Thursday, 23 October 2014

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'STAR WARS ART: POSTERS'

Drew Struzan captures the epic duel to come between Skywalkers in 1983's RETURN OF THE JEDI. A perfect cover choice for the newly released STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book. All poster images: copyright LUCASFILM. 


STAR WARS ART: POSTERS

Compiled by J.W. Rinzler

Foreword by Drew Struzan

Introduction by Roger Kastel

Published by ABRAMS BOOKS, priced £25.00


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Mastering the science of spectacle, never has their been more enticing and exciting posters for the motion picture genre than those created for the STAR WARS saga. Back in those early days of 1977, no one yet knew who Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia or Darth Vader were, but the promotional art they were encapsulated within, alongside science fiction/fantasy action and distant worlds so vividly realized, certainly weaved its spell onto a collective generation, quickly making us want to find out more about them and their adventures. Thirty-seven years on, five (so far) sequels later, and beyond in numerous related avenues, we’re all still entranced by the magic of George Lucas’s potent and endearing Imagineering, and grateful to the many talented artists that have contributed so much to his modern odyssey.

Steven Sansweet’s 2005 THE STAR WARS POSTER BOOK gave us the definitive history on the behind the scenes creation of the vast majority of these front of house gems, but now its time to genuinely celebrate their place in pop culture as artistic wonders, courtesy of J.W. Rinzler, Godfather of the LUCASFILM history archives, as he takes us on a warmly nostalgic journey with his newly published STAR WARS ART: POSTERS- the fifth and final book of ABRAMS stunning series.
 
Drew Struzan: Final painted artwork for STAR WARS:THE SPECIAL EDITION theatrical one-sheet, 1996.

The majority of these classic poster images, now firmly engrained in our hearts and minds (both original and re-release), make their all present and correct appearances (finally minus cast and crew credits) within the book's 180 pages, from the esteemed likes of Chantrell, McQuarrie, Alvin, Berkey, Struzan and Kastel (the latter two artist icons additionally providing some pleasing opening anecdotes on how they became so firmly associated with the STAR WARS universe and how their finest pieces evolved into life), alongside other definitive “plates” from the original official fan club, merchandise and restaurant tie-ins/promotions. Many of these pieces, specially rescanned for greater clarity and appreciation, are additionally presented close-up in bold spreads that really show us the colour, detail and brushstroke breadth of the artists, of which Howard Chaykin’s 1976 teaser poster for the film, later adapted as the cover to the first issue of the MARVEL comic, is a genuine showpiece. 

Creatively, the book gets off to a splendid start via Ralph McQuarrie’s classic 1975 poster concept idea for what was once known as The Star Wars - an orange skied arena of heroic assemblage (including a female Luke Skywalker/Starkiller), years on becoming the litmus test paper to homage and reinterpretation, adapted to all-new success via the animated hits THE CLONE WARS and STAR WARS REBELS.

Veteran film illustrator Tom Jung then cements himself as one of the Original Trilogy’s key artists- truly capturing its newly launched spirit in his finished work, but also within further lovely unused variations. Certainly, Princess Leia has never looked sexier under his watch!

Then there are the artists whose early interpretations of the battle between Empire and Rebellion proved intriguing if not quite capturing of the tone, like John Solie, whose evocative piece feels more like a space-age version of CONAN THE BARBARIAN, or sci-fi great John Berkey, whose broad canvas work commissioned concepts would be utilized more successfully in other areas, like book covers and album posters. Intriguingly, though, and with their names so synonymous with the saga and fantasy in general, those illustrious illustrator brothers that were the Hildebrandts, forever linked to one of the classic first released teaser posters, are conspicuous by their absence!
 
Dan Nichols: Final painted artwork for STAR WARS Coca-Cola poster, 1977.

Glimpses of international territory art also prove a firm draw as we continue delving into the book’s glossy pages- interesting and stylish, the Italian, Hungarian and Polish territories give us their "window" into STAR WARS- the latter’s Wojtek Siudmak’s EPISODE IV piece being the most striking. The Japanese market’s almost symbiotic love of the saga  is also keenly represented by the likes of Noriyoshi Ohrai, who, from 1978 to 1983, adeptly mixed the classic characters with their incredible hardware and spaceships; and, later on, his natural successor in Tsuneo Sanda- his rich conglomerations equally packed with imagery but layered in supreme beauty via wisely chosen colour palettes.

