TWO EXCELLENT WINTER BOOKS TO READ


A Year of Good News by Martin Smatana

     “The section on the Japanese cartoon is entitled All For One, as here, in a sense, the tables are turned. In a nation where loyalty to the group is paramount, animated cartoons have sought to exalt the actions of the individual, such actions directed, however, towards collective success if not the salvation of the greatest group of all: the whole of humanity.”
     Martin’s book has inspired the mayor of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, to focus on the positive little events that so often go unnoticed, such as the elderly lady in Comox, Canada who used to wave to students on their way to school. On the day that she moved to a retirement home, hundreds of students gathered outside her home to say goodbye and wave at her. Maybe that is not an earth-shaking event but it is certainly sweet.
     A Year of Good News makes a lovely gift. While you are ordering one for a friend why not get one for yourself also. You can order from:
    Les amis dessinées (French edition) 444 pages
     In collaboration with Martin and the Bratislava Cultural and Information Center, the Mayor has decorated the city’s streets with excerpts from the book along with their illustrations. This is such a lovely idea. I hope that it will inspire people all over the world to do this, even if they only post positive news in their front yard or window.
        Price:  16.90 Euros plus shipping costs
     Another piece of good news is that noted Italian comic and animation expert Luca Raffaelli’s authoritative book Les ames dessinées (The Drawn Souls) has just been reissued in France. The book analyzes, compares and contrasts three different philosophies in the world of animation: Disney, anti-Disney, and Japanese anime.
     “Our brief look at Warner Bros., Fleischer and MGM is entitled All Against All. Their anti-Disney characters live in a society with little structure where most of the characters are in conflict with one another. They fight, too, with their own conflicting personalities, their wild nature vying with their social personae. “Three very different ways, therefore, of looking at life and methods (and animated cartoons). Different, too, in their stylistic modes and methods of production.”
     The book was originally published in Italy in 1994 under the title Le anime disegnate. It continues in print there with new editions. The Italian title translates as The Drawn Souls, which is a humorous little play on words. In Italian animato (animated in English) is similar to the word anima which means soul, so Le anime is more like The Drawn Souls, meaning that every character in the world of animation has his own soul, the depth of his being.
     After the last couple of years where the news seemed to get worse every day, we can all use “A Year of Good News”. Slovakian animator Martin Smatana, who made the award-winning film The Kite has created a book that is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Driving to the operating room
     The Drawn Soul is a book that traces and thoroughly analyzes the history of these three distinct styles of animation from their very beginnings. The book belongs in the library of everyone who has an interest in the history of animation. Unfortunately, it is only available in Italian and French, but Luca is searching for an English language publisher and hopefully, it will be available in English soon. For those of us that do not read Italian or French, a 25-page summary with illustrations of this important work is available in English as a chapter of A Reader in Animation Studies edited by Jayne Pilling (1998) available from Amazon. Reading the summary may inspire you to learn French so that you can digest the entire book. You can order both the Italian and French versions from Amazon, or from a local Italian or French bookstore.


Le anime disegnate/ Les ames dessinées by Luca Raffaelli

     When I received the book, I read it all in one sitting. On New Year’s Day, I decided to read one story a week. The need for good news is far from over. Martin is at work on his next book and invites all of you to send him any good positive news stories that you come across. You can contact him at: Martin@Smatana.com

     For one year he picked one good news story a week from around the world, illustrating it with delightful pictures created out of used clothes and fabric scraps; The idea began when Martin occasionally illustrated a good news story for a few of his close friends. The reaction was so positive that he decided to create this book.
     It is hard to pick just one of the stories but I got a big smile on my face when I read that “in a hospital in Valenciennes France children drive themselves to the operating theatre in electric toy cars to help reduce their stress and fear of surgery”.
     The section on Disney is titled One For All. Luca wrote me that “In a nation which extols freedom and openness, the individual and his potential, one can see how Disney’s philosophy manages to unite, in the same story, the success of the individual and the apotheosis of the group. All celebrate the winner’s (often two winners) good fortune together: the important thing is to be united and to celebrate together.”
         Price: 30.00 Euros
Luca Raffaelli
         Price: 26.90 Euros
  
     Le anima disegnate (Italian edition) 292 pages  
        Monokel Press http://monokel.ooo/produkt/a-year-of-good-news/ or email: obchod@monokel.ooo
Martin spreading good news in Bratislava