The guys at Parragon (in the UK) and their co-publishers Scholastic (in Australia) have recently been getting pretty keen with their line of "How to Draw" books. This is one of the first ones, it's a "how to draw" set which really raises the standard in terms of content.
Specifically, this box is a hinged "book" of dimensions 9" x 11.2" which is a massive 1.25" deep thanks to a plastic insert. The insert (see picture) contains a pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser, five felt pens, two cardboard stencil templates, and a gratuitous sheet of stickers.
Tucked into a sleeve behind the front cover is a push-out set of cardboard characters and a 24-page book 8.5" x 10.6" which forms the "How to Draw" component of the kit.
The booklet is full-colour, with a square-bound cardboard cover, and it progresses quite nicely through a graded series of short lessons. It starts with basic shapes, squares, triangles, circles. Then it shows you how to draw Spider-Man by starting with a skeleton of lines and circles, and then adding clothing and details.
The lesson is repeated with Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man.
Honestly, for such a big box the "How to Draw" content is really rather inefficiently assembled. Yeah, it's a huge box, but there's a lot of air inside the case. Also, the sheet of (tiny) stickers is pretty irrelevant, as are the cardboard stencils and push-out cardboard figures.
It's hard not to compare this book (unfavourably) to something like Klutz: Draw The Marvel Comics Super-Heroes (first published in 1995 and re-released in 2007). The Klutz book is significantly smaller in every dimension, but still manages to include felt tips and a pencil, while also packing in many more pages of useful instruction.
Another great classic is How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by John Buscema and Stan Lee, which didn't come with any art supplies, but which contains so much more actual information compared to this modern Parragon/Scholastic book that it seems almost cruel to make the comparison between the two.
So as a "How to Draw" book, this latest offering is more about show than it is about substance. Yeah, it's brightly-coloured, large, and has lots of little "bits" to entertain a young Spider-Fan. And yeah, its slender content does perhaps at least hint at all the key elements of drawing. But this isn't really a substantial instruction book in any real sense of the world.
Mind you, even this little taste of illustration might just spark in some young person's mind the desire to practice drawing and embark on a lifetime of learning... and that alone would make the book worthwhile.
If your goal is just to purchase something to brighten a young kid's rainy weekend, then I guess this would do the job pretty well.
But if you're serious about learning to draw, try the Klutz version. Or if budget is a factor, at least go for the Marvel Super Heroes: How to Draw (Parragon/Scholastic), which is the extended 48-page version of this book (minus the pencil and felt pens). It costs half the price of this fancy box set, much better value!
Final verdict? Some nice content, but not enough substance for the price.
Two and a half webs.