At the beginning of his foreword to The Art of Archer, actor Christian Slater — a longtime fan of the show who voices the CIA agent Slater — waves his fanboy flag with pride: “Holy shit, they asked ME to write the foreword? I love this show!” So too will anyone familiar with Archer who reads art director Neal Holman’s new book (which is available now at Amazon and wherever books are sold). Unlike the previous show book How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written, The Art of Archer isn’t just another extension of creator Adam Reed’s comedy. It’s a celebration of the intense design process that makes Archer possible.
Holman took the time to chat with us about his first book ever. The work required to write and design it wasn’t as daunting as the Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo veteran had imagined, though as he explains below, he only got the job because he knew the Floyd County Productions server “really well” — including where all the artwork from the original pilot episode was stored. Holman also addressed the similarities between Archer‘s animation style and Pacific Heat, a new Netflix show from Australia, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
This isn’t Archer‘s first book, as How to Archer offered fans an extension of the Sterling Archer character in written form. Yet The Art of Archer is an actual, bona fide book from behind the scenes of the show.
It started off as a love note to our crew. There are so many pieces of art generated for the show that nobody but us ever sees. That’s really where it started, then it kind of ballooned from there as we figured out what else we could show off. Things like Adam’s original pitch, which is one of the strongest pitches I’d ever read. We get a lot of pitches through the studio, but when you compare them to Adam’s writing — he’s so strong and clear about what he wants to do that I was really happy that we got the chance to share that with everybody in this book. It’s one of the cooler parts about the book, I think.
How did this book come about?
I think, if I remember right, HarperCollins approached us about it. I’m not entirely sure, though I know when it was brought up we’d decided we were definitely going to do it. We just didn’t know who should do it. I was the easy answer just because I’ve been around the show since the pilot. Also a lot of this art was scattered throughout our server, and because I’ve been around the show so long, I know that server really well. [Laughs.] I knew what we had, what would be interesting to talk about, so it was a pretty easy decision for me to take it on.
It’s not fair to say you drew the short straw then, though it kind of sounds like it.
Yeah. “Does anybody remember where the pilot files are?” “Neal does.” “Have you written a book before, Neal?” “No.”
Had you written a book before?
No. That was another question, figuring out how this was going to be written. Would I write every bit of it, or would there be snippets of interviews? I definitely decided to use interviews, as I didn’t want to write the whole thing on my own. Interviews were the easiest way to get it done without me trying to write prose, which would have been really terrible.