Like anyone who loves comics, I’m a great fan of fantasy art. I love immersing myself in complex and imaginative dreamscapes I could scarcely have imagined, worlds that could be both just outside my window and which seem astonishingly different from my mindspace.
So when I have the opportunity to read a well-curated collection of fantasy art combined with intelligent and insightful writing, well, you’d better get the heck out of my way.
I love books like The Art of Fantasy, Sci-fi and Steampunk, released June 1 by Hiroshi Unno.
This is one of those books that is a delight to page through. Nearly every page contains a reprint of a gorgeous piece of fantasy art, from classic Sherlock Holmes to modern steampunk, from original manuscript pages from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to classic Little Nemo in Slumberland strips.
You can see from the images that go with this review how lush and wonderful these images are. What you can’t see unless you hold this delightful book in your hands is the gorgeous reproduction publisher PIE International provides. The depth of color and gorgeousness of this book’s page design drags the reader deeper into the world Unno explains to readers, providing a memorable history of fantasy art that will long longer in your mind.
All of this would be wonderful enough, but Unno’s accompanying text gives the book an extra level of quality. Printed in both Japanese and English, on pages that resemble illuminated manuscripts or fantasy art themselves, Unno’s text brings light to the ideas he explores.
For instance, I’ve always been vaguely dismissive of Steampunk (please don’t hate me!) because of its often derivative nature and revisionist history approach. But Unno’s essay changed my view, providing an insight into that genre I never had before. In fact, his comparison to punk rock resonated so strongly with me that it made me want to read much more work in that genre.
With a $49.95 cover price, this book is not cheap. But if you’re intrigued by the excerpts below, you’ll find this to be money well spent.