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We uncovered lots of fascinating pieces of Disney history while working on Ward Kimball’s biography—you know, the one that the Disney Company’s lawyers won’t allow you to see. Among the discoveries were film reels of Ward’s home movies, which I can report are a fair deal more interesting than the average person’s home movies.
We transferred those reels, and with permission, I’m sharing a rarely seen piece of movie footage shot by Ward. Tomorrow, it will be exactly 65 years since this film was recorded (April 4, 1948). In it, Ward and Walt Disney visit the home of Dick Jackson, a wealthy businessman who operated a scale-railroad in the backyard of his Beverly Hills home.
Kimball had been a close friend of Jackson’s for years, and often dropped by for steamups. A little over six years earlier—December 7, 1941, to be exact—as he was driving to Jackson’s for a steamup, he heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. The news unsettled him momentarily, but he “forgot it all with Jackson’s locomotive,” he wrote in his journal. Backyard railroading had the magical effect of allowing people to put the real world on pause, even if only for a few hours at a time.
In spring 1948, Ward had become aware of Disney’s budding interest in scale-model trains, and he invited Walt to come along to Jackson’s place for an afternoon of scale railroading. This is, I believe, the first time that Walt had ever personally operated scale-trains. Walt was hooked after the visit, and soon after he began constructing his own luxe backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific.
Kimball’s unusually close relationship with Disney allowed him to capture these unguarded moments of his mercurial boss. Disney appears to be enjoying every hunched-over second of the railroading experience, and he takes the time to acknowledge Ward’s camera on multiple occasions. Ward wrote about the day’s events in his private journal:
Sunday, April 4, 1948 Up with bright sun. Kids helped me put nitrogen around orange trees. If they didn’t, no Jackson train ride. Damp grass. At 12:45 left for Jacksons in Beverly Hills. 1st over there. He started the Colorado Central. Steam up at 2:00. Walt Disney arrived soon after. Got a big kick out of it all. We showed him the works. He couldn’t quite believe that it was all scale! He tried it out—got scared when drivers spin. “What the hell was that!” he’d ask me. He had lots of fun. We all took movies and Jackson took stills. Showed Walt Jackson’s shop. Kids rode and played “Train Robbers.” Home at 5:30. Broiled corn beef over fire place.
The original film is silent so I added some music—of course, Kimball’s band The Firehouse Five Plus Two. Below are identifications of the people in the film, including Ward’s wife Betty and their three children:
“Animation is a young man’s game,” Chuck Jones once said. There’s no question that animation is a labor-intensive art that requires mass quantities of energy and time. While it’s true that the majority of animation directors have directed a film by the age of 30, there are also a number of well known directors who started their careers later.
Directors like Pete Docter, John Kricfalusi and Bill Plympton didn’t begin directing films until they were in their 30s. Don Bluth, Winsor McCay and Frederic Back were late bloomers who embarked on directorial careers while in their 40s. Pioneering animator Emile Cohl didn’t make his first animated film, Fantasmagorie (1908), until he was 51 years old. Of course, that wasn’t just Cohl’s first film, but it is also considered by most historians to be the first true animated cartoon that anyone ever made.
Here is a cross-selection of 30 animation directors, past and present, and the age they were when their first professional film was released to the public.
Don Hertzfeldt (19 years old) Ah, L’Amour
Lotte Reiniger (20) The Ornament of the Lovestruck Heart
Besides his obvious importance in West Coast art, Foulkes has a fascinating animation connection: he became Ward Kimball’s son-in-law when he married Ward’s oldest daughter, Kelly, in 1960. The marriage didn’t last, but Ward had a lasting impact on Foulkes.
Most curiously, Ward inadvertently turned Foulkes into a vehement opponent of Mickey Mouse. Foulkes’ unflattering depictions of Mickey have appeared in his work for decades and serve as a broader commentary on the ways that corporations condition and influence consumers through benign Pop symbols. The press notes for the Hammer exhibit tell more of the story:
In the late 1970s Foulkes’s former father-in-law Ward Kimball (one of the head animators at Disney Studios) gave him a copy of the Mickey Mouse Club Handbook from 1934, and Foulkes read the letter inside detailing how the club would teach children to be well-behaved, polite citizens. Dismayed by Disney’s attempts at brainwashing, Foulkes developed a skepticism and distrust that have remained with him ever since. A few years later he began to take his paintings in a new direction, and Mickey Mouse became a recurring character. The seminal work “Made in Hollywood” (1983) features a copy of the letter from the Mickey Mouse Club Handbook.
