The Artbook Review #5 - The Art of Dead Rising 2


48 pages.
Edition: Hardcover.
By Capcom, 2010.
 
It's October and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is hitting shelves today, making it the perfect time for me to pull out one of the gorier books in my collection.
After an introduction by series creator, Keiji Inafune, the book kicks off with “The Evolution of Chuck Greene” a great little section filled with early concept work of our new zombie slaying hero.  Did you know Chuck was originally named Chuck Reid and worked as a smokejumper (with no mention of family)?  Or that one of the proposed
Citizens and Psychopaths of Fortune City.
combo weapons were a pair of drill stilts?  It’s interesting facts and concept work like this that really gets me into videogame art books and this one didn’t really disappoint in that regard.  One of the more amazing concept pieces I found was of Fortune City, where the game takes place.  What wound up as a simple Vegas parody in the middle of the desert was once a fertile neon oasis built atop island plateaus in the middle of an enormous canyon.  It’s quite beautiful…at least I think it is.  It’s kind of hard to tell since that particular image is little more than an inch in diameter.

That brings me to some of the issues I have with this book.  As is the trend with most art books that come packaged with special editions these days, it’s roughly the size of a DVD case.  While I can understand the decision to make them compact enough to fit in the packaging, I find little reason that designers couldn’t attempt to make up for this in page length.  As a result we get quite a few pages packed with tiny
Zombies.
thumbnail sized images; the worst offender being a page in the “Environmental Concepts” section that crams a whopping nine full color spreads into itself.  Another big problem I found were a few pages that placed small images right across the books crease…  Talk about frustrating!
Environmental Concepts.

Despite it featuring a few shining examples of how not to design an art book I did enjoy the artwork and it did feature a plethora of content.  It covered everything from zombies and psychopaths to vehicles and 3D renders.  All of which would have been more enjoyable if they’d simply expanded the book a bit and gave us some nice full page spreads.
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The Artbook Review #4 - The Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole

104 pages.
Edition: Hardcover.
By Fantagraphics Books 2004.
 
Jack Kirby Hall of Famer, Will Eisner stand-in and Playboy illustrator; Jack Cole was one of the comic industries biggest talents and certainly proved to be one of the most diverse.  He pushed the envelope with mature pulps like Murder, Morphine & Me during a time when the medium was considered to be primarily for children, he authored a newspaper strip and various small funnies throughout his career and he created one of the most profitable and memorable characters of his day, Plastic Man.

Today however, we’ll be looking into a collection of some of his more erotic work.  Art that Hugh Hefner, the Playboy himself, found so humorous and eye appealing that he featured it regularly in his then budding magazine.
Before we dive into the fun I’d like to mention the Introduction of this book.  It was written by editor Jack Chun and features a very well written and a fairly in-depth look into the artists life and techniques.  I learned some details within its paragraphs that I’d never picked up from various wikis and blogs which, as a Cole fan, made this
 There's your pocketbook, Ma'am-right there on the floor!
an even more enjoyable purchase.

The art itself is split into three sections, Line Art, Washes and Originals.  All pretty self-explanatory.  What’s really worth going into is the ink wash technique he used for most of the works in this collection.  Though the humor is sometimes a bit crass (especially for the time) there is nothing crude about the style it is portrayed in.  The beautiful bold strokes compliment his curvaceous femmes in the most perfect way.  The subtle shading of the skin and light airy strokes for the hair give most of the women an absolutely angelic quality.  Or as Art Spiegelman masterfully put it “Cole’s goddesses were estrogen soufflés“.

These bunny funnies weren’t all about the babes however, they’re just as much about the enthralled and wise-cracking guys that chased
Junior, can't you do your chin-ups on something else around the house?
them.  Most of the humor found within this collection can be categorized as male fantasy, either by placing cunning men in advantageous positions with the fairer sex or placing (often promiscuous) ditsy dames in the spotlight.  Stylistically Cole further divided the two genders by regularly drawing the men in a more humorous and exaggerated fashion than their counterparts.
You planned that!

