Monday, June 1, 2015

Between Books - Son of Faster Cheaper

When I opened the envelope and saw the book I knew Son of Faster Cheaper was different than most Between Books.  This half-sized book reminded me of the cartoon books that I would often check out as a kid collecting newspaper comics.  And that was really not where the parallel ended.

Son of Faster Cheaper: A Sharp Look Inside the Animation Business by Floyd Norman showcases cartoons drawn by Norman during his 50 plus years in animation at studios including Disney, Hannah-Barbera and Pixar.  The cartoons are arranged in themed chapters that include glimpses of “Working for Walt”, Disney under the Eisner era, the “Animation Boom”, Norman’s forced “retirement” from Disney, and more.  The typical page is filled with one of Norman’s cartoons with maybe a sentence or two of commentary about what his image was capturing about the studios.  The book includes several negative perspectives about Michael Eisner and his era.  And being a story artist he attacks the mistreatment of animators and studio artists. 

One of the things that Norman does not back away from is Walt Disney.  And he does not give Walt, who I have always been under the impression Norman respected, an easy time.  He does show in his images the grumpy Walt who could be tough on struggling story men.  And his Disney model is very much an older gentleman with a hump and cigarette who is tougher older businessman than Uncle Walt.  And one gets the feeling he can capture the tough side of Walt with “love.”  But the man he does not appear to love is Michael Eisner and his stream of vice presidents.  Norman paints the Eisner era as one of greed with images of Eisner retooling the new Animation building and leading Disney animation through high profits for the few and never the animators.  Though, Frank Wells does seem to get a fairly positive depiction in his cartoons. 

Norman also depicts the work of animation.  In one chapter he captures in images the thankless job of the story artist, which very much feels like a visual representation of some of the themes found in Mouse in Transition.  And he also provides his thoughts on animation directors, having worked with both good and bad ones.

Norman’s images are simple.  But many of them are striking.  For some reason his depictions of the new Animation building really caught my attention, showing the state of things as he saw them under Eisner.  And much like those cartoon books of my childhood, Norman gave me several chuckles.

Son of Faster Cheaper is a quick and easy to read.  It helped me remember cartoon books of my childhood.  Personally, I like having a physical copy of this book in my hands, just so I can flip through the cartoons drawn by a legend.  And I found myself happy to see that future volumes by Norman, which I assume will be similar, are forthcoming in the future. 

I guess like when I was a kid, I like a good gag!

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press    

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