The Art of Regular Show – Book Review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Art of Regular Show, by Shannon O’Leary. Foreword by J. G. Quintel. Introduction by Paula Spence.
London, Titan Books, September 2015, hardcover $29.95 (160 pages).
Lavish coffee-table animation art books are usually the prerogative of theatrical features from major animation studios like Disney, DreamWorks Animation, and Pixar; not a TV cartoon series from a studio like Cartoon Network. Yet if any TV cartoon series has earned that accolade, Regular Show has. The prime-time (7:30 p.m.; new episodes on Thursdays, reruns the rest of the Monday-Saturday week) half-hour program of two 11-minute episodes began on September 6, 2010, and is still going strong with 195 episodes (nine seasons) scheduled so far, and a made-for-TV feature, Regular Show: The Movie, due on November 25, 2015. Episode #58, “Eggscellent” by Regular Show creator J. G. Quintel, won a 2013 Emmy Award in the Outstanding Short-format Animated Program category; and various other episodes have been nominated for Annie, Emmy, Teen Choice, and other American and British TV awards. There have been a Regular Show monthly comic book since May 2013; and video games, action figures, plush dolls, bobbleheads, T-shirts, and more.
Regular Show carries anthropomorphism to an extreme. The series’ regular (ha, ha) stars are Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon. They work (or try to avoid working) for park manager Benson, an uptight anthro gumball machine. Their friendlier co-manager is the older Pops, a mustached anthro lollipop from Lolliland. Other regular co-groundskeepers are Skips, a yeti; Hi-Five Ghost; and the big green Muscle Man, not quite a parody of Marvel comics’ The Incredible Hulk. Supporting characters are Margaret, a red-breasted robin and Eileen, a mole, two waitresses at a nearby coffee shop; a bowling, arm-wrestling Death; Thomas, a goat teenage intern; CJ, a cloud (Mordecai’s girlfriend); eight party-loving unicorns; four karate-chopping baby ducks who can combine into an anime-giant-robot-parody Giant Duck; or anthro pretty much anythings.
This large full-color book (11.4” x 8.9”; 160 pages) is about the cartoon art for the Cartoon Network’s Regular Show animated TV series. It is written by Shannon O’Leary, a writer for Publishers Weekly covering the animation and comics industries, with a Foreword by J. G. Quintel who created the series, and an Introduction by Paula Spence, the series’ Art Director.
The book, like the TV series, is comprehensive yet chaotic. It is about the art of the TV series, not a history of it. It consists of short chapters (two to six pages) on each of the main and supporting characters and their world, showing their art (character art and storyboards) and defining their personalities; and profiling a few key episodes. This is mostly shown artistically, with three to six comments each by the creators, production staff, and voice actors. Mark Hamill, voice of Skips: “For the first probably half season, I thought Skips was an albino ape! Later, when I was talking about that, JG said, ‘No, you’re not an albino ape; you’re a yeti!’ I said, ‘WHAT!?’ And he said, ‘Yeah! You’re a yeti!’ I said, ‘Oh my god! I’m going to have to go back and re-voice the entire series because that changes the concept of my characterization!” (p. 58) uncredited: “Cloudy J as you see her on screen is significantly more ‘girl-like’ than Sean Szeles’ original design (see top right of page).” (p. 100) J. G. Quintel, writer of episodes #81-82, “Exit 9B”, the two-part opening of Season 4: “[In ‘Exit 9B’], pretty much every character [we’ve] ever killed comes back for revenge so if you’ve seen the show you’re like, ‘Oh I remember him, I remember him!’ You can only do that once you have enough seasons [of material].” (p. 113) Benton Connor, staff artist: “I designed Rigby’s parents. I initially thought of typical suburban middle class families – but in anatomically correct raccoon bodies. When I finished the designs I realized that Rigby’s dad ended up looking very much like Ned Flanders from The Simpsons.” (p. 132)
If you’re a fan of the TV animated series, you pretty well have to have this book. It’s available at a 45% discount from Amazon.com.