Publisher: ABDOTC Publishing
Date Published: 2007
Size: 10.2″ by 7.4″ (Hardcover)
A collection of contemporary character art
‘Fusion Junction 2’ continues the compendium of modern game, cartoon and comic character design established in ‘Fusion Junction 1‘. Four new artists are featured in this new volume; Agasang, Tairu Akitu, Stoneman and LeSean Thomas.
The layout is similar to the previous book. The font is large and ugly, but to compensate the creators have experimented with background colour instead of taking the safer alternative of white. The varying colour creates a pleasurable reading result, rather than sterility. Like its predecessor, ‘Fusion Junction 2’ is hardcover, with a nice weight and balance in the hands. The dark cover art contrasts the previous light gray and red artwork of ‘Fusion Junction 1’.
The first featured artist, Agasang, was born in Seoul, Korea but currently resides in Kyoto, Japan. Her artwork is steeped in fantasy and western and eastern mythology, including angels, ninjas and nuns. Her enchanting and otherworldly artwork is featured on the cover. The art is dominated by mysterious and dreamlike colours, but also has elements of horror. Vibrant blood reds and dark shadows create an atmosphere of nightmarish imagery. My favorite artwork is the cover art, but I also appreciate the cute 1960’s inspired boy and girl.
Tairu Akitu, born in Japan and living in Korea, has an interesting cubic style design. The artwork seems the most easily translated into game graphics – in fact the style could have been influenced by the boxy worlds of early games. The works feature vibrant shades, with a watery colour feel. Though Akitu’s work doesn’t have the stand alone ‘picture book’ quality of other artists, it still serves as an example of the functionality of these character designers and the work is highly individualistic. The character faces are basic and similar, invoking the chibi style of Japanese illustration.
Stoneman also hails from Korea. His work has a much more adult and grungy feel than the other artists, invoking futuristic industrial machinery. There are elements of sex, blood and violence to his work. I was interested and inspired by his use of authentically Asian looking characters, considering most eastern and western artists tend to design only western looking people. Women are the focal point of his work, with the only male character designated to a humorous sketch. The mirror drawing and artwork of a woman sketching herself are my favorites.
LeSean Thomas is the only western artist in this compendium, coming from the South Bronx, America. He has worked on a great deal of children’s cartoons, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spiderman and Thundercats. His style is very individual and has an urban street art feel. They have included sketches to show the progression from beginning to finished work, which helps appreciate the amount of detail required in character design – many of the artworks feature line-ups of characters, focusing on the detail in their faces and clothing. He loves to play with perspective and exaggeration to create a feel of movement and action, and prefers dramatic shading and saturated colours. Though I am personally not a fan of his style, he is a worthy addition to the book and contrasts greatly with the other artists.
‘Fusion Junction 2’ is a great picture book and homage to a largely unappreciated group of artists. I still believe that for the ‘Fusion Junction’ series to become a force in the art book community that it has to feature at least six artists, however keeping a small number and creating more volumes may be more manageable for the creators. Those that enjoyed ‘Fusion Junction 1’ won’t be disappointed by this volume and the selection of artists. ‘Fusion Junction 2’ still maintains its theme of east/west, traditional/modern and work/self-expression, but also improves on previous book by including interviews with each artist. For a book focused intensely on individual artists, this should be included and adds greatly to understanding processes and inspiration to the art.
♥♥♥½ – 3½/5
You may also be interested in my review of ‘Fusion Junction 3’