- Lately, Disney’s book divisions have done some wonderful work. The Archive series: Animation, Story, Design and soon to come Layout & Bg are all stunningly attractive books. These are top of the line items from Disney Editions. John Canemaker‘s Two Guys Named Joe also comes from the same division, and it’s a beautifully designed and attractively produced book.
But what about the lower end of the Disney Publishing empire? In the bygone days the animated features would be made into Little Golden Books utilizing artists from the studio. Mary Blair, Al Dempster, Bill Peet, and Eyvind Earle all contributed to books for the Western Publishing offshoot. Today there are still some Little Golden Books being made from Disney material. The Pixar product, such as Toy Story and Wall-E, as well the Disney Princesses and The Princess and the Frog all have editions.
However, I came upon something even lower down the pipeline. Here are three books that were produced for Walgreen’s pharmacy megastores. Heidi bought them 3 for $3.98. None of the books gives a hint of illustrator or writer. The illustrations, on a very cursory glance, look as though they might have been frame grabs pulled from the movies.
Bambi’s cover. It’s a nice watercolor evocative of the film. Though one
wonders why they played with the logo’s type. The “m” now has a
little swoosh on its lower right. Not part of any other version of this title.
They do a nice job of layout using this iconic image against the type.
Looking at this book, I’m amazed how many well-know still images there
are in the original feature. Those old guys knew what they were doing.
Most of the book is done in Long Shots. I’d say that’s
not the best choice for smallish illustrations. And the
airbrushed white is too opaque to work as a border; it
gets to look like a virus in the air.
All in all, I’d have to say it’s probably not a bad deal for parents looking for cheap books to entertain their children. The Bambi book holds up nicely. Peter Pan wastes a great story and 101 Dalmatians works hard to reduce their story into a small book you’d buy in a drug store.
The art and delicacy of the Little Golden Books is gone. Take a look at this, or this, or this. They all varied wildly from the film, but with a sense of originality and design. These three Walgreen books all try doggedly to resemble the film while losing the artistry in the book.