Llyn Foulkes photo by Ward Kimball, 1962. (And yes, that’s a dead cat in the painting behind him.)
I interviewed Llyn when I was researching my biography of Ward Kimball, and my book touches on the relationship between Ward and Llyn. Llyn’s success as a fine artist in the early-Sixties was a big inspiration to Ward, who began pursuing his kinetic art seriously around the same time. Despite a big difference in age, Kimball and Foulkes got along well and shared a similar set of hobbies. Notably, Foulkes, in addition to being a painter, is also a musician, and he plays a self-built one-man musical instrument called the Machine:
Here’s the description of the Hammer show followed by some more images:
The Hammer Museum presents an extensive career retrospective devoted to the work of the groundbreaking painter and musician Llyn Foulkes (b. 1934 in Yakima, Washington), on view from February 3 to May 19, 2013. One of the most influential yet under recognized artists of his generation, Foulkes makes work that stands out for its raw, immediate, and unfiltered qualities. His extraordinarily diverse body of work—including impeccably painted landscapes, mixed-media constructions, deeply disturbing portraits, and narrative tableaux—resists categorization and defies expectations, distinguishing Foulkes as a truly singular artist.
LLYN FOULKES is organized by Hammer curator Ali Subotnick and will feature approximately 140 artworks from public and private collections in the U.S. and Europe, some of which have not been seen for decades. The exhibition will explore the entire scope of the artist’s career, including early cartoons and drawings, his macabre, emotionally-charged paintings of the early 1960s; his epic rock and postcard paintings of the late 1960s and early 1970s; his “bloody head” series of mutilated figures from the late 1970s through the present; his social commentary paintings targeting corporate America (especially Disney), which include his remarkable narrative tableaux that combine painting with woodworking, found materials, and thick mounds of modeling paste, seamlessly blended into the painted surface to create a remarkable illusion of depth. The show will also feature a video of Foulkes playing his Machine, a one-man instrument consisting of horns, bass, organ pipes, percussion and more. LLYN FOULKES will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue including essays by novelist and art critic Jim Lewis, writer Jason Weiss, and curator Ali Subotnick.
Jam Session at Ward Kimball’s home in 1973: Top row, from left to right: John Kimball, Al Dodge, George Probert, Robert Crumb, Ward Kimball. Bottom row, from left to right: Robert Armstrong, Spencer Quinn, Llyn Foulkes (on drums).
Kelly Kimball and Llyn Foulkes with their daughter, Laurey. Photo by Ward Kimball, 1962.
Wedding cake toppers that Ward designed for Llyn and Kelly’s wedding, 1960.
I’ve received dozens of emails this week asking about the status of my Ward Kimball biography. Apparently, Amazon sent out emails to the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who had pre-ordered the book telling them it had been cancelled. To clear up any confusion about what is happening with the book, here are answers to the most common questions I’ve received:
“How did you ever okay Chuck’s Pogo story?,” Ward Kimball asked Walt Kelly shortly after the special aired on TV. “I didn’t, for Godsake!,” Kelly cried out. “The son of a bitch changed it after our last meeting. That’s not the way I wrote it. He took all the sharpness out of it and put in that sweet, saccharine stuff that Chuck Jones always thinks is Disney, but isn’t.” Kimball, who was dining with Kelly at the Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, pressed further. “Who okayed giving the little skunk girl a humanized face?” he asked. Kelly was so angry he couldn’t answer. His face turned red, and he bellowed to the waiter, “Bring me another bourbon!” In Kimball’s words, Kelly wanted “to kill—if not sue—Chuck.”
Shortly after that debacle, Walt Kelly took matters into his own hands and decided to personally animate his popular Pogo characters. With the help of his wife Selby Daley, he planned on creating a fully-animated half-hour special for television, with the characters expressing a strong stance on taking care of the environment. But due to his ill-health, he was able to complete only thirteen minutes of We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us, which you see below.