As the innocence and wonder of A New Hope gives way to the explosive and fiery retribution of The Empire Strikes Back, McQuarrie’s now-immortal Vader In Flames image continues to resonate, but it’s a further joy to see that the LUCASFILM Archives are still discovering more rare pieces of his, like a lovely 1979 logo idea featuring Han, Luke and Leia ready for action. Additionally, Jung’s return to concept duties also see-in some nice hero presentations, whilst Manuel Sanjulain provides a denser interpretation of the GONE WITH THE WIND style ideas ultimately approved and used via Roger Kastel. But its Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, who is very clearly the standout star of this new film- one piece has him firmly back in his TIE fighter leading his squadron into battle. The half-man, half-cyborg also menaces Luke in an early Struzan piece, as our face-in-shadows hero arrives into a deserted Bespin.
 
Robert Hunt: Black-and-white concept treatment for RETURN OF THE JEDI style "B" theatrical one-sheet, 1982.

Sadly, there’s very few concept pieces for the concluding Return of the Jedi, but Robert Hunt provides a pleasing one-off pencils entry, Jung gives us a striking, never before seen image of Luke, Han and slave-costumed Leia perched atop Jabba the Hutt, whilst John Alvin’s fairytale-like concept ideas presents Luke and party entering a dreamy Endor forest (that wouldn’t be out of place in THE COMPANY OF WOLVES), with the towering presence of Vader above them, that proves visually fascinating and arresting. Finally, Tim Reamer’s now evocative hands-on-lightsaber concoction for the early 1983 teaser poster shows us how Luke Skywalker’s emergence as a fully-fledged Jedi will shake the stars, and an Empire.
 
Tim Reamer: Final painted artwork for RETURN OF THE JEDI style "A" theatrical one-sheet, 1983.

Into the later eighties and beyond, the STAR WARS empire begins a new phase in the mindsets of pop art culture: there’s the emerging spinoffs like the Ewok TV movies (quickly released internationally into movie theaters), the well-recognized but ultimately all-too samey Prequel Trilogy posters and their long-awaited, scene-setting adventures of Anakin Skywalker and his fall into darkness, followed by the unceasing popular universe variants engineered by LEGO. Hitting the small screen, the licensing art from the numerous THE CLONE WARS series highlights Lucas’s enthusiasm for the power of both the pencil and the computer (a highlight being the Season Five DVD release poster showing Ahsoka Tano’s departure from the Jedi Order), and several pieces for the newly launched STAR WARS REBELS series, of which Amy Beth Christenson’s flourishes with her Empire recruitment posters- modern stand-outs that truly capture the look and feel of DISNEY’s next chapter in STAR WARS history.

Proving that STAR WARS is indeed forever to each successive generation, the internet and the Photoshop have also helped usher in a new utopia of ideas, artistic styles and interpretations on the saga’s classic themes of good and evil, with enthused fans, now professional illustrators, sharing their wide-ranging passions and personal perceptions to invigorating note- from this immense pool comes the poster tributes of Olly Moss that fuse environments with key characters, a striking portrait of bounty hunter Boba Fett’s face composed from parts of his armour, both clever and striking, from Louis C. Hebert, to humour via Dave Perillo. Plus the art deco capturing’s of the female aesthetic via Craig Drake, and warm-hearted spoof horror genre crossings courtesy of Mark Daniels and Mark Steele. All different, and all appealing.
 
Rob Jones: King's Lead Head, 2010. Limited edition Mondo screen print with metallics ink.

Bringing fitting visual closure to George Lucas’s creative rein, there’s truly something for everyone to recognize, reevaluate or discover anew in this rich compendium that is STAR WARS ART: POSTERS. Let’s raise a glass in thanks to those defining artists who have gone before, and to those whose new road to illustrating history lies ahead.

AFICIONADO RATING: This spirited mixing of art and entertainment has never been more visually addictive. 8.5 out of 10

With thanks to ABRAMS BOOKS UK for all their time and co-operation in the creation of this review. 




Wednesday, 22 October 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: IMPERIAL SUNBATHER!


A member of the London-based Shepperton Design Studios, responsible for the original film's stormtrooper-related costume constructions, models one of their then newly built and intimidating looking TIE fighter pilot heads, of which only fourteen were apparently built in the long run, during the very hot Summer of '76.

