Authors: Howard E. Green
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 192 pages
We have now reached the penultimate volume in the Hyperion “Big Seven” – The Tarzan Chronicles (a departure from the usual “Art Of” title). Written by Howard E. Green, this is another one which lacks a dustjacket, featuring a half-textured dark green hardcover instead. I feel like they might have been trying to imitate the old-fashioned binding style that would have been popular at the time the original novel was published in 1912, but don’t quote me on that as I’m no expert on bookbinding. The non-textured half of the cover features a rough line animation rendering of Tarzan himself, set against a lush jungle background; it’s a rather darker cover than the others in the collection, but still makes for an attractive book.
To open the book, we get a foreword from musician Phil Collins, who was of course behind all of the film’s songs. After the introduction (which talks about earlier adaptations of the novel), we then have five chapters named after each of those songs. In the first, “You’ll Be In My Heart,” Green talks about how the team adapted the story for their film version – if you’ve read the original, you’ll have an idea of how tricky this process must have been (the novel is brimming with racism and sexism). Then we have a discussion of the creation of the character of Tarzan himself in “Son of Man,” followed by descriptions of the development of the other characters in “Strangers Like Me.” “Two Worlds” details the team’s research trip to Africa in 1996 and explains how this affected the cinematography and set designs (love this chapter), and finally we have “Trashin’ the Camp”, which talks about the creation of the music and includes the lyrics to all the songs. The book ends with the usual acknowledgements from the author, along with a set of production credits for the film at the back of the book in a first for the format.
This is yet another strong entry in the series, a weighty and sumptuous volume filled with as much information as a fan of the film could ever wish for. The design and layout are just as inventive as in previous books, with gatefolds to display some of the art and textured card inserts with annotated line animation at the start of each chapter. If I had to criticise it for anything, particularly in comparison with the last book, The Art of Mulan, it would be that it doesn’t feature any details about the culture of the country the film is set in (not that that’s ever specified).
Still, this is definitely a highly-recommended work for fans of animation and especially for Tarzan fans and collectors. Get this one on your wish list, and I’ll see you again soon for the last instalment in the “Big Seven” series!