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Published in 2003 by the somewhat infamous 88MPH Studios (and Image Comics, in some capacity), Genesis: The Art of Transformers is a coffee-table art-book focusing largely, but not exclusively, on Generation One characters.
Apart from Introduction and Thanks pages by art director Sébastien Clavet (including a gratuitous headshot), Genesis consists entirely of high-quality "pin-up" style artwork, mostly one piece of artwork per page. Some pictures feature dynamic tableaux, battle scenes or pimped-out group shots, but more often than not are character portraits.
Images are a combination of reprints of works drawn by artists of the then-budding Dreamwave Studios (especially Don Figueroa and Pat "Serfdom" Lee), originally published by Dreamwave as comic covers and posters/lithographs. There are also contributions by Mainframe Entertainment, Aaron Archer, BotCon comic artist Dan Khanna and future Transformers artists such as E. J. Su, as well as many by non-regular TF artists, many of whom are Japanese.
The previously non-official painted covers by Partrick Thornton and Chris Allen to the first volume (and alternate-cover 2nd edition) of Antarctic Press' toy guide Cybertronian: The Unofficial Transformers Recognition Guide, thus effectively retconning the works as official.
Apparently a good proportion of the artwork for the book was commissioned, but the book contains no index or bibliography to quantify this.
The most common source of inspiration for the artworks is Generation One, although there is also a large amount of content as well pertaining to Generation 2 and Beast Wars, with a small number of artworks relating to Beast Machines, Machine Wars, Robots in Disguise, early Armada and BotCon exclusive characters featured in 3H's then-current Wreckers and Universe comics.
Despite having a strong presence by Japanese artists, there are comparatively few artworks featuring characters from Japanese-exclusive continuities, and those that are mostly drawn by American artists. Such characters include Star Convoy, Overlord, Lio Convoy and Big Convoy.
There are no contributions by veteran Transformers artists such as Andrew Wildman, Geoff Senior, Derek Yaniger etc. It is unknown if they were even approached. The only artwork which has any vintage association is a reproduction of Mark Bright's well-known painted cover to Transformers U.S. #5, featuring Shockwave. However, as it reproduces the original art sans cover dress, the image's gag no longer makes sense unless you remember the original cover.
The book contains no pictures of any Transformer in vehicle mode, apart from some blurry Vehicon aero-drones in the background of a Beast Machines Megatron portrait, a blurry silhouette of a jet in the background of a Generation One Starscream portrait, and a blueprint of Generation One Optimus Prime's truck mode as the background of a picture of Optimus in robot mode.
- Chris Allen
- Aaron Archer
- Pravin Bajaj
- Johnathan Bauer
- Mark Bright
- Mark Brooks
- Clayton Brown
- HM Brundrant III
- Justin Cohen
- Edgar DelGado
- Pierre-Andre Dery
- Don Figueroa
- Andrew Froedge
- Bill Galatis
- Joe Givens
- Espen Grundetjern
- Guido Guidi
- Andrew Holz
- Dan Khanna
- Réne & Michael Koiter
- Matt Kuphaldt
- Serge LaPointe
- Pat Lee
- Mainframe Entertainment
- Marcelo Matere
- William McDonnald
- Jun-Ichi Nakamura
- Makoto Ono
- Dusty Peterson
- James Raiz
- Eric Siebenaler
- E. J. Su
- Patrick Thornton
- WAM Enterprises
Some controversy surrounds the publication of this book. It was originally solicited as a compendium of original Hasbro/Takara box art, then was later stated to include new pin-up material, and then finally was split into two volumes. The published book was labeled as "Part One", with a second volume supposedly to include the aforementioned product art, but this book never materialized.
Dreamwave was originally supposed to publish and distribute the book, but that deal apparently went sour, and Image Comics became the publisher instead.
As well as distributing the book through retailers, 88MPH intended to sell the book directly through their own website, with the incentive to buy from them being an exclusive lithograph. Unfortunately for everyone involved, 88MPH completely underestimated the number of direct orders they would receive, with Sebastian Clavet left completely unable to handle them all. Occasional e-mails sent to individuals and news sites had Clavet claim that the books would eventually be sent out, but the word "books" soon got replaced with "refunds," and even the majority of those failed to materialize, with no explanation or apology forthcoming, to the frustration of many would-be buyers.
Hasbro later initiated legal proceedings against 88MPH Studios for their failure to perform. On July 21, 2006, 88MPH Studios filed a counterclaim against Hasbro, seeking damages for "wrongful doings and the non respect of multiple contractual terms in regards to a licensing agreement concerning the publication of Transformers related books."
Man, what is it with Hasbro and its licensees?