Book Review: The Art of Regular Show by Shannon O'Leary

"An inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week." - creator JG Quintel
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Created by JG Quintel, Regular Show regales viewers with the zany exploits of Mordecai the blue jay and Rigby the raccoon, two twenty-something slackers who find themselves in the caught up in very wild and very funny adventures.  It is one of the most imaginative and entertaining animated programs on television, currently in its seventh season on Cartoon Network.  Author Shannon O’Leary assists Quintel, who in his foreword states that with this book he and the staff wanted to “offer an inside peek into how [they] go about creating the characters and crazy situations [viewers] see on TV every week.”

In her “Introduction to the Art,” supervising art director Paula Spence, who worked on the pilot, reveals that Quintel’s mantra for the series was ‘It’s called ‘Regular Show’ for a reason,” meaning he favored simplicity and “wanted the [look of the show’s] world to reflect the world around the show’s viewers: just an ordinary place with ordinary people doing ordinary things.”  Now that seems an odd statement considering the supporting characters include an anthromorphic lollipop and gumball machine, a yeti, a ghost, and…well, whatever Muscle Man is. 

Quintel and staff members discuss the origins of the show. Naïve Man from Lolliland and 2 in the AM PM are two shorts Quintel created while he was a student at CalArts and worked on Cartoon Network’s The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.  After a chapter about Mordecai and Rigby, containing pictures in varying degrees of completion, the book delves into the pilot, matching storyboards with completed frames for eight pages.  Unfortunately, the images are so small, it’s difficult to fully appreciate them.  For example, the frames are 2 inches by 1 inch.  The Emmy Award-winning episode “Eggscellent,” The Christmas Special, “Exit 9B” get the same treatment with staff commentary in between chapters devoted to various characters.  The book concludes with tutorials about how to draw Mordecai, Rigby, Pops, and Benson.          

The Art of Regular Show is wonderful trip behind the scenes that all its fans who are curious about the creation of animation should take.

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