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The Art Of Batman Begins: Shadows Of The Dark Knight by Mark Cotta Vaz

01/08/2005. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy from Amazon US - Buy from Amazon UK
nb: US titles may only be available from Amazon US, and UK titles from Amazon UK.

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pub: Titan Books. 144 page landscape hardback. Price: 24.99 (UK). ISBN: 1-84576-094-8.

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One of the odd things I ponder on about book life is why some artbooks are landscape as opposed to portrait size up. Is it to make them stand out on bookshop's shelves or purely as a nuisance of where to place them at home? I mean, they can hardly stay on a coffee table for all of your natural. You end up having to designate special places to store them, especially if you don't have many this way up. Then again, maybe you just store them on their sides.

Anyway, you'll be pondering the same thing as me when buying this book and if you're a fan of Batman or the new film 'Batman Returns', then I think you'll be tempted by the gem cos it covers material from the film. Most of it is in pre-production with sketches, CGI design, storyboards and photographs - many of these fill to the edges of the paper. Although this is probably not totally exhaustive as I've seen in other Titan books, the focus is on detail where it counts and includes a lot of useful information. If you were a scratch model-maker, then seeing how the prototype of the new Batmobile was made is going to help you follow a similar route. If you're going to wait for a proper kit, there's enough info to make wiring one of those babies up with lights appealing.

There's also quite a dissection of Batman's utility belt. As he was just starting out at the time, there's less gadgets and no batarang. If anything, the dark armoured suit is the thing and the Bat is really loaded for protection this time to avoid collateral damage. Again, there's enough design detail to have you drooling for days.

If I have to be critical of anything, it's where there are some pages of the supporting character design. It's a shame that they are so small. 25% larger could still have been accommodated in this page size.

This is the kind of book that you can browse or heavily read and probably end up doing both. My first read through picked out various things and glossed over a lot of the pictures - not intentionally. The second look tends to bring these out even more with the realisation that this is a book to study.

There's always a stark reminder that these media books only stay on the shelves for a limited time and on some levels, should be regarded as being like limited editions. In that regard, if you want a first edition, I wouldn't leave it too long before buying a copy rather than gambling on a softcover version.

GF Willmetts

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