Mike's Bookshelf

Currently showing posts tagged Art

  • The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant by Simon Ward Book Review

    The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant by Simon Ward

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Journeying back into the bowels of space where no one can hear you scream, Simon Ward’s The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant details the development and detailed execution of Ridley Scott’s followup to his franchise rebirther Prometheus.  Welcoming readers aboard the spacecraft known as the Covenant, Ward introduces each of the film’s crew members and their personal significance throughout the narrative with enlightening commentary from costars about tackling their respective characters.  Exploring the many chambers and artistic excellence of the ship itself, Ward exposes readers to early concept renderings of the vessels nursery, hypersleep chamber, the bridge where key interactions amongst the crew occur, among many other quarters and their finished appearances in the film with noteworthy insight from the artists behind them.  Following the crew’s dangerous expedition to the dreaded Dreadnought, the vastly impressive approaches bringing the Xenomorphs to life and H.R. Giger’s continued artistic influences on Scott’s bleak sci-fi world, The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant is a near 200-glossy paged lost paradise for audiences and readers alike intrigued by the crafting of all its deep space terror.  Featuring a brief forward by its director, The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant will only enrich one’s appreciation for this mature extraterrestrial saga.

    Available now from Titan Books, The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers. 

  • Mike's Bookshelf Spotlight: Disney's Moana Book Reviews

    With Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 56th feature continuing to make a splash in cinemas, we set sail on a series of Moana based books well worth exploring ahead of its home video release.

    The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure by Kari Sutherland

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Adapting the animated film with equal heart, The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure provides young readers with a wonderfully constructed version of the film and the Pacific Island folktales that inspired it.  Spanning 300 pages and gorgeous cover art, this hardback edition, accompanied with bonus tattoos familiar to those seen on the brave Maui, will make Moana’s adventures a treasured source of reading for those in love with its feature.

    Available now from Disney Press, The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Perfect for young artists and artists young at heart, Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity is tailor-made with art of your favorite characters from the film, tribal patterns, tattoo designs and other beautiful imagery based on the Pacific Island setting awaiting their black-and-white pages to be brought to life.  Both for fun and relaxation, countless pages of creativity awaits those hungry to add their personal touch of color to them.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Art of Coloring Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Read-Along Storybook and CD: Moana by Bill Scollon

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Condensing the film version for ages 3-6, this charming storybook interpretation of Moana recalls the spirited teenager who along with demigod Maui dares to trek the ocean to restore the heart of Te Fiti.  Joined by a CD counterpart narrated by Rena Owen and featuring thrilling sound effects, this perfect nighttime read and its lovely illustrations will easily capture the imaginations of young dreamers.

    Available now from Disney Press, Read-Along Storybook and CD: Moana can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    Moana and the Ocean by Heather Knowles

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Told from the perspective of the sea who has watched over the titular character since birth, Moana and the Ocean is a lovely picture book that celebrates Moana’s enduring spirit and courageousness.  Featuring gorgeous illustrations by Annette Marnat, this simplistic storybook, although brief on text, is an essential addition for its inspiring artwork alone that seamlessly captures the color palettes of the film’s picturesque environment.

    Available now from Disney Press, Moana and the Ocean can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Josh Kushins Book Review

    The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Josh Kushins

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Dominating the worldwide box-office, the first sensational spinoff to George Lucas’s original films chronicles its full artistic splendor in Josh Kushins’ The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  Featuring forewords by the film’s Co-Production Designers Doug Chiag & Neil Lamont and Director Gareth Edwards, this visually arresting volume celebrates many of the six thousand pieces of concept art, both unused and brought to life on the big-screen, developed for the prequel, spotlighting the production’s blue sky explorations for its many environments, droid and ship designs, costume choices and weaponry.  Committed to recapturing the lived-in appearance of A New Hope brilliantly realized by legendary concept artist Ralph McQuarrie while injecting a flavor all its own, the inspirational art found within its 200+ pages is nothing short of astonishing and beautifully captures the collaborative efforts of Lucasfilm’s arsenal of artists.  Appreciating the ever-changing development of character appearances and climactic sequences, the richness found in matte paintings, concept boards and digital mockups will surely inspire a new generation of artists while, longtime Force wielders will find themselves further entranced by the stunning artistry brought forth in Edwards’ rebellious adventure that set the events of the beloved 1977 feature into motion.