All in all I thoroughly enjoy this book  and find myself flipping through it quite frequently.  The art is beautiful enough that women can enjoy it just as much as the men these inks were meant for and the humor, personally, is right up my alley.  If you’re a pin-up collector this would be a great addition to your set and should be the cornerstone of any Cole fans bookshelf.
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The Thieves Den

Fellow swindlers!  Welcome to the den of iniquity where I will share with you my Lupintic treasure trove and all its latest additions.  If you have a similar love for all things Lupin or have any questions regarding the King of Thieves sound off and let me know.

My most recent haul:

This month I picked up two new DVD's, a fairly common mirror figure and a not so common disco figure with a light-up stand (seriously).  My favorite acquisition though was the sketch card I received from my friend Raven0207!  I like it so much I've decided to add a "Fan Created" category which will fit nicely under the doujinshis I think. ^^

My Collection

Comics

Books

Videogames

DVDs
  • The Castle of Cagliostro [Manga]
  • The Castle of Cagliostro (Special Edition) [Manga]
  • Dead or Alive [Funimation]
  • Episode 0: First Contact [Discotek]
  • Farewell to Nostradamus [Funimation]
  • The First TV Series Box Set [Chinese Bootleg]
  • The Fuma Conspiracy [Discotek]
  • Island of Assassins [Funimation]
  • Movie Pack: First Haul [Funimation]
  • Movie Pack: Final Haul [Funimation]
  • Strange Psychokinetic Strategy [Discotek]
  • Vol. 6: Lupin the Target [Geneon]
  • Voyage to Danger [Funimation]

Figures
  • Action Pose Figure Castle of Cagliostro: Lupin A [Banpresto]
  • Chair Case: Lupin [Banpresto]
  • Disco Figure: Lupin [Banpresto]
  • Key Holder: Fujiko Opening Version [Banpresto]
  • Lupin & Inspector Zenigata Action Figure [Yamato]
  • Lupin Mirror Figure [Banpresto]
  • Panson Works DX Figure #2: Lupin [Banpresto]
  • Panson Works DX Figure #2: Zenigata [Banpresto]
  • Super Action Pose Figure: Lupin [Banpresto]

CDs

Doujinshi
 
Fan Created
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The Artbook Review #3 - Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions


32 pages.
Edition: Hardcover.
By Insight Editions, 2010

And now for something completely different…

It’s no secret that tons of work goes into creating and designing videogames, even for established properties.  Designing an army of mooks for our hero to fight, building levels around him and his abilities and not unlike many comic artists, adding twists to established characters to make them unique to their story.  In this game the creative
 Carnage (Ultimate).
team at Beenox had to work with four different incarnations of Spidey (Amazing, Noir, Ultimate and 2099) and by extension the very diverse worlds they each inhabit.

Looking at the paintings of the environments you can see how well the team managed to capture the  mood and style of each dimension.  The 2099 spreads depicting sterile metallic architecture laced with neon lighting.  Noir appropriately blanketed in shadows and washed in sepia, turning the streets of New York into a Gothic wonderland.
 Sandman's Level (Amazing).

As for the character designs, unlike the previous game (Web of Shadows) Shattered Dimensions kept its feet firmly planted into its comic roots.  This doesn’t mean we didn’t manage to get a few original gems this time round however.  The Deadpool henchmen (err fanboys) were brilliantly designed and
Doc Ock (2099).
I’m sure got a chuckle out of more than a few players.  Startlingly, we were also introduced to 2099 Doctor Octopus, a completely original take on the character designed solely for this title.  Now that's what I call spectacular!

While it is possible to unlock concept art within the game itself, I find myself lucky to own a physical copy of this collection.  I might just be old school but nothing beats flipping through a good book.
12 Comments

The Artbook Review #2 - www HR Giger com


240 pages.
Edition: Hardcover.
By Taschen, 2008.

