art_of_hannibal_1Fact: Hannibal isn’t just one of the best shows on television (broadcast or cable), it’s also the most visually stunning show on the small screen. When I first heard that they were going to bring the iconic killer to television, I had my reservations, but it’s easily turned into the definitive, non-written iteration of the character for me, and that’s saying a lot. Part of its success is how visually driven it is, with rich metaphors and a keen juxtaposition which turns its stomach-churning brutality into a thing of beauty. Titan Books’ new release, The Art of Hannibal, written by Jesse McLean, is everything a fan of the show can hope for, blowing the lid off of virtually every aspect of the show, from it’s cast, production design and every single, delightfully savage death.

After some great intros from show co-creators/conspirators Martha De Laurentiis, Bryan Fuller and director David Slade, the book is smartly divided into sections that make up full course meals, going from the aperitif to the digestif, and dividing production articles on the series’ “main course” of elements into three sections, Hannibal Lecter, Will Graham and Jack Crawford. It’s interesting to see the book divided this way, relating each aspect of the show to the character that it most identifies with. Since the show is is a densely layered one, this makes the most sense and does wonders for dissecting it from the ground up, giving us a better understanding of how it all miraculously fits together.

As mentioned, literally leaves no stone is unturned in terms of what goes into making such an ambitious piece of work, exploring characters (even Will’s dogs), fashion, food, VFX, and even set layouts in depth. As you can imagine, there are tons of interviews, behind-the-scenes facts, preliminary sketches and just all around more blood and guts. There are full color splash pages that celebrate the show’s vivid red palettes and the psychological nuance behind everything, from Hannibal’s checkered 3-piece suits, why his kitchen resembles a cooking show set, and the crew’s reliance on gory practical effects rather than CGI. Fitting with the show, the book is elegantly presented and designed, starting from its stark, embossed and spot-glossed cover to the striking inner layouts.

art_of_hannibal_3Since the artful crime scenes are what tie the narrative and characters together, they each get about 3-4 pages to themselves, and are what anyone will notice on a cursory examination. Just like the show, these are my favorite parts of the book, and the series’ art department finally gets their due. For example, previous to the book, I hadn’t realized that season 2’s infamous “eye of god” was created by using over 40 real actors meticulously laid out and posed – they had to lay on a heated floor almost nude for the better part of 2 full days for filming! But really, just finally getting a chance to study and learn more about the gruesome bee man, the tree of life and the judge (just to name a few) are all worth the price of retail alone.

Week after week, it’s amazing to tune into a show that is exceeds or meets film quality entertainment on both a writing, visual and performance level, and this book captures that level of detail in the best way. Trust me, there are few shows that warrant such a scrutinizing level of dissection, so it’s great then that this book helps to satisfy the hunger that the show creates for the fan that just needs to dig deeper. I can only hope that we get more of these books as the show progresses – this initial one is the definitive companion piece to the series and should be on every fannibals’ bookshelf, or better yet, coffee table. Bon appetit fannibals!

Take a look at some of the book’s detail in the gallery below, you can order a copy now at your favorite retailer.

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