Monster Movie Manual

Written by Keith Yonai
Illustrated by Keith Yonai

A lot of folks put together sketchbooks, and I pick them up from time to time. One of the easiest ways to get me to grab your sketch book, however, is to put together a strong theme. Keith Yonai not only picked a specific theme, he picked one of my favorites: Horror movie monsters.

Needless to say, this was an easy impulse purchase for me.

Yonai's mini contains an illustration on one side and a little bit of context on the other. Most of the selections are pretty traditional, such as Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster, but we also get a few lesser known gems, like the giant tarantula and the Blob.

Each character is given Yonai's unique take on them, emphasizing long, angular lines. You can see the resemblance, but it's not like he's trying to do portraits of Karloff, Chaney, and others. I think that's part of why this works so well for me. It's a tried-and-true subject, but Yonai goes for his own vision of the characters, which I think is necessary for any homage. If I want an exact duplicate, I'll read/watch the original!

Of all the drawings, his King Kong is my favorite. The positioning of Fay Wray is hysterical, as is the fact that he's using the Empire State Building as a toothpick. It's that spark of creativity, even in a sketchbook, that really caught my eye with this one.

I liked Monster Movie Manual a lot, and definitely would get more from Yonai in the future. I don't know if you can get this anywhere but at a show. It's in Yonai's online store, but there are no ordering instructions. (Yonai could really stand to do some maintenance of his online presence as a general rule. Too much of it looks like he quit working on comics in 2010.) In the meantime, if you'd like to see some of his work, he's recently started a webcomic, called Ivy and Max. The story is only a few weeks old, so it's easy to jump in.