Friday, 16 February 2018

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium by Paul Kidby Review


Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium is a beautifully-produced art book featuring the remarkable work of Discworld illustrator Paul Kidby.

Kidby took over from the original Discworld covers artist, Josh Kirby, after Kirby’s death in 2001. And it’s because I grew up with the Kirby-illustrated Discworld covers that Kidby’s art never felt like the “real” Discworld to me but his skill and vision is undeniable.

The book extensively showcases the massive range of Pratchett’s characters and places that Kidby’s drawn over the years, from book covers to character sketches to portraits of Terry. Art history fans will recognize Discworld parodies of famous artists from Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Joseph Wright made all the more impressive by Kidby’s admission that he’s a self-taught artist with no formal training! The level of detail is astonishing and fully-realised by the high-definition printing, and the paper is of a suitably quality glossiness and thickness for an art book.

There weren’t any pieces I disliked, though, as is often the case in non-visual art forms (at least originally in the case of most novels), I found myself disagreeing with some of his character designs. His Sam Vimes is way too good-looking and his Rincewind has never looked right. Among the many characters he nails though is Vetinari who has more than an air of Alan Rickman about him (exactly how I picture/hear him!) and I was surprised not to find any full-page acrylics of the Patrician.

My favourites were Death (especially the one where he’s playing guitar!), any featuring The Librarian, the zen-like Great A’Tuin and the poignant Seventh Seal-inspired final piece, “Check Mort”, of Death and Terry playing chess. A must-read for any Discworld fan, Paul Kidby’s book is a wonderful collection of gorgeous art that perfectly celebrates Terry Pratchett’s legacy.

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