A while back I was searching eBay for merchandise connected to the “Monsters Vs. Aliens” film, and hit upon “The Art of Monsters Vs Aliens.” The book promised a plethora of images for a cartoon that blew me away when I saw it in 2009.
Of course, there was the amazing 3-D it offered. The process, which was done during filming, not after, was amazing, and I couldn’t stop talking about it for days.
But I also really liked the movie as a whole — Ginormica is a great female cartoon character. The story harkens back to the Golden Age of Sci-Fi, a personal favorite of mine. Likewise, it was remarkably charming, thanks to characters like B.O.B. and the bumbling President.
And then you topped it all off with some nice designs — from characters like the Missing Link to the massive robot that makes first contact.
So, without much debate, I ordered “The Art of Monsters Vs Aliens.” As expected, it’s a pretty standard book when it comes to this sort of thing. After all, it’s a big, fat Marketing Department publication that they actually convince regular consumers to buy. Initially priced at $40.00, you definitely would have to be a big-time animation fan to want this. I got it for $10 thanks to a heavily damaged dust jacket. That price is definitely more reader friendly.
Of course the real reason anyone buys “The Art of Monsters Vs Aliens” is, of course, for the art, and there’s certainly plenty of it.
Early chapters are devoted to character designs, where you get to see the evolving process of creating a 49-and-a-half-foot-tall woman, a blue glob, a Mothra clone, the Creature from Miami Beach and a scientist transformed into a cockroach.
Later on, the book studies the details built into the background and the difficulties of scaling all the different-sized characters. These include some wonderfully creative designs for Gallaxhar’s mother ship, his clone creating device and how the whole thing got blown up in the finale.
My favorite part of the book is the section dedicated to creature and robot designs that were dropped from the production, including an oil-sucking locust robot, seen at bottom.
I also dug the fact that some of the artists working on the film still draw on paper with marker, as seen in the inset to the right. Seeing Peter Maynez’s sketches warmed the cockels of this artist’s heart. (It’s good to know I’m not the only one still working on paper.)
All these great images aside, I found the whole book to be a bit lacking. It doesn’t offer a lot of context about the production or even provide any great anecdotes about how things came to be. This is all straight party-line from the Dreamworks public relations department, so take that for what it’s worth.
So to me, that makes “The Art of Monsters Vs Aliens” a curiosity for fans, but not a requirement.
More details, for those interested
Format: The hardcover book is just under 200 pages long. Its made
with high-grade paper — probably the nicest book paper I’ve seen in a
while, and is firmly stichbound. It’s wider than it is tall, which helps
in the presentation of “widescreen” images.
The dust jacket is a digital paint of the five main characters from the
film — Ginormica, B.O.B., Dr. Cockroach and Missing Link. Insectasaurus
is there too, but she’s kind of hard to miss.
The hardcover features an alternate design, which I believe is the
insignia of the monster containment squad that first captures Ginormica.
Foreward: The intro to the book is written by comedian Stephen
Colbert, who provides an interesting look at how his love for monsters
and Sci-Fi have guided him through the years. It’s the best written
piece in the book, as it provides some depth that is lacking in the rest
of the book.
Chapters: The majority of the book is written by “Linda
Sunshine,” which sure sounds like a pen name to me. Sunshine plays
stenographer through the book. She simply organizes some comments by the
designers, but provides very little commentary or context.
Publisher: Newmarket Press