The finished portions are absolutely charming and beautifully crafted. Much like his character P.T. Bridgeport, Kelly is a real showman here. Although he hadn’t animated since Dumbo thirty years prior, his animation skills are still top-notch. While the animation can be a bit choppy at times (mostly keys and some breakdowns with no in-betweens), his drawings are solid and appealing with some real flourishes of fluid animation throughout.
The color, though muddy in the existing prints, also appears to be as vibrant as his Sunday pages, and the backgrounds are as intricately detailed as his splash panels, if not more so. And the voices, humorously performed by Kelly himself, fit the tone and mood of his characters.
Besides Winsor McCay, I can’t think of any other mainstream comic artist who animated their comics to such a painstaking degree. While many comic strips have been adapted for film and television before and since, none of them have met or surpassed the charm and quality of the original artist’s work. Here, the animator and the creator is one and the same, and the drawings are pure, unfiltered and straight from the artist’s hand.
Tom Oreb is recognized by many as being one of the finest character designers during the Golden Age of Hollywood animation. Certainly, he was one of the most versatile. At Disney alone, he was the primary designer (or character stylist) of Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom, Sleeping Beauty, Paul Bunyan and 101 Dalmatians, among others. He also designed Tex Avery’s Symphony in Slang, Destination Earth for John Sutherland Productions, and the infamous “stylized Mickey” for Disney’s TV commercial unit:
Earlier in his career, Oreb had been one of Ward Kimball’s primary assistants on Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, Bacchus in Fantasia and the crows in Dumbo. A stash of his drawings from this era (1939-1941) recently turned up on the Hakes auction site. The drawings had belonged to Oreb’s first wife, Bonnie Barrett, who unbeknownst to all, had been alive until recently.
Because many of these drawings were done for his wife, they hint at their marital spats, albeit in humorous fashion. Another series of drawings alludes to Oreb’s love of surfing and beach bumming at Newport Harbor and Laguna Beach in Orange County, California. One drawing features a guest appearance by Salvador Dali, and another shows Oreb with his gruff supervisor Ward Kimball.
My favorite publisher Chronicle Books just put out their Fall/Winter 2012 catalog and they’re releasing more animation and cartoon-related books this holiday season than ever before. Below are the six titles (including one by myself) that will be of interest to Cartoon Brew readers, followed by the catalog pages with images and descriptions of each book.
A companion to my upcoming biography of Ward Kimball, 365 Days of Ward will be updated EVERY SINGLE DAY for the next year. The site is a bit of an online experiment—an attempt to explore biographical storytelling through the crisp rapid visual bursts of the Tumblr format. Perhaps there’s something dissonant about presenting someone’s life via a blogging platform that didn’t exist when they were alive, but considering Ward’s forward-thinking approach to life, I want to honor his legacy with a little unconventional thinking.
By itself, I hope 365 Days of Ward will provide a daily jolt of inspiration—an introduction to the wealth of creativity that flowed from Ward’s mind for over 80 years—but I also hope it’ll whet your appetite for the in-depth book Full Steam Ahead!: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball, which provides the context for much of what I’ll be sharing over the next year.
Below is the daily schedule of posts. I anticipate there’ll be breaks in the format, but this is the general plan:
Mondays: Animation-related artwork by Ward
Tuesdays: “Asinine Alley”, a look at the antique automobile comics that Ward drew for thirty years
Wednesdays: Animated GIFs of some of Ward’s famous animation moments
Thursdays: Dedicated to the Grizzly Flats, the legendary full-sized railroad that Ward operated in his backyard
Fridays: Music-related posts that explore Ward’s twenty-plus years as the leader of the quirky jazz group The Firehouse Five Plus Two
Saturdays and Sundays: Random fun—childhood artwork, personal sketches, caricatures, posters, photos, and other ephemera
If you’ve always wanted to know more about animation’s rebellious wild man, pay close attention for the next 365 days.
A couple days ago, I wrote about Bob Givens, the 94-year-old artist who designed Bugs Bunny in his debut short A Wild Hare. While I was writing that post, I ran across a couple items related to Givens that are worth sharing. The first is a newspaper clipping from the Alhambra Post-Advocate annoucing that 18-year-old Bob Givens had been hired at Disney.
