It’s October, which as long time readers might know, means that we’re reading all things Star Wars. Stay with us every week as we talk about the newest reads and the most entertaining stories from a galaxy far, far away…
Maybe it’s a given, seeing as my father is a professional artist, but I grew up with a love for the illustrations behind my favorite film franchise as well as for the films themselves. It has therefore always been a known fact to me that Han Solo could have been a green-skinned alien, Obi-Wan the elder of the Qui-Gon/Kenobi duo, and that Luke Skywalker himself could have turned out very differently…This week, we’re discussing these interesting pieces of art and how each group of art has affected the look of the films.
First we’re starting off with the McQuarrie era. I like to call it that because this was the Star Wars decade in which the renowned artist’s work was most predominant – and rightly so. His illustrations, vibrant with color, and unique in vision, helped to create the look of the films that the world fell in love with over and over again. I particularly enjoy looking at his different versions of the main trio, Darth Vader, and even the droids. Anthony Daniels famously said that Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art for the Threepio and Artoo characters helped convince him to accept the role. So thanks for that, Mr. McQuarrie!
Next comes what I dub the Chiang-Dermot era. It’s silly, but I remember the names of the art director and Dermot the most because I’m a fan of their particular concept pieces. To be fair, I enjoy all of the artwork from the prequel eras. It’s lush and rich, with colorful art that captures each location, character, and piece of machinery with vivid imagination. All the art from this period is so great and you can tell that love went into these films, no matter what you think of the prequels.
The last era is the Disney concept art. A lot of this concept art lacks in character and landscape development, but rises above in machinery and robot design. Seriously, K-2SO is a great design and the rest of the Imperial tech is just as marvelous. I enjoy looking at how the artists tried to bridge the gap between the prequel stories and the original trilogy. What I think is particularly interesting about this period of time is that the artists are not really consistent between films, although Doug Chiang continues to be a prevalent figure in the Star Wars universe. All in all, this is probably my least favorite period of the Star Wars universe in terms of art, but I still really enjoy looking through it.
What is your favorite period of Star Wars illustration? Do you have a favorite art book? And…would you have preferred to see Han Solo as a green-skinned alien?