Home Books Kirby Art & Style Collection: Edited by Joel Enos

Kirby Art & Style Collection: Edited by Joel Enos

Our collective consciousness rides on the color wheel, and for too long our vision has been filmed over with dominating hues of revolting orange and the yellow pallor of dirty straw. This is not a pretty thing, even if you’re not an aesthete. Listen, Kirby Art & Style Collection is not gonna be some magical squirt of Windex that clears away this shit smear of colors, but at least you can readjust your eyes for a bit. Museums are closed anyway, so substitute the MOMA experience with NES nostalgia. Having banked over 25 years in the gaming universe, Kirby affords us a multiplicity of colorful landscapes and obscenely adorable characters (even the baddies!) on which to hitch a momentary existential escape.

The book is divided into three main sections: Main Art Gallery, Game Art Gallery and Merchandise Art Gallery. Each chapter has a table of contents that identifies the source of the images (“Kirby 25th Anniversary Orchestra Concert,” “Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards,” “Kirby’s Sweet Shop” are respective examples), and some themes appear in more than one section (“Kirby Café” is both in Main Art and Merchandise Art). That’s about as far as descriptions go. Though the dust jacket promises “exclusive notes from creators and artists,” the book is virtually text-free. Kirby Art & Style Collection is to be taken quite literally: absent of a written introduction and any sort of exposition about the origin, chronology, artistic development, world-building narrative, marketing cross-overs, etc., it stands as simply a comprehensive archive of Kirby-related images.

To be fair, there are some pages that include artist sketches and evolving prototypes as characters progressed from idea to finalized concept, providing a visual commentary in place of a written one. The “sculpting process” is pictured to elaborate on the modeling clay aesthetic employed in the Kirby and the Rainbow Curse game design, but it’s only a grouping of three small photos – one of a snake of pink clay being rolled out, and then two of fully formed models. The pages devoted to Kirby’s Epic Yarn contain no such in-process specs, only snips of the stitched patches (Kirby breaking the fourth wall by tugging on a zipper pull) and between the two it feels like such a lost opportunity given the unique interface of grade school handmade textiles with sophisticated gaming technology.

The finished artwork is, of course, cheerfully imaginative. It’s astounding to see, especially presented this way in pages and pages of raw images, just how many lives an anthropomorphic pink bubble can live. He’s basically just a circle with eyes, and yet we see him slinging a yoyo, breathing fire, snorkeling, wielding a sword, shuffling a deck of cards. He’s a UFO! A doctor! A ghost! He snoozes in a sleeping cap and snores bubbles! Pages later, the Planet Robobot iteration of Kirby is a Pacific Rim-style mega-bot, a little pink puff tucked into a steely command pod. The beauty of a simple shape is that it will turn into anything. In some ways the image-only conceit works in the book’s favor; detached from text, readers are free to inhale, inflate and float freely across the pages, just like the pink guy himself.

The book is well-designed, its square shape complementing our spherical protagonist. The artwork in the Main Art Gallery (unlike the other sections) consists primarily of full-page illustrations. The colors are true and the paper weight is just right for these vibrant reproductions. The merchandise art will have you wanting to buy all the things, if only it was available now for sale. Nintendo nostalgists, kawaii collectors, retro gaming enthusiasts, folks who just need a strong dose of cute to get through the day: this is for you. Flipping through the pages feels a bit like blowing the dust off of our proverbial cartridges. Now feels like a good time to hit reset.

Summary
Kirby Art & Style Collection stands as simply a comprehensive archive of Kirby-related images.
62 %
Free-floating fluff

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