The second is an ambitious gag “bulletin” about Ward Kimball and his two assistants David Swift and Tom Oreb. The drawing, which makes fun of the trio’s lack of “mox”, is signed by Givens, who had moved over to Warner Bros. when this was drawn in October 1939, along with two WB writers Rich Hogan and Dave Monahan. Typically, gag drawings were confined to colleagues at the same studio, but there’s a reason why Warner Bros. artists are making fun of their Disney counterparts. At the time of this drawing, Givens lived with Swift (as well as Hogan and some other artists) in a rented mansion in Los Feliz. If any Cartoon Brew readers are in touch with Bob, ask him to explain the joke about “mox.” Inquiring minds want to know.
No matter how many books one reads about classic Disney animation, it’s difficult to imagine the day-to-day life of artists during the studio’s Golden Age. Obviously, we know the artists worked on films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia and Bambi. And by most accounts, they had a pretty good time doing it. But what was the work environment like on any given day?
While I was writing my upcoming biography of Disney animator and director Ward Kimball (pictured up top), I was granted access to the personal journals that Ward kept during the 1940s. His writings provided a unique and unprecedented look into the day-to-day life at the Disney studio through the eyes of one of the studio’s most creative and gifted artists.
The journal entry reprinted below is from exactly seventy years ago today—August 7, 1942. There was a World War raging at the time and the studio’s regular output had been interrupted by the urgent demand for military training films and other war-themed shorts, like Education for Death, which Kimball was animating at the time. Here is Ward’s record of that warm August day in Burbank, California:
Friday, August 7, 1942 At the studio a kid – Kenny Walker— brought in 2 quarts of whiskey to celebrate his joining the Navy. We said, “Let’s wait til this afternoon.” “No,” says Fred [Moore], “now!” I mixed a big one with Coke at 11am. Got nice and glowy for our noon hour jam session. Tom [Oreb] really beat it out.
I hit every note made for the trombone—My! My! We knocked the pants off of “Jingle Bells,” etc. At 1:00 the boys were really hitting it up—no work—at 2:00 we played records with everyone in the unit beating on something! I blew my trombone—[Jack] Whitaker his bass! People came from the far corners of the studio to hear us. What a din.
The 2 qts were gone—I counted 6 empties in the hallway. Bill Berg—separated from his wife 6 mo. was going out on his 1st date tonight—”Going to get some” he said—but, alas! He had too much—passed out cold—the nurse had to give him shots—then carried him to his car. Wow! Just like old times—wine, song, no women.
The moral of the story: if you run an animation studio, always have a nurse on staff.
I was thinking recently how wonderful it would be if the Disney Company compiled a Blu-ray Treasures collection of projects directed by Ward Kimball. To be honest, it’s hard to imagine a project like this ever happening, especially under the (dormant) Treasures label where the only name promoted is Walt’s. Still, I can’t help but think there must be some way for the Disney company to recognize the work of its most original and experimental director, or in the words of Walt Disney, “the one man who works for me I call a genius.” Ward has inspired everybody from Hayao Miyazaki to Chris Sanders, and it’s high time to introduce his work to new generations.
Some will point out that a decent amount of Ward’s work is already available: Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom and Melody appeared on the Disney Rarities DVD, and the space specials and Eyes in Outer Space were featured in the Tomorrow Land Treasures. However, a lot of Ward’s most memorable work as a director, including some of the studio’s oft-requested cult favorites, have never been released onto DVD. The majority of these works are from his later period when he was at his satirical peak. As an exercise in wishful thinking, here’s what my ideal Ward Kimball collection would include:
* Magic Highway, USA (1958), worth it just for the retro-futuristic “Road Ahead” sequence that later played at EPCOT’s Horizons attraction. (50 minutes)
* It’s Tough To Be a Bird (1969), an Oscar winning short that was also extended into a 50-minute Wonderful World of Color episode.
* Dad, Can I Borrow the Car? (1970), also created as both a short and an extended Wonderful World of Color episode.
* Excerpts from the forty-plus episodes of Ward’s series The Mouse Factory (1972)
* Excerpts from Play Now, Work Later, the aborted project that Ward collaborated on with Stan Freberg in the early 1970s. Freberg recorded a track, live-action footage was shot, and even animation was produced. Let’s see it!
