Transformers: A Visual History
Publication date: November 2019
The ancient conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons is front-and-center in Transformers: A Visual History by author and archivist Jim Sorensen.
Released in November 2019 to coincide with the media franchise’s 35th anniversary, the 9×12-inch artbook is a whopping 408 pages and weighs almost 7 lbs.
Sorenson has divided his book into five main chapters: Packaging, Comics, Animation, Video Games, and Movies. Each begins with a synopsis of the topic, followed by a series of related images and artwork. The visual content is curated to provide an excellent historical context and clearly illustrates how the franchise has changed visually over time and across various media.
The Packaging chapter will be of special interest to toy collectors. Rather than photos of the toys, it documents the box art, display cards, and style guides Hasbro used to sell the Transformers universe to children.
The visual journey outlined in the Comics chapter is extensive. Sorenson’s decision to showcase comic artwork out of the storyline’s context makes it easy to focus on each publisher’s unique visual styles, from Marvel’s G1 and G2 lines to releases from independent publishers like Dreamwave and IDW.
The Animation chapter deep-dives into the evolution of the series, from the simplistic cel animation of the early 1980s to the 2D and 3D animation styles used in many of the follow-up cartoon series that have hit the U.S. airwaves. The character style guides used in the development of several of the shows are notable.
The Video Game chapter reflects the various ways that fans have been able to take characters from the Transformers universe into battle. Closing out the book, the Movies chapter showcases the designs generated by Industrial Light and Magic for director Michael Bay’s big screen adaptions.
Transformers: A Visual History is available from a variety of online resellers for $49.99. A deluxe limited edition version is also available for $99.99 and includes a lenticular cover, collector’s box packaging, and five frame-ready prints that showcase art from across the franchise.
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