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4.8 out of 5 stars
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To my shame, I've never been all that much of an art geek. Now, that isn't to say that I don't appreciate artwork because I do. I've been reading comic books and graphic novels for well over four decades, so I can look at some forms of drawing and painting and coloring, and I can certainly get jazzed about what it takes to put something like that down on paper for others to see, much less evaluate. But art museums and the like? I just never caught that `bug.' I couldn't say why. It could be that I just never understood the `inspiration' behind the successful artist; thankfully, Scott C's artwork in THE GREAT SHOWDOWNS isn't lost on me.

Clearly, Scott C is a film nerd, much like so, so many of us today. His particular obsession - even highlighted in his brief `intro' in this small coffee-table-style book - is conflict as depicted in film ... because, after all, what would the art of storytelling be without conflict? There's no film to be had without it, and Scott C - in all his grace - has latched on to some wonderful metaphors in his watercolor illustrations here. Quite a bit of his inspiration is drawn from truly great motion pictures - THE SHINING, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, DR. STRANGELOVE to name but a few - but one can see by perusing his illustrations here that he genuinely loves good film. And who doesn't?

It's his style that's immediately accessible that makes THE GREAT SHOWDOWNS such a winner as a collection. There's absolutely nothing highbrow about any of it. In fact, it's refreshing uncomplicated - almost crude scrawling, in some cases - given life through basic watercolors. And even though he's given new life and examination to moments of conflict, everyone - even inanimate objects - are brought to life with a slim smile. These are kid drawings, but they're done in such a way that they unquestionably bring out the kid in each of us.

And I think that's because movies - at their core - can be so universal. As Scott C reminds us in his intro, we experience them together - collectively - in their dark. We laugh at them together. We cry at them together. We cringe at them together. It's arguably the single-greatest collective experience left to the highly independent experience we call "life," and, with his clever illustrations, we're kind of reminded of those subtle moments, those memorable characters, that we all first experienced as a group in the dark. He's a truly remarkable artist - there's not a lot of flash and sizzle here, just some basic scribbling, colors, and those inescapable skinny smiles everywhere - and I'd encourage you to pick up and, seriously, enjoy this brief accounting of his work.

THE GREAT SHOWDOWNS is published by Titan Books. It includes a clever and brief - much like the artist's approach to his work here - foreword by Neil Patrick Harris, as well as an introduction to the work by the painter himself. For the record, the only thing that's missing here is a key - something that could identify precisely what film or program inspired the work - and I throw that out only as a suggestion should there ever be a second draft; for folks like me who, perhaps, haven't seen every flick rendered so winningly here, it would've been nice - even a bonus for using the neat li'l book for trivia contests - but it certainly isn't absolutely necessary. Without much effort, I think I recognized well over 90% of what's depicted here, and that's without even having seen some of the motion pictures.

HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION. It's a rare opportunity to peek inside the mind of a creative artist, but THE GREAT SHOWDOWNS - even with its brevity - shows the utter genius of Scott Campbell at work. His simple yet elegant watercolor illustrations cut immediately to the heart of conflict as seen in film - be it the Alien Queen facing off against a heavily-mechanized Ellen Ripley in ALIENS or the likes of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson threatening the smiling young punk from PULP FICTION. Who knows? If you look close enough, these paintings might even make you think about the film (the artist's original inspiration from his work) in a whole new light, and THAT is nothing short of an amazing accomplishment when measured up against the painter's preferred plainness. It's brilliant, and I'd encourage art fans, film nerds, and just plain good old-fashioned geeks to run out and pick up a copy today.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the good folks at Titan Books provided me with a review copy of THE GREAT SHOWDOWNS for the expressed purpose of completing this review.
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on October 31, 2012
This book is an absolutely adorable collection of Scott C's work. Scott takes on pop culture movies conflict in his adorable style - pitting hero against villain and i just love it. Plus you get an illustration of Neil Patrick Harris on a Unicorn. Who wouldn't want that?

This is an excellent coffee table art book.
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on February 24, 2014
If we were pitting the two books in this series against one another in a battle to the death, I honestly think that this first installment in the Great Showdowns book series would come out the winner. The book starts out strong, grabbing readers instantly on the title page by offering up a scene inspired by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows with Voldemort and Nagini on one side and Harry – wand at the ready – and Neville with sword in hand on the other.

An introduction by Neil Patrick Harris follows and Neil basically fanboys over Scott C. as much as I did. Except he some how makes it sound way cooler. After which we get a brief introduction by the author before we’re immediately thrown into a whirlwind of pop culture nostalgia.

Going into this book my only real concern was that I wouldn’t recognize a lot of the drawings. Online Scott C. includes a quote from every movie with each drawing so if you don’t immediately recocgnize them you can always google the quote and generall figure it out. Sadly, the book does not do this – possibly for copyright reasons? Who knows. But that was my main concern and it was completely unfounded. Some of the highlights of this book include drawings of the Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Planet of the Apes, Aliens, the Shining, Starship Troopers, Jurassic Park, Tron, Star Wars, and the Wizard of Oz among so many more.

Some of the pieces are a little more diluted or raw than some of the stuff you’ll find on the Tumblr. That’s likely because this book seems to include a good amount of his earlier work from the beginning of the Great Showdowns series. They are still as awesome as any other and this book get a solid five stars from me. It’s fun, adorable, and its the kind of book you can share with anyone. I mean, seriously. It makes Se7en some how adorable.
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on October 1, 2015
Big Scott C fan. It's a great game to play with friends, I have had a couple friends say they wish the answers were in the back. But I just love Scott C's work. He has a great sense of humor. I own 10 of the Game of Thrones Showdowns and chuckle every day with just a glance at them. Was inspired by this book and Name That Movie to publish my fan art into a book
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on May 26, 2013
I am a huge fan of Scott C's work. From my introduction to it in the stellar videogame "Psychonauts" (he was a lead designer), to his comics, to his gallery work, he can do no wrong. This book of charming, deceptively simple confrontations between movie nemeses is not only a joy to look at but a great trivia game (don't look to his website to cheat). Though very simple, his likenesses are spot on and the charm of these winsome depictions of screen enemies is a delight. His color palette is simple yet sophisticated and I can only hope this will be the first in a series. get it.
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on May 24, 2013
I purchased this on a whim just to have something different on the coffee table and at this point my roommate and I have basically turned it into a game. Anytime someone new comes over they have to go through the entire book and name as many of the movies as possible. My roommate holds the current record and only missed 6 (I missed 15). It's great fun. The illustrations are fantastic.
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on January 17, 2014
Excellent product. Didn't meet my internal expectations of an overlarge book. It was hardback. It does not come with explanations of scenes, or even a movie title. You might like than though, because it could be a conversation starter as a coffee book.
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on January 29, 2013
Great book to have on your coffee table when guests come over. Had a blast with friends trying to guess all the movies, though there are still I few Im in the dark about. Lovely whimsical illustrations that adeptly capture the essence of the characters while still making them all so happy. Highly recommend!
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on November 7, 2012
I think my title for the review says it all. Scott C's art is sooo fun and amazingly simple, that you cannot help but giggle a bit!
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on January 21, 2013
I've been a fan of Scott Campbell's work for quite a while, particularly his "Great Showdowns" pieces, so, when I found out that this book was in the oven, my expectations went high wire. Now that I own it, I can assure you that is a gorgeous piece of art. If you like either illustration and pop culture movie references, you definitely will love this book. Scott C.'s work is something that should be seen by anyone who can appreciate the world behind drawings and illustrations.
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