Robots & Donuts

By Eric Joyner
184 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

Art books are my weakness. Seriously, I could buy nothing but art books and be one very happy person. I used to say that I had one entire bookshelf of nothing but art books, but I have to be honest that it’s actually expanded beyond that shelf. And that was even after, regretfully, giving away some of the books that I just didn’t have room for. I think my partner is at times a little bemused by the number of graphic novels and trade paperbacks that line my bookshelves, but recently I was informed that I really shouldn’t ever give away any art books if I’m looking to pare down the collection. All of this is a long, round-about way of saying that a good art book is worth its weight in gold for me, and while I’d never heard of Eric Joyner before Dark Horse published his book Robots & Donuts, this is a book that isn’t being given away any time soon.

The book is more or less just what it says on the cover: robots and donuts, left and right. The two are often together, sometimes separate, but I’d say a good 90% of the paintings in this book have one or the other presents. It’s hard to not immediately appreciate the book for that reason alone; Joyner clearly knows exactly what he likes to paint and goes to it with a gusto.

There’s a lovely sense of whimsy here; from donuts doubly in as UFOs, to rolling behemoths, or even at times as just a delicious baked good that serves as a final meal. Some times the paintings could be reality save for a donut doubling as a mundane object, and other times Joyner has gleefully gone off the deep end. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as when I saw Godzilla and donuts taking out a population of robots, one by one.

Sometimes, Joyner shows not only the finished painting, but its evolution over time. Sometimes you get to see the pencil sketch first, seeing how Joyner first envisioned the scene before making some tweaks and deciding how it might work better. Other times you get to see several iterations of the same painting but with some slight changes made here and there. I had to chuckle at one painting where first it’s a woman in a UFO with several planets behind her. Then, it’s the same painting only with an assortment of massive candies taking the place of the planets. Last but not least, the candy is gone only to be replaced with—you guessed it—a combination of planets, donuts, and donut holes. Each painting has its own feel and take on the situation, even while all being the same in a series with just one crucial piece swapped out.

From vineyards to cityscapes, Joyner’s got a real grasp of his subject material. Even his toy robots, while looking whimsical, are able to show real expression and emotion on their child’s toy faces. This is a really fascinating book, a look into an artist whose works I didn’t even know existed until now. If you’re looking for something that’s both beautiful and amusing for an art lover friend of yours, look no further than Robots & Donuts. Presented as a big, beautiful, oversized art book, it’s a real winner.

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