Entertainment :: Books

Star Wars Art: Concept

by Kevin Taft
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Tuesday Oct 15, 2013
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The latest "Star Wars Art" coffee table book is another gorgeous collection of plates that will have "Star Wars" and art fans rapturously poring over the pages. Spanning almost 40 years, "Star Wars Art: Concept" focuses on the conceptual design of not just the "Star Wars" films, but the spin-off TV shows and video games as well. With a forward by Joe Johnston and an Introduction by Doug Chiang (and a preface by Kevin Church) we get some nice personal histories of those that have been doing conceptual design and how they landed in the "Star Wars" universe. Joe Johnston has been there since the beginning and turned his talent into directing such films as "The Rocketeer" and "Captain America." Both Chiang and Church came aboard with the new trilogy achieving lifelong dreams of entering the "Star Wars" lexicon.

With over 150 plates from 34 different artists there is a fortune of beautiful artwork on display. It’s fascinating to read the captions that detail planets we’ve never heard of before, or see versions of ships, costumes, and/or characters that differ from the final product. Some of this is frustrating because there are some compelling designs that might have made for some interesting sequences. I was particularly taken with Joe Johnston’s "Rebel flying taxi on grass planet Siemon" which was conceptualized for "Return of the Jedi."

The book is only slightly disappointing in that the original trilogy is not represented as much as I’d have liked, however there are many books on the artwork of those films so the editors probably thought it would be redundant. Instead, the prequels get quite a bit of space, as do the various video games for which the artists conceived environments and characters. There are even designs for two proposed projects: a half hour animated comedy series "Detours" and a videogame called "1313."

Despite the lack of Luke, Vader, Leia, Han, and Chewie, this is still a diverse collection of art from artists that don’t always get their day in the twin suns. Here they do and deservedly so. They’ve created realms that you want to live in, and ideas that you hope will someday exist. It might be a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but we can only hope that our world will be as beautiful as those distant worlds.

"Star Wars: Concept"
Hardcover
$40.00
www.abramsbooks.com

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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