Beautiful LEGO 2: DARK by author Mike DoyleReview by:
July 24, 2015
No Starch Press recently added to its wonderful list of LEGO themed books. The current delight is Beautiful LEGO 2; Dark, by Mike Doyle. The title is both appropriate and almost a little misleading. In the "appropriate" corner, the book is unmistakably a sequel to Mike Doyle's original Beautiful LEGO. The two books use the same crisp, high-impact graphical format and the same sharp, uncluttered layout style. And both books are organized in numerous chapters dedicated variously, to particular LEGO building styles, such as `Mecha' or `Greed Co., Unlimited' (skyscraper architecture), to different content themes, such as 'Jurassica,' `Beastiary,' 'otherworldly,' or `Little Spooks,' to highlights of particular LEGO artists. In the "misleading" corner, this book is much more than just a duplication of the original work. The pieces selected cover wildly broad ranges of subject matter and dimension. The elements are grouped in innovative and witty ways, with lateral explorations of the meaning of the word 'dark.' `Oh the Horror!' presents images of medical procedures gone badly. `Evil Attunement' shows a series of witch doctors and shamen. `Wild Rides' has everything from gangster jalopies to a steam punk rocket ship to an Orc Juggernaut, from the Warcraft franchise. There is even a Dali-inspired elephant, saddled up and ready to go. Although all the chapters are connected by the theme "Dark," they're not all `Desolate' or `Disrepair.' `Indulgences' contains delicious-looking confections. I suppose the darkness here is the effect of such treats on our waistlines. One particularly inventive chapter is `Shadow Play' with an amazing series of silhouettes by David Alexander Smith.
At 300+ pages, this book goes on and on and seemingly has everything. Along the way, you will find grim humor, visual puns, a tiny bit of icon bashing, and, I believe, a charmingly veiled political statement regarding the value of free speech. There are dragons, demons, goblins, fantasy castles, spaceships, warships, robot warriors, super villains, and lots of bugs, insects, spiders and other `Creepy Crawlers.' I didn't count, but there must be close to 500 different LEGO images shown. You may be tempted to flip through it randomly, but each page is worth spending time to study and marvel upon. And the whole book is worth looking through again and again. There are a small number of pieces by Mr. Doyle himself. His work is highly intriguing, exquisitely detailed, and often depict scenes on a grand scale. He could probably have filled a book with his own creations. But with over 150 contributors, Mr. Doyle has graciously shared the pages with visions from many different creative perspectives. Overall, this is a great book. It is a great book for a LEGO fan. It is also a great book for a LEGO fan to show to their non-LEGO-fan friends as a shining example of why this creative medium is so awesome and addictive.