My first exposure to the talented artists at Blue Sky Studios was a couple years back when I wrote the ART OF ROBOTS book. The general feeling I got while working on the book was that the development artists at Blue Sky took more of an illustrative/fine art approach to animation design as opposed to the cartoon-oriented production design sensibilities of Pixar and its imitators. This sensibility is front and center in the new graphic anthology, OUT OF PICTURE: ART FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, a dazzling collection of work by eleven artists who currently work (or have previously worked) at Blue Sky Studios.
It would be a disservice to label this simply a collection of comics or a graphic novel. On every page, there are gallery-quality paintings and illustrations. Freed from the need to conform to the stale narrative routines of modern animated filmmaking, the Blue Sky artists explore looser, more personal storytelling styles which are a perfect complement to their stunning visuals. The artwork is uniformly excellent throughout, but a few of the pieces that stood out for me were David Gordon’s disturbing post-9/11 cautionary tale “The Wedding Present,” Dice Tsutsumi’s atmospheric and beautifully painted “Noche y Dia,” and Daniel L–pez MuÃ±oz’s intensely drawn “Silent Echoes.”