Out of Picture
As noted in the book's introduction, the phrase "'out of picture' is a film term used when anything is cut from a movie." However, in this case the term relates to the inspiration behind the book. Published by Villard, Out of Picture is an anthology from a group of seasoned artists well-versed in their crafts and brought together through their common day job as the talented minds behind Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Ice Age 2, Robots). The book was meant as a side project originally proposed to keep their creative juices flowing between the long journey that is feature-film animtation. But when you get that many artists together and anything goes, it's impossible to keep a simple side project from evolving into a full-blown production.
Part hand-drawn, part computer-generated, part concept designs/sketchbook, but mainly a short sequential showcase, this 160-page softcover has it all...and it's all good. Contributors to the book include Daisuke Tsutsumi, Greg Couch, Andrea Blasich, Vincent Nguyen, Daniel Lopez Munoz, Nash Dunnigan, Michael Knapp, Benoit le Pennec, Robert Mackenzie, David Gorden, and Peter de Sève. As far as highlights go...
In Robert Mackenzie's "Around the Corner, the narrator implores a little boy to mind his surroundings as he enters into the world of imagination.
Featuring rich, pastel-toned spot illustrations, "Yes, I Can" by Andrea Blasich follows a young inventor and his dragon friend as they work together to overcome their respective issues with flight.
Greg Couche delivers what I consider to be the book's standout with a 5-page story that combines Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes and film noir. Titled "Four and Twenty Blackbirds", the tale follows private dick "Little" Jack Horner on the trail of his partner's (Jack Nimble) killer. The linework is pencil-sketchy perfect, effectively creating the mood of a teaser trailer for a movie like The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon. And honestly, any story that includes a Peter Lorre-inspired Humpty Dumpty is pretty much amazing.
The oversized 8.5 x 12.5 format showcases the anthology's artwork nicely when compared to the standard comic-book size, giving the pages a tad more room to breathe. The $19.95 price tag is a great bargain considering that you're not getting any duds in this collection. I will throw in the disclaimer that Out of Picture may appeal to art lovers slightly more than story lovers. But at a minimum it's worth perusing for the pretty pictures.
If you're interested in finding out more about the book, visit the Out of Picture website where you can preview pages, read the artists' bios, and even pre-order volume two which is already in the works for an '08 release.