Review by C.J. Bunce
We previewed the Firefly Artbook back in February. It’s been more than 18 years since we first met Mal Reynolds and his (usually) loyal crew of the Firefly class ship Serenity. Fans of the Firefly series and 2005 film Serenity will never stop loving their travels around the ‘Verse, but as we get further away from the short-lived series fans are seeing less and less content available. We’ve taken a look at multi-artist tribute concept books before at borg, including the excellent Alien: 40 Years/40 Artists, The Thing Artbook, Star Trek: 50 Artists/50 Years, and The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute. Any time we showcase a major benchmark in comic book titles, like Detective Comics 1000th issue, Wonder Woman’s 750th issue, and The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #800, or charity projects like the Wonder Woman 100 showcase, we see a great new spin on favorite characters from a new vantage: a variety of artists interpreting an icon of popular culture. You’ll see how a range of dozens of less well-known artists interpret the show in the Firefly Artbook available now here at Amazon and at brick and mortar book stores everywhere.
Titan Books has delivered another impressive coffee table-style book featuring more than 200 pages of all-new and exclusive art, including more than 120 pieces by professional artists, illustrators, concept artists, comics artists, and graphic designers. Artists include Joe Corroney, Rian Hughes, John J Hill, Sandra Kamenz, Angel Onofre, Stephen Sampson, Liza Shumskaya, and Angel Trancon. From character portraits, faux book covers and poster concepts, to iconic scenes, wanted posters, and renderings of Serenity, each artist puts their own stamp on the Firefly universe.
The best of this book are the images designed to look like posters or book covers. Those that tried merely to reproduce the actors and costumes tend to lack excitement or interest, and the result has the vibe of quick convention sketchwork. Many more digitally-created works fill the book’s pages, and some look to have pieced together photographs from marketing images. By far the best work stands out–Stephen Sampson’s design that was used for the cover and Rich Davies’ vintage book cover design. Other interesting pieces include Nick Allsop’s take on Jayne Cobb, Danny Schlitz’s look at Inara, John J. Hill’s simple but striking Serenity poster design, Adam Stothard and Aurelio Lorenzo’s posters, Bob Dahlstrom’s comic book look at the vile Jubal Early, William O’Neill’s sci-fi silhouette of Mal, and Shane McCormack’s fun magazine cover.
A detractor, and distraction, which I’ve not seen in other artbooks is commentary from multiple artists who weren’t fans–or had never even heard of Firefly in one case–creating images for this kind of project. With so many artists who are fans available, what’s the point of including artists who have never even heard of the subject matter?