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Article: The Art of Dead Space Book Review

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  • Article: The Art of Dead Space Book Review

    The Art of Dead Space by Martin Robinson
    I'm throwing out the typical, long-winded introductions for this review. The Art of Dead Space is a phenomenal collection of art from the Dead Space universe and I am a better person for having had a chance to read through it. Alright, maybe I'm not a better person for it but the first part about the book being a "phenomenal collection of art" is right on the mark.

    A few months ago, I wrote a review for Awakening: The Art of Halo 4. In that review, I praised the selections of art on display in the book but felt a little put off by the relative lack of descriptions or insight. Fortunately, The Art of Dead Space makes this a complete non-issue, featuring some detailed and rather lengthy explanations for nearly every selection of art.

    Each section and sub-section of the book also tends to feature a few paragraphs describing the concept, the particular location, the character, or design that will be shown over the next few pages. So not only does the reader get a good, general overview of what they will be looking at, they also get specific descriptions for each of the featured pieces of art. I loved it.

    There is nothing that lets the reader dive into the minds of the creators more than reading their personal thoughts and then seeing the fruits of those thoughts come to life through their art. I'm not joking when I say that I never really saw the appeal in art books before. Typically, developers try to toss in a few page booklet as part of a "collector's edition" for a game and call that an art book. That is what I always envisioned and I never really put much stock into them because of that.

    Having now read through The Art of Halo 4 and The Art of Dead Space, I can confidently say that I have been converted. If every art book were like these, I think a greater number of collector's editions would be sold for games. So, what makes this art book so great?

    First off, the art and images used are large, clear, and widely varied. The subject matter covers everything from the earliest concept art for Isaac's suits to the cold, unforgiving Tau Volantis found in Dead Space 3. Even smaller detailed items such as the vintage posters featuring pin-up girls advertising for Peng are given a nod. Spaceships, landscapes, Isaac, Isaac's armor, Necromorphs of every shape and size are all on display in detail.

    Now, there is one thing that constantly ran through my mind while reading through this art book. Remember the art found in those Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books from your childhood? No, I am certainly not talking about the new illustrations here. I mean the old illustrations crafted by Stephen Gammell. If you do not recall any of those, let me quickly refresh your memory with one.

    Note: This is not a piece of art from The Art of Dead Space (in case you missed that part in the above paragraph).

    See that? The images in those books gave children nightmares for years. It was recollections of images like the one above that constantly ran through my mind when going through each section of The Art of Dead Space that dealt with the Necromorph designs. Sure, those who played the game already know just how gruesome some of the designs could be. The final product is one thing, but you should see the designs that never made it into the public versions of the games.

    The Art of Dead Space covers a wide variety of content. It features stunning art work that is both beautiful and haunting all at once. It features some fantastic insight into the background for almost every piece of art or concept in the book. What else could you possibly want here? Oh, how's about some pieces of art from the Dead Space graphic novels? Bam! This has that as well! Though, what good would the art from the graphic novels be if I did not also talk about them?

    Fortunately, I was also given three of the Dead Space graphic novels to read through. They include the first Dead Space novel, Dead Space: Salvage, and the just released Dead Space: Liberation. The first two are reissues of older novels that came out in 2008 and 2010 respectively. The latest, Liberation, was released just this month from artist Christopher Shy and writer Ian Edginton.

    There are some key differences between all three novels that you should probably be aware of. The first novel, illustrated by Ben Templesmith and written by Antony Johnston, takes a more stylized approach to the art. If you plan on reading through these, it would probably be beneficial to not become too attached to any particular style. With that in mind, the other two novels I have on hand ditches the stylized look of Templesmith and instead opts for a far more realistic look thanks to Shy taking over as illustrator.

    For a brief bit of background, Liberation serves as a prequel to the events that take place in Dead Space 3, just as the others serve as complementary nuggets of story for the first and second games. One of the big stars in Liberation is none other than John Carver, the man with the troubled past that you can play as in the co-op mode in Dead Space 3. Hearing brief audio logs and reading short text logs in-game is one thing, it's another thing entirely to have a full graphic novel dedicated to the man's past.

    With that said, each style has a charm all their own. I could not really pick one above the other, just as I could not pick one writer over another throughout these three novels. They are engaging reads that are all self-contained stories within the larger Dead Space universe. Fans of the series and fans of graphic novels should pick these up.

    Wow, would you look at that. A fairly substantial write-up for a collection of images and a few words, isn't it? Without doubt, The Art of Dead Space and the graphic novels are well worth a read and the price of admission. Below the final score are a number of handy links both to Titan Books and Amazon where you can find The Art of Dead Space and the graphic novels mentioned here. While you're at it, be sure to also go check out TGN's video review for Dead Space 3, which went up earlier this week.

    Overall: 9.5/10
    Value: 9/10
    Presentation: 9.5/10
    Art: 10/10
    Insight: 9/10

    Relevant Links
    The Art of Dead Space at Titan Books (192 pages, hardcover, over 300 images)
    The Art of Dead Space at Amazon
    Dead Space (graphic novel) at Titan Books
    Dead Space: Salvage (graphic novel) at Titan Books
    Dead Space: Liberation (graphic novel) at Titan Books

    The Art of Dead Space and the three Dead Space graphic novels were provided to TGN for review purposes. We would like to give a special thanks to Tom G. at Titan Books for making this review possible.

  • #2
    I didn't know there were Dead Space novels.

    Part of me wants a Dead Space movie but we all they would ruin it.


    • #3
      There is a Dead Space movie. Two of them actually.


      There are also (I think) at least two more novels not mentioned above that I haven't read.