Original Stormtrooper- Accept No Compromises
'A worthless bit of plastic': Fiona Bruce fails to feel the force of Star Wars helmet worth £50k! | Daily Mail Online

For more behind the scenes information,anecdotes and rare imagery on the creation of the now iconic costumes of the Classic Trilogy, from heroes to villains, check out Brandon Alinger's lavish new book on the subject, STAR WARS COSTUMES: THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY, out now from TITAN BOOKS. Here's the publishing blurb:



Who can forget the first time they saw Darth Vader with his black cape and mask? The white hard-body suit of the stormtroopers? Or Leia’s outfit as Jabba’s slave? These costumes–like so many that adorned the characters of that galaxy far, far away–have become iconic. For the first time, the Lucasfilm Archives has unpacked the original costumes to be revealed in breathtaking detail.

Featuring all-new photography, Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy affords both new and longtime Star Wars fans the opportunity to examine the stormtrooper armor and discover how it changed from movie to movie; explore Boba Fett’s suit and inspect the rarely seen details of his blaster and jetpack; compare the helmets and jumpsuits of the rebel fighters; and study the details of the Hoth fighter uniforms.

This lavish large-format book not only showcases high-quality photography of each costume, it also pairs these stunning images with original sketches, behind-the-scenes photographs, production notes, and stories.


Get it here: Star Wars - Costumes: Amazon.co.uk: Brandon Alinger, J. W. Rinzler: Books

And look out for AFICIONADO's review of the book in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CARRIE FISHER!


Last seen in the STAR WARS universe strangling Jabba the Hutt and helping to bring down a second dreaded Death Star, Princess Leia Organa will surely be returning for more of the same evil-fighting duties for EPISODE VII. The happiest of Birthday Greetings goes out today to her famous inhabiter,  Carrie Fisher- we hope she, and her canine compadre Gary, enjoyed her recent filmic return to a galaxy far, far away...

'Star Wars': Carrie Fisher's Secret Method for Learning Her Lines (Without Using Jedi Mind Tricks) - Hollywood Reporter


For more on Princess Leia, don't forget that her latest adventure in the LEGENDS publishing realm, Martha Well's Razor's Edge, set between EPISODEs IV and V, is out this week in UK paperback from ARROW BOOKS. Check out our original review here: STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'RAZOR'S EDGE' NOVEL

Get it here: Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Razor's Edge Star Wars Empire & Rebellion: Amazon.co.uk: Martha Wells: Books

Monday, 20 October 2014

THE POSTER ART OF 'STAR WARS' - DAY EIGHT: BEYOND TOMORROWLAND WITH 'STAR TOURS'!


To celebrate the UK release (14th October, 2014) of the beautiful new STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book, compiled by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS BOOKS, AFICIONADO presents some if its favourite art/poster pieces linked to the six films, and beyond...

Taking passengers on the ride of their lives through ice asteroids and space battles involving Rebel and Imperial forces, the charming simulator adventure that is STAR TOURS remains as popular with visitors and STAR WARS fans to the DISNEY themes parks as it did back with its original launch in the late eighties. And this tour poster art, for the Japanese Disneyland Tomorrowland area, would be a fine encapsulation of everything guest travellers would soon participate in, with Artoo and Threepio, our overall guides to the STAR WARS universe inside the spaceport/droid holding facility, greeting visitors as they go into the infinite and exciting domains of George Lucas's classic universe...


Get hold of STAR WARS ART: POSTERS here: Star Wars Art: Posters: Amazon.co.uk: Drew Struzan, Lucasfilm Ltd, Roger Kastel: Books

Sunday, 19 October 2014

THE POSTER ART OF 'STAR WARS' - DAY SEVEN: A NEXT OF KIN TO CHAOS!


In celebration of the newly released and beautiful new STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book, compiled by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS, AFICIONADO presents some of its favourite art/poster pieces linked to the six films, and beyond...

Now officially canon recognised as a character within the STAR WARS universe, deadly Sith apprentice to Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, would make a fine onscreen debut within the hugely popular CLONE WARS micro-series and the later 2008 onwards series. Here she's the centrepiece of some lovely work by Matt Busch for the souvenir program cover of one of the early STAR WARS FAN DAY events that took place in Texas, USA.

Matt Busch official site: "The Rock Star of Illustration" -Real Detroit Weekly


Get hold of STAR WARS ART: POSTERS here: Star Wars Art: Posters: Amazon.co.uk: Drew Struzan, Lucasfilm Ltd, Roger Kastel: Books




Saturday, 18 October 2014

THE POSTER ART OF 'STAR WARS' - DAY SIX: PAWNS IN THE GAME!


