book, and The Sword and the Stone’s Arthur
  • 1970s: Marie from The Aristocats, Robin Hood, and Winnie the Pooh
  • 1980s: Tod and Copper from The Fox and the Hound and The Little Mermaid’s Ariel
  • 1990s: Aladdin and Jasmine, Simba from The Lion King, and Woody from Toy Story
  • 2000s: Stitch, Lightning McQueen from Cars, and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog
  • 2010s: Frozen’s Elsa and Anna, Moana, and Coco’s Miguel
  • 2020s: Ian and Barley from Onward, Encanto’s Mirabel, and Meilin from Turning Red
drawing Mickey
One of the characters you can learn to draw is Mickey Mouse. Image courtesy of Walter Foster Publishing.

In addition to the sketches of the various characters, each chapter also covers the history of Walt Disney and Disney animation during those decades. For example, the chapter on the 1930s discusses the Silly Symphonies short cartoons which included many that are still favorites today such as The Three Little Pigs and how music was a significant part of their success. This chapter also features stories about the very first full-length animated film, Snow White. The chapter on the 1980s showcases the return of the success of Disney Animation with The Little Mermaid and how the use of computers enhanced the animation process. The chapter on the 2020s brings readers to the current day  and the concluding chapter looks at the future of Disney Animation.

The opening of the chapter on the 1920s. Image courtesy of Walter Foster Publishing.

Why Should You Get Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder?

2023 is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of Disney Animation in July of 1923when Walt Disney arrived in Los Angeles. Later that year he and his brother Roy would sign a contract of what would become the Walt Disney Company. Disney is pulling out all the stops for the celebration they call Disney 100. Animated movies are being re-released in theaters, the Disney theme parks have special events, Disney+ is streaming classic cartoons, new merchandise is flooding the market–all with the Disney 100 logo. Therefore it is fitting that a book would be released to cover the past 100 years of Disney animation. I have been a big fan of Disney since my earliest years. I first learned to read with Disney’s Wonderful World of Reading series of books, one of which would arrive each month. As my mother would read them to me, my desire to read grew so that I could read them myself. Those books were filled with images from Disney Animation. We would go watch Disney movies in the theaters, watch the Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night, and since we lived in Southern California in my early years, we could make annual visits to Disneyland as a daytrip. While my parents were not what I would call Disney fans, their actions instilled a love for Disney in me that has increased in my adult life as father and now a grandfather. Even in my professional career, I have had the opportunities to work with, not for, various aspects of the Walt Disney Corporation as a member of the media. 

Therefore, I was very interested to read Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder. As I flipped through the pages, I enjoyed looking at the artwork and sketch drawings of some of the more famous Disney characters. However, I was fascinated by the stories about the history of Disney Animation and it progressed through the decades. While some of the stories may be familiar to Disney aficionados, others were new to me and provides a greater understanding of not only the advances the animators made over the years. but also some of the challenges they faced and overcame along the way. I especially like the sidebars throughout the book, many of which are written by Andreas Deja, a former Disney animator and Disney Legend. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder. In addition to providing a great look at the history of Disney Animation and providing sketch drawings of many characters which readers can use to help them draw, the latter half of the book provided a great reminiscence of the relationship between Disney and my own personal life. For those who are just wanted to learn how to draw Disney characters, there are other books which are dedicated to such and do a better job. However, for those who want to learn more about the history of Disney Animation and appreciate how the characters were drawn, then I highly recommend Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder. It has already joined my collection of books on all things Disney that will be enjoyed by my family for years to come. 

Be sure to check out this great book on Amazon

Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of Drawing 100 Years of Disney Wonder for review purposes.

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