So this review is a bit late to the game seeing as this book came out back in 2006; a mere 6 years ago. Happily, Cartoon Modern is the kind of book that doesn’t age and not just because it deals with a period far in the past!
For the uninitiated, Cartoon Modern is concerned with that period in American animation spanning the late 1940s through till the early 60s, when the new-found prosperity and hope of the postwar era combined with the desire to break the established boundaries of animation, resulting revolution in design that has yet to be matched.
We’re all familiar with the style, after all, it’s only influenced animation for the last 60 years or so, and of course, modern hits like Ren & Stimpy owe a lot to the culture of the era too.
So what is Cartoon Modern? Well, it’s not strictly an art book, although it is brimming with lots of wonderful eye candy and it’s not strictly a written history either, although it does contain lots of detail about the history and provocateurs of the style.
Instead, author Amid Amidi gives a comprehensive overview of the period that combines general information, details of the various studios on both coasts and notes on individual animators highlighting their contributions. Naturally UPA consumes a large chapter, but even that is broken up with many notes on the individual artists that contributed so greatly to that studio’s remarkable success.
Cartoon Modern is an easy read that is greatly aided by the presence of many stunning images from the time that continue to appear fresh today. Admittedly I could have said that I had an interest in 50s animation before this, but having read this book, I can safely say that my interest was shallow at best.
I now have a greater desire to learn about the period and Cartoon Modern has certainly played a part in that.
At 200 gorgeous pages, Cartoon Modern is essential to the bookcase of anyone with even a fledgling interest in animation.