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Transformers Animated: The AllSpark Almanac Paperback – September 1, 2009
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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First off, this book consists of two volumes that came out back in 2009 & 2010, respectively. Back then I bought two of each volume in order to keep one in mint condition and the other to be able to read and draw from that it won't matter if it gets beat up in the process. Now comes the complete 'Allspark Almanac' that collects both of the previous volumes as well as some exclusive material.
At first I was hesitant to buy another copy until I saw the Marcelo Matere cover on his Facebook page and that had sold me. I am a big fan of his and his work shows his love and knowledge of the Transformers franchise. After receiving the book this weekend I was not disappointed to have ordered yet another copy. If you are a Transformers fans or a fan of animation/cartoon books (which I am a fan of both) then I highly recommend picking this one up. If you already own the two smaller volumes, then I would say use your own judgement maybe depending on shelf space, finances, etc. Me personally, I'm glad I splurged on this book even though I already own the smaller books, I did recognize some of the new material that was not in those volumes but I don't have them here to do the side-by-side comparison & be real specific.
I grew up with Transformers: Generation 1 (G1) back in the 80's and have always been fan of the franchise, maybe not as much in the past but still consider TF one of top favorite franchises of all time. I always look back onto G1 as the definitive Transformers series and hold that to the highest standards of all the animated series that followed, even as goofy as some of the G1 episodes were. Over the years I've spoken with many TF fans and it's always interesting to hear what their top TF series is. G1 was what I grew up with, just as many have grown up with Beast Wars, Armada, Prime, etc., so please note that I'm not hating/bashing on any of the other TF animated series, it's just that G1 is what I have the fondest memories of and it's just my opinion. With that being said, to get back to this book is that TF: Animated is probably my second favorite TF series after G1.
Now to get back on topic. First, this book has so much to offer for the TF fans, whether you're a casual or diehard fan. It acts as a series Bible that shows off a lot of great artwork that was used in the series' 3 season run as well as artwork of things that (unfortuantely) were not in the series. There's also a hint of what could've been in a season 4 had it been made, which is one of my complaints with the show is that CN ended it after a fantastic season 3 with so many classic characters making appearances, that we'll never get a good chance to let them shine. It did however, take me a while to warm up to the look of the show back in late 2007-08 when the art went up online and the show debuted but after viewing I warmed up to it more and more. This book shows off some great model sheets of the main characters as well as designs for many of the supporting characters that cater to fans of almost every single animated series that preceeded TF: Animated. The people responsible for this series/book obviously know and love Transformers and that pretty much every page shows that they've done their homework. In addition to that, there are also little 'Easter Eggs' for the sharp minded pop-culture junkie (GoBots, G.I. Joe to name a couple). The book delves into basically everything that made up this show, including backgrounds, vehicles, human characters, even with different locales from Earth to Cybertron! This is a massive book that should be a template for others to follow to give the fans what they want as far as a series Bible is concerned. Also, I would consider it to be a really good art book for those aspiring artists out there that can see the evolution of an animated series. I also feel that art schools should have this for their art students for refernces and such, but that's just me.
I hope this helps those who are considering purchasing this awesome book. At a massive 475 pages, it's a great deal. The quality of the book is stellar with all full color artwork on glossy high qualtity pages. There are some black & white sketches peppered throughout the book to help show off the animation process and the evolution to the show which only helps add to the book. Even though the animated series did give us a finale to give the fans a sense of closure at the end of the season 3, this book (and smaller volumes) is a great way to completely cap TFA.
As promised it is written almost entirely "in universe", the premise being that the authors complied the information at the bequest of Porter C. Powell and compiled artifacts and interviews to tell the "story" of TF:A. It has thousands of beautiful, crisp pictures, including model shots with details and back views for all of the main characters and detailed background paintings.
The attention to detail on the show just shines through in all of these, almost everything you see adds something to your knowledge of the show and the characters.
And the writing, oh the writing, is truly glorious. The authors do best (unsurprisingly) with the characters who have the most distinctive "voices" (each of Blitzwing's sections, for example, have contributions from all of his personalities, and Sentinel Prime's sections are just studies in arrogant, frustrated ambition). The Easter Eggs are so abundant and delicious that I could feel my cholesterol levels rising while I devoured them. And they're not ALL Transformers related, either. My favorite is a cringeworthy Clerks reference that has NO place in a book that is obstensibly for children (which I think was the point).
This book needs a sequel. As it ends with the end of season 2, we don't learn very much about Cybertron at all. The creators have indicated that if this volume is well received, then they will most likely create the sequel. I heartily urge those of you who can to buy this book, make your friends buy it and shout from the rooftops how awesome it is.
If there's one flaw with this book, it is that it stops at the end of the second season! I eagerly hope that we'll see an Allspark Almanac Volume Two in the future to complete the series, perhaps featuring more of the behind the scenes design work.