Top 10 Books of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close and we all look forward to a well-earned break (and time spent with a good book) i’ve taken a look back at this year’s book reviews and compiled the Wing’s Art Top 10 Books of 2013 – a list made up of classic animation, vintage travel labels, comic book art, pin-ups and more – and all earning my highest recommendation. Click on the images for the full reviews.

The Making of Peanuts Animation

The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation

The book itself is a fascinating read and packs it pages with original drawings and shop talk that has re-kindled a long forgotten affection for these classic cartoons, and developed a new admiration for the artists and writers involved in their making. It comes highly recommended. Read the full review

The Rocketeer Artist's Edition

Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer Artist’s Edition

Of all the Artist’s Editions this stands out as something special, showcasing a true masterpiece of comics and singular vision from one of the industry’s finest artists. For Dave Stevens fans, this is a book that you simply have to own. Nothing else i’ve seen gives such an insight into his unique talent or the experience of looking at the genuine article. It’s a joy to sit beside the ghost of Dave Stevens and enjoy reading his every brush stroke. I for one plan to spend as long as I can studying it for all it’s worth and hope that some of his talent rubs off. Read the full review

The Golden Age of DC Comics

The Golden Age of DC Comics

This book does an excellent job of collecting a huge amount of source material and presenting it in an attractive and accessible way, making for an enjoyable and definitive reference title on an important period in comic book history. It might be thin on any serious insights into the inner workings of the DC studio, letting the work do the talking, but it’s an exhaustive collection that offers an introduction and opportunity for discovering more about these early masters of comic books, and well worth checking out. Read the full review

World Tour

World Tour: Vintage Hotel Labels from the Collection of Gaston-Louis Vuitton

Immediately this book tells of a labour of love; from the superb hardback presentation to the immense task of scanning in some 1000 labels, postcard reproductions, letters and scene-setting photographs. It takes you on a journey around the globe, stopping off at each hotel along the way, revealing the changes design aesthetics and approach to promotion through the years. As design reference its an essential buy, and as pure indulgence into these classical hotels with all their elegance and sophistication it’s irresistible and comes highly recommended. Read the full review

lifestyle illustration of the 50s

Lifestyle Illustration of the 50s

The reproductions throughout are of a high quality, mainly scanned from their original magazine appearances and digitally restored, and although there are many pieces that feature un-credited, it remains an essential introduction to the art and artists of this glowing period in illustration history and comes with my highest recommendation. Read the full review

Mitch O'Connell

Mitch O’Connell – The World’s Best Artist

A curious mix of religious ephemera, Dirty Harry posters, plush toys and porn mags, brought together by an over-arching kitsch-logic that’s visible in all of his work. A refined style that manages to find that perfect balance of art and mainstream sensibilities, and contain the many ingredients that go into making Mitch O’Connell one of the today’s best artists. It’s one of my favourite books of the year and highly recommended. Read the full review

Crab Monsters Teenage Cavemen - Roger Corman

Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses – Roger Corman: King of the B-Movie

The rebellious bikers of Corman’s high concept, low-budget films now wear Armani suits in the latest billion dollar super-mega-blockbusters, and reading this book you might ask where all the fun has gone, but it’s a fascinating read for cinema lovers with the added bonus of some cracking poster artwork from the likes of Reynold Brown for us illustration fans. I’m sure a more enjoyable look into the world of film-making will be hard to find, but if this leaves you hungry for more I heartily recommend the documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. Read the full review

The Art of David Wright

Sirens: The Pin-Up Art of David Wright

The reproductions are varied, taking their source from vintage book covers, prints and original paintings, but remain of a high quality throughout and are clearly handled with care. Wright’s son, Patrick, offers historical background and context to the work in his introduction, leading onto a huge portfolio that will please any pin-up fan, ending with only a couple of samples pages of comic book illustrations that tempt the reader to search out Wright’s long running seriesCarol Day – currently only available to download as an e-book. It certainly would have been nice to see more of this included, but maybe it doesn’t fall under this volume’s remit and can be saved for a lavish print edition in the future. In all, another fine book with masses of appeal for vintage illustration enthusiasts and an overdue celebration for an otherwise unknown and underappreciated artist. Read the full review

The Maurice Noble Approach

The Noble Approach – Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design

Compiled from various interviews, discussions, and Noble’s own unfinished step-by-step guide, The Noble Approach – Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design offers readers a unique look at the design process that gave the world so many timeless classics such as, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Duck Dogers in the 24 1/2th Century and What’s Opera Doc. Through an in-depth look at his own artistic influences, methods of breaking down details, colour theory and compositional design, you gain a real sense of Noble’s skill as a designer and film maker, with genuine lessons to be learned. Read the full review

The Art Deco Poster

The Art Deco Poster

 Through this beautifully presented book devotees can revel in over 300 examples of poster design, each looking as good as new with selections broken down into chapters such as Automobiles and Motorcycles, Fashion and Entertainment, Ocean Liners, and Railways. Crouse provides commentary throughout, giving credit to the original artists and placing the work into its proper historical context. I’ve seen no other book that offers such a comprehensive look at the printed and commercial art and design work within the art deco period, and as such I can’t recommend this highly enough to those equally seduced by its progressive design, and classic style and elegance. Read the full review

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