Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons by Hannah Frank

One cannot review Hannah Frank’s Frame by Frame without observing that it is a book marked by tragedy, specifically its author’s passing in 2017. That might have meant the end of the present volume—a lightly edited revision of Frank’s dissertation—had it not been for a few prominent advocates who saw it through to publication, even as they cautioned that, without much opportunity for revision, readers should consider Frame by Frame a work in progress. In his editor’s introduction, Daniel Morgan explains that the book “is basically the dissertation that Frank defended in August 2016,” and “not the book that she would have published,” as Frank had already begun planning extensive changes to the manuscript that she did not live to complete (xxii).

Birth of an Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation by Nicholas Sammond

In Birth of an Industry, Nicholas Sammond traces “the connections between the animated blackface minstrel, the industrialization of the art of animation, and fantasies of resistant labor” (xii). His core argument is that early animators developed unruly, cartoon minstrels in response to their increasingly depersonalized workplace. On a broader scale, the project works to situate animation within “a larger and longer history of racial iconography and taxonomy in the United States” (4). To make his case Sammond navigates a historically grounded racial matrix of minstrel shows, vaudeville acts, as well as other complex and contradictory representational forums.