Dynamite Entertainment released their first video game art book, The Art of Atari, in time for Christmas last year, and not surprisingly, it sold like gangbusters. The hype is justified–it’s a beautiful book that contains a lot of information and great visuals.
It manages to straddle the general interest approach and the highly informed approach to the history of Atari and its most beloved games very well. The language is not so complex that a teen new to the history of video games might not be able to read it, nor is it overly simplified in a way that will put off the more seasoned game historian.
The book has lovely endpapers which contribute to the overall sense of quality and care for detail.
By focusing in on the people involved in the development of systems and games, the book gives a sense of giving due credit to creativity that might otherwise be glossed over with the passing of time.
The articles are varied, addressing the different areas of game development, so if some readers have more interest in particular topics, they can pick out individual chapters.
But this is an art book, and it represents a great deal of artwork very well.
All in all, The Art of Atari offers enough variety within its covers that it has broad appeal, and that’s essential when you’re making those Christmas gift lists.
Also now available is a companion product, the Art of Atari Poster Collection, released since last Christmas. As you might expect from a poster collection, this is not a text-based reading experience. It’s a collection of some of the most noteworthy artwork from game covers, particularly, on Atari games.
These posters are large, heavy card stock, and definitely frameable to decorate your abode. Or you can keep the posters in their protective flip-book and just appreciate them from time to time.
What really comes to the fore when looking at these posters is just how high the quality of artwork was on these cover images and promo images. They stand the test of time and have become classic in their own way.
They evoke imagination, feeling, and mood, in a way you might not expect when their subject matter was video games with a limited ability to represent graphics and movement. Rather, these images seem to suggest the role of the player in filling in the world of the game during participation.
These images are quite poetic, and have plenty in common with cover art for books and comics, which is presumably the tradition that influences them the most. You also might add the influence of album cover art from records and cassettes.
Both The Art of Atari and The Art of Atari Poster Collection are made of high-quality materials that you’ll immediately notice when you pick them up and flip through.
That helps dignify a field that deserves more respect, and even veneration, testifying to an explosively creative era that built digital gaming and without which the field might be very different today.