BooksIllustrationStar Wars

Star Wars Art: Posters foreword by Drew Struzan, introduction by Roger Kastel (book review).

‘Star Wars Art: Posters’ is a large format book looking at how poster art for the ‘Star Wars’ films has changed over the last forty years. Not only does this provide a unique comparison of how times and tastes change but also how richly the ‘Star Wars’ universe can be interpreted.


During the original trilogy run there were four key artists who dominated the poster space. Tom Jung, a movie poster specialist who had created posters for classic films such as ‘Dr Zhivago’, ‘Papillon’, ‘The Omen’ and..um…’Plan 9 From Outer Space’, created the original ‘Star Wars’ poster, with Luke holding his light-sabre aloft his head as Leia provocatively wields a gun and shows a lot of thigh. The image of Vader looms over them. This image was later repainted by the Brothers Hildebrandt, their version, a brighter, more blue representation was sold in gift shops during the movie’s original run. That version is not included here, though their art is represented in the book’s sister title ‘Star Wars Art: Illustration’.

Jung then also produced the action-packed half-sheet which featured Luke staring straight at the viewer, blaster raised, surrounded by more accurate depictions of Han, Leia, Threepio and Ben.

Then there was Drew Struzan, who was asked to provide the ‘circus’ poster which evokes the 1930s, he later went on to provide the iconic red poster for ‘Revenge Of The Jedi’ that features on this book’s cover. He would go on to create posters for all three of the prequel movies, as well as ‘Ewoks: Caravan Of Courage’.

Next, there was the stunning artwork of Japanese artist Noriyoshi Ohrai, who manages to capture the majesty and epic quality of the ‘Star Wars’ films while providing immense detail on his posters. His poster for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, originally intended for the Japanese release only, went on to become the cover of the 90s widescreen VHS release of the film. His ‘Return Of The Jedi’ one sheet is a rich starscape, framed by light-sabres, beneath which stands Artoo and Threepio.

Finally, there is artist Ralph McQuarrie, who produced the original concept poster featuring a very ‘Metropolis’ looking Threepio and bizarre rendition of Chewbacca that would later become the model for Zeb in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’. McQuarrie also provided posters for the Star Wars Fan Club of ‘Empire’s bounty hunters, as well as a lush depiction of Dagobah and Yoda for the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ NPR production.

As you would expect from Abrams, this is a quality publication, a large-type (not quite A3) hardback that gives you full-page representations of the artwork, as well as details of certain pieces spread over two pages. There are also gatefold pages within, so you can look across all of Struzan’s posters or take in Olly Moss’ excellent Mondo prints of all new posters for the original trilogy. Sketch work for many of the classic posters is also included.

The book doesn’t stop at movie posters, TV shows and computer games are also covered. Artwork produced for limited edition on-line sales or conventions are also there. I particularly loved Steve Thomas’ retro posters that promised trips around the galaxy.

While Jung clearly took his lead from pulp-fantasy artwork and McQuarrie, the clean lines of Science Fiction realisation, they all contributed to a vivid impression of ‘Star Wars’ that enticed audiences into cinemas and fired imaginations. This is a fantastic coffee-table book, to be perused and enjoyed time and again.

John Rivers

May 2016

(pub: Abrams, 2014. 180 page large hardback. Price: £25.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-41971-400-9)

check out website: www.abramsbooks.com

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