The Fueler of Fetishes, the Baron of Biomechanisms, these are just a few sensationalist titles that could accurately describe H.R. Giger and his enormous body of work.  He’s worked in every medium from comics to body art, odds are if you can name it, he’s done it.
 
He’s such a huge talent that most of you here will be familiar with his work even if you may not be aware of it.  He’s been a featured artist in Heavy Metal Magazine, designer on the classic Ridley Scott film Alien and the sculptor of KoRn frontman Jonathan Davis’ microphone.
 
"They are the sincerest fans of my work because they collect for pleasure, not for profit.  As living bearers of my work, almost like exhibits in an open-air museum, they are not locked away in safes as so often happens with valuable art.  Not yet, at least."  -Giger on Tattoos
 Alien III.

 
While I personally prefer Giger’s Biomechanics collection I thought ‘Com’ would be a better starting point due to its content.  This book features a diverse compilation of his work spanning almost his entire career in all his chosen mediums.  Even better, it features translated commentary made by the man himself.  Having Giger narrate us through this anthology is such a treat, a novelty that almost makes it worth the price of admission alone.  Starting this book with stories from his childhood, he takes your hand and gently guides you through the gallery of his life.  An illustrated autobiography beginning with rare childhood photos that slowly give way to some of his earliest sketches.

Eventually we break into the airbrush photos he’s most famous for.  Those twisted and meticulously created metallic dreamscapes that remain unparalleled in the art
 A Feast for the Psychiatrist (1966).
community today.  It’s always a pleasure to see these pieces in large glossy print as taking in the staggering amount of detail in these prints can often take a while.  Another point of interest in this volume is the focus on Giger’s other passion, interior design.  He gushes almost excitedly about the work he’s done redesigning his home and truly making it a world of his own design.  He also mentions in
 Birth Machine (1967).
passing his desire to build a small train that would travel around his garden and through his home (something he did indeed later make a reality after the printing of this book).

In closing, he’s an incredible man with a truly unique style and as far as I’m concerned the greatest surreal artist this century has had to offer.  Who else but Giger could make nightmares so much fun to explore? 
20 Comments

The Artbook Review #1 - Cuties

128 pages.
Edition: Hardcover.
By M.P. Works, 2003.
 
Let me take you back, back to the swingin' '60's!  Now, imagine a young Japanese man hunched over his table, slaving away at dozens of comic panels to make his next deadline...

Yeah, that's the one!
 
Monkey Punch (real name Kazuhiko Kato) has been in the professional art trade for almost fifty years.  His style a devious mix of Sergio Aragonés and Haddon Sundblom.  Sex and violence is the name of the game and as you‘re about to see no one plays it better...  

Cuties is a collection of his classic pin-up work spanning 1967-‘76, a full decade of his trademark femme fatales.  The book is broken down into three sections; ‘Cuties’, 'Cuties & Beasts' and ‘Cuties as Comic Heroines’.  The ‘Cuties’ segment is an assortment of solo shots of women in interesting and compromising positions (let your imaginations soar!).  ‘Cuties & Beasts’ is an even more entertaining chapter and my personal favorite, of a few misleadingly dainty ladies taking out men (or beasts) in increasingly creative ways.  The final segment is a small assortment of the women from his various comic series featuring characters such as Fujiko ( Lupin III), June and Naomi (Siamese Cat).

Wicked, witty and one of a kind, Monkey Punch is my favorite artist from the east not solely for his skill or style as much as for the content
of his work.  He’s a storyteller as much as he is an artist and even in his singular pieces this secondary talent often shines through.  His work may be a tad outrageous for some but others will only see a compilation of work that never ceases to be entertaining.  For these
reasons and more, Cuties remains the crown jewel of my collection and I’m honored to have shared some of it with you.  

Hopefully this has sparked an interest in some of you to check out the artist and some of his other work.


 
 
~M.S.
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