The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series (Dark Horse)

The magic and talent behind Nickelodeon’s hit series The Legend of Korra is revealed in this art collection for the first season of the series, Book One: Air.


145 pgs. full color; $34.99 hardcover
(W / A: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos)
Legend of Korra creator Bryan Konietzko notes in this art book’s introduction that after Avatar: The Last Airbender had ended its run, he and co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino were utterly drained, and needed recharging from all the hard work they’d put into the show. When Dark Horse later approached them to do an art book for the series (which everyone should absolutely pick up as well!), Koneitzko admits it was something he and DiMartino had wanted to do for a long time, and he stated that he found himself becoming reinvigorated as he sifted through all the artwork that had been generated for Avatar. A few months after the art book was released, Nickelodeon approached him and DiMartino about doing a new series. Konietzko and DiMartino were given carte blanche to work their magic, and fans of Avatar were introduced to Korra, a tough Southern Water Tribe girl and the world’s new Avatar! Korra had mastered the elements of Fire, Water, and Earth, but traveled on her own to Republic City to be trained in Airbending by the only master airbender on earth: Tenzin, Aang and Katara’s son. But Korra is headstrong and a modernist, and quickly butts heads with her more traditional master, even as his spunky family of three airbender children—Meelo, Jinora and Ikki—endear themselves to her. Along the way, Korra befriends two brothers, Mako and Bolin, and joins their Pro-Bending team. But Republic City is not without its dangers, and Korra must confront the Equalists, who are fervently anti-bender. In the end, she must face their masked leader, Amon, who has the chilling ability to take away a bender’s abilities—something once thought to be a power only the Avatar could possess!
Fans of The Legend of Korra already know that the show’s got some stunning art immersing you in the future world of the Four Nations. For fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender who haven’t seen Korra (for shame, sir!), and for those who enjoy art in general, this book lays out the intricate world-building that went on behind the scenes, showing just how much has changed in the seventy years since Avatar Aang ended the Hundred Years War with the Fire Nation. Koneitzko is an artist himself, and a lot of the concept art and rough ideas laid out in the art book have come from him and Joaquim Dos Santos. Also inherent in the book are little tidbits about Republic City and what has changed in the ensuing seventy years. One of the most exciting parts about the series is how it connects to Avatar through the descendants of the original main characters (woo, Chief Lin Beifong!), and some things that Korra: Book One did not explicitly lay out in the episodes themselves are explained in the art book. The art is, as mentioned above, gorgeous, the attention to detail frankly astounding, and of course it’s always fun to see character designs evolve.
My one gripe with the art book is that I personally feel as though it’s a little premature. One of the best parts about the Avatar art book was that it was compiled after the series had run its full course, which made it feel as though you got to see some secrets that never made it to the small screen, but you still had the context of the entire series in your head (or DVD collection) to reference. Since Korra: Book One was only twelve episodes long, it seems like this book is just a turn-over of everything they used in the series which has already been seen, and as a whole I’m not sure if the art book comes across as something entirely fresh. This is especially so as the art book is literally broken down by each episode on Book One, and not by “nation” as it was in the Avatar art book, which gives the reader a much wider scope. It seems it may have made more sense, if the creators wanted to put out another art book, to do so perhaps after the second season of Korra had fully been aired. That way fans could get more of Korra’s world in one go, and it maybe would not seem like just a recap of what they had just finished watching.
However, if you’re the type who just can’t get enough of the world of Korra, concept art, and a blow-by-blow of what went into each episode, make sure to get your fingers on this art book. You certainly won’t be disappointed. | Elizabeth Schweitzer

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