“And suddenly I am. Where there is music, there is color. And where there is color, there is life.”
It’s official, Coco is a super cute and important step in the direction of positive representation for Latinos on the big screen! I’m sure most of us are wishing it was already available to stream so we could re-watch with our families over the holidays. Well get this, Pixar Animation Studios has a book based on the movie Coco! It’s a brand new story written by Newbery Winner, Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Coco’s Visual Development Artist, Ana Ramirez.
Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony follows characters from the film from the perspective of the music allowing the reader to see and feel the impact it has on everyone’s lives – from those who make it, to those who listen to it. In an interview with Hello Giggles, Ana Ramirez revealed a few details about what makes the book a new and exciting experience for movie fans.
Much like the hand-crafted animation style in the movie, the book’s illustrations are also equally whimsical, vibrant, and full of texture. In fact, the the animation for the film was actually hand-painted first.
“That was actually the work of metallic gouaches. Everything I used was gouache. Then I composited in Photoshop. For those vibrant colors, I got different colored gouaches like watercolor, primary, and metallics like the silver and gold. I love the metallic ones that look like gold leaf. I would draw and paint the background separately from the characters. I used an illustration board for everything and scanned them all in.”
Another surprising revelation is that Ramirez’s inspiration for the imagery and landscape in the book is actually her hometown of Guanajuato, Mexico.
“The book is mostly a side story from the movie. It’s supposed to be a day in the life of, and another view of, Miguel and how he feels about music. The research that we did was mostly in the cities of Oaxaca, Guanajuato, and Morelia. But personally, I based most of it on Guanajuato, which is my hometown, [that] I wanted to represent.”
But my favorite thing about the book is Ramirez’s conscious effort to illustrate equal numbers of male and female musicians.
”That was on purpose. I thought there should be more 50/50 representation. Especially because the story is already about a boy, Miguel — even though there is Mama Coco, it’s really about Miguel’s experiences. I wanted to make it feel more even in the book.”