What’s small and red and can take over the world in three years?
Ok, that was an easy question: Red, the iconic leader of Angry Birds. But three years ago, the future of this little flock of birds was anything but certain. Rovio, the Finnish game developer behind the game, was just about out of money. In fact, CEO Mikael Hed’s grandparents remortgaged their home for some extra funding: if this little game didn’t take off, they would have lost their home. Well over a billion downloads later, that gamble certainly paid off. Angry Birds is no longer just a mobile game—it’s a global phenomenon.
The story of Rovio and its tiny little juggernauts is the subject of Angry Birds: Hatching a Universe, a new art book by Danny Graydon. Graydon interviewed many of the principals involved, tracking Angry Birds from its start as nothing more than a sketch by Jaakko Iisalo to its partnerships with Rio and NASA and LucasArts, its entry into publishing, and finally an upcoming feature film.
The book is published by Insight Editions, which throws in all sorts of goodies: fold-out posters, sticker sheets, bookmarks, postcards, even some cut-and-fold paper models. There’s a ton of artwork—concept art for the characters, sketches from the comic books, storyboards for the animations—and the oversized format lets you enjoy the details. (Though it’s a bit large for reading in your lap.)
Although I’ve been playing Angry Birds from nearly the beginning, there were some developments that I wasn’t aware of, like the publishing arm of Rovio (which includes egg cookbooks, of course, along with comics). The animated movie has an expected release date of 2016, and since Rovio is producing it in-house, they’ve now added “movie studio” to their long list of functions.
It was also interesting to read about Rovio’s focus on education: when they launched Angry Birds Space, they partnered with NASA, but they’ve also worked with National Geographic and CERN on physics education. Above all, though, they’re focused on giving their fans a fun experience—clearly they’re doing pretty well in that department.
The art is certainly the focus of the book. I appreciated the stories about the development of the brand, but many of the people involved tended to say the same things about the company itself. And I was surprised that one particular piece of art was left out: Iisalo’s original drawing of angry birds which sparked off the whole thing. There’s a picture of George (who later became Red) in a timeline showing different versions of Red, but they never show you the complete image, which seems like an oversight.
Angry Birds: Hatching a Universe is a lot of fun to flip through, whether you’re a fan of the game or the cartoons or the books, or even if you just want to learn more about how this tiny Finnish company achieved worldwide recognition in such a short time. The book retails for $50 and is in stores now.
Insight Editions also has a special treat for GeekDad readers: a signed concept art piece with line art by Thomas Gustafsson and colors by JP Räsänen. The cropped version above appears in the book, but the full poster is about 27″ by 16″. To win, simply fill out the form below (or click here if you have trouble with the form) and enter by 9pm PT on Monday, June 17. We’ll pick a winner at random and Insight Editions will send the poster to you!
Disclosure: Insight Editions provided a review copy of Angry Birds: Hatching a Universe.