If you’ve ever been to an Alamo Drafthouse, you know how special it is—these are theaters dedicated to delivering the ultimate movie-going experience. From the tiered seating, to the fact that you can order and eat a full-service meal while watching all the latest new releases (and some classics from the vault), with pristine audio and video presentation, it’s just the best. (For a full list of theaters, click here.) I grew up in Austin, Texas and remember going to the first Alamo Drafthouse—a slightly dilapidated affair on 6th Street—and just falling in love with the atmosphere and vibe of the place. And as the years have gone on, it’s been a joy to watch the company blossom to become a mecca for film fanatics all around the country.
One of the joys of the current world-conquering Alamo Drafthouse is its movie magazine, Birth. Movies. Death., which you can get at any of the Drafthouse’s many locations. A spin-off of the dynamite blog (of the same name), Birth. Movies. Death. always has a wonderful theme, as opposed to a magazine about whatever is happening in movies right then and there. Recent issues were devoted to the world of Star Wars (timed to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for Captain America: Civil War). Their latest issue is entirely Pixar Animated Studios-themed (it’s available later today on the official site), and we couldn’t be more excited to exclusively debut the cover for this new issue, as well as share exclusive interviews with the Birth. Movies. Death. editor-in-chief Devin Faraci, and cover artist Dave Perillo.
“The idea popped into my head and then I did a real quick, rough sketch of what I wanted to convey. It started with the different eras moving in different directions, with UP being an arrow going up.” Perillo, who has done a number of pieces for both Disney proper (including some great Parks products) and its licensees (like Cyclops Print Works) explained. “I framed the piece using these arrows and bookended it with the two characters who introduced Pixar to everybody (Woody and Buzz) and use the icon—the ball—in the center. So from there, I just built it up.”
As to why Birth.Movies.Death would do an entire issue on Disney•Pixar films, Faraci said it was more than just the impending release of their latest masterpiece, Finding Dory. “We realized that Pixar’s first movie, Toy Story, came out 21 years ago,” Faraci said. “When we did that math it became clear that there is a generation of young adults who are smart, informed, and literate film fans who also came of age watching Pixar films. We thought it was high time someone wrote for them.” Inside the magazine, Faraci promises an embarrassment of riches (especially for Disney•Pixar diehards). “You’ll find everything from a personal examination of growing up with the Toy Story trilogy, a detail-oriented look at Easter eggs in Pixar films, a deep interview with Finding Dory director and OG Pixar staffer Andrew Stanton, a loving appreciation of the Cars films and a heartbreaking look at UP and the pain of letting go.” Plus, Faraci adds, “Tons of incredible, gorgeous art!”
Part of that incredible, gorgeous art is Perillo’s cover. What’s so amazing is that it covers almost every single Disney•Pixar film, in a single glorious image. Not that this was entirely easy. “The one thing I had trouble with, and I don’t know why, but it’s Joy,” Perillo admitted, about the plucky main character from last year’s Inside Out. “I was struggling with it on this. There’s this borderline pixie cute thing … It’s hard to explain. Some stuff comes real quick, but some stuff I get stuck on, like that. That was the one thing in the piece that took me the longest.” But the cover was also freeing, since he wasn’t bogged down by the limitations of screen-printing. “When you do every Pixar movie, you run into problems because characters are connected to those colors. And on a screen print you can’t print every color,” Perillo said. Not the case here. He also didn’t have to worry about any type of title treatment, or a block of clunky credits. Still, I said that it could have been funny to have some part of the text cover up Mike Wazowski, since this is a recurring joke in both Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University. Faraci said that Dave’s cover is “so gorgeous it should be hanging on your wall.”
Another thing to look forward to in-between that amazing cover is a piece on Creativity, Inc., Disney•Pixar cofounder Ed Catmull’s non-fiction book about the business of creativity. (Catmull is currently president of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.) Faraci said that this was an article that he particularly loved. “I really like the piece about Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. It inspired me to read the book, which in turn has been inspiring me every day,” Faraci said.
I also had to ask both Perillo and Faraci what their favorite Disney•Pixar movie was. As is usually the case with Disney•Pixar, they had different favorites. For Perillo, it was easy. “Monsters, Inc,” he answered, noting later that Mike is his favorite character to draw. “I think it’s the retro aesthetic and it has the monsters. I always liked drawing monsters. And the story is so solid too—the idea of monsters coming into your bedroom and you think it’s a horrible thing, but it’s the way they make energy. It’s really smart.” As for Faraci, he went with one of the studio’s beloved sequels: Toy Story 2. “It speaks to me on a lot of levels, but on a meta level I love that this was supposed to be a quickie direct-to-DVD movie, but Pixar didn’t know how to put in any less effort than all the effort.”
For Faraci, the secret to Disney•Pixar’s unprecedented run of successes is simple: “Pixar movies work because the stories work. It’s as simple as that. Even a film like Toy Story, whose animation looks almost prehistoric compared to Finding Dory, remains wonderful because the story and the characters speak to us.”