The Best Pop Culture Art Books Every Collector Needs On Their Shelf

The Best Pop Culture Art Books Every Collector Needs On Their Shelf
Image: Titan Books
At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW - prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

When you fall in love with a new series, film or video game, sometimes you just want to learn as much about its development process as possible. There’s no better way than by picking up an art book or two to indulge your obsession.

Art books serve as a visual narrative that can sustain the hunger you feel for more when your favourite comic book series has ended or you’re waiting for the next season of that heart-stopping TV series to air. You can even get exclusive looks into how a character’s design has evolved, read interesting anecdotes from developers and gain access to unique letters from creators that you won’t find anywhere else.

From Dungeons & Dragons to The Mandalorian, you can find a collection of our favourite art books, across a wide range of video games, movies, comics, manga and anime, which will be sure to surprise and delight.

The Art of Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn art book
Image: Titan Books

Now that Horizon Forbidden West has been released into the wild and everyone’s falling in love with Aloy all over again, we thought what could be better than revisiting the art from one of our favourite RPGs of all-time?

Inside this stunning hardcover, you’ll be able to enjoy the vibrant and rich art from Guerrilla Games’ most successful title. The art book is filled aplenty with concept art and illustrations from the game’s creators so you can get an inside look at how this beautiful but dangerous world came to be.

Pick up your copy of The Art of Horizon Zero Dawn here.

The Art of DOOM: Eternal

The Art of Doom
Image: Dark Horse Books

Playing Doom: Eternal is one of those experiences that stay with you forever. The award-winning game is known as “one of the best first-person shooters ever made” where you play as the Doom Slayer who embarks on a single-player campaign to vanquish demons and stop the destruction of humanity.

In this oversized, full-colour art book, you’ll be able to revisit Doom: Eternal‘s gloriously dark concept art, illustrations and commentary in flesh-rending detail. Prepare to admire various designs of the Slayer’s armour as well as visit unknown and otherworldly locations new to the Doom universe.

Enter the chaotic visera that is the Art of Doom: Eternal here.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Art of the Game

The art behind Marvel's Spider-Man
Image: Titan Books

We all can’t help but love him. If you want to see how the PS4 exclusive’s creators brought Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life, you definitely need to check out Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Art of the Game. You’ll get to see full-colour illustrations of Spider-Man’s suit and equipment as well as incredibly detailed concept art that’s both amazing and spectacular.

Check it out here. You can also pick up a copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales: The Art of the Game here while you’re at it.

The Art of Immortals Fenyx Rising

Zeus in Immortals: Fenyx Rising
Image: Ubisoft

This fanciful and full-coloured hardcover edition chronicles the design process and development of Ubisoft’s Immortals: Fenyx Rising.

Inside, you’ll find stunning illustrations of key moments from the game as well as an array of detailed artwork on mythical creatures from Fenyx‘s world. If you’re a big fan of Greek mythology, you’ll deeply appreciate the way the artists have brought creatures from myth and legend to life not only in the game, but in this art book.

Check out The Art of Immortals Fenyx Rising here.

The Legend of Zelda: Art and Artifacts

The Best Pop Culture Art Books Every Collector Needs On Their Shelf
Image: Amazon

Dark Horse Books’ trilogy of The Legend of Zelda hardcovers are some of the best video game companion books ever, but we want to give a specific shoutout to Art and Artifacts.

This collection covers everything from the original The Legend of Zelda, all the way up to 2015’s Tri Force Heroes, and chock full of art work, including character designs and promo piecesIt even has sprite turnarounds, and those super detailed art pieces that would appear in instruction booklets (remember those?).

Art and Artifacts is a fascinating overview of how the aesthetics of The Legend of Zelda have evolved over time. It’s the perfect gift for the diehard Legend of Zelda fan in your life.

Explore The Legend of Zelda: Art and Artifacts here.

The Art of Spyro: Reignited Trilogy

The Best Pop Culture Art Books Every Collector Needs On Their Shelf
Image: Titan Publishing Group

Ah, Spyro. A sense of nostalgic pleasure for many PlayStation gamers. When the Spyro trilogy remake was announced, many avid fans shouted “shut up and take my money.” Which was all the more evident when the remake sold 1.04 million units in its first week, boasting a stronger opening week than all of the other Spyro games combined.

This definitive guide to The Art of Spyro: Reignited Trilogy contains never-before-seen concept art for this stunning remake. It also contains an array of behind-the-scenes content from the industry’s top illustrators as well as a bunch of anecdotes from the developers.

You can get your copy of The Art of Spyro here.

Castlevania The Art of the Animated Series

Carmilla's Castle
Image: Frederator Studios

Inspired by the original video games, the Castlevania series was a smash hit on Netflix. Now fans can enjoy a beautifully rendered hardcover art book containing expertly designed concept art and commentary from its four seasons.

While you’re waiting for the spin-off series to release, take a behind-the-scenes look at these never-before-seen illustrations of its monsters, characters and locations.

Get your copy of Castlevania: The Art of the Animated Series here.

The Art of Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey
Image: Nintendo

Can’t get enough of Super Mario Odyssey? Keep the globetrotting journey going by picking up Nintendo’s The Art of Super Mario Odyssey hardcover edition.

This art book has 358 pages full of fun illustrations, concept art and comments from the designers. A huge bonus is that it contains insights into early ideas that didn’t make it into the game!

Relive your odyssey here.

