Star Wars Art: Comics
Published by Abrams
Adrick's Rating: 3 out of 4
Star Wars and comics share a long history: Star Wars debuted on the printed page in 1977, when Marvel Comics began publishing a six-part adaptation of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, an adaptation that soon morphed into a monthly comic book inspired by the heroes, villains, creatures, and worlds of the first film. Today, more than three decades later, new ongoing and limited series by Dark Horse Comics continue to enrich and expand the Star Wars galaxy.
Star Wars Art: Comics, the second book in the Star Wars Art series, brings together the very best artwork from the entire history of Star Wars comics publishing, showcasing original art from the top comics artists working in the industry. Hand-selected and curated by George Lucas, the work featured within this volume includes pencil roughs, inked pages, and full-color interiors and covers from artists such as Al Williamson, Howard Chaykn, Dave Dorman, Adam Hughes, Bill Sienkiewicz, Hiromoto-SIN-Ichi, and many more?as well as new work created exclusively for this volume by Arthur Adams, Amanda Conner, Sam Kieth, Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, Joe Kubert, Jeff Smith, Jim Steranko, Frank Quitely, J. H. Williams III, and other comics super-stars. Star Wars Art: Comics is a celebration of sequential storytelling, a worthy and justly celebrated art form, as well as a wide-angle view of the past thirty-five years of American comics publishing.
I have a weakness when it comes to Star Wars comics: I frequently overlook the artwork in favor of the larger story. I can?t help it, I got into the Expanded Universe via the novels, and only reluctantly started reading the comics when it became apparent that important stuff was happening in series like Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi.
And it?s a shame, because there have been a lot of talented artists who have contributed to the comics over the years. I?ve since shed my hesitancy to embrace the comics?my collection is pretty impressive these days?but I remain tied to the story, frequently flipping past fantastic artwork to see what happens on the next page.
Star Wars Art: Comics, the follow-up to last year?s Star Wars: Visions, is a great opportunity to take a step back from the story and instead focus on the striking visuals. I?ve seen many of these comic book pages before, but stripped of text and color they take on a new light. This is the first time I?ve seen penciled roughs by Al Williamson, Doug Wheatley, and Kilian Plunkett, and I?ve gotta say, they are fantastic.
There is a surprising range of Star Wars comics on display here. Dark Horse is well represented, obviously, but we also see art from Marvel, the disappointingly scarce Star Wars Mangas, and even the webcomics. It?s great to see art from so many years collected together. I also enjoyed the new artwork commissioned especially for this collection. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jeff Smith?s contribution; I?m a huge fan of Bone, a comic series that has many references to Star Wars. George Perez contributes a particularly good untitled piece, in which the heroes of the original Star Wars trilogy battle to reach a burned-out building that houses a hologram of Queen Amidala. Great stuff.
These comics were all selected by George Lucas, and it?s interesting to see that he has maintained an interest in Star Wars comics over the years. Many of the selections are from the recent Dark Times and Rebellion series, which is something I wasn?t expecting. The book also reaches back to the genesis of Star Wars comics via a transcript of a meeting between Lucas and Howard Chaykin and Roy Thomas in 1976, discussing what would become the Marvel Star Wars comics. It?s one of the most fascinating parts of the book.
Because these comics were personally selected by Lucas, this serves as more of a reflection of his tastes than the evolving art of Star Wars comics in general. Lucas seems to prefer either the realistic or outright cartoonish visions of his universe, and so the grimmer, more abstract artwork is neglected. There is not a single panel from Dark Empire, for example, which surely wouldn?t be the case in a regular book about Star Wars comic art. I?d be interested in seeing an art book about the history of Star Wars comics as well.
There?s very little that?s ugly here?it?s just page after page of beautiful artwork. Well, there is the grim fate of Sam Kieth?s Rancor on a Stick?