The Legend Of Korra Book 1 – Air Art Of The Animated Series Review


Airspeed Prime here with another review, my first reaction is “What is this madness, like 5 pieces of Avatar and Korra merch out in the space of 2 weeks”. My second reaction is “Awesome the Korra Art book is out a week early, review time”.

So as I just mentioned I did manage to get a copy of the Book 1 Air art book this morning from my local comic store, a week earlier than the expected release date. So I would recommend checking out your local comic store to see if they got it in too. If not, the actual release date is July 24th.

I think that is enough of an intro lets review us an Art Book.

The Legend Of Korra Book 1 Air – Art Of The Animated Series

korra art book final

Written by: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko and Joaquim Dos Santos

Published by: Dark Horse

Edited by: Dave Marshall

Designed by:  Stephen Reichert

Art by: A lot of people

I think the first thing to cover is the comparison to the ATLA art book. The books are the same size, minus the page count. While the ATLA complete series art book is 184 pages, this Korra Book 1 art book is 144. While the book is visibly thinner than the original series art book, because it covers just 12 episodes it has more pages per episode than the ATLA book. Meaning it can show off nearly every unique thing about each episode while the ATLA book has to limit itself.

The two books share a very similar format of Forward/Introduction -> Early Development -> Art from each episode -> Ancillary Art. The main difference would be no foreword or animation/calligraphy spotlight in the Korra book, but on the plus side because Joachim Dos Santos is an executive producer on Korra he comments on the art along with Mike and Bryan, which was not in the ATLA book.

One final note I will make comparing the books is that I think with Korra getting an art book for each of it’s 4 books it will really show that the same could have been done for ATLA, with each Book getting an art book of it’s own. One thing this book made me feel was that the ATLA book felt like it had too much content to cover in too few pages.

So how is the book?

I got home from the comic store and just sat down and read the book in completion, completely entranced by it. It will take multiple reads to take in every detail of the many pieces of art, but I learned a lot about the sheer amount of work that goes into creating Korra from reading this book.

The book opens with 2 pages of introductions by Mike and Bryan, each getting their own page. Mike’s is all about how grateful he is to everyone who made Korra such a success from the artists, Bryan, Dark Horse for the book and even the fans. While Bryan’s is longer and talks about how making the ATLA drained him and made him almost not want to create animation ever again, until he and Mike started working on the ATLA art book and it got him reinvigorated again especially when shortly afterwards Nick approached them wanting a new show. It is a brilliant intro from Bryan, this quote I think sums up his experience working on ATLA and Korra

“It’s like I escaped from a burning building, caught my breath, and then ran back in for some unknown reason”

Making the shows is an exhausting experience, but one he loves.

From there the book moves into a section on early development. I was very disappointed to see them skip talking about how the concept for the show came about, instead the focus remains on the character designs. The parts of the ATLA book where they talked about coming up with the concept for the series as a whole was fascinating to me, I would have loved to see them talk about the time frame for Korra. When did the first idea happen, how was it working with Nick early on etc. The character pages are very good and really serve to show you that a lot of the early time spent working on the show is perfecting the designs, the show would have turned out very differently if they had stuck with some of the initial designs. It really highlighted for me that while Mike and Bryan being perfectionists often means we have to wait a long time for the show, but the time is well used so that everything works.

It is in the character sections that we get a few new pieces of information. Including Mako and Bolin’s mother being from the Fire Nation and their father from the Earth Kingdom, Bolin being 14 when he rescued Pabu from a nasty pet shop, Korra became friends with Naga when she found Naga as a pup lost in the tundra and a few other tidbits like that. The art is gorgeous and printed in very high quality, in fact the whole book is very high quality, it is a hardcover book and a lovely piece to have in your collection.

This book does an excellent job at highlighing some of the artists that were integral to certain character designs and background designs existing. I feel it is often easy to think Mike and Bryan do it all, but this book especially highlights the character design work of Ki-Hyun Ryu and Il-Kwang Kim. Not to diminish the incredible amount of design work Bryan and Joachim also are responsible for. There is a great moment where Bryan said that he gave himself the task of designing Asami alone so he could improve his work on female characters.

There are 22 pages in the Early Development section. After that most of the episodes are given their own chapter. The Spirit Of Competition and And The Winner Is are done together as are When Extremes Meet and Out Of The Past. It is here that each Book of Korra getting it’s own art book stands out. Welcome To Republic City gets 20 pages, no episode in the ATLA book comes close to that. Other episodes get between 8 and 12 pages each, all of which focus on the unique aspects of each episode. The Aftermath for instance shows the characters in their swim suits and a big focus on the mecha tanks while Skeletons In The Closet shows off the designs of Yakone and young Tarrlok and Noatak as well as the Equalist Biplanes. With the ATLA book I did have a few moments where I wished they had included the design of something, that is not really an issue here as the book has enough pages to cover most of the stuff unique to each episode. In total 102 pages of the book are about the episodes.

The final 12 pages are ancillary art, including the DVD cover and SDCC posters. It is a nice way to in some way own these exclusive posters if you, like me, will probably never get to attend SDCC.

One final point about the book I want to say is that it does something very clever with the new chapter pages, each new chapter is introduced with a 2 page spread of a big piece of background art. It is an excellent way to show off these huge pieces without them just being in the middle of chapters messing up the flow of smaller pieces. Especially with the episode chapters, each piece is a background of importance to that episode. A very nice decision with the editing and design of the book.

Overall I think this is an excellent book that is definitely worth your time and money, especially if you really love the animation style and designs of Korra. While I wish there was more text about each episode as a whole, the book didn’t suffer because of it. This is a high quality book packed with art that I think every hardcore Korra fan needs.

For a more visual look at the book here is my video review

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Comments - 4 Posts

  1. YangChen Said: Comment by YangChen on July 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Looks awesome! Can’t wait to get it!


  2. Water-Tribe Heart Said: Comment by Water-Tribe Heart on July 17, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    did this come out in Comic book stores or on


    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Comic stores, though I am not sure if all comic stores got it as the official comic date is next wednesday.
    The Amazon date is August 6th I think.


    Water-Tribe Heart Reply:

    you got it early, lucky!

    unfortunatly i dont have a comic store nearby so i must wait but its okay all of what is coming up this week is worth waiting for!



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