This review covers Walt Disney’s Bambi: The Sketchbook series. This is the first of the “Sketchbook Series” of books put out by Disney and Hyperion, and was first published in 1997. It is on the relatively short side, clocking in on a whopping 88 pages.
The book itself is done in a sketchbook format (who would have guessed?) covering various sketches of Bambi, Thumper, Friend Owl, and all the characters. It is done in a neat sepia tone, to give it an aged look. The sketches in this book are incredible, many of which are from the private collections of two of the “9 Old Men,” Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston and have never been seen by the general public before. Other notable contributors found on the pages are Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Eric Larson and one of the real highlights of this book, Tyrus Wong. Sadly not as recognized as the rest of the contributors, Tyrus Wong was responsible for honing the colors and look of the forest of Bambi, and his paintings here are reproduced at 1:1 scale in full color, each measuring about 5 inches across. Tyrus Wong was born in 1910 in Guangzhou, China. He worked at Disney from 1938-1941, and, after leaving due to the animators strike, later worked at Warner Brothers until 1968.
Overall, this book is a great start to the Sketchbook Series. While not very long in terms of page number, the quality of the reproduction of the sketches and paintings more than makes up for it. The art behind Bambi is some of the best done for an animated film, and sadly, I feel Bambi has gone overlooked as one of the best animated classics of the Golden Age. Bambi: The Sketchbook Series is an excellent book, and great for lovers of Bambi, animation, or art in general. Sadly, it is now out of print, but can be purchased through Half.com, Amazon, or eBay for around $30, which is what it retailed for. There also is a “special edition” of this book, signed by Frank ‘n Ollie and coming in a large slipcase. Expect to pay over $100 for this version.
4 Cogs out of 5