This is a long over due book on the work of a key British animation studio. Considering the diverse history of British animation there is a real lack of books about the history or particular studios. The book is a great introduction to the broad history of the studio and the lives of John Halas and Joy Batchelor. While the studio is best remembered for producing Animal Farm the book brings to light other films and projects they worked on. Vivien Halas chapter on her parents gives a deeper insight to the social history and background in which her parents grew up and worked in. Paul Wells chapter is excellent as is to be expected of such a key author on animation. Any animation student who has read Wells Understanding Animation and Fundamentals of Animation will find this book worth while. Jim Walker's chapter on the commercials produced by Halas & Batchelor is well researched and illustrated with well known commercials such as Murrymints. This is one area which is often neglected when discussing the work of animation studios and the chapter gives some insight into the relationship of producing commercials has with the general production history of the studio. Pat Webb's chapter is a welcomed insight to the studio from someone who worked for the studio as John Halas assistant. Richard Holliss's chapter is a joy to read through a number of times while looking back through the images in the book. It is a great read and visually stunning. I found reading the text a joy while looking through the images. The book also includes a collection of short extract papers by Karl Cohen on Animated propaganda during the Cold War, Dan Leab on Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the filming of Animal Farm and John Canemaker's paper Halas & Batchelor, A Visit with England's Leading Producers of Animated Films.
The book is well designed and full of beautiful illustrations, drawings, character designs and photographs. The book also includes a DVD of a selection of the studios film:
Magic Canvas (1948), The Figurehead (1953), The History of the Cinema (1957), Automania 2000 (1963), The Symphony Orchestra (1964), Dilemma (1981), Know your Europeans UK (1995. Know your Europeans was part of series of films produced by different Euopean animators on their own country. The UK film was naturally done by Bob Godfrey.
I hope that there will be more books like this one in the future perhaps one on Bob Godfrey next would be great