Classic revival Showcasing incredible craft, this book documents how DreamWorks revived Jay Ward’s classic 1960s cartoon characters beautifully Author Jerry Beck Publisher Titan Books Price £25 Web www.titanbooks.com Available Now
This large, landscape book is a wonderful companion to animation giant DreamWorks’ upcoming feature film Mr Peabody & Sherman. Based on the characters created by Jay Ward in the 1960s, this 156-page hardback provides a small preview of some of the film’s snazzy preproduction art and explains how the original designs were translated to the big screen.
It begins with a wraparound book cover, painted by artist Tim Lamb, which visualises the characters’ journey from their original 1960s cartoon-style to the artwork created for today’s adaptation. Inside, following a nostalgic forward by Ty Burrell (the voice of the new Mr Peabody) and a touching preface from Jay’s daughter Tiffany, the book presents its first, and in our opinion, best chapter. It focuses on the film’s major players – Mr Peabody, Sherman, Penny and the Petersons – and features multiple character sketches and illustrations, all of which provide an inspiring visual breakdown of their development.
It’s a shame that this chapter has so few dedicated pages in comparison to the wonderfully detailed environment art and props section; however, this doesn’t take anything away from the illustrative genius that’s showcased within this book. Here you become aware of just how tirelessly the DreamWorks team worked to remain true to the original, muchloved characters.
Another noteworthy section is the Building a Scene chapter towards the end of the book, in which the narrative sees Sherman ask and Mr Peabody answer a series of questions about how the scene was translated into 3D. While it is a simplified version of the complex behind-the-scenes work, it’s a fun approach that’s technically accurate and makes what is in reality a thoroughly complicated process accessible to everyone.
Throughout the book it’s the artwork that does most of the talking though, with some additional information provided by DreamWorks artists and author Jerry Beck. Full to the brim of inspiring artwork, every page in this hardback is a beautiful rainbow of colours. However, among the hundreds of compositions featured, it would have been nice to see a few more early development sketches and storyboards, particularly in the environments section. That aside, this Art Of book has much to offer illustrators, comic fans and digital artists alike, providing a real insight to how DreamWorks artists work on memorable characters. It’s also a healthy dose of inspiration.
Mr Peabody lives in a penthouse suite with Sherman; it’s a slick mix of retro styling and contemporary design.
The film’s titular characters visit Florence, where they encounter the work of a certain Mr Da Vinci.