If you haven’t got kids, or if you’re not keeping up with the latest trends in kid-friendly animated tv, the chances are that Cartoon Network’s highly acclaimed ‘coming of age’ show Steven Universe may have slipped by you. If that’s the case, you need to rectify it immediately because this charming, funny and often beautifully written series about a young boy and three magical aliens called the ‘Crystal Gems’ is very, very special indeed. In fact, it’s so special that it has been nominated for three Emmys and recently premiered its fifth series. It has also, not unsurprisingly, been merchandised up the wazoo, which is usually not a good sign. However, in the case of Steven Universe: Art & Origins, it’s safe to say that the wazoo will be very happy with this latest quality offering.
Steven Universe: Art & Origins is, as its title suggests, an in-depth look into the making of an extraordinary television series but, unlike many other ‘behind the scenes’ books that are only glossy but shallow attempts to milk the latest TV hit/cash cow, this tome really delivers what it promises. From creator Rebecca Sugar’s earliest beginnings through to her pilot pitch, green light and development, concept art, character designs, writing and storyboarding, sound & vision and post-production, this is a gorgeously illustrated no-stone-left-unturned examination into what it takes to produce a hit animated tv show (and it’s not just Rebecca’s journey – with commentary and insights from many other members of the creative team, this book really underlines that Steven Universe’s success is a team effort).
But you don’t have to be a fan of Steven Universe to enjoy this volume (although fans will love it) – if you’ve got your sights set on creating your own animated tv series, or even if you just want to know what it takes to successfully bring a fledgling idea to the gogglebox screen, you’ll be captivated from the very first page to the last. More than that, there are moments when this book is also strangely touching, especially in the opening chapter when Rebecca talks about her childhood and the crisis in confidence she felt early in her career, when she almost gave up animation entirely. As inspirational as it is informative, Steven Universe: Art & Origins is very highly recommended.
STEVEN UNIVERSE: ART & ORIGINS / AUTHORS: CHRIS MCDONNELL, REBECCA SUGAR, GENNDY TARTAKOVSKY / PUBLISHER: ABRAMS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW