Book Review: The Art of Epic
This is the latest in the series of lush, full-color coffee-table art books that thoroughly cover a major CGI animated feature. Epic, produced by Blue Sky Studios for 20th Century Fox Animation, was released on May 24, 2013.
The feature is nominally based upon William Joyce’s children’s picture book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs (HarperCollins, 1996). However, author Bennett says that it was really inspired by an art exhibit that William Joyce and Epic’s director Chris Wedge saw together. “It was after visiting an exhibit of Victorian fantasy paintings at New York’s Frick Museum that Wedge and executive producer and production designer William Joyce began exploring the potential of fleshing out a fantastical, unseen but vividly imagined world in a movie. Joyce had visited a related world in his illustrated children’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, a tale about tiny Leaf Men that restore nature’s balance in a garden. The notion that these tiny warriors could be made into action heroes spurred them, along with executive producer James V. Hart, to begin creating a completely original story.” (p. 9)
The Art of Epic consists of over 300 pieces of concept art, character sketches, storyboards and digital paintings, each identified by the artist, illustrating the character or setting in detail in the feature. Leading artists are production designer Greg Couch, art director Michael Knapp, set designer Sandeep Menon, and lead character designer Sang Jun Lee, plus such artists and animators as BJ Crawford, Robert MacKenzie, Mike Lee, Tim Bowers, Jake Parker, Jim Jackson, Tyler Carter, Marceline Gagnon-Tanguay, Clayton Stilwell, Vicki Saulls, and many others.
The lead characters are Professor Bomba, the eccentric scientist, and his dog Ozzy; Mary Katherine, his daughter; Ronin, the leader of the Leafmen (note the change from Leaf Men to Leafmen); Nod, the happy-go-lucky Leafman trooper; Queen Tara of the Jinn forest people; Mub & Grub, the comedy-relief slug and snail; the caterpillar savant Nim Galuu; Bufo the toad bookie; and evil General Mandrake and his son Dagda of the Boggans. Lead settings are Professor Bomba’s house; the forest; Queen Tara’s Moonhaven; Nim’s tree; and the Boggans’ Wrathwood.