What Is It: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Panel to Panel." It's a TPB (well, more of a FHPB) that collects the best of the art from Dark Horse's original run on BtVS. Scott Allie provides commentary.
Timeline: We get stuff from pre-Season One to post-Season Seven.
REVIEW: My first thought when my comic book guy put this specially ordered book (they weren't stocking it, so I had to put in a personal order) was "Holy vampire lemon face, this is huge!" And when I say huge, I mean huge in every way. The pages are thick, so even though this book is only 190 pages, its about three times as thick as the "Long Way Home" TBP. And as far as height, this is the Yao Ming of trade paperbacks. I mean, it's an insult to this hulking book to call it a TPB. For fear of being bludgeoned to death by this tome, I'm going to officially refer to it as a FHPB. A F**king Huge Paperback. Or perhaps just "The Book That Must Not Be Named." I'm not going to go on and on about how big this thing is, but I have to add that I literally cannot fit it on ANY of my shelves. Not the large shelves that house my Buffy script books, and not even the bigger shelf that I keep my over sized Runaways hardcovers on. I had to put this big ol' sucker in my CLOSET, this thing is so huge.
But I digress. The SECOND thought I had when this came into my hands was "Shiny." That's in both senses. The figurative "shiny" (if you don't know what that means, you really shouldn't consider yourself a Whedon fan) as well as the literal "shiny." The cover has a sort of foily shine to it, making the metallic blue of the art look even cooler. The binding of the book, like all Dark Horse TPBs, is very strong and even has a little picture on it (Buffy's face from "Creatures of Habit."
Okay, now that I've bored you with my first reactions, let me get down to the nitty gritty. The book is pretty much made up of huge renditions of certain covers, panels, and promotional pics from the original Buffy run by Dark Horse. The art is of varying quality (see the "Art" section below), but the way it was put together was quite masterfully. Scott Allie takes us on a trip down (his) memory lane as he explains certain pieces, giving us all some pretty cool background info on the artists or what was the reason for each cover. Often, his commentary offers some really cool tidbits, but other times he leaves us wanting a bit more. Many pieces that I would have liked to know more about were left unexplained, which isn't really that cool in a book like this. However, that little flub is made up for by the sheer quality of this book, because when it comes down to it, we do get a lot of new factoids from the man with the plan.
By the way, this book is only $20. TWENTY DOLLARS. Having a rough idea that the book was large, I went to the ATM to get a little bit of extra cash before my trip to the comic shop. When I got there and got the book in my hands, I was afraid that my mere $50 wouldn't cut it. Nervous of my looming embarrassment (I'd hate to think of the look I'd get when I didn't have enough dough for a book I put on special order), I managed to squeak out a "How much is it?" He said "Twenty," and then even had to double check himself because the book was just so damn big (and shiny). But yeah, twenty.
Don't be a goon. Buy it.
Art: To truly get into the art, I'd pretty much have to review every page. There are many different styles in this book--some great, some good, some okay, some...not so much--from a long list of different artists who have contributed to the title. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is that it shows how the long term artists have evolved over the course of the series, often drastically changing their styles. The best part about this book is probably the painted covers from the later issues (post-Season Five and on), specifically the art taken from the wonderful illustrated prose novel "Creatures of Habit." Overall, this won't disappoint. Even if a lot of the art isn't good, it's amazing to see so many different takes on our favorite characters. Some day, I hope the art of Season Eight gets the "Panel to Panel" treatment because, let's face it, the best BtVS art that's ever been put out is what we're getting now from Chen, Foster, and sometimes Jeanty. I almost wish "The Long Way Home" was released in an over-sized version, as to truly appreciate the art, but it makes me wonder where I would put it.
Note: I unknowingly advertised the 'verse to some peeps. Apparently, when this book was delivered, another customer wanted to purchase it. It had been reserved for me, but the customer liked the book so much that they put in a special order for it. I was happy to have spread to word, even if I didn't know I was doing it.
*Gotta say though, it's a must have. Buy it, thine wankers!