Books We Love

God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga

By Natsu Onoda Power

[Univ. of Mississippi Press, $25]

For those of us who love to devour anything written about Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka, the months leading up to the new CG-animated Astro Boy feature from Imagi are going to be a busy time. Mississippi Press has just published an insightful book by manga scholar Natsu Onoda Power, which offers a comprehensive overview of the Japanese master’s 40-year career. This intelligent volume takes a look at Tezuka’s impressive body of work’from Black Jack, Princess Knight, Phoenix, Kimba the White Lion and Adolf to the title he’s often associated with, Astro Boy (Mighty Atom). Onoda Power is quite good at illustrating the artist’s favorite philosophical and scientific themes and provides good examples of how he brought elements of high art such as opera and literature to a pop format. You might want to enjoy this book and revisit some of the amazing Tezuka titles (published by Vertical) before you take in the new movie in October!

The Art of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

[VIZ Media, $34.99]

It would be hard to find an animation lover who wouldn’t want to get their hands on watercolor and pastel concept sketches created for a Miyazaki movie. That’s why the team at VIZ have made sure that we can all enjoy the new The Art of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea book just in time for the release of the English-language version of the feature Stateside. This soft-cover edition features a rich collection of sketches and layout pages from the film, paired with interviews with Miyazaki himself and some of the key production people at Studio Ghibli and Disney. The complete Ponyo script is also included in the 268-page book. (OK, now what happened to the hardcover plans?)

Of course, die-hard Miyazaki fans won’t rest until they also add the official four-volume Ponyo full-color comic-books to their collection (the first two volumes are available August 4, while Vols. 3 and 4 arrive on Sept. 1). They will find a great home in our libraries right next to previous books about the other Miyazaki movies.

The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects

by Isaac V. Kerlow

[John Wiley & Sons, $65]

The world of CG animation has evolved drastically since the first edition of Kerlow’s primer hit bookstores in 1996. That’s why it’s great to know that the fourth edition covers a lot of new ground and over 300 new color images. The author has included new chapters on creative development, story, visual style and characters; an expanded historical timeline, updated technical info and even an update on anime principles. Although some critics have pointed out that the book doesn’t go deep enough in to the technical nitty gritty of CG animation, it does provide a colorful overview of all that the industry has achieved over the past few decades. It’s the kind of reference you’ll want to have in your home library to refer to whenever you want to brush up on specific chapters in 3D computer animation history. Plus, it’s a great place to revisit images from big studio movies such as Ice Age, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda alongside indie projects such as Afraid of the Dark, Dragon Hunters, Gopher Broke and Waltz with Bashir. (Blue Sky, Blur, BUF, Disney, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Framestore, ILM, Imagi, Microsoft, Mac Guff, The Mill, Menfond, Pixar, Polygon, Rhythm & Hues, Sony Imageworks, Tippett, Ubisoft and Weta are all represented in one form or another.) It’s just like compressing all our memories of SIGGRAPH over the years in one book.