Written and Drawn by Various
Published by
Villard Books

The members of Blue Sky Studios, responsible for such animated films as ICE AGE and ROBOTS, stretch their artistic muscles with OUT OF PICTURE, an anthology of sequential art stories on a variety of topics. The group demonstrates an interesting mélange of styles, ranging from very traditional looking comics to the more avant-garde faire, but in their own rights, each story within the book is interesting enough to draw your attention and thought processes.

That isn’t to say that some pieces aren’t wildly more successful at reaching their goals than others. Greg Couch’s “Four and Twenty Blackbirds” is an amusing meeting between classic fairy tales and “The Maltese Falcon”, and his art reminded me very much of Bill Sienkiewicz’ early material. For my money, though, the best piece in the collection is the one immediately following Couch’s effort, Michael Knapp’s “Newsbreak.” It’s a surrealist meditation on the effect the news media has on people of conscience, and it certainly seemed to be tapping my own reservoir of nightmares. His art is quite intriguing, as well, using a look you’d almost describe as a very basic animation combined with a deep paint layer. It’s very unique.

There are some weaker bits in the collection, but even those have their own merits, whether conceptually or artistically. Really, this is a lovely book, and it also has a format to envy. One of the only things I’ve not enjoyed about other superior collections like FLIGHT is their slavish attachment to the 6.7×10.2 printing format. OUT OF PICTURE runs at 9×12, giving the work room to breathe on the page. Easily worth your twenty dollars.

Marc Mason