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New Work: ‘The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox’

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Angus Hyland was commissioned by Jacob Lehman at Rizzoli to design the book to accompany “Fantastic Mr Fox,” the latest film by Wes Anderson. The film is based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, originally illustrated by Donald Chaffin. The book chronicles the making of the film adaptation, which uses stop-motion animation and features the voices of George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox and Bill Murray as Badger.

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Hyland and his team were given an overwhelming array of materials with which to work. These included: Wes Anderson’s drawings, along with his annotated scripts; pictures of props, sets and puppets; the Chaffin illustrations; stills from the film; concept designs and character development drawings; material swatches for costumes; and technical drawings and interviews with Wes and Eric Anderson, Jason Schwartzman and Liccy Dahl.

In order to cope with this vast plethora of material, the Pentagram team established a structure for the layout of the book. They decided to follow the chronological order of the story and alongside this chronology, to demarcate special sections on character development through the use of different papers.

The main characters are introduced in the special sections. Each section starts and finishes with a full-bleed image. The sections provide an explanation of the process from early sketches through character development, fabric samples and costume designs to the final puppet.

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The start of each chapter features a page from Anderson’s annotated script giving an insight into the thoughts behind the creation. Frequently working remotely, Anderson had to communicate via email with the animators on set and these emails also feature in the book.

Wes Anderson was closely involved in the book design. He provided Hyland with his starting point, the book Truffaut by Truffaut, and worked in conjunction with the Pentagram team, approving overall structure, layouts and use of font.

The attention to detail lavished on the film itself is mirrored in the book with the cover material being chosen to mimic Mr Fox’s corduroy suit whilst the endpapers match the cream of his shirt. The book also contains full bleed pages from “White Cape,” the comic maquette read by Mr. Fox’s mopey schoolboy son, Ash.

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