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A comic art showcase of the Star Wars Saga,
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This review is from: Star Wars Art: Comics (Hardcover)
Thanks in no small part to the comic book medium, fans of the Star Wars films have had the happy opportunity to further explore the many worlds of the Star Wars galaxy for as long as the movies have enchanted audiences over the past three decades. In fact, it was in comic book form that the mythic adventures of Luke Skywalker and his friends first expanded beyond the threatrical screen (In Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7, to be exact; starring Han Solo and Chewbacca in a story called "New Planets, New Perils!" writen by Roy Thomas, and drawn by Howard Chaykin and Frank Springer, published in 1978, for you Star Wars trivia fans! Star Wars in comic book form has come a long way since Mr. Lucas' first dazzled and delighted moviegoers in the summer of 1997. "Star Wars Art: Comics" offers the reader an introduction to the vast contribution talented artists have created as they envisioned the "galaxy far, far away" of filmmaker George Lucas.
This artbook reproduces a wide canvass of great comic art from such gifted creators as the above mentioned Howard Chaykin (who pencilled the first 6 Star Wars comics which adapted "A New Hope" before it was given that subtitle), Tom Palmer, Ron Frenz, Paul Gulacy, P. Craig Russell, Dave Dorman, Ken Kelly, Hugh Fleming, and other artists of stellar creative caliber. For this reviewer and comic fan, special mention must be given to the late great Al Williamson, who drew some of the greatest Star Wars illustrations for comics, beginning with his classic contribution to Marvel Comics' adaptation of "The Empire Strikes Back" movie (Issues #39-44), along with writer Archie Goodwin, and inker Carlos Garzon.
"Star Wars Art: Comics" contains major gifts for comic art enthusiasts in that within its pages are photographic plates of art taken from the original comic pages. Thus the reader can joyfully gaze at the original cover illustration to the premiere Marvel Star Wars comic cover by Howard Chaykin and Tom Palmer; Dave Cockrum and Rick Hoberg's cover to the first Marvel Special Edition, a treasury-sized reprint version of Star Wars comics #1-3 (showcased on the back and front of the book's hard covers); Princess Leia's "First Impressions" of Coruscant, by Kilian Plunket from Dark Horse Comics' "Star Wars Tales" #15; or some of the beautifully rendered pencilled pages drawn by Doug Wheatley for the comic series "Dark Times."
Another artistic treat of this book is its wealth of "Private commissions:" original artwork done by comic masters such as Amanda Conner, Joe Kubert (!), