Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Art of Alice: Madness Returns

 I'll say it though - I am an occasional gamer and not a big fan alice in wonderland or wizard of oz but got to say though I recently began playing the game Alice: Madness Returns and OMG i'm loving it very much indeed and amazingly enough I found an ARC/galley of its production design book on netgalley, The Art of Alice: Madness Returns and i'm loving it.

Here is the book summary:

Legendary game designer American McGee created one of the most visually arresting games of all time in Alice. Eleven years later, McGee returns with a sequel just as groundbreaking as his critically acclaimed classic - Alice: Madness Returns! Just in time for Madness Returns, Dark Horse and Spicy Horse studio invite Alice fans to take a journey through the wonderland of American McGee's imagination for a look at this magnificent and disturbing world. With text by Madness Returns lead writer and executive producer R. J. Berg, and featuring an introduction by McGee, The Art of Alice offers an intimate look into the artwork behind this blockbuster interpretation of Lewis Carroll's enduring masterpiece.

Before a game, movie or even anything new is about to be made or is in its stages of production the said team begins about it by brain storming new ideas. Sometimes those ideas are not adopted in the final play but they pave the way for the final product. And the 184 paged hardcover art book based around all that was involved with the creation of American McGee's Alice sequel proves just that.

When you mix a classic like Alice in Wonderland with pop culture, video game designers, concept artists and throw in a Victorian-gothic theme, you get very strange new world. A world so dangerous Alice has to be equipped with a kitchen knife at all times or sometimes a Bazooka firing hammer (yes, hammer) or a teapot cannon. Every page brings a little element of surprise and twist. You can see crows with baby faces, Jack the Ripper with tentacles, Alice helping a mother giving birth to a load of kids (gruesome concept), an angler fish with human legs, cow birds, steampunk-like contraptions, a Chinese Humpty Dumpty, flying pig snout, embellished pieces of weaponry, etc. There are lots of mix and matches for things that shouldn't go together.

The reader/viewer is taken through a full range of things that might be found in the game. The many variations that were tried for the characters, and Alice in particular are just amazing - down to dress designs and hair styles. I loved seeing the evolution of ideas and characters, different artists takes on things. The book is filled with gorgeous art work and makes the reader really appreciate just how much work and thought goes into the making of a game.
Not only is the artwork absolutely breathtaking, it is also very iteresting to see the different renditions of things and to see how the art progressed as planning for the game evolved. There is a whole chapter just on Alice and her dress and all the thought that went into how Alice would portray the game. There are chapters on the worlds and why they were decided on and how they were built. The developers went to great lengths to make sure scenarios from the first game are echoed and portrayed similarly in this game; it is apparent that this is the Wonderland Alice originally went to but somewhat changed.

The content is beyond incredible. The art in the book comes with blurbs about the piece from the artist or a producer, and it often goes into detail about the piece, why it was made, and what the goal for the piece was. Most of the work is concept art, but they are of high quality. There is a lot of complete pieces with full color and depth. Not just sketches or storyboards which is common in alot of artbooks you get as preorder bonuses with games. The book is broken into chapters, with each chapter giving insight on an aspect of the game, such as pre-production or Wonderland locations. Each chapter has art pertaining to the theme. So in pre-production, you see alot of the brainstorming and ideas that came up early in the game's development that ended up getting cut from the game. It's a real treat to see. Even the design of the characters are in detail.

All things said and done if you enjoy graphic novels and art books, are an Alice aficionado and love gothic, gloomy styling you'll dig this book for sure.

Genre :      Production artwork

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

My Copy : Courtesy of netgalley and the publisher

Rate:              5/5 (It was Amazing)


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