The Making of Earthworm Jim – Doug TenNapel and Mark Lorenzen

2 out of 5

The presentation is undeniably professional and impressive, and there are some nuggets of great info contained within, but ‘The Making of Earthworm Jim’ – a purchasable add-on to Doug TenNapel’s first crowdfunded EWJ graphic novel – is… off. In part, it’s co-author Mark Lorenzen, whose gab is not as gifted as Doug’s, and only really shines when talking about more technical details, such as specifics regarding the Jim video game design, or TenNapel’s pencils-to-finished-page process; when he’s introducing members of the Shiny development team from that game era – the largest section of the book – his text is wandering, and doesn’t really establish what these people did, which unfortunately makes reading about them not necessarily compelling. In part, it’s the editing, which feels a bit sloppy for a book that can be read within an hour, including some spelling flubs and missing parts of sentences, and perhaps lack of oversight on Lorenzen’s contributions. And in part, it’s the general vibe of the text, which comes across a bit standoffish. Doug has every right to be proud of the many, many hours he puts in to produce work his readers (myself included) enjoy, but the balance between appreciation for his fans – which he does express – and that pride feels wobbly here, and intermingled with some contextless banter between old friends – during the Shiny interviews – the book can sometimes feel like less of a ‘making of,’ and more like a celebratory lap or two. Or three. With a few more mentions of god than is preferable from those of us who try to keep our awareness of Doug’s religious beliefs distanced from our reading experience… although I surely accept that that last bit is purely a personal judgment.

As I started, though, it’s a damned good looking book, for sure, and there is some really cool behind-the-scenes stuff in here, going over the genesis (no pun intended) of Jim from doodle to game, and a cool fold-out timeline of Doug’s / Shiny Entertainment’s work, stuffed between a really handsome, glowingly painted cover from Mike Koelsch, which I totally would own as something to hang on my wall.