So here was my reaction when I received this unsolicited review copy of Amazing Everything: The Art of Scott C.: “Hm. That’s kind of neat.”
And I gave it a cursory glance and set it aside.
Some time later, I picked it up to flip through absentmindedly — and the joy of the thing kicked in like Pop Rocks and Coke. I couldn’t put it down, and got so excited about “discovering” all these cool little nerd references and riffs on toys and video games and movies that my daughter and I wound up sitting on the couch and going through it twice, pointing new things out on every page.
If Scott Campbell’s art seems familiar, you could be recognizing his distinct style from the cover of MC Frontalot’s Final Boss, or the arcade scene he painted for the King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters DVD. (Campbell is also a former Lucas Learning children’s video game concept artist, and was Double Fine Productions art director on the games Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.)
Amazing Everything packs an incredible display of Campbell’s art into a hundred-plus pages, dividing it into nine sections, with paintings and sketches grouped either by theme (Pop Cultures, Knights and Warriors, Lumberjacks) or by series which Campbell has created. Home Slices, for instance, is a section with cutaway views of dwellings in the shape of things like tanks, pyramids, or crabs, and inhabited by suitable folk. (You know, like ninjas, mummies, and sushi.) And Great Great Grandshow, Campbell writes, “explores the many inventions that were too amazing for our world to handle.” These would be creations like the Cannon Hat and the Shirt Magnet, depicted in their late 19th and early 20th century origins.
Page after page, the book takes on the quality of something like a Where’s Waldo drawn just for geeks by Gary Larson and Tim Burton, with Ernest Cline consulting on the pop culture riffs.
From the towering branches of “The Cult Tree” – where you can find Rick Deckard, RoboCop and The Terminator sharing a limb within spitting distance of the Time Bandits – to the Nautilus surfacing for a get-together with legendary sea beasts at “Kraken’s Floating Bar,” Campbell’s work packs the pages with details too numerous to catch on a single pass-through.
I’ll give you three more reasons — without pictures, to further whet your appetite — that this book is just flipping cool: 1) “Paperboy 1884” — yes, that’s the videogame, reimagined; 2) Assassins in Flight; 3) Devo meets Space Invaders.
If those teases don’t sell you on just how much fun it is just to sit down and share this book, then I don’t know what will.
Disclosure: Insight Editions provided a copy of this book for review.