Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: The Flipbooks

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Disney History, Features, The Disney Review

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Published on March 30, 2013 at 3:05 am with 9 Comments

Disney has released a very heavy, tiny and expensive book set about the Nine Old Men, the famous animators that ruled the Disney Studios. It’s also a different type of book than we’ve seen before. Is this one a worthy addition to your collection?

Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: The Flipbooks

This is the fifth book, so to speak, in the Archives Series after Story, Animation, Design and Layout & Background. It’s a box set with 10 books altogether. The series is fairly expensive and very artistically driven. I’ve reviewed the other titles in the series at Imaginerding.com and I’ve loved them, but they are geared more towards the animation and animation-as-art-fan.

The idea behind the series was supported by John Lassiter. After spending hours in the Animation Research Library looking through drawings for inspiration and technique he felt that the art needed to be shared with the world.

The box set was originally supposed to come out in October of 2012 but saw delays. Pete Docter championed this project, and as the titles says, it’s a look at Disney’s Nine Old Men who were some of the Studios greatest and most famous artists from the classic age (usually the 1930 and 1940s) through the late 1980s. These animators oversaw every animated feature and short and continued the program after Disney’s death. Many of the Nine Old Men are more familiar than others, but they are all amazing: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Milt Kahl.

Each animator has a book dedicated to him in the box set. There are nine hard back books and a paperback book. Each book is the same dimension as a CD case, just thicker. The paperback book has a brief bio about each artist and a tribute from a modern artist, like Andreas Deja, Don Hahn, Eric Goldbberg and others.

Each book is about 100 pages and features a key scene from the animator’s career. One that most artists and critics agree on. They’re called flipbooks and feature the animator’s drawings. You flip the animation from the bottom, which is how most Disney animators do it. They really are gorgeous works of art. Even slowly flipping back and forth between a few pages is fascinating to see how the drawings come to life. That is the real appeal of the set.


It’s an expensive set and is geared for the animation fan. If you’re a student of animation, a fan or a collector, then this is a very worthwhile purchase. As we’ve seen with many other Disney publications, there is a limited print run and we’ll see this set increase dramatically in value.


Does this look like one that’s worthy to add to your collection?

By George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    It’s a really neat idea. But why would such a simple set be so expensive?

  • DisneySarah

    Because I MUST own it! ( and the Archive Series is typically printed on high quality paper with high quality images ) The series is spectacular for anyone into animation art.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      LOL. Yep. Answers my question. As long as there are folks willing to pay the price, Disney will charge it. ;)

  • skratch addict

    Under $35 is a bargain, imo. Most of the time I find all Disney books are reasonably priced. Disney movies, now THOSE are overpriced.

    • George Taylor

      The Amazon price is great, the retail price might scare some people away.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • DobbysCloset

    These don’t seem all that overpriced, not when a single paperback book with no literary value costs $6-8 and when new cushions for my patio chair cost $50, even at the Walmart. It’s great to have books with intrinsic value beyond just the information, which one can get over the computer these days. If I had a fledgling adolescent animator at home, they’d make a great gift!

    • George Taylor

      Thanks for the comment.

      I will always agree that a great book is always a good buy. :)

      This series (and the Flip Books, specifically) would make a great inspiration for an animator-in-training.

  • Fukai

    This is a great set. I paid $60 on amazon when it first came out, and now it’s only $33! So I think the author of this piece is referring to the original retail price, because at $33 (with free shipping) it’s a bargain.

    • George Taylor

      Yep…the original price was a bit of sticker shock. Plus, because it has limited appeal, this book will go for a lot of money in the next few years.

      Thanks for commenting.