    Available now from Abrams, The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story can be purchased via AbramsBooks.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections by Britt Salvesen and Jim Shedden with Paul Koudounaris, Keith McDonald and Roger Clark Book Review

    Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections by Britt Salvesen and Jim Shedden with Paul Koudounaris, Keith McDonald and Roger Clark

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Serving as a glorified companion piece to the exciting exhibits debuting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Minneapolis Museum of Art centered on the work and influences of Guillermo del Toro, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections delves into the fantastical passions of del Toro, guiding readers through his massive Bleak House that holds his vast collection of artifacts, art pieces, books, pop culture collectibles and movie props.  Littered with several essays and an exclusive interview with the visionary director on his moviemaking techniques, influences and obsessive collecting habits, the scholarly compositions cover a multitude of subjects including, the perception of monsters throughout history as well as the evolution of freak shows and fictional, misunderstood characters in latter-day centuries.  Akin to its exhibits, the text is broken into several sections ranging from innocence and childhood to magic, alchemy, and the occult, where select passages from del Toro’s personal notebooks are included alongside personally selected pieces of art that speak directly to the artist’s unique, wide-ranging sensibilities.

    Presenting gorgeous photographs inside Bleak House that showcase del Toro’s many different, genre associated libraries, the jaw-droppingly gorgeous and gigantic reproduction of the Frankenstein monster’s head that towers over the house’s hall entrance and his life-size sculptures of noted authors H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, the visual layout of this entryway into del Toro’s mad imagination is second to none.  Serving as an invaluable introduction to countless other artists and works that have shaped del Toro’s creativity, the imagery filled volume concludes with an appreciative reference guide of literature, visual art and cinema that surges through the writer/director’s works.  A true treasure trove of unique sights and overwhelming inspiration, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections is a thematic necessity for appreciators of one of cinema’s most unique souls.

    Available now from Insight Editions, Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters - Inside His Films, Notebooks and Collections can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit by Garry Apgar Book Review

    Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit by Garry Apgar

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    In the first fully realized biography of Walt Disney’s greatest creation, Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit recalls Disney and Ub Iwerks’ development of the spunky mouse to his worldwide impact through his many cinematic adventures.  With a legacy spanning nearly 90 years, Mickey Mouse’s influence on the culture, his place in the annals of art history and of course, his equally iconic and sometimes controversial role as an American icon are exhaustively covered in Author Garry Apgar’s detailed study.

    Unlike any cartoon character before or since, Mickey Mouse’s meteoric rise to prominence cannot be overemphasized.  Tracing Walt Disney’s earliest years in the midwest to his popular character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit being swindled away, Apgar’s biographical overview of Disney’s famed mouse showcases his creator’s desperation on a long train ride home from New York to deliver a new, unique creation that would lead to the salvation of his studio.  Separating fact from fiction, Apgar goes to great lengths to set the record straight regarding Mickey’s origins that range from Walt, during truly desperate days as a struggling artist, feeding a friendly mouse that supposedly planted the germ of his eventual idea to the routinely retold, although factually inaccurate, tale of a chance encounter with child actor Mickey Rooney influencing Disney’s decision to name his character after the future Pete’s Dragon star.  As the pieces come together in Mickey’s creation, Apgar traces the many phases of his enduring career from his popular headlining appearances in the studio’s short subjects to his dazzling turn in 1940’s Fantasia.  With the arrival of The Great Depression and World War II, Mickey blossomed into an image of bravery for the struggling country before transitioning into the sunny mascot of Disneyland.  While Mickey’s optimism and good-natured personality were viewed as a controversial image during the difficult days of Vietnam and an extension of forceful American propaganda, Disney’s alter ego endured rising to the ranks as a timeless creation where modern artists such as Andy Warhol and the power of nostalgia cemented his deserved place in the world and as a beacon of American iconography.  

    Extensively researched and containing countless rarely seen stills, Garry Apgar’s Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit is a scholarly analysis of Walt Disney’s enduring creation that continues to delight audiences of all ages.  Never shying away from the outcries of Mickey’s harshest critics, Apgar’s essential volume is exquisitely balanced with insight from a multitude of sources that allows readers to fully absorb all facets that make Mickey the valued image he has become.

