Review: Coverama: Alternative Worlds

Cover king Marc Simonetti's collection of stunning and varied art gets the large format showcase that it deserves.

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Our Verdict

Packed with a universe of fictional worlds, this stunning collection is a leading example of how to showcase an artist's work and raises the bar for other crowdfunded books. Containing fantasy realms, gritty futurescapes and pop culture parodies all beautifully realised with an imaginative twist, there's something here for illustrators from every background to enjoy.

Fans of the sort of art that adorns Terry Pratchett jackets will love Marc Simonetti, a French painter and concept artist who's illustrated a range of notable fantasy and sci-fi books. And even if you aren't sure, this incredible collection could very well convert you.

As you leaf through this crowd-funded hardback, you'll discover covers for books you'll want to own, concept art for video games you'll want to play, and sketches that will send your head spinning in multiple inspirational directions.

It all kicks off with some thrillingly panoramic interpretations of George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice. You'll be knocked sideways by Marc's unique (if unfinished) vision of The Iron Throne, which takes the idea of epic to a whole new level, as well as his passionate defence of why he feels this to be the definitive version.

Coverama: Alternative Worlds

Coverama: Alternative Worlds gives Marc's work space to breathe

This sets the tone nicely for the rest of the 258, large-format pages, most of which are dominated by single, framed images, giving the art free rein to capture our imaginations.

We're taken on a journey through the Discworld universe, where Marc's in-your-face illustrations capture the innate ridiculousness of Terry Pratchett's imaginings.

Then it's on to the horror and madness of HP Lovecraft, conveyed through grimly evocative scenes of darkness and desperation. The ensuing chapters explore, first, a series of legendary worlds, then a collection of brain-tingling futurescapes.

Coverama: Alternative Worlds

One of many book covers that Marc worked on – this is 2011's The Gilded Rune, published by Wizards of the Coast.

Along the way, you'll find both published and unused work; clever parodies such as an apocalyptic Gone with the Wind poster and a Middle-Earth version of the Abbey Road album art; along with occasional forays into other genres such as hard sci-fi and 20th century war.

But generally this is a book of noble warriors, magical creatures and misty landscapes, all executed brilliantly by one of the most accomplished names in the business.

Coverama: Alternative Worlds

Marc Simonetti brings to life a motley collection of characters from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

The bulk of the book is taken up by art, each chapter introduced by only the briefest of paragraphs. But over the last 24 pages, Marc shares more of his vision and process, in an original and unusual way: reprinting his discussions with clients over how to interpret their work visually.

These idea-generating back-and-forths with authors Sam Sykes, Emmaneul Chastelliere and Terry Prachett – accompanied by work-in-progress sketches – adds a surprisingly honest and fascinating dimension to a masterful collection.

Coverama: Alternative Worlds

The Verdict

10

out of 10

Coverama: Alternative Worlds

Packed with a universe of fictional worlds, this stunning collection is a leading example of how to showcase an artist's work and raises the bar for other crowdfunded books. Containing fantasy realms, gritty futurescapes and pop culture parodies all beautifully realised with an imaginative twist, there's something here for illustrators from every background to enjoy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.

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