Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History book review
By Leroy Douresseaux
May 13, 2019 - 10:43

Writer(s): Frazier Moore
ISBN: 978-0-06-211252-1
$34.99 U.S., $43.50 CAN, 256pp, Color, paperback

Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History cover image

Foreword by Seth MacFarlane

“Family Guy” is an American animated television series and situation comedy (sitcom) that is broadcast on the Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX).  Created by Seth MacFarlane, the series centers on the Griffin Family, which consists of parents, wife, Lois, and husband, Peter Griffin and their children:  Meg, Chris, and Stewie.  The sixth member of the family is the anthropomorphic pet dog, Brian (“anthropomorphic” because he walks, talks, and acts like a human). The show is set in and around the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island.

“Family Guy” lampoons (sometimes savagely) American social and political culture and celebrates, but also parodies and mocks American pop culture, entertainment, and media.  The reaction to the official debut of “Family Guy” would foretell the series ability to continually generate controversy.  That debut (the episode “Death Has a Shadow”) was on the night of Sunday, January 31, 1999 after Fox's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIII.  [Fox actually aired an early version of “Death Has a Shadow” on December 20, 1998.]

“Family Guy” was briefly canceled after its second season (September 1999 to August 2000), before returning in July 2001 for its third season, but was canceled a second time after that season.  Strong sales of “Family Guy” DVDs and high ratings for its syndicated run as part of Cartoon Network's “Adult Swim” line-up caused Fox to renew the series, which began its fourth season in 2005.  After 320+ episodes, this past February, Fox renewed the show for a eighteenth season (2019-20).

2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of “Family Guy's” official debut on network television.  In celebration comes a new history and art book entitled, Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History, from Dey Street Books, a HarperCollins imprint.  The book is authored by Family Guy-superfan, Frazier Moore, noted television critic.  This book was also written with the full cooperation of 20th Century Fox Television and Seth MacFarlane's company, Fuzzy Door Productions.

Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History is a fully illustrated, full-color visual guide honoring “Family Guy's” TV reign.  The art and illustrations include everything from storyboards to character sketches.  There are script excerpts and cast and crew interviews, which includes voice actors such as Seth MacFarlane (Peter Griffin, Brian, and Stewie to name a few), Seth Green (Chris Griffin), Mila Kunis (Meg Griffin), Alex Borstein (Lois Griffin), and Mike Henry (Cleveland Brown).

Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History is practically a book of highlights, but here are some highlights I want to mention:

“Drawing on the Past”:
-includes an early Stewie concept art drawn by Seth MacFarlane

“An Unlikely Duo”:
-development of the relationship between the baby Stewie and the family dog Brian

“A Family Affair”
-storyboard for the show's opening credits musical number
-Character design pages, each page featuring 30+ versions of one of the following characters: (the main cast) Peter, Louis, Meg, Chris, Brian, and Stewie; Quagmire, Joe, Cleveland, and various characters
-Blueprints of the Griffin family home and full-color images from inside the house

“The Write Start”
Several photographs of Seth MacFarlane and his family.

Chapter Three: “How It's Done”
a look at how an episode of “Family Guy” is created; plus, lots of character and prop designs (space ships, gadgets, mechanical stuff, etc.)

Chapter Four: “Wacky Waving Cutaways, Gags and Musical Numbers”
-includes over a hundred color and black and white still images
-a generously illustrated look at the “Road to...” episodes and at those mean-spirited by oh-so-funny Walt Disney parodies.

Chapter Five: “Making Mischief”
-Killing Brian
-the episode “Partial Terms of Endearment”
-the storyboards for Chris' “Silence of the Lambs” dance in “Stew-Roids”
-art and storyboards for the vomiting in the episode “8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter”

Four-page “Acknowledgments” section in which they acknowledge everyone (?) who has worked on or helped the show

Plus, there are examples of storyboards from various episodes throughout the book (including a generous selection from the “Peter vs. the Giant Chicken” battles), and there are too many to count.  If you like storyboards for animation; this is your book.

THE LOWDOWN:  Of course, you knew I was going to say, “If you like 'Family Guy,' you have to have...”  Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History is a comprehensive visual history and visual guide through an animated TV series that has been nominated for 27 Primetime Emmy Awards and has won eight of them.  [In 2009, it became the first animated series to be nominated in the Primetime Emmy category, “Outstanding Comedy Series,” since “The Flintstones” were nominated in 1961.]

Author Frazier Moore gives his Family Guy-loving all to Inside Family Guy.  It is more than just a love letter from Moore to the series; his love is like the Griffin's family dog, Brian, humping Peter Griffin's leg with gusto.  Moore delivers a book that is worth your time to read it, even if you are not the biggest fan of “Family Guy.”

There are so many different kinds of production art in Inside Family Guy (concept designs, stills, cast and crew photos, etc.) that it may be hard for some readers to pick a favorite kind.  I love storyboards, and this book is like crack for admirers of storyboards produced for animation.  On the other hand, I really like all the art for the “Road to...” episodes included in this book.  So everything you wanted to know is here.  If you can't find it, you may need to look again... and again... and again...   Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History is a must-have for just about any fan of “Family Guy.”

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:   Fans of “Family Guy” will want to at least take a look through Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History.

9 out of 10

Rating: 9/10

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