* The 1958 Academy Awards segment that Ward directed which mashed Donald Duck clips with classic live-action films—unseen since its original broadcast over fifty years ago.
* Development materials from the two unproduced space specials about satellites and UFOs.
* A documentary that explores his animation work prior to becoming a director.
* Segments directed by Ward from The Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show (1968), a TV special created in celebration of Mickey’s fortieth birthday.
* Home movies of Ward and Walt Disney traveling to the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948—it exists!
*The Firehouse Five Plus Two on The Mickey Mouse Club
* This fantastic episode of Tomorrow with Tom Snyder from 1978
The don’t-miss clip of the week: a 1970 appearance by “casting director” Ward Kimball on the NBC daytime game show Lohman and Barkley’s Namedroppers. Bob Cummings, Ruth Buzzi and Bob Newhart also appear. Ward’s appearance was in conjunction with his short It’s Tough to be a Bird and took place sixteen years after his appearance on You Bet Your Life:
First, a research request, because if Cartoon Brew’s readers can’t help out with this one, I don’t know who can. I’m looking for two episodes of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color that Ward Kimball was heavily involved with: “A Salute to Alaska” (1967) and “The Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show” (1968). If you have copies of these and can help out, please contact me HERE.
Second, here’s a real Ward Kimball curio: a 1965 newspaper article about a panel discussion that he participated in at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. CLICK HERE to read the article (and try to ignore the poor quality of the iPhone photo).
What’s so odd about Ward’s participation is that the topic of the debate was “Is Couture Design an Art Form?” It’s hard to imagine many other animators from that time who would have had the curiosity and interest to participate in such a discussion. The other panelists at the talk were equally respected in their fields: fashion designer Gustave Tassel, architect George Vernon Russell and silkscreen artist Sister Mary Corita. The debate over whether fashion design is art or not has long been settled (see the record-breaking success of the recent Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met), but nevertheless, it’s fun to read their thoughts and gain some historical perspective on the issue.
I’m sure that after all my incessant musings and ramblings about this guy, some readers have already figured out that something’s up. So I’m excited to officially announce today that I’m working on a biography about the legendary Disney animator and director Ward Kimball.
It’s not always easy to pinpoint where an idea originates, but this one is fairly clear-cut. It happened in the fall of 2000, when I visited Ward at his home for an interview. After we had spoken, he took some time to show me around his place, and when we went to his storage shed, he began pulling out boxes of his artwork. But these weren’t familiar animation drawings of Jiminy, Lucifer or the Mad Hatter as one might expect. He wanted to show me his personal paintings and drawings. Then he pointed to a few of his moving assemblage pieces, which he called “kinetics,” sitting in the corner. They were dusty and had seen better days, but after seeing these pieces, it began to dawn on me that Ward wasn’t just one of the greatest animators of his generation, he was a modern-day Renaissance man.
To make a long story short, nothing happened at the time and Ward passed away a year-and-a-half later. My interest in his work was rekindled when I started writing books a few years later. While researching Cartoon Modern, I encountered Ward’s work again, this time in his role as the rebellious director who was dragging the Disney studio into the thick of the mid-century animation design movement. When Cartoon Modern was done, I determined that my next book would be about him. My friends at Chronicle Books who had placed their trust in me for Cartoon Modern took the plunge again and commissioned the biography.
It’s been almost four years since the book was greenlit. During this period, I’ve been incredibly lucky to collaborate on book projects with the fine folks at Pixar (twice!), as well as with uber-talents Peter de Sève and John Kricfalusi. Throughout these projects, I’ve chipped away at the Kimball bio. It’s been more challenging than I ever imagined to explore all the passions in Ward’s life and how they fit together—his music, his trains, his animation, his directorial work, his personal art. . .they all played a role in defining who he was as a person.
My hope is that the book will offer a nuanced portrait of Ward, both as an artist and a person. Besides offering a thorough account of his achievements in the form of a 60,000-word manuscript, the book will be a true visual celebration with hundreds of never-before-seen photos, documents and drawings from his personal collection. The Kimball family has been supportive throughout and has provided access to all of Ward’s personal files, photos and diaries, which I’ve combined with new research and interviews. I also had the privilege of speaking with Ward’s delightful wife Betty on multiple occasions before her death last year. The book, a 240-page hardcover, should be out in the second half of 2012.
