Pepita: Inoue Meets Gaudi

By Takehiko Inoue
108 pages, color
Published by Viz

I’ve been a fan of Takehiko Inoue’s for quite a while, especially with his series Slam Dunk, Vagabond, and Real. When I saw that a new art book by Inoue titled Pepita: Inoue meets Gaudi was coming out, I reserved a copy without even thinking twice. I figured based on the cover art that it would be perhaps a travel journal of sorts involving the Catalan architect. What I found was actually a historical telling of Gaudi’s life with some art and photographs mixed in. And while it’s an interesting book, it was definitely not what I was expecting.

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Art of the Secret World of Arrietty

By Studio Ghibli and Hiromasa Yonebayashi
200 pages, color
Published by Viz

As much as I love Studio Ghibli’s films, occasionally they’ll sneak past me in the movie theatres. That was the case with The Secret World of Arrietty, an animated movie based on the novels of The Borrowers that was released in North American earlier this year. While I continue to wait for a DVD release, though, I’ve found that yearning at least partially satiated by The Art of the Secret World of Arrietty, a book detailing the artistic creation of the film.

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52 Weeks Project

By Greg Ruth
120 pages, black and white
Published by Allen Spiegel Fine Arts

By now, you’ve probably heard of Kickstarter, a website that allows people to try and find funding for projects, and offer as incentive various premiums for different levels. (Often starting out with a copy of the project, and then going up in scale from there.) One Kickstarter project I did help fund earlier this year recently arrived at my door. And now that I’ve got it, well, here’s hoping that people who missed the Kickstarter train for Greg Ruth’s The 52 Weeks Project will eventually get another chance to buy this book.

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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.

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Tim Sale: Black and White

By Richard Starkings, John "JG" Roshell, and Tim Sale
272 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

There’s nothing better than a good art book, and nothing worse than a bad one. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but it does sum up the excitement and fear that I feel whenever I pick up a new art book. I always desperately want them to be good, but I’ve been burned by my fair share of disasters in the past. As a result, I was a little nervous about cracking the plastic wrap around Tim Sale: Black and White, with its new "revised and expanded" edition. I hadn’t picked Tim Sale: Black and White in the past, so I really had no idea what to expect. Good? Bad? In-between? Well, let’s just say that it didn’t land in the in-between category.

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Process Recess: The Art of James Jean

By James Jean
224 pages, color & black and white
Published by AdHouse Books

If you’ve been to a comic book store lately, you’ve probably seen a cover by James Jean. Jean’s covers are some of the most striking in the industry, gracing books like Fables, Green Arrow, and Batgirl. When I heard that he had an art book about to be released by AdHouse Books, whose design sense is always a selling point on each and every book, I instantly knew that this book would be a winner.

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Vernacular Drawings

By Seth
208 pages, color
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

You have to be patient if you’re a fan of the cartoonist Seth. Seth’s comic Palookaville (collected into graphic novels as It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken and Clyde Fans) is published once, maybe twice a year… but it’s always clear that each issue is a labor of love. I think that’s why when Drawn & Quarterly first published Seth’s sketchbook compilation Vernacular Drawings I was so excited, and why I keep coming back to it years later—the amount of time and passion that went into each one is always apparent.

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Johnson Sketchbook Vol. 1

By Dave Johnson
56 pages, black and white
Published by Atomeka Press

Dave Johnson is an artist whose work primarily graces covers on comics like 100 Bullets and Detective Comics. Aside from his work on books like Superman: Red Son it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen him produce anything but some thoroughly striking covers. That was one of the most exciting things about The Johnson Sketchbook—seeing more pencils and inks from one of comics’s most accomplished cover artists.

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Intron Depot 4: Bullets

By Masamune Shirow
128 pages, color
Published by Seishinsha and Dark Horse

When I recently read Ghost in the Shell, I found myself more interested in Shirow’s art than his writing. Thanks to finding a copy of the fourth of Shirow’s art book series, Intron Depot, I figured this would be a chance to perhaps finally discover just what it was about Shirow’s works that people found so appealing.

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Art of Usagi Yojimbo

By Stan Sakai
200 pages, black and white, with color pages
Published by Dark Horse

One of the best comics being published at the moment is Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. Sakai’s stories of a ronin finding his way throughout the roads and paths of Japan are engrossing, and Sakai’s able to write his scripts pretty near-perfectly every month. With all of the attention paid to Sakai’s writing, though, it’s nice to see attention being paid to his art as well. That’s exactly what we get with The Art of Usagi Yojimbo, an oversized hardcover that looks at Sakai’s creation from an artistic standpoint. As enjoyable as Dark Horse’s earlier art books in this format were (The Art of Sin City, The Art of Hellboy, The Will Eisner Sketchbook), I have to say that I think this is my favorite one yet.

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