    Available now from The Walt Disney Family Foundation Press, Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak Book Review

    The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following the purchase of Lucasfilm by the Walt Disney Company in the fall of 2012, the power of the Force was reignited by fans worldwide at the prospect of new adventures carrying on George Lucas’ sci-fi legacy.  With famed producer Kathleen Kennedy (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park) steering Star Wars’ future, Director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek) was selected to bring viewers back to a galaxy from far, far away.  Aided by the industries most creatively talented artists, Phil Szostak’s The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens pulls back the curtain on the challenging three year journey of development that took place to realize the many new worlds, characters, costumes and set pieces designed for the long anticipated Episode VII.

    Accompanied by a foreword from the film’s Co-Production Designer Rick Carter (Forrest Gump, Avatar), The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens unsurprisingly focuses on the design aspects of the film beginning with stunning inspirational art establishing early looks for the new characters and imaginative possibilities for new planets.  As the book progresses with production nearing, more refined design work is showcased on the evolving costume choices for the stormtroopers and our heroes while, several unique considerations for the appearance of Jedi killer Kylo Ren is displayed.  While Szostak’s behind-the-scenes hardback is relatively slim on text, interesting insight is revealed as Rey and Finn, the young heroes of the film, were originally named Kira and Sam.  In addition, artwork by Concept Artist Iain McCaig (the Star Wars prequels, Guardians of the Galaxy) suggests that the ghost of Anakin Skywalker was at one time considered for inclusion in the film.  As anticipated as the latest film is and with several episodic sequels and spinoffs currently being prepped, The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens may not be the definitive making-of account for the franchises rebirth but, still provides readers and fellow artists with an incredible look into the awe-inspiring artistry that has made the film an immediate success with viewers.

    Available now from Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens can be purchased via AbramsBooks.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out by Kevin Luperchio and All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains by Dana Amendola Book Reviews

    Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out by Kevin Luperchio

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Highlighting the lush history of Disney’s most memorable promotional materials, Kevin Luperchio’s Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out provides readers with a look back at the art and advances made in the crafting of Disney’s infamous posters.  Collecting over 135 posters from Disney’s earliest short subjects including the Alice Comedies, Steamboat Willie and the groundbreaking Silly Symphonies to golden age milestones like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and Dumbo, domestic, international and various rerelease posters are on full display over lavish spreads.  Also documenting live-action highlights from the productions of Treasure Island and Mary Poppins to more recent fare like Hocus Pocus, Pearl Harbor and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney’s successful collaborations with Pixar from their classic debut Toy Story to the recently released Inside Out are also included.  While Luperchio’s effort can hardly be considered definitive, Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out gives art lovers a sizable introduction to some of Disney’s most beloved images of the last 90 years for fans to appreciate on a large canvas.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Disney Movie Posters: From Steamboat Willie to Inside Out can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

    All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains by Dana Amendola

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From his early beginnings in Marceline, Missouri, Walt Disney’s passion and enthusiasm for train culture has been well documented.  Serving as a news butcher on the Missouri Pacific at an impressionable age, Disney’s love affair with all things locomotive would remain an enduring part of his legacy in the formation of his famed studio and enchanting theme parks around the world.  Sharing a personal appreciation for steamers, Dana Amendola’s All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains guides readers through a tour of their important place in Disney’s history beginning with Walt’s earliest fascinations, Mickey Mouse’s inspired creation aboard The Chief and the well-researched appearances of trains throughout Disney’s vast film history.  With each section accompanied by “inside track” extended notes and littered with gorgeous still photography, Amendola traces animation legends Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson’s infatuation with their own backyard railways for reigniting Walt’s love for trains and establishing a close knit bond with their boss over their shared love.  As Disney’s magical flair expanded into the world of theme parks, Amendola covers the unique visual history of the various locomotives circling Disney parks from California to Hong Kong with exquisite concept art on display.  Accompanied with a warm introduction by John Lasseter, All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains is a fabulous read for devoted train enthusiasts while, casual fans will be treated to a splendid crash course through the steam powered history that continues to chug along for Disney.

    Available now from Disney Editions, All Aboard: The Wonderful World of Disney Trains can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.