26 May 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Project 77 by Martin Deschambault & Jeffrey Campbell

Project 77 is a collaboration between extremely talented professional artist Martin Deschambault and the publishing division of ArtStation, a showcase platform for games, film, media and entertainment artists. The quality of the artwork is second to none, to say the very least, the pieces merging together superbly giving the reader a tantalizing glimpse into a supremely fascinating universe. It's a sci-fi space opera displayed in great artistic detail and interlinked by nine interesting [very] short stories from Jeffrey Campbell. Each of the 300 - 400 word short stories give further details of some of the artworks which depict a certain story facet, whether it be a place, an event or one of the characters. I'm left quite impressed by the experience of being immersed in so many awesome pictures. The potential of the story framework is enormous and it will be interesting to see how far this project goes.

It has a theme which is very dystopian in style, set in the far future where monstrous corporations are at war with one another, the bounty being the vast resources of the galaxy. These organizations have assembled massive armies and fleets of spaceships to procure those resources and ensure that their investments are kept secure. Because of this, entire civilisations are traded and cultures are erased at the stroke of a pen, their losses being nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Within this society crime is rife, lubricating the gears of commerce with smugglers, assassins, pirates, bounty hunters and saboteurs lining up to cash in on the endless corporate warfare. It's a bleak society seemingly devoid of any hope for the average man, yet the stories hint at something about to change, a faint spark of faith and expectation which may ignite the fire of rebellion against the corporations. Each of the pieces, whether art or story fragment, show only a very small part of the story yet by the time I reached the end of the book I was positively brimming with enthusiasm for the concept. We are shown amazing future cities, technology and machines, alien worlds and creatures, as well as many rather cool bio-mechanical hybrids. I found myself staring at many of the pictures for some time soaking up what they have to offer, the art coming alive with motion in my mind's eye the longer I spent being immersed in them. The influence of popular culture sci-fi, especially Star Wars, is noticeable but this doesn't impede in any way on the project's originality. At the end of the book, Deschambault provides half a dozen tutorials, insights into his process of creating some of the art pieces. Even though I'm very much a non-artist, I still found these quite interesting and especially so his explanations of what he was trying to convey in the picture in terms of a story or idea.

Reading this is a new experience for me and one which I enjoyed very much, but I can't really compare this book to anything that I've read in recent years. The closest thing that I've experienced would have to be the old 1980s Terran Trade Authority illustrated science fiction books that I enjoyed as a teenager. It was my fondness for these that convinced me to look at Project 77 in the first place. There's something very captivating about good artwork and stories that complement each other and Project 77 is a good example of this. My only [very minor] complaint is that I wish that the written stories were longer and told a more complete tale, rather than just providing a morsel of a larger story. But, these brief fragments piqued my curiosity enough to want to know more, and I'd have to say that they're very well written for the word count available. To be fair, this book is really about the art and the stories are there to support that, something that they do very well.

This is clearly only the very beginning of a much larger story journey and just a portion of the current Project 77 artwork appears in this volume. Deschambault is already hinting at volume two, which something that I'm immediately enthusiastic about. If you're into sci-fi and fantasy art or feel like you'd like to try something a little different in a sci-fi book, I can recommend Project 77 wholeheartedly.

In the meantime, check out Deschambault's incredible work at ArtStation HERE.

5/5 for concept
4/5 for delivery
5/5 for entertainment
= 4.6 out of 5

Buy the book HERE (Amazon)

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