Beasts! Book 1

By many and various, designed and edited by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN13: 978-1-56097-950-0

A few years ago an art director at Fantagraphics finally completed a dream project – to compile a catalogue of mythological creatures of all natures and cultures (defined and explained by writers Heidi Broadhead, Felicia Gotthelf, Paul Hughes and Rob Lightner) and brought to better-than-life by the cream of alternative artists. The result is captivating, wistful, funny and truly extraordinary – a Bestiary of the traditionally fantastic for the dreary 21st century where imagination and wonder have been formularised as crypto-zoology.

If you’re inclined towards shopping lists, this next paragraph lists each of the artists and their assignment, and please feel free to skip it if you’re impatient or in a rush, but if you’ve a favourite feel free to browse at your leisure. Like this superb book itself, that’s the point.

In page order then: Ray Fenwick – Beast Pattern, Art Chantry – American Buffalo, Gilbert Hernandez – Sea Hog, Tim Biskup – Amermait, Jason Robards – Acephalite, Ryan Clark – Aeternae, Charles Glaubitz – Ahuizotl, Esther Pearl Watson – Aitvaras, Ronald Kurniawan – Albastor, Jacob Covey – Argus, Deth P. Sun – Aries, R. Kikuo Johnson – Asp Turtle, Julie Murphy – Aspis, Martin Cendreda – Aswang, Brent Johnson – Auvekoejak, Colleen Coover – Baba Yaga, Katy Horan – Banshee, Dean Yeagle – Barguest, Kaela Graham – Barometz, Jesse LeDoux – Bautatsch-Ah-Ilgs, Marvin Kirschnik – Beast of Bray Road, Andrew Brandou – Big Ears, Renee French – Bigfoot, Lesley Reppeteaux – Black Annis, Eric Reynolds – Boa, Kenneth Lavallee – Boraro, Adam Grano – Brownies, PJ Fidler – Cacus, Brian Ralph – Carn Galver, Angela Kongelbak – Catoblepas, Keith Andrew Shore – Centaur, Amanda Visell – Cerberus, Mike Hoffman – Cheeroonear, Mat Brinkman – Chenoo, Scott Campell – Cliff Ogre, Dave Cooper – Bapets, Corey Lunn –Cyclopedes, Nate Williams – Cyclops, Alex Meyer – Disemboweller, Don Clark – Dog-Faced Bunyip, Kevin Cornell – Donestre, Nathan Jurevicius – Drac, Ron Regé, Jr. – Draug, Meg Hunt – Erinyes, Stan Sakai – Gaki, Marc Bell – Golem, Dan Grzeca – Gorgon, Johnny Ryan – Harpy, Little Friends of Printmaking – Hundred-Handed Giant, Kevin Scalzo – Kabandha, Bwana Spoons – Kappa, Mizna Wada – Kojiki’s Yamata No Orochi, Jeremy Fish – Kraken, Tyler Stout – Kukuweaq, Jordan Crane – Laestrygonians, Peter Thompson – Leveller, Scott Teplin – Loathly Worm, Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch – Loch Ness Monster, Martin Ontiveros – Long Wang, Chris Ryniak – Lou Carcolh, Andy Kehoe – Manticore, Atteboy – Melusine, Justin B. Williams – Mimick Dog, Jeff Soto – Minata-Karaia, Jason – Minotaur, Jessica Lynch – Monoceros, Nathan Huang – Nuckalevee, Kevin Dart – Odontotyrannus, Jesse Reno – Pegasus, Steven Weissman – Pey, Alan Mooers – Puk, Anders Nilsen – Sianach, Ted Jouflas – Siren, Foi Jimenez – Sphinx, James Jean – Succubus, Jay Ryan – Thunderbeast, Jason Miles – Thunderbird & Unceliga, Tony Millionaire – Leviathan, Josh Cochran – Triton, S.britt – Troll, Stella Im Hultberg – Tui Delai Gau, Seonna Hong – Unicorn, Sammy Harkham – Utukku, Sam Weber – Vampire, Richard Sala – Vodnik, Chris Silas Neal – Werewolf, Joe Vaux – Wihwin, Tom Gauld Wizard’s Shackle, Heiko Müller – Wolpertinger, Michael Slack – Yara-Ma-Yha-Who and Souther Salazar – Aunyainá.

The concept of a Bestiary – a chronicle of fabulous creatures – is probably older than the printed book itself and this incredibly broad and varied collection (originally released as a striking hardback in 2007) uses the very best of modern print technology and design sensibility to deliver an vivid package of sheer fantasy and artistic excellence, with as much emphasis on madcap humour as terror or wonderment. This edition also benefits from slick, coated paper and stunning gold ink, a text feature by “Yeti Hunter” Daniel Taylor, a family tree of Crypto-zoological creatures, an extensive bibliography and biographies of the 90 creators involved in the project.

Combining state-of-the-nation artists from a number of disciplines including comics, poster production, skate art, commercial illustration and gallery exhibitors, this is as much a catalogue of the contemporary US popular arts scene as a bible of the fantastic and a must-have for anyone who wants their eyes to bulge and protrude like a Tom & Jerry cartoon character. Hey? What page are they o…?
This edition © 2008 Fantagraphics Books. All images and text © 2008 their respective creator. All Rights Reserved.