Review by C.J. Bunce
Whether a piece of art is appealing is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone who gives a considered view to a piece of artwork is entitled to their own interpretation and commentary on it. This month sees the release of a book that will allow the reader to take his or her own personal journey through the artwork that became the marketing posters for the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars Art: Posters is the fifth and final hardcover installment in Abrams Books’ successful series pulling the best imagery from Lucasfilm. It follows Star Wars Art: Visions, Star Wars Art: Concept, Star Wars Art: Illustration, and, to be reviewed soon here at borg.com, Star Wars Art: Comics. With Star Wars Art: Posters, the best was saved for last.
Star Wars Art: Posters is a purely visual experience. It includes only the slightest amount of text or interpretational information. A one-page commentary is included, written by each of noted Star Wars poster artists Drew Struzan and Roger Kastel. They each recount their own experience with creating Star Wars poster art, but do not give an overview of the rest of the galaxy of poster art. Instead each piece of art is laid out roughly chronologically, stripped of the words and printed matter that would be needed for the completion of the final poster for distribution, but with a notation showing the artists’ name, date, significance, and medium.
Die hard fans of Star Wars will recognize many, if not most, of the included posters. And you’ll find yourself embarking on your own nostalgic trip back nearly four decades. Back to the first poster for the film from 1976: Howard Chaykin’s screaming imagery of Luke, Han, Leia and Ben, with lightsaber pointing downward, Tom Jung’s famous one-sheet–what most remember as the classic Star Wars poster, Tom Chantrell’s photo-real poster featuring Mark Hamill as Luke along with the rest of the main cast, and that famous circus-design poster by Charles White III and Drew Struzan. My own trip back in time recalls the Del Nichols posters that were Coca-Cola giveaways, three of which are included in the book (and which covered the walls of my bedroom many years ago).
Years after the success of Star Wars, fans became familiar with the stylized concept posters created by Ralph McQuarrie. Some of those can be found in this volume, dating way back to 1975. His best may be his cover to the 1982 Jedi Master’s Quiz Book, featuring Yoda in Dagobah, found here, too. The best of all Star Wars poster art? It’s hard to beat Roger Kastel’s famous Gone With the Wind homage cover for The Empire Strikes Back. It’s simply a perfect painting that sums up the adventure and excitement of Star Wars to many fans. The rest of the Star Wars universe belongs to Drew Struzan, with his triptych of the first trilogy, and then the prequel trilogy, as well as the other odd images he created over the years.
One of the most fun posters would be the Yoda-centric image by David McMacken for Attack of the Clones featuring the legend “Size Matters Not (except on an IMAX screen”). When I think of The Return of the Jedi, Kazuhiko Sano’s “B” poster image comes instantly to mind.
But Star Wars Art: Posters doesn’t stop at movie posters. An Adam Hughes piece illustrates the love the artist has for Return of the Jedi, with Leia as Jabba’s slave in an Arabesque design, created as a convention exclusive. Mondo posters and other retro fan posters, and posters for the animated series, all may help fans form a better understanding of why Star Wars is so popular, and why we can hardly wait to see Struzan’s new posters for the third and final Star Wars movie trilogy.
A good addition for your science fiction and fantasy library, Star Wars Art: Posters will be a must-have for fans of the other four volumes in the series. The cover price of this hefty, over-sized edition for Star Wars Art: Posters is $40.00. Get your copy now at a discounted price here at Amazon.com.