The Art of Blizzard Entertainment - Limited Edition

Published by

 

BOOK CREDITS & FEATURES

BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT

ART DIRECTION
Nick Carpenter, Jeff Chamberlain, Samwise Didier, Chris Metzen

BLIZZARD ART COMMENTARY
Nick Carpenter, Samwise Didier, Christian Lichtner, Chris Metzen, Chris Robinson, Josh Tallman, Paul Warzecha

PRODUCTION
Jonathan Berube, Angela Blake, Jeff Chamberlain, Skye Chandler, Phillip Hillenbrand, Kyle Williams

LICENSING
Matthew Beecher, Jerry Chu, George Hsieh

SPECIAL THANKS
Lyndsi Achucarro, Jon Bias, Kat Hunter, David Lomeli

INSIGHT EDITIONS

PUBLISHER
Raoul Goff

ART DIRECTOR
Chrissy Kwasnik

EDITOR
Roxanna Aliaga

ASSOCIATE MANAGING EDITOR
Jan Hughes

PRODUCTION MANAGER
Anna Wan

ADDITIONAL EDITORIAL WORK
Charles Gerli, Jake Gerli, Jason Smalridge, Jeff Campbell, Andrea Santoro

DESIGN SUPPORT
Spencer Stucky, Martina D'alessandro, Jason Babler, Justin Allen

PRODUCTION SUPPORT
Jane Chinn, Binh Matthews, Masar Jonston

TRADE

Dustjacket: YES
Giclée Folder: NO
Signed & Numbered: NO
Slipcase: NO

ISBN: 978-1-60887-027-1
MSRP: $75.00
Print Run: N/A
Trim Size: 13" x 9.7" x 1.6"

LIMITED-EDITION

Dustjacket: NO
Giclée Folder: YES
Signed & Numbered: YES
Slipcase: YES

ISBN: 978-1-60887-138-4
MSRP: $250.00
Print Run: 1,500
Trim Size (slipcase): 14 ¾" x 10 ⅝" x 2 ⅝"

Pagecount: 376

Rating: Recommended

Review and Pictures by Me...Again!

This is a big book. No, strike that - this is a huge tome. And it gets even bigger when the massive slipcase housing both the book and folder of Giclée prints is considered. I'm not even sure where to begin. The limited-edtion of The Art of Blizzard Entertainment (TAoBE) is so in-your-face that it almost speaks for itself. Because this production is, well, such a production, I'm forced to break it up into three sections - the slipcase, the book itself, and the Giclée folder containing the signature card and the four prints.

Before I get into the meat of this review, I'd like to give a truly warm and special thanks to Amazon for shipping this expensive product in a plain, oversized, reused, unbuffered box with TWO - count 'em! - TWO already-deflated airbags. The FedEx driver couldn't speed away fast enough from what he must've known was a disaster of packaging. It is a miracle of mysticism that my copy arrived virtually intact save for a minor corner bump. I'm counting down the days until Amazon eliminates air bags and shipping cartons entirely and just dispatches stuff with a hastily scrawled mailing label slapped directly on unprotected items. I'm completely convinced that, if Amazon sold their own cars, 90% of their vehicles would have to be immediately totaled upon delivery. A shipping department run by a group of retarded, unorganized orangutans would provide more competent service. The mind boggles, just truly boggles.

But I digress...

The LE version of this book is definitely worth the asking price, especially when you consider that the trade edition retails for a rather hefty $75.00. Right now, as I type this, Amazon is selling the LE for around $150 - just double the trade's MSRP. If you're willing to risk Amazon's cheap-as-saltwater packing jobs where, if you're lucky, they'll toss in two miniscule airbags and at least one of them will still be inflated by the time it arrives on your doorstep, then it's a deal for real.

So, without further ado, let's look at this beast.


The Slipcase

The slipcase front. Notice the elegant border design absent in the promo pic.

The slots for the book and Giclée folder. Notice spacer for the book and pull-out ribbons.

The back of the slipcase, which mirrors the front.

