THE ART OF HE-MAN AND THE MOTU
The MOTU world has always been more than just the toys. Some beautiful - and not so beautiful - artwork has been produced over the years, from concept art before the vintage line's release to minicomics; from box art to posters. The Filmation cartoon drew many fans into its own canon and became a mainstay of the property. Collecting examples of this wealth of material is a task that can never be completed, but this book - The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe - does a fair job at bringing a splendid variety of art into a single volume.
It's an accomplished effort, so making any sort of criticism can't help but feel unfair. But adding colour to Mark Taylor's sketches shouldn't have been done - those elegant sketches have been spoiled. I would have liked a lot more examples of box and minicomic art from the vintage line. I was pleased to see several examples of Earl Norem's work, but disappointed to see Alfredo Alcala's dramatic paintings from the first four minicomics almost entirely overlooked.
Concept art is well represented in this book, but it presents something of a quandary. A lot of the material has never been seen by a broad audience. Is that a good thing or not? Should the focus of the book have been greater on familiar examples? A project of this scale is never going to include enough, and that's why I don't want to be overly critical, but I can think of material that should have found its way into the volume. While most of the art is fantastic there are plenty of examples that are poor and should have been excluded simply on the grounds of taste.
There are some interviews included in the book but they aren't particularly insightful. I'm sure a bit more information on technique might have been interesting for the artists among the MOTU fandom. I like the inclusion of a Filmation style cell of He-Man and Skeletor that can be placed over stills from the cartoon to replicate how characters were placed in scenes.
The team that worked on this book includes some names familiar to the fandom. Filmation expert James Eatock and artists Val Staples and Emiliano Santalucia were among the book's consulting contributors. I would have liked some panels from Emiliano's Homecoming comic because it's a significant piece of MOTU art. These people really know their stuff, and the book really does reveal their dedication to the world of He-Man.
Yes there are some areas that could have been approached differently, but that doesn't stop me from
admiring the incredible work that went into the book. It is a fantastic, if not comprehensive, volume.
There is always room for more, and I hope a second volume is produced at some point. It's a large
(9" x 12") hardback that should be in every MOTU fan's possession. It's actually more than a book - it's
a celebration of a concept that is over three decades old and still going strong. Make sure this ends
up in your bookshelf.