Cover Image: Wild Minds

Wild Minds

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Member Reviews

Really enjoyed this history of the early days of UA Animation told largely through the major figures at Disney, Warner Brothers, and Fleischer (Betty Boop, Popeye, and Superman).  You really got a feel for who they were, how they approached art and commerce, and where the characters came from.  The sections on Tex Avery, Chick Jones, and Mel Blanc at Warner Brothers were really interesting (Warner Brothers often had no idea what to do with an animation studio so they had some interesting freedom to be creative gadflies).  The book touches on art and technological advances but spends more time on labor politics, (unexpectedly) rowdy behavior, and the social impact the cartoons in both the film age and the Saturday-morning TV eras.  One thing I hadn't realized is that a lot of those classic cartons were chopped up and messed up for TV and didn't necessarily look like what was shown at the movies (either for inappropriate content - the cartoons were originally aimed at adults! - or because the studios wanted more content for TV).  A really entertaining book with an engaging and entertaining narrator.
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* Likely my GoodReads non-fiction pick for best books of 2021; depending on publication date eligibility *

I was approved to review an advance read copy of the audiobook; I was so intrigued by the book that I also wanted to see the pictures and sketches that I knew would be provided in the book; so I also bought the book.  How is that for a recommendation?  And I'm glad that I took the time to review the physical book and listen to the audiobook.

The book is presented sequentially and begins with how animation began, through the days when television was invented and ends in the 1960's.

This book could be used to provide entertainment for a class in Diversity or Political Correctness; wow ... animators are constantly poking boundaries (and quite creatively).  I had no idea that Warner Brothers made a 7 minute all-black parody of Snow White titled Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs. 

Constantly the animators were being recruited by the competition.  

It is so refreshing to enjoy learning about such interesting topic.  Who didn't grow up watching animation, Disney films and Saturday morning cartoons?  My favorite in grade school was Popeye; it was interesting finding out how the character evolved.  I could go on and on, but I really loved the whole book.  

The audiobook is 13 hours and 45 minutes long; the hardcover is 432 pages.  I learned a lot about animation by reading/listening to this audio; but I'm sure that this had been edited and that this probably could have been double in size.  But for me, it was the perfect amount of material.  The narration of this audiobook by Kevin R. Free was excellent!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author/Reid Mitenbuler and the publisher/Grove Atlantic (Atlantic Monthly Press) for the opportunity to review the advance review copy of this audiobook. Audio publication date is 1 Dec 2020.
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I recommend listening to Reid Mitenbuler's history of animation with a laptop nearby so you can look up the animations as they are mentioned. I grew up loving Mickey Mouse and remember Felix the Cat, so learning about their origins and predecessors was fascinating. Kevin R. Free's narration is a bit soothing, as well.
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This book was so interesting! I requested this book because I love cartoon. I grew up loving the classics and my affection for the art has only grown as I aged so I knew this would be interesting to be me but I had no idea how much!
  I learned so much about animation and those creative minds behind some of the biggest names in the business. I was fascinated throughout the whole book and while it was nonfiction it was very fast paced and I felt full of action. 
  If I had any complaints it would be that I would have liked to learn about some of the women who worked in animation. I know they were few at the time and not exactly a big players. I still would have been interested to learn more about some of the kick and women who managed to fight their way onto the scene. Other than that I really just couldn't get enough of this book!
  Thank you to Netgalley for an early review copy.
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