Avatar: The Last Airbender The Art of the Animated Series

The Best Pop Culture Art Books Every Collector Needs On Their Shelf
Image: Dark Horse Books

If you’re a die-hard fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, you definitely can’t miss this bestselling art book.

Avatar: The Airbender The Art of the Animated Series was compiled by the show’s creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. You can discover how their initial sketches transformed into a worldwide phenomenon inside this exquisitely detailed concept book. Within, you’ll find a number of illustrations on the Avatar world’s adorable hybrid animals as well as real-life martial arts sketches that informed the TV show‘s various bending styles.

In this special second edition, you’ll also get a chance to read an exclusive foreword by the sequel comic series’ writer, Gene Luen Yang.

Enter the art of the Avatar world here.

Dragon Ball: A Visual History

art book
Image: Viz Media

Hot take: everybody likes Dragon Ball, and anyone who says otherwise is just being contrarian.

This visual history covers everything Dragon Ball-related that creator Akira Toriyama worked on, from the original manga up until Super (although the actual Super content is quite small). This art book also includes some interviews with Toriyama himself, where he reflects on the impact of Dragon Ball.

Just flicking through this, you get a real feel for how Toriyama’s sense of style and design evolved over almost four decades. As a big Dragon Ball fan, I was surprised by how much art I’d never seen before.

Check out Dragon Ball: A Visual History here.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – The Art of the Movie

art book
Image: Amazon

If you thought the movie of Into the Spider-Verse was a visual feast, wait until you crack open this making of book. Just like Spidey, it’s amazing, spectacular, and sensational.

This art book goes hard in collecting everything you’d want to see from Into the Spider-Verse, from gorgeous backgrounds, a heap of character designs and storyboards for various sequences. It also includes commentary from the production team that explains so many of the film’s great design choices. If you love animation at all … you probably already have this book.

Swing into the Art of Into the Spider-Verse here.

Daredevil: Born Again (Artisan Edition)

art book
Image: Amazon

IDW’s long running series of Artist Editions, which reprint the original art pages from various comics, are truly great. However, they’re both super expensive and the size of a small coffee table, so your purchase may be hard to validate.

Thankfully, IDW have been releasing a series of Artisan Editions, which reprint these collections of original comic art at a more manageable price and size.

Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again is my favourite comic that Marvel has ever published and stands as one of the high watermark moments of the company’s long history. This Artisan Edition collects every one of Mazzucchelli’s pages for the series, so not only do you get to see all the detail that goes into his pages, you can also read the story from start-to-finish.

You can see Daredevil: Born Again (Artisan Edition) here.

The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season One)

The Best Pop Culture Art Books Every Collector Needs On Their Shelf
Image: Amazon

When you finish an episode of The Mandalorian, do you ever think to yourself, “Gee, I sure wish there was a way for me to look at this great concept art without the end credits superimposed over the top of them.” Firstly, what a weirdly specific thing to think. Secondly, the Art of The Mandalorian is the solution to your problem.

This collection also includes commentary from Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, which give a good insight to a lot of the show’s design choices. Unsurprisingly, Filoni has plenty of interesting things to say.

This art book only covers the first season of the show, so don’t expect to see anything for Ahsoka Tano or Old Man Fett. You’ll need to grab the recently released season two Star Wars art book for that.

This is the way to the Art of The Mandalorian. If you want to grab The Mandalorian‘s season two edition, check it out here.

The Art of Spirited Away

art book
Image: Amazon

Hayao Miyazaki‘s movies are already overflowing with rich visuals, so this art book is a no brainer. The Art of Spirited Away collects various character sketches, storyboards, and watercolour illustrations for the Academy Award-winning anime. It’s flat out gorgeous from cover to cover.

If Spirited Away isn’t your vibe, there are art books for all of Miyazaki’s films.

Dungeons and Dragons: Art and Arcana

art book
Image: Amazon

If you’re a Dungeons and Dragons fan, this art book is essential. Dungeons and Dragons: Art and Arcana is a comprehensive visual history of the iconic tabletop game, and is overflowing with art and photographs from its almost 50-year life. No stone has been left unturned in this book, and it includes the art from core books, adventure modules and rare concept sketches.

It even reprints merchandise packaging, foreign promotional material and those print ads you’d see in the back of old comicbooks.

This mighty tome also includes a stack of interviews with various designers and artists, and it’s so interesting to see them discuss how the aesthetics of Dungeons and Dragons has evolved over time.

Roll for initiative for Dungeons and Dragons: Art and Arcana here.

Batman: The Animated Series – The Phantom City Creative Collection

The Best Pop Culture Art Books Every Collector Needs On Their Shelf
Image: Amazon

Batman: The Animated Series? Very good.

Phantom City Creative’s B:TAS inspired posters for Mondo? Extremely good.

A big art book that collects all of PCC’s Batman work, including long out-of-print pieces? Absolute chef’s kiss. Grab it here.

Comments

  • Beautiful concept art is one of my favourite things about video games, there was recently a Bloodborne Kickstarter for a hardback artbook filled with fan art, unfortunately I couldn’t afford a physical copy but stuff like that is right up my alley.

    • Are you talking about VaatiVidya’s Soul Arts with the art from all the art contests he’s run? I got a copy as a coffee table book – now all I need is the coffee table.

  • One of my favourites is the art of Fallout 4. No matter what people think of the game the book is gorgeous

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!