"Along time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
George Lucas, the creator of the "Star Wars" Saga, once described himself to journalist Bill Moyers, as a romantic. Part of this personal ideal is a fondness for the art of the past. This can explain Mr. Lucas' affection for movie poster art of Hollywood's bygone era, and his preference to feature posters of his films painted by talented illustrators rather than created using photographic design techniques which is the norm in contemporary Hollywood movies. Hence, nearly all the posters promoting Mr. Lucas' "Star Wars" 6 film cycle have envisioned his "galaxy, far, far away" through the use of the pencil or the brush rather than the lens of a camera. From even before the beginning of the success that became the "Star Wars" Saga, Mr. Lucas used art as a means to not only bring his ideas to life, but to also further showcase his mythic story to a worldwide audience. "Star Wars Art: Illustration" is a book featuring a wealth of artistic renderings detailing the many people, places and things that are a still growing part of this vast, imaginative universe.
By the Maker, this is a beautiful book!
As a "Star Wars" fan from its earliest days, I was presupposed to enjoy this collection, but when I opened the book, adorned with a lush painting of Jedi Master Yoda by Jerry Vanderstelt on its dustcover, my enthusiasm was confirmed by 2 pieces of art reproduced on its first few pages: The cover to Alan Dean Foster's 1978 novel, "Splinter of the Mind's Eye," and the cover to the very first "Star Wars" novel, subtitled "From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker," ghost written by Mr. Foster for George Lucas, and published in 1976. These covers were created by the man who could be called the godfather of "Star Wars" art, the late Ralph McQuarrie, who passed away on March 3, 2012. This gifted illustrator, under the guidance of Mr. Lucas, was instrumental in first illuminating the vision realized in the films that came to be called the Original Trilogy. Mr. McQuarrie drew and painted in a clean, precise style that combined the other-worldly settings imagined by George Lucas with the used universe concept the filmmaker desired to create the seeming reality of his "Star Wars" galaxy. The shared vision of Mr. Lucas and Mr. McQuarrie would form the template that inspired nearly all the artists that contributed to interpreting "Star Wars" in the following decades. This book is dedicated to his memory.
"Star Wars Art: Illustration" is an enchanting showcase of artwork created in the vast world of "Star Wars" merchandise. The galaxy of adventure that George Lucas originally imagined as just a film story exists beyond the wonders of the cinema and thanks to the amazing success the movies made for him, Mr. Lucas has continued to bring the saga to its enthusiastic audience by means of other mediums. Books, toys, comics, video games, trading cards and more have become the "Star Wars Expanded Universe," an outlet to further feature Luke Skywalker and his family, friends and foes in their galactic struggles of good versus evil. All these ongoing adventures have to be illustrated and this book is a celebration of the wondrous results of the "Star Wars" Saga as seen outside the movie theatre.
The primary joy of this book is its reveal of artwork used in promoting a toy in a box or a trading card in a small size: the illustrations reproduced within its pages are no longer encumbered by big, bold logos, tons of text, folded cardboard containers or diminutive dimensions. "Star Wars Art: Illustrations" allows the reader to truly see the artwork and gaze upon how beautiful it really is. While the book does include reprints of posters and limited-edition prints, its true triumph is its offering of art commissioned as part of a merchandise tie-in...set free as just works of art. For example, a set of paintings by veteran artist Drew Struzan are featured well into the collection. Created as part of the "Star Wars" novel series, "The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy," by Michael P. Kube-McDowell in 1995-96, the illustrations are produced in a much larger size here than in their original paperback book format and they are striking. The paintings look worthy enough to be posters for the "Star Wars" movies themselves! Another special delight for this reviewer was the discovery of the stunning art created for the "Star Wars: Wizards of the Coast" Roleplaying Game series by Terese Nielsen and Dave Seeley. As one who has never taken part in roleplaying, this particular "Star Wars" merchandise was outside of my fan experience. I could have possibly never seen this excellent artwork if not for this book.
There are well-known names in "Star Wars" art lore represented in this collection: Dave Dorman, Hugh Fleming, Greg and Tim Hildebrandt (better known as "The Brothers Hildebrandt"), to list a few. Tsuneo Sanda has a large body of work included. A book devoted to his "Star Wars" art wouldn't be a bad idea. But there are other talented artists featured as well, like the above-mentioned Jerry Vanderstelt, Jason Palmer, and Brian Rood. They all contribute classic images of "Star Wars" art.
One notable omission in "Star Wars Art: Illustration" is the absence of art depicting worlds or characters featured in "The Clone Wars" computer generated animated series. The young Jedi Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, is no where to be found in this collection. Perhaps this TV saga will have its own special "Star Wars Art" book published someday.
Experiencing great art can be like enjoying a feast. It can fill you up; enrich you, body and soul. As I paged through "Star Wars Art: Illustration," I was rewarded with that sense of joy, that sense of fulfillment. This is a beautiful book and it comes with my highest recommendation.