As a kid, I watched and followed He-Man with enthusiam. That was many years ago and the only characters I could remember today are He-Man and Skeletor. Going through this book is therefore a nostalgic experience. Not just that, it also introduces me to a world of MOTU that I never knew.
The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is an artbook that looks at the art and design for the animation, comics and toys. Instead of photos of toys and their packaging boxes, you'll be looking at the character designs and packaging art.
There are interviews with many of the creators, such as with Emiliano Santalucia, Joshua Van Pelt and James Eatock, founders of the Power and the Honor Foundation, writer of many MOTU minicomics Steven Grant, illustrator and animator Larry Houston, writer Paul Dini, illustrator Earl Norem, concept artist William Stout, designer David Wolfram and many more. It's interesting to find out how the toys, comics and animation are made, the conceptualisation that went behind, and the creative process used to maintain the series.
The first chapter starts with the business side of making toys to appeal to young boys. It's enlightening to read about the methodology and thinking that goes into toy design, or creating a character that boys can look up to, and eventually buy. There are several notes and internal memos from the Mattel Male Action Team that outlines how they should develop this particular toy market. The book covers not just the creative side but also the business side.
As for the artworks, you'll get to see storyboards, animation cels, including a piece of plastic with He-man and Skeletor that you can overlay onto the background art, toy posters from Mattel, comic covers, designs for the character, background, toys, maps and unused concepts such as toys and characters that never got made.
Personally, I've only watched the animation and don't read the comics or collect the toys, so the bulk of the content in this book are new to me. The artworks are fantastic. There are sketches as well as those fully painted pieces. There's even an illustration by movie poster master artist Drew Struzan.
The latter part of the book covers the relaunch of the toy line and animation from 2000 onwards. Again, it's quite interesting to see the modern take on the classic characters with the current visual styles of comics and animation.
This 320-page hardcover is a wonderful collection of pop culture. Highly recommended to all fans of He-Man and MOTU.
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