Tuesday, 13 April 2010

WHAT AM I BID?

As a writer, in these days of ebay buying and selling, it's a curious experience when you come across one of your own books up for sale. You think: "How nice! Someone bought my book?" followed immediately by: "So, why the hell are they getting rid of it?" and then, looking at the asking price: "Is that all anyone's willing to pay?"

Of course, it's much worse if the book happens to be advertised as 'signed by the author' and the person who is now disposing of it is not someone who simply queued up for a signature at a book launch on a wet Tuesday while waiting for the pubs to open, but someone to whom you once proudly and lovingly gave one of your scarce author copies!

Then again there are the mingled emotions evoked by the words 'from the estate of the late -----'

I really can't afford to bid on it, but just such a copy of one of my books - The Disney Studio Story, written with my friend and fellow Disney historian, Richard Holliss - has just come up in an auction at Howard Lowery.com, with an impressive pedigree.

This particular copy was not just 'signed by the authors', but was presented by them to the veteran Disney animator, the late Oliver M ("Ollie") Johnston, as seen, left, by the brilliant Peter Emslie of The Cartoon Cave)

Ollie Johnston, who was the last survivor of the group artists known at the Disney studio as 'The Nine Old Men', worked on over two dozen Disney animated features including, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Song of the South, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Lady and the Tramp among others.

He was responsible for animating (with his long-standing friend and colleague, Frank Thomas) such unforgettable cartoon partnerships such as that between Baloo and Mowgli in The Jungle Book as well as Sir Hiss and Prince John in Robin Hood and many other memorable characterisations, among then Ollie's personal favourites: Thumper the rabbit in Bambi, Captain Hook's sidekick, Mr. Smee, in Peter Pan and Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, the three fairies in Sleeping Beauty.

Ollie once said: "They were all good friends, whom I remember fondly." And those of us lucky enough to have known Ollie will always remember him fondly.

I spent time with Ollie (usually along with Frank Thomas) on several occasions: while Richard Holliss and I were researching the books we wrote on Disney and, later, when I was making various Disney radio series with my producer, Malcolm Prince.

Anyway, various items from Ollie's estate have come up for sale and the on-site write-up certainly does a pretty good job on selling the book and its value as, what the book trade calls, 'an association copy'...

Click to enlarge

The Disney Studio Story

So, anyone got (current bid) $360 to spare?

Mind you, of course, if Richard and I hadn't signed it, it would probably have been worth more!

Disney fans might enjoy taking a look at this half-hour documentary about Ollie and his creations...







12 comments:

SharonM said...

Yet another lovely blog, Brian - and I wish I did have the $360 to spare. And I'm sure that both your signatures enhanced the value of the book.

What wonderful animations Ollie was responsible for and how delightful that he described them as 'good friends'.

Brian Sibley said...

Well, you know, SHARON, it could be a great investment, but then, again...

What I did buy on ebay the other week (for a mere £9.99) was a copy of my book on the making of The Golden Compass --- signed by Philip Pullman!

David (obviously with an eye to the future) says I should add my signature which just might, I suppose, push the value up to a round tenner!

Going back to Ollie, I have a Mickey Mouse tie that he gave me when I did an on-stage interview with him at the National Film Theatre in London and I've many years of his and Frank Thomas' personally drawn Christmas cards. Lovely memories of wonderfully talented guys.

Boll Weavil said...

don't think you ever signed MY copy of the Disney Studio Story... perhaps I ought to get that one as a second copy !

Brian Sibley said...

You mean, BOLL, that I actually let a copy slip from my grasp unsigned?? Shame on me!

Tell, you what I'll sign your copy for the half the price of Ollie's copy!! ;-)

Geno said...

In my opinion an author's signature (esp. with a personal inscription) greatly enhances the value to me (if I like the book) so much that I would buy another copy just for reading.
On a side note, I have never read(or even touched) one of your books, but after reading your blogs for these past few months I would gladly read one (and maybe all) when I can afford my next book splurge.

Brian Sibley said...

I agree, GENO: I also invariably have 'reading' copies of the signed books in my collection.

Thanks for the compliment! However, you're reasonably safe when the next splurge kicks in, since the majority of my titles are now safely out of print!

Suzanne said...

Well, I'm still waiting for you to sign your "Making of the LOTR" that I carted all the way to Tolkien 2005! Still I did get a couple of books signed by Tom Shippey and Alan Lee (what a lovely man he is!)

Brian Sibley said...

I'm sorry, SUZANNE! But (apart from the nuisance of carrying books about) you did OK: Tom and Alan's signatures are worth far, far more than mine; Tom is a genuine scholar and Alan is a great artist. I'm just a nerdy hack.

Boll Weavil said...

Actually Mr B, I got the copy before I knew you when it first came out so you weren't around to sign it !

Brian Sibley said...

BOLL - I thought I'd signed all your pre-meeting-Sibley volumes! But maybe it was too heavy to cart around whenever you came down to Ye Olde London Towne...

Bill Field said...

I picked up your book on Snow White recently, and was really impressed with what you packed into a relatively low page count, but it's size, and excellent layouts coupled with the fount of knowledge that you are, make it more informative than most books 10 times thicker.

Brian Sibley said...

Well, thank you, kindly, sir!