With the recent news of NBC cancelling the critically acclaimed show only a few episodes into its third season, Hannibal is very much the talk of the moment. Adding to that, the show went on to win Best Network Show at the Saturn Awards within days of the announcement. “Fannibals” are more vocal than ever about what can arguably be called the best show on TV. Those hungering for more may consider Jesse McLean’s The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series. Published by Titan Books, this volume weighs in at a hefty 176 pages — all in full color — and is garnished with photos, graphics, sketches, and even set diagrams. The cover itself features the trademark Hannibal wendigo antlers sprouting from a bloody heart on a white plate, sure to please the tactile bunch of Fannibals, with the glossy, raised 3D design of the heart, pressed up and rising from the soft cover.
The book covers seasons one and two. Oddly, there is little-to-no coverage of the show’s incredible character design — why each character dresses the way they do, what the significance is of the colors they choose, and the incredible styling of the cast. That subject could likely fill an entire book in its own right, but there is less than half a page committed to costuming, and that’s only on Hannibal’s suits. Similarly, each major character is given only a compulsory gloss-over — this book is much more of a coffee table book than an in-depth study of character motivations and plot analysis.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to love. Special effects fans and those drawn to behind-the-scenes looks will revel in the photos, set-ups, and general info on how the show is made. In particular, there are several chapters on the gruesome murder set pieces that have become a hallmark of the show. Fans will savor the close-ups of the effects that went into creating “the eye of God,” the “Bee Man,” Mason Verger’s chewed off face, Beverly Katz’ cross-sectioned corpse, and the aftermath of the Minnesota Shrike and his copycat.
Special attention is given to the human totem pole, which towers over the other ghastly artifacts in its all gory glory. Assembled from four decades’ worth of murder, Laurence Wells (Lance Henriksen) leaves his macabre masterpiece on a frozen beach for the FBI and police to find when he is ready to retire — a legacy. The most human part of that legacy is that he unwittingly kills his own son in a twist that both opened and closed the circle of his murderous intentions.
Only time will tell if we’re to be granted a second volume to showcase the third season, with its grandiose locales in Italy and Paris. Fannibals are a ravenous audience, and will no doubt eat them both up. But for now, The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series is available through Amazon and your local bookseller.