If you look back through the reviews I’ve done here on Project Fandom, you’ll likely notice a pattern: I’m a sucker for art books. I love the feel of the crisp, thick stock paper used to print the richly detailed artwork, and I love the idea of a beautiful artbook displayed on a coffee table or bookshelf. As the adage is wont to go, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but art books are quite literally made to be judged by their covers. Frankly, what’s written within the pages of an art book is not all that important. Fortunately, the art books from Titan Books seem to ignore that fact because they don’t just feature great art, but they always go all-out on the information, too. The Art of Regular Show by Shannon O’Leary is no exception, and it begins with the 3D bubble cover.
For the uninitiated, Regular Show is an animated series which has ran seven seasons in the five years it has been airing on Cartoon Network, with an additional television film set to air on the network next month. The popular show was created by J.G. Quintel and follows the eventful lives of ostensibly anthropomorphic creatures in a Georgia state park.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#4A7097″ class=”” size=””]”Rough drawings, sketches, and doodles on Post-Its. Tons and tons of Post-its.” – J.G. Quintel[/pullquote]
There are only a few acceptable reasons why you wouldn’t be familiar with this series: 1. You are not the parent or relative of a teenage boy and have not been for all or part of the past five years. 2. You are not a middle-aged man who enjoys the surge of abstract comedy shows on Cartoon Network in the past decade. 3. You’ve been living under a rock. If you do not fit into any of those categories, there is no way you don’t know about Regular Show (or its spiritual sibling Adventure Time). By my calculations, this means almost everyone in the world is aware of this show, and every last one of them will want to read this book.
The Art of Regular Show reads like the best Wikipedia article you’ll ever read on an animated series–I used to edit Wikipedia, as a hobby, before I became all busy and had grownup responsibilities, and I consider this *Nicolas Cage*HIGH PRAISE*Nicolas Cage*.
Featuring interviews presented in prose with the likes of J.G. Quintel, William Salyers, Mark Hamill (yes, Star Wars is discussed), Sam Marin, and so many more; An Introduction to the Art, by the series’ art director Paula Spence; full character profiles, exploring many character origins; a detailed analysis of several episodes, including season three’s “Eggscellent” and the Christmas Special, complete with a pony-tailed Santa and polar bear wrestling; a discussion on how difficult it is to write intentionally bad songs; and so much more: this books provides exactly the kind of behind-the-curtain information it’s often so difficult to find, like how sub sandwiches factor into which ideas become episodes and which ones don’t. And that’s not even to mention the artwork.
To mention the artwork, this book is absolutely covered in conceptual drawings, pencil sketches, promotional material, floor plans for buildings on the show, and full scenes of storyboard-to-screen comparisons! Plus, plenty of Post-Its, which play a large part in the creation of the series, including getting the concept picked up by Cartoon Network in the first place.
In a foreword J.G. Quintel penned for this book, he mentions being a fan of “books about cartoons”, just like I am, and this art book feels very much like it was made by a fan (or fans) of books about cartoons. I know that’s not a shaky limb I’m climbing out on because why wouldn’t the people making this book be a fan of books like this? But I only even bring it up because this art book includes something 12-year-old me would have geeked out over: detailed instructions on on how to draw Mordecai, Rigby, Pops, and Benson. I honestly don’t know if that’s such a big deal, now, since the internet puts a lot of things right in our hands, but I do know I’m 28 and got disproportionately excited when I turned the page and saw those diagrams. It takes me right back to every single time Scholastic book fair would come to my school and set up shop in the library. I bought so many “how to draw” books, and I can’t even draw a bath. It’s just fun, and that’s 100% Regular Show.