I’ve read my fair share of art books from media such as movies and game, but I couldn’t quite help myself from being extra excited for Titan Books’ latest for the Spider-Man video game. The character has been a favorite of mine from the moment I first saw a comic book at a young age and the video game leading up to its release looked like it was an incredible iteration of the character. Having played about six hours of the game I can safely say it is one of the best video game experiences I’ve ever had. Then I received this art book and couldn’t help but be even more enamored with the game. Told in three parts, this art book delves into the development between Marvel Comics and Insomniac Games, key design choices tied to character and world building, and ultimately how the entire creation process was a labor of love from everyone involved.
This book is particularly interesting because it reveals how the designers and directors in charge at Insomniac Games came to the decisions they did in making this world. This isn’t a straight adaptation by any means, with big differences when it comes to characters, locations, and even villains. As creative director at Insomniac Games Bryan Intihar explained in this book, there was a “golden rule” to be respectful of the characters in the franchise no matter what, and if they wanted to make a change it had to have a good reason behind it. This project is particularly fascinating due to Insomniac Games attempting to put their own spin on this iconic character.
Thankfully it’s more than obvious how seriously they took this task. As a hardcore comic book reader, it’s nice to know the creators behind the Spider-Man video game took the comic book stories very seriously. Opening with a foreword by Intihar and Marvel Games executive creative director Bill Rosemann, it is made quite clear both cherish this character as much as anyone. Rosemann, in particular, relates a story that’s deeply personal about Spider-Man that reveals just how seriously he takes this character. It’s clear reading this work Insomniac Games took the adaptation of Spider-Man very seriously, oftentimes referencing specific comic book writers like Brian Michael Bendis and Dan Slott when making key decisions. This book functions as a great look at the production and design process, but also at how passionate the designers and game makers were in making this video game truly special.
Compared to other art books, this book is very robust when it comes to its interviews with Insomniac Games creators. Paul Davies did a fantastic job diving deep into decision making so that this work isn’t just a collection of images, but also a peek inside how this world was created. Things as simple as the body language of Kingpin are explained or how the color choices were made to convey story elements. It’s very clear as you read not only were the decisions we see in the final game made with incredible care, but many iterations were created to reach the final product. None more than the Spider-Man costume, which I for one was shocked to see changed, but is explained very thoroughly here. If you’ve played the game you’ll know there are many costumes in the game you can switch into though only a handful are delved into deeply here.
This book reveals very well how thorough the creators were in making this world. From character clothing options to convey personality to the placement of graffiti, this book details how even the smallest of decisions required very serious thinking. In regards to graffiti, for example, real graffiti artists were brought in to make the art scattered throughout the world more realistic. In fact, the same artists gave feedback even on placement to make sure the spray painted art looked legit throughout the game.
The three chapters of this book may actually contain a spoiler of sorts with the first being called City of Hope (delving into the main characters of the narrative in the first third of your playthrough) then delving into City of Fear (focusing on Silver Sable and a few of the villains) and then closing out with City of War (wrapping up with fan favorite villains and final showdown scenes). Throughout this work there are a variety of art styles shown off like drawings of graffiti, but most are 3D renderings of characters and locations. The game is created on a computer, after all. Probably the showstopper of this book however are the double page paintings showing off key fight scenes and city scenes. Given this is a coffee table format these pages are exceptional and very pretty to look at.
This is a fantastic book that not only complements the game and gives readers a sense of what it took to create it, but also complements any Spider-Man fan’s collection. If you’re a Spider-Man fan this work will be entertaining on multiple levels and should fit right in with your trade paperbacks lining your comic book shelves. This is a fantastic art book that not only compliments the game but Spider-Man himself.