As previously mentioned, the slipcase for this edition of TAoBE has to serve double-duty, as it ensconces both the book and the Giclée folder. It is cloth covered and extremely sturdy. As one can tell from the promo picture, the production version differs, as it includes the border design pictured above on both the front and back. It looks like something you'd see on a Tolkien-esque Dwarven or Elvish manuscript. The silver stamping is very clear and defined, even in thin strokes.

As the center photo shows, there are two cavities for the book and Giclée folder with a divider. Because the book's vertical trim size is shorter than the folder, a bottom spacer block is included so that the book has a snug fit. Both slots sport black satin pull-out ribbons for easy extraction of the book and folder.

The big negative about this slipcase is the lack of spine stamping. It irritates me to no end when a publisher omits spine identification. It's even more jarring given the rather lavish production values on display for this edition. If Blizzard had included spine stamping, this would be a perfect how-to of slipcase design, particularly given the challenge of having to house two elements of different thicknesses and trim sizes.

Onto the book!


CONTENTS


FOREWORD • 8

INTRODUCTION • 10
BY SAMWISE DIDIER

WORLD OF WARCRAFT • 12

DIABLO • 184

STARCRAFT • 270

FALLEN GAMES • 340
NOMAD • 342
BLOODLINES • 346
DENIZEN • 352
RONIN • 354

WOOT! • 358

ARTISTS INDEX • 374

The Book

Featured Artists

Danny Beck
Brom
Nick Carpenter
Chris Chang
Peet Cooper
Michael Dashow
Samwise Didier
Phroilan Gardner
Mark Gibbons
Alex Horley
Brian Huang
Steve Hui
Tyler Hunter
Sojin Hwang
Trevor Jacobs
Bernie Kang
Jeff Kang
Trent Kaniuga
Roman Kenney
Justin Kunz
Peter Lee
Victor Lee
Jimmy Lo
Luke "Mr. Jack" Mancini
Chris Metzen
Matt Milizia
Tyson Murphy
Micky Neilson
Dusty Nolting
Michio Okamura
Ted Park
Keith Parkinson
Joe Peterson
Bill Petras
John Polidora
Glenn Rane
Chris Robinson
Robh Ruppel
Gustav Schmidt
Rob Sevilla
Phil Shenk
Brian Sousa
Duane Stinnett
Josh Tallman
Justin Thavirat
Graven Tung
Matthias Verhasselt
Wei Wang
Ru Weerasuriya

The front board, featuring the onlay and foil-stamped title.

The back board, barren of any design elements.

The spine.

Close-up of the binding. Looks to be sewn rather than glued.

The front endpapers with greyscale illustration. The back endpapers sport a different illustration (see below).

The half-title page.

An untitled spanned full-color illustration by Peter Lee.

An untitled Diablo 3 illustration by Wei Wang and the title page.

A partially spanned image by Josh Tallman with the table of contents.

The two-page foreword by Brom.

The two-page introduction by Samwise Didier.

Pages 12 & 13, which begins the book's body matter starting with Blizzard's flagship title, World of Warcraft. The painting is by Samwise Didier.

Pages 42 & 43, featuring a variety of WoW line illustrations.

Pages 76 & 77, displaying a fully-spanned, fully-painted illustration by Bill Petras.

Pages 174 & 175, featuring a fully-spanned painting by Wei Wang.

Pages 210 & 211, sporting four color illustrations by Victor Lee (210-top, 211-bottom), Peter Lee (210-bottom), and an uncredited illustration (211-top).

Pages 358 & 359, featuring Santa Orc Loves Night Elves by Samwise Didier.

Pages 362 & 363, showing Phat Lootz, Naughty & Nice, Tree Amigos, Ughs and Kisses II, Horde for the Holidays, and Snow Day, all by Samwise Didier.

Pages 366 & 367, with Blasting Through the Stars in a One Orc Rocket Sleigh and Sleigher by Samwise Didier. The opposite page features Nice Sack by Nick Carpenter.

The Artists Index on pages 374 & 375.

The colophon on page 377.

The back endpapers, featuring a different greyscale illustration than the front.

