Publisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia)
Writer/Artist: Dave Petersen
Release Date: 12th August, 2015
Art books are an acquired taste. Some folk are all about the story, even in this medium we love. Others just don’t see the point. Me, I look at it as a gateway drug for the uninitiated and a luxurious pleasure otherwise. But what separates this from your everyday coffee table collection is the narrative of Petersen’s creative process.
It’s fascinating to see the evolution of not only the process, but the product itself – everything from pencil sketches to wood carvings, photographs and doodles. To get the story behind the creation of beloved characters – the origin of Liaem in a roleplaying buddy, the development of Midnight – and also many of the key sequences is nothing short of magical. I was first sold on Mouseguard by the sheer terror that he manages to instill with Crabs, and to see how this extraordinary segment came together is hypnotic.
With page-by-page explorations of frames, panels, scripts, this is a real treat. This book is as much about understanding how to read a comic as it is about the sheer love of them – and there is an awful lot of love here, as you can see how Petersen’s passion has driven forward his ideas into a resounding, fully-formed success. It’s a primer to the novice, and a guide to the fan.
And there’s so much more to this. The exquisitely detailed scale models, practically exploded to illustrate an idea physically. The dedicated section to “Beyond the Page” only reinforces this, with a raft of other interpretations (Mike Mignola’s Black Axe still thrills me) showing the extraordinary sandbox he’s created for others to play in here.
I urge you to pick this up. It’s one of the most accessible examples of the form and a thing of rare beauty. And it’s something your whole family will revel in, as they discover the lives and trials of the Guard, the Mice and more.
Rating: A worthy 5/5, as this is a book that is perfect whatever your feelings may be about comics and comic art.
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The Writer of this piece was: Sam Graven
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