I’ve nearly wrapped up my Ward Kimball biography, but to get it just right, I need a handful of images related to his key characters. Please get in touch, if you can provide a hi-res scan of photostat models or animation drawings related to the following characters:
* Matador from Ferdinand the Bull
* Mad Hatter, March Hare, Cheshire Cat
* Jiminy, particularly the two images below
* Lucifer, particularly the one below
How much is a personal painting by Disney animation legend Ward Kimball worth? Watch the segment above. The painting, owned by animation artist Jim Clark, was featured tonight on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. The appraiser, Leila Dunbar, really knows her Disney history. It’s not mentioned in the program, but Ward originally gave the painting to his unit animator Julius Svendsen as a gift.
Who needs the Disney Company! We’ve already got the movie poster for a biopic about Walt Disney so we may as well go ahead and cast the movie. That’s what Cartoon Brew reader Ron did in the comments section yesterday. Below are his novel casting choices for the likes of Roy Disney, Ub Iwerks, Margaret Winkler, Fred Moore, Bill Tytla, Art Babbitt, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and others. Share your dream cast in the comments.
Roy O. Disney :: Joel David Moore
Ub Iwerks :: Tarran Killam
Charles Mintz :: Jeremy Piven
Margaret Winkler :: Samantha Morton
Fred Moore :: Sam Huntington
Ward Kimball :: Chris Diamantopoulos
Bill Tytla :: Kevin Dillon
Art Babbitt :: Don Swayze (Apparently, Swayze has already committed to this non-existent film. Ron wrote in the comments, “I’ve met him in person and he looks just like a young Art Babbitt. I told him that in fact and said he should try to play Art Babbitt in a biopic. He seemed open to the idea once I explained who Art Babbitt was and his contribution to history.”)
Marc Davis :: David Cross
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston :: Jason Bateman and Jon Cryer
April 2, 1934. Seventy-eight years ago to the day, a twenty-year-old kid started working at Walt Disney Productions. His name was Ward Kimball, and animation hasn’t been the same ever since. This fall, I’m celebrating his life in Full Steam Ahead: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball, a coffeetable book that is as much a how-to manual on being a creative innovator as it is a biography of a fascinating individual.
I announced the book last September, and I’m pleased to report that it’s finally available for pre-order on Amazon. The first printing of my previous book for Chronicle Books, The Art of Pixar, sold out in five weeks because of the short print run. The print run for the Kimball bio is similarly limited, so I’d recommend jumping on this if you want a first edition.
Here’s the official jazz from my publisher:
“Ward’s the one man who works for me I call a genius,” Walt Disney once noted. Ward Kimball’s career as an animator and Academy Award-winning director at Disney between the 1930s and the 1970s is legendary, but the work he created outside of the animation studio was equally fascinating, including building a functioning full-size railroad in his backyard and founding a successful jazz band. Director Brad Bird states in his foreword to the book that “Amidi’s meticulous research into Kimball’s life and work…gives a first-time glimpse into the life of one of the true kings of character animation.” With unprecedented access to his personal archives and private journals, celebrated animation historian Amid Amidi unearthed hundreds of never-before-seen drawings, paintings, comics, letters, and photos, including concept art and stories from his occasionally turbulent career at Disney. Featuring interviews with dozens of Ward’s colleagues, relatives, students, and friends, Amidi paints a complex portrait of one of animation’s most irreverent and influential artists in this definitive must-have biography.
Advance praise for Full Steam Ahead from John Canemaker, Oscar-winning animation filmmaker and author of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men & The Art of Animation: “Capturing Ward Kimball’s long, lusty, eclectic personal and professional life on the printed page is like seizing lightning à la Pecos Bill, a character Kimball once animated brilliantly. Author Amid Amidi lassoes the electric, essential Ward Kimball in all his turbulent multifaceted glory in this profusely illustrated, extraordinarily candid biography. The full, intimate portrait that Amidi skillfully paints is supported by impeccable research, including Kimball’s private diaries. Writing with insight, passion and compassion about his mercurial subject, Amidi takes readers directly into the life and private thoughts of a uniquely modern Renaissance man whose contributions continue to resonate in American popular culture.”