Disney's Folio: Printed Pixar

There is no shortage of books for anyone interested in the history of Pixar, including the excellent To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios, by Karen Paik, and The Pixar Touch, by David A. Price.

The Pixar Touch takes a more objective approach to telling the history of the studio than To Infinity and Beyond!, which is a Pixar-sanctioned product. However the latter includes a great wealth of development sketches, photographs and cinematic stills, all in a wonderful coffee-table format. (The book was quite difficult to read in bed!) The book also designates its chapters specifically for each movie, technology, or other topic, whereas The Pixar Touch is completely chronological and includes movie development within the course of the historical context.

One unfortunate: The Pixar Touch is very honest in its portrayal of Steve Jobs and some of his notorious tantrums in the early years, so much so that it takes a while to grasp the genius behind the man. But this thread is completely dropped in later chapters leaving the reader to wonder if Jobs ever improved his disposition and managerial techniques or if they remained volatile (as they are often noted in the press).

There is a lot of overlap between the two books as many quotes from Lassetter, et. al. are referenced in both places. This is not so excessive that you feel like either book is unnecessary. In fact, the story has been told in enough different ways (DVD special features, interviews, etc.) that you’ll recognize many stories. Blame that repetition on the exposure Pixar’s filmmakers have had since Toy Story which allowed them to tell some of these familiar stories in other forums already. But there is still a large amount of great information covering those pre-Toy Story days that have only been told previously in smaller portions. They were long, lean days that really put the company's eventual success into serious perspective.

I decided to alternate between both books so that I could maintain my interest in a parallel manner and not feel like I was just going back through the entire history again. Given how much overlap there is between the two books (including whole quotes), this turned out to be a very a good direction to take. Also, as I completed a section focusing on the creation of a particular Pixar movie, I pulled that movie out of my library for a viewing. This made the books fell like their own little documentary or commentary on the movie and also helped me view these treasures with a newfound focus. (The WALL•E bonus disc includes an actual Pixar documentary, The Pixar Story, which enchanced the tour through history.)

I’d recommend both books for anyone looking to really dig behind the scenes, though you’re going to pay a lot less for The Pixar Touch than Infinity as the latter is a larger, more deluxe format. (That said, it’s going for a lot less these days.) If your attention runs in short spans like me, I’d suggest my approach, especially with Toy Story 3 looming this summer. A perfect time to go back through Pixar’s history!