Developer: Joe Zeff Design
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

While the name John Kascht may not be household, his caricatures should look familiar. From Rolling Stone to The New Yorker, The New York Times, LIFE, and TV Guide all the way to the Smithsonian National Portrait gallery, his portfolio of celebrity spoofings and political parodying is sure to contain at least one recognizable, if not iconic, image.

Above and Beyond: John Kascht, is an interactive audio book for iPad that showcases some of his best work, and includes all sorts of biographical material as well.

A working beekeeper, this unassuming man has drawn some of the most memorable images of some of the world’s most important personas. The app highlights the difference between the artist and his subjects who are all larger-than-life.

At the core of the app are 19 caricatures of including likenesses of the Beatles, George Bush, Eminem – even a Bill Gates spoof that went viral.

A stunning HD reproduction of the caricature is shown on its own crisp white “page.” And with each come some options. A tap on the speech bubble toggles audio clips that explain everything from what Kascht thinks about his subject, to reflections on his technique and even tips for aspiring artists.

There is also a pencil icon which shows at least one, often several, preparatory sketches, some of which are more compelling than the finished product and all of which give insight into Kascht’s process. Each page has a heart to tap in order to share favorites on Twitter and Facebook. Some pages come with additional text as well.

The interface isn’t intuitive – it’s invisible. And while it may not sound like there is a lot here, there is, in fact, a wealth of wit and wisdom along with some simply amazing portraits. The app is littered with little visual and interactive goodies, making the experience wholly engaging.

There are some cool extras included as well. Users can take a virtual tour of Kascht’s portraits that hang in the National Portrait Gallery or or check out his 1955 Ford F-100 that is still in use on his working farm.

There are, as mentioned, several pages of biographical information, including a video introduction, full panoramic view of his workspace, a peek at his beehives, and a look at what makes him tick. It’s all mixed with plenty of unpretentious good humor.

The app can be taken in in one sitting, but the GUI is so beautiful and the caricatures so captivating, it’s the sort of interactive coffee table book users will want to return to and show off.


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