Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Mickey Mouse Treasures

One of the more interesting and noticeable trends of late in book publishing has been what could be best described as “enhanced books.” The contents of these tomes extend beyond just printed text and pictures to include interactive elements and actual reproductions of materials relevant to the subject matter contained therein.

Disney has produced two notable entries in this genre, The Disney Treasures and The Disney Keepsakes, both written by Walt Disney Archives Manager Robert Tieman and produced by becker & mayer, the leading creator and manufacturer of what they themselves call the “book-plus” format. Tieman and company have returned with a third edition in the series, The Mickey Mouse Treasures, which showcases the company’s most prominent star and longtime icon.

Like its predecessors, The Mickey Mouse Treasures is a lavishly produced collection of history and information, embellished with extensive illustrations and beautifully recreated facsimiles of items from the company’s now famous archives. What especially distinguishes the content of these volumes is that much of the material presented has been rarely if ever seen in other Disney-related books and publications.

Among the diverse selection of reproductions:
  • A program from the November 13, 1940 world premiere of Fantasia at the Broadway Theatre in New York City.
  • A promotional giveaway entitled What Causes Motor Knocks from the Sunoco Oil Company that featured Mickey and his nephews .
  • A vintage postcard from the Art Corner, the now famous spot in Disneyland that sold actual production cels for just a few dollars a pop back in the day.
  • A terrific fold-out map/brochure of Disneyland from its inaugural year.
  • And my personal favorite--a hinged album featuring all of Mickey’s official birthday portraits, done over the years by famed Disney artist and Imagineer John Hench.
This is not to say that The Mickey Mouse Treasures is all fluff and pretty pictures. The subjects presented are quite often unique and new to even the relatively seasoned Disney historian. Tieman’s text is detailed and extensive. I was totally unfamiliar with the 1931 traveling road show Mickey Mouse Idea, staged by well-know vaudeville producers Fanchon and Marco; a detailed description of the then extremely popular production is provided as well as a half a dozen photos and a facsimile of an original theater program.

Likewise, it was a joy to read of the abandoned concepts for Mickey Mouse cartoons that were featured in the section entitled “The Mouse That Might Have Been.” Intriguing ideas such as "The Janitors" and "Mickey’s Sea Serpent" are highlighted, but of particular interest is a 1934 letter from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt suggesting a story idea for a Mickey Mouse cartoon. A copy of Walt’s reply is also presented.

These are but two of twenty-one different subjects covered, with other topics ranging from World War II to Fantasia to Disneyland to merchandise guru Kay Kamen. Tieman, and designer Paul Barrett, have created a handheld museum of Mickey Mouse history and ephemera that is both an invaluable reference tool and a delightful and entertaining excursion by proxy through the Disney Archives.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was never wild about these books, until I saw a copy of "Treasures" remaindered for $16, including a CD of audio featuring Walt interviews and press conferences. I'm more of a Walt fan than a Disney fan anyway, so it was well worth the $16.

Now if I can just get them onto my iPod...

DisneyDave said...

A couple of items form my collection are in teh book - I can hardly wait for it to hit the local bookshelves.

Mickey said...

I can't wait to my kid is born, (1 month to go) then I can all these cool kiidie stuff, I do any way, but this will give me an excuse.

3 Disney Parks Down, 2 to go :-)

anim8ed said...

I have the first 2 and can't wait for this one..and more!!!!