The Art of The Boxtrolls
By Philip Brotherton
Feast your eyes on the brilliant array of drawings, paintings, maquettes and puppetry minutia that went into LAIKA’s latest stop-motion masterpiece. This 160-page hardcover strives to give fans as diverse a picture of the processes behind this intensive animation technique as possible. Well-curated spreads document character evolutions (including concepts that were abandoned as the studio fine-tuned its adaptation of Here Be Monsters), give a glimpse behind the scenes and zoom in on incredible details.
The book also does a good job of explaining LAIKA’s unique process, which incorporates 3D printed facial replacement and CG set extensions. Although with so much potential material to include, readers will likely be left wanting more. As studio founder Travis Knight says in his amusing — and insightful — preface, “[LAIKA’s] artists draw from the theater, the stage, and the tech lab. Our characters and world are spawned from pencil and paper, sculpted by human hands, designed with computers, and manufactured by machines. Within the studio’s walls, cinema’s history collides with its future.”
Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo
By Chris McDonnell
At long-last, fans can get their first-ever compendium of the concept artwork and storyboards that go into creating Pendleton Ward’s Emmy Award-winning comedy. The richly embellished book traces Ward’s early influences and work, then delves into the Cartoon Network vaults to reveal how the writers, ‘boarders, animators and voice actors bring the post-apocalyptic, magical and all-around inventive adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the Dog.
Peppered with comments from the show’s key creative staff, this on-page journey into Ooo includes early character sketches, sumptuous background paintings and rare looks at the series’ bible. Already a best-seller on Amazon just days after its launch, these carefully collected 350-plus pages deserves a place of honor on any toon lover’s coffee table. Preferably, next to the earlier released The Original Cartoon Title Cards (Titan, $19.95).
The Best American Comics 2014
By Scott McCloud (Editor) & Bill Kartalopoulos (Series Editor)
[Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25]
The latest edition of this yearly collection is a highly polished mirror of “guest editor” Scott McCloud’s approach to the medium. The acclaimed cartoonist and author of the influential ‘90s treatise Understanding Comics brings together 35 short pieces and excerpts, arranged into thematic sections and prefaced by McCloud’s illuminating introductions.
Culled from graphic novels, comic books, periodicals and the web, the selections represent both the old guard and the up and comers. Indie standbys Charles Burns, R. Crumb, the Hernandez Brothers and Chris Ware are shuffled up with strip artist Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac), graphic memoirist Miriam Katin (Letting It Go) and Internet sensation Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half), among many others. The 2014 collection is designed to whet your appetite and deepen your understanding of the artform in its most recent incarnations.
The Drawing Club: Mastering the Art of Drawing from Life
By Bob Kato
[Quarry Books, $24.99]
If you’re looking for fresh inspiration for your work, or are looking for tips to fine-tune your figure and character drawing skills, we recommend this debut paperback from L.A.-based artist and educator Bob Kato. Inspired by Kato’s “The Drawing Club” live model sessions, the book aims to help both professionals and hobbyists flex and build their artistic muscles.
Written with the same energy that drives the creative Club, this figure drawing manual teaches readers how to translate life to the page, tell a visual story, get comfortable with a variety of materials and discover an individual artistic voice, as well as exploring comic approaches to drawing. A hefty array of inspiring examples is also provided in a gallery of both fine work and character art created by master artists and working animators.