Artist and visionary Jorge R. Gutierrez has succeeded in a rare and challenging feat, building an art book so strong that it stands on its own without the film and, in fact, has its on character/personae - the artist himself and the melding of the crew along with him. Gutierrez creates an engaging storybook to illustrate the fairy tale of the world you will enter when you go to the film. Having experienced the journey of creating these delectably quirky and lovable characters, I am left itching to see the film and come back to re-experience it all again through Jorge's eyes. Jorge has a beautiful way of opening up to the reader, as if you were in his living room sipping cocoa or coffee, depending on your age, and he is showing you photo albums of his family, sharing stories that make you laugh and cry, together like old pals even though you just met. Art of is Jorge's photo album, mixed with the creative journey for the film and a world of personal touches and stories that make this storybook/album/art book so unique and, at the same time, universal.
This book is written with passion and bound in soul. With a theme of Day of the Dead, bright colors are expected, but there is a vibrancy that pops off the page and captivates the eye immediately on the cover, enticing the reader to explore what's next. It is playful and mystical at the same time. The moods of love, life, and the love of life are established through the colors and joy depicted throughout the scenes. Such a fascinating and too often misunderstood holiday to have celebrated in a children's film and art book is truly exciting. I was reminded even more the universality of The Day of the Dead through Jorge's narration. The celebration of life, of lives past and the continuance of their memories through the telling of stories and our traditions - such a beautiful, universally positive message that people often lose when they see skulls. This could have to do with modern society's fear of mortality. Somehow, the skulls and "scarier" images are depicted in a more palatable manner for all ages and cultures. The art is so playful and majestic - this is a collector's item for children and adults alike. To this day, I still have my copy of a the original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, which I have read so many times, the cover has fallen off. I have found a new classic in The Art of the Book of Life to be its shelf mate.