     

The above photos represent a smattering of interior shots from the book itself, which features sewn signatures, illustrated endpapers, and full-color reproductions throughout along with occasional short quotes and longer commentary. Saifu cloth provides board covering. The paper utilized is a thick glossy stock which does a wonderful job of showcasing the illustrators herein.

The book runs the gamut from line sketches to fully-painted pieces. The final section, entitled WOOT!, is a collection of humorous illustrations primarily culled from holiday cards. The final section documents each artist appearing in the book along with their respective pages.

The main volume does not feature a signature page, which is a colossal disappointment. An artbook like this desperately needs one, especially given that this is a limited-edition. A signed & numbered signature card does appear in the folder containing the Giclées, but it is a very poor substitute for a bona-fide limitation page. Personally, if a choice had to be made, I wish Insight had ditched the signature card in favor of an all-out signature sheet as part of the book's front matter. This also would've provided ample real-estate for more Hancocks instead of just the three crammed onto the extremely small signature card.

My second biggest gripe is the lack of names for many of the illustrations. For example, the spanned spread appearing on pages 76 & 77 contains a quote from fellow artist Chris Metzen, but there is no mention of the title of the illustration anywhere in the book. The same for the painting spanning pages 174 & 175, along with a host of others. Another omission that is somewhat irritating is the lack of an embedded ribbonmarker, which would've been of terrific practical value as well as a symbol of great sophistication on the part of the publisher.

There are a spartan amount of text elements, which I found somewhat wanting. However, an argument could be made for limiting any prose in favor of the art itself. It's a tricky trade-off and a difficult balance to reach, but I think a bit more exposition would've enhanced the overall presentation.

Both the trade and the limited feature the same b/w endpapers. It would've been nice if Insight had included color endpapers for the limited as an additional enhancement over the trade.

My final complaint is that the dustjacket produced for the trade is absent for this edition. I've long been an advocate of dustjackets, even for books with fancy bindings, as they're another layer of protection and allow collectors to quickly apply Brodart or Gaylord covers. They also afford publishers with additional design and documentation opportunities.

These objections aside, the book is very handsome with a front onlay and very clear front and spine foil stamping. As already mentioned, the glossy paper stock really makes the illustrations pop. And the entire production clocks in at over ten pounds whereas the trade is "only" listed to be six pounds.

That brings us to this edition's real pride and joy, the Giclée folder....


Giclée Folder

The front of the folder, sporting very elegant border detailing and tie ribbons.

The front and back, which are mirrors of each other.

The folder open, revealing the signature card and the first of four Giclées held by elastic banding.

The Giclées removed.

All four Giclées, which are suitable for framing.

Welcome to Zerus by Samwise Didier.

Skeleton King by Brom.

Black Temple by Wei Wang.

The Art of Blizzard by Wei Wang.

This is the crown atop this edition's head - four striking Giclées housed in a specially crafted folder bound in the same saifu cloth as the parent volume. Two tie ribbons are provided to shield the prints from prying eyes. Once opened, all four prints are held in place by four corner-mounted elastic bands. Each Giclée measures 8" x 10" and all save one are presented as fully bled color images. It is a little odd that Welcome to Zerus contains a black border while the remaining three do not, but that isn't a big distraction. All three artists - Brom, Samwise Didier, and Wei Wang - signed the signature card, which is also serialized. The prints themselves are NOT signed.

What is regrettable, though, is the paper stock used, which is highly prone to creasing. Even though I tried to be extremely careful in the handling of each, I still managed to somehow slightly corner-bend the Zerus Giclée. Grrrrrr.

Regardless, this is a fine enhancement to the overall package and the primary reason for the price jump over the trade.


CLOSING THOUGHTS

This edition of The Art of Blizzard Entertainment is certainly worth the asking price, especially if you are willing to gamble with Amazon's Godawful packaging. It is several quantum jumps in quality over the trade and should be a serious contender for any art admirer, particularly those familiar with Blizzard's game titles. However, I feel that there are several shortcomings which, if addressed, would've made this an almost perfect limited, specifically:

Given the above and considering the limited's not-unsubstantial $250 MSRP, I'm giving this presentation a solid recommended rating. Now if I can only find my Starcraft disc...