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The Art of Cars 3, Foreword by John Lasseter – Book Review by Fred Patten




Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

9781452156422.jpg?resize=436%2C350The Art of Cars 3. Foreword by John Lasseter. Preface by Brian Fee.
Introduction by Bill Cone and Jay Shuster.
San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, May 2017, hardcover $40.00 (167 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $16.19.

This is the official de luxe coffee-table art book of the Disney•Pixar animated film Cars 3, released on June 16, 2017. It presents sample storyboards, pastels, digital paintings, preliminary character designs, computer models, and more, usually in full color; plus research photographs of the actual racing cars and the Daytona Speedway that were a main inspiration for the 99-minute feature film.

It has been acknowledged that these “art of” books featuring animated films are money-losers, subsidized by the advertising budgets for those films, made for the promotion of those films and for the morale of the artists and technical crews that produced them. The Art of Cars 3 is full of the art of the animators, layout artists, production designers, story artists, digital renderers, graphic designers, modelers, and others who created Cars 3. As usual for these “art of” books, each piece of art is identified by its artist: Paul Abadilla, Grant Alexander, Bert Berry, Bill Cone, Craig Foster, Louis Gonzales, John Hoffman, Josh Holtsclaw, Katherine Kelly, Noah Klocek, Ivo Kos, Kyle MacNaughton, Scott Morse, George Nguyen, Bob Pauley, Laura Phillips, Jerome Ranft, Xavier Riffault, Tony Rosenast, Andrew Schmidt, Jay Shuster, Garret Taylor, J. P. Vine, and others.

In addition, there are quotes from these artists. “The film opens with an exuberant burst of racing, reintroducing McQueen at the top of his game. The goal was to immerse the audience in the excitement of racing and show the camaraderie between racers. It can be bewildering to know how to begin, but having a temporary piece of music helps set the tempo. Then I’ll thumbnail, usually discarding tons of shots until it starts to flow and build in the right way.” –JP Vine, story artist. (p. 25)

The movie Cars 3 could not have existed without Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011). Those (and the two Planes animated movies) established the world of anthropomorphic vehicles, especially the champion racing car Lightning McQueen.


“Planned obsolescence. I grew up hearing those words frequently. Uttered by folks irate because their car was falling apart – the phrase was a catchall to express and shake a fist at the mythic (or is it?) conspiracy manufacturers employed to sell a new model annually. Centric to the story of Cars 3 is a theme of unplanned obsolescence. That is to say McQueen didn’t see it coming – until the day a sleek new breed of Piston Cup racer arrived at the track and ate McQueen’s lunch.” –Jay Shuster, Production Designer (p. 13)

The Art of Cars 3 does not give a real plot synopsis of the movie. Instead it presents the protagonist Lightning McQueen, the only major character returning from the two previous movies, a champion racing car but now ten years old. The other characters are the new cast: Natalie Certain, the female auto and romantic interest; Storm Front, McQueen’s newer and more improved rival; all the other Next-Gen racers; Sterling Dunn, sports car and McQueen’s fan and trainer; Cruz, the impish young “kid sister” racer who helps McQueen train (this book’s cover shows McQueen and Cruz training together on the beach); Miss Fritter, the comedy-relief souped-up school bus; the elderly 1950s cars who were Doc Hudson’s contemporaries. Also shown are the locales: the (real) Daytona Speedway; the (fictional) Rust-Eze Racing Center; the abandoned (fictional) town that Doc Hudson, McQueen’s mentor, grew up and trained in. For the real fans of Cars 3, there are a couple of pages of visual outtakes; reference art and conceptual drawings that didn’t get used for the movie.


The three Cars animated movies present anthropomorphic automobiles. Maybe this isn’t what most “furry fans” want, but it is anthro art & fiction. If you like the Cars movies – if living racing cars turn you on – go for it!

Fred Patten

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