This first edition hardback copy of Animated Cartoons by E.G. Lutz, published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons in February 1920 is the primary text responsible for teaching Walt Disney the art of animation.
The book was one of the first works dedicated to the newly-emerging field, providing a study on the history and development of the form, as well as the technique and process of creating animated cartoons. Lutz wrote a variety of books on the subjects of art and motion pictures, and this particular work came along just as a young Walt Disney was attempting to forge a career as a commercial artist. He and friend Ub Iwerks had started their own company, which was quickly abandoned in favor of a steadier paycheck with the Kansas City Ad Company. There, both men first became interested in the breakthrough medium of film animation. It was during this time that Disney made the fateful trip to the Kansas City Public Library to pick up the newly-published Animated Cartoons. After another failed business venture, Laugh-O-Gram Films, Disney parted ways with Iwerks, heading to Hollywood in the summer of 1923. Soon after, Iwerks would again join him, and within five years, the pair would revolutionize the industry with the creation of the world’s most successful and recognizable animated character of all time, Mickey Mouse.
Walt Disney spoke often of the influence Lutz’s book had on his animation education. Besides a few art classes as a teenager, the Lutz text and two other volumes on the study and analysis of human and animal movement by Eadweard Muybridge represent what we know of Disney’s training within the field that would one day become most closely associated with his name and legacy. Likewise, those close to Disney would later attest to the fact that he considered the book a significant catalyst and important resource at the outset of his career.
This hard-to-find first edition represents one of the most important books to the life and career of Walt Disney, the contents and inspiration of which propelled a broke young artist to pursue an emerging art form with a passion and determination that would one day make it his own.