In celebration of this week's UK release (14th October) of the beautiful new STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book, compiled by J. W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS BOOKS, AFICIONADO presents some of its favourite art/poster pieces linked to the six films, and beyond...

The connective fibre-tissues between the Prequels and the Classic Trilogy fascinatingly get one step nearer with the evolution of the Clone Trooper legions towards their final destiny integrated as part of Emperor Palpatine's Imperial Stormtroopers. A huge success with their first appearance in EPISODE II, the use of one of the revised soldiers for this EPISODE III character teaser poster, specially blurred to give the appearance of spirited motion into battle, proved a wise marketing decision.


Get hold of STAR WARS ART: POSTERS here: Star Wars Art: Posters: Amaezon.co.uk: Drew Struzan, Lucasfilm Ltd, Roger Kastel: Books

Friday, 17 October 2014

THE POSTER ART OF 'STAR WARS' - DAY FIVE: JEDI COUNTER-ATTACK!


In celebration of this week's release (14th October) of the beautiful new STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book, compiled by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS BOOKS, AFICIONADO presents some of its favourite art/poster pieces linked to the six films, and beyond...

Amidst the warfare of the desert world of Geonosis, Jedi Master Yoda leads the call to lightsaber arms in pushing the promotion of EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES onto DVD and video (yes, video- remember that!) for Christmas 2002, in this notable LUCASFILM/FOX photo composite specifically focusing on the epic scale of the story and its use of the Jedi, rather than the previous burgeoning secret relationship between Anakin and Padme.


Get hold of STAR WARS ART: POSTERS here: Star Wars Art: Posters: Amazon.co.uk: Drew Struzan, Lucasfilm Ltd, Roger Kastel: Books

Thursday, 16 October 2014

THE POSTER ART OF 'STAR WARS' - DAY FOUR: PORTRAIT OF A SITH!


In celebration of this week's UK release (14th October) of the beautiful new STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book, compiled by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS BOOKS, AFICIONADO presents some of its favourite art/poster pieces linked to the six films, and beyond...

Darth Maul, the fearless and lethal Sith Warrior craving the death of any Jedi whose path he encounters, would soon become a screen legend for STAR WARS villainy when "born" with EPISODE I. His original and striking art evolution, courtesy of Iain McCaig (recently back in the LUCASFILM fold as an adviser on EPISODE VII), would be used as part of a poster promotion in Finland, when the successful THE ART OF STAR WARS exhibition, encapsulating the first four films of the saga, would enter the European stage of its touring run in the early 2000s.

Website: the art of iain mccaig


Get hold of STAR WARS ART: POSTERS here: Star Wars Art: Posters: Amazon.co.uk: Drew Struzan, Lucasfilm Ltd, Roger Kastel: Books

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

THE POSTER ART OF 'STAR WARS' - DAY THREE - BLUE BLADE, DARK HEART?


In countdown to this week's UK release (14th October) of the beautiful new STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book, compiled by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS BOOKS, AFICIONADO presents some of its favourite art/poster pieces linked to the six films, and beyond...

This atmospheric concept art poster, likely a teaser idea, to the then title-in-flux RETURN OF THE JEDI brings a welcome air of dark mystery to the character of Luke Skywalker, importantly raising the question of whether our hero may now be treading too perilously close to the Dark Side after his previous grim, revelations-packed encounter with Darth Vader at Bespin...


Get hold of STAR WARS ART: POSTERS here: Star Wars Art: Posters: Amazon.co.uk: Drew Struzan, Lucasfilm Ltd, Roger Kastel: Books

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

THE POSTER ART OF 'STAR WARS' - DAY TWO: TIMES OF ICE AND FIRE!


In countdown to this week's UK release (14th October) of the beautiful new STAR WARS ART: POSTERS book, compiled by J.W. Rinzler, published by ABRAMS BOOKS, AFICIONADO presents some of its favourite art/poster pieces linked to the six films, and beyond...

The cold and haunting climes of the isolated ice world of Hoth are the backdrop for the key characters and events trailblazing into 1980 with the release of the first, and so far best, STAR WARS sequel: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.This concept piece, by artist unknown, would be the genesis to what would form the ultimate and evocative, deliberately GONE WITH THE WIND-esque art created by Roger Kastel for the film's first theatrical poster. Dig that purple snowgear, Luke!

Image: via STAR WARS Archives


Get hold of STAR WARS ART: POSTERS here: Star Wars Art: Posters: Amazon.co.uk: Drew Struzan, Lucasfilm Ltd, Roger Kastel: Books
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