The Boxtrolls is LAIKA’s newest stop-motion animated film and boy does it deliver. It has the classic quirky darkness that we’ve come to love from LAIKA, while also introducing us to a clever and interesting new world.
The Art of The Boxtrolls is the art book that documents the making of the film. It is like most other art books put out today: filled with art, history, and lots of behind-the-scenes information and stories. This book has a good balance of both text and art; I never felt like one was lacking, but rather they perfectly complimented each other. The selection of art was also spectacular; we get a variety of art, such as concept art, exploratory sketches, character maquettes and set photographs, from the different phases of production.
The one thing that differentiates The Art of the Boxtrolls is how much space is spent discussing the effort that went into discovering the film’s unique look. Initially, the directors sought out French artist Nicolas de Crécy to help sketch out what his interpretations of the worlds of Cheesebridge and the Boxtrolls. The LAIKA team then used his drawings as a launching point, which really helped them hone in on the film’s iconic look. Since everything else stems from this fundamental design, the majority of the book is spent talking about this process.
The book predominantly focuses on the design, look and feel of the overall Boxtrolls world, instead of the characters who inhabit it. As a result, the book is divided into four chapters, each of which follow one of The Boxtrolls‘ different geographical zones: the streets of Cheesebridge, the Boxtrolls’ underground home, Snatcher’s lair, and the upper crust world of the white hats.
The characters are introduced in each of their respective chapters, but the book doesn’t give much insight into their creation, development and evolution. For example, Winnie isn’t introduced until the final chapter and there is little text describing how they came about Winnie’s final design. This was a bit disappointing because she is one of the main human characters who drives the plot, but is largely disregarded in this book. Lucky for us, they do include some of her rejected character designs, so that at least makes up for it.
Although the characters aren’t the focus on the book, LAIKA took some design risks with the characters, so you will still be captivated when you’re looking at their respective pages. For example, some of the characters’ faces are harshly colored with yellow, green and blue, making them look almost sickly. Their coloration is not beautifully blended, but rather shows the reality of the dark and grungy world in which they live.
Since The Boxtrolls is rather experimental and untraditional in its design, this book stands out. It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter, appeal to the masses production, but rather a true work of art. This book encapsulates LAIKA’s artistic process and is definitely worth the buy from any art, animation or movie fan.