Book Review: Massive Black Volume 2 from Ballistic Publishing

January 6, 2013 2:00 pm

Tags: Ballistic Publishing, Massive Black

"Since 2003, this company of ultra-talented artists (Massive Black) has contributed original art, design and animation for some of the most successful consumer brands and franchises in games and film. They have also conjured up their own world-class Intellectual Properties: Zombie Playground, Mothhead, PROXY, and Transient."
-Paul Hellard, CG Society

Massive Black Volume Two
Edited by Kemp Remillard and Ronnie Gramazio
ISBN: 978-1-921002-85-4
Color Illustrations Throughout
8 ¾ x 11 ¾ / 208 pp
Price: US $65.00

It's always exciting to get a new Ballistic Publishing book in the mail. As I've written several times here at Renderosity, Ballistic is an amazing publisher of high-quality graphic art. Having worked as a bookseller for many years, I've got a good eye for quality book design and construction. Ballistic consistently publishes books that are not only beautiful to look at, but are so carefully printed and bound that they stand head and shoulders above the majority of coffee table graphic arts books. Each book is nearly a work of art in itself.

Miss Fortune by Jason Chan
For the PC title "League of Legends"

Massive Black 2

For almost a decade Massive Black has been providing extraordinary concept art and animation for the entertainment and advertising industries. Massive Black Volume 1, which came out in 2008, covered the first 5 years of Massive Black's artwork and was a huge seller for Ballistic. Nick Sorbin, who reviewed the book here on, said, "I must say, what is presented in this book is incredible, and I can hardly wait to see Massive Black Volume Two!"

Well, you've gotten your wish, Nick, and Massive Black 2, which covers the last 4 years of this company's amazing work is even better than the first volume.

"We never thought we'd be allowed to show this art. We never thought we'd ever get the go-ahead to publish this work anywhere, but the sign-offs were given and we are so proud, all of us, to see this in glorious print, published by the guys at Ballistic, and we are so grateful to the game publishers to let us move on this."
-Kemp Remillard, Massive Black 2 editor

As Mr. Remillard points out, one of the problems of putting together a book like Massive Black 2 is getting permission to publish work that was originally commissioned for movies and game companies (plus some ad companies as well). The nearly 200 pages of Massive Black 2 are the result of hard work by the editors at Ballistic to find and secure hundreds of sketches, paintings and animations created by Massive Black.

Zombie Playground Kickstarter

Divided roughly into 4 sections: Games, Movies, Advertising and original in-house creations, Massive Black 2 presents a remarkable amount of concept art, character designs, weapons, vehicles, environments and stills from original works. Where the first volume of Massive Black emphasized darkness in its design, this volume is lighter, with white front and rear covers. Most of the frames around various sketches and images are white which really energizes the work on the page.

Character design is particularly prominent in Massive Black 2. Approximately 130 pages are devoted to character sketches and paintings from games like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, moves like G.I. Joe and the extraordinary 2011 Super Bowl commercial for Coca-Cola. The variety of renders, drawings and paintings is excellent. And every piece is accompanied by captions, and in many cases, quotes by the artists themselves.

MB house creation "Mothhead"

My favorite part of the book is the last section where Massive Black shows some of the work they are doing under the MB Entertainment banner. I was surprised to learn that they funded their first efforts in creating a game (Zombie Playground) through Kickstarter. The designs for the game are wonderful, as is the commentary on the development of the game's look and style. Proxy is another game concept from MB Entertainment that looks marvelous and strange. And, to my surprise as I'd just recently finished playing the demo, Mothhead; the designs for this very strange and alluring game were all created by the Massive Black team. It's very interesting that they chose the Unity platform to create the demo which looks amazing. Definitely check the demo out as it's compelling game play in an utterly unique game world.

Massive Black 2 comes in 3 different editions, as published by Ballistic: there's the uber-collectable white leather Folio edition, which is signed by Massive Black and comes in it's own unique box. This edition sells for $300. Then, there's a beautiful white leather edition with a full color "tip on" the front cover. This edition is for serious collectors and is selling for $129. The edition being reviewed here comes in it's own white slip-case and is a beautifully designed large paperback. It sells for $65.


Be sure to visit the well-designed Ballistic website where you can find out more information on the book and flip through each edition using Ballistic's reading app (very cool).

Massive Black 2 is another outstanding release from Ballistic. It's full of gorgeous and fascinating artwork from one of the most exciting graphic arts companies in the world. It's not only beautiful, but the book is produced and printed with great care. Massive Black 2 is a book you must add to your art book collection. It comes with my highest recommendation.

My thanks to Ballistic, and in particular, Rebecca Foreman, for their help in putting this review together and for providing a copy of Massive Black 2 for review.

Quick Links:

Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.




January 7, 2013

Please note: If you find the color of the text hard to read, please click on "Printer-friendly" and black text will appear on a white background.

Article Comments

No article comments have been posted. Sign In or Register to share your thoughts.