Book Review: The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania
The additional emphasis on Character Design are what makes this book a must-have item for Hotel Transylvania’s fans. Where most art-&-making-of books only devote a few pages to the main characters, this book shows many preliminary designs for Dracula, Mavis, and Jonathan. Dracula was originally conceived of as a much more typical Old World aristocratic nobleman before the decision to make him a stylized version of his voice actor, Adam Sandler, in a cloak & cape. Jonathan went through several versions as a scruffy teenage human backpacker, including a stereotypical hippie/beatnik, before settling on the more cartoony design that allowed exaggeration into “Johnny Stein” the pseudo-monster. With this emphasis, The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania has even fewer black-&-white pages than most of these coffee-table art books. There are a few black-&-white preliminary pen-&-ink sketches, but mostly these are lavish full-color digital paintings, each one identified by its artist. Even the storyboard and storybeat art is in full color more than monochromatic.
There is little plot here, but there is not much in the movie. Dracula, wanting to protect his newborn daughter Mavis from the humans who infest the world, turns his Transylvanian castle into a self-contained luxury hotel for monsters. All goes well until Mavis becomes a teenager and wants to see the world outside the hotel. At her 118th birthday party, Jonathan, a young human backpacker, stumbles into the hotel. Dracula tries to disguise him as Johnny Stein, a monster, but he and Mavis meet and fall in love. Or maybe it’s just Jonathan’s rebellion against authority, but he agrees to help Mavis escape from her overprotective father.
No, the reader looking for information on how to make a modern CGI animated feature will find The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania very lacking in production details. But for sheer gorgeousness with over 400 pieces of art, it stands out among all the other coffee-table animation-art books.
(Needless to say, there is no relation between the movie’s fantasy Transylvania and the real province in Romania. Or between this movie and the vampire romance of the same title, Hotel Transylvania; A Novel of Forbidden Love, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro; St. Martin’s Press, October 1978; still in print after almost thirty-five years.)
Fred Patten has been a fan of animation since the first theatrical rerelease of Pinocchio (1945). He co-founded the first American fan club for Japanese anime in 1977, and was awarded the Comic-Con International's Inkpot Award in 1980 for introducing anime to American fandom. He began writing about anime for Animation World Magazine since its #5, August 1996. A major stroke in 2005 sidelined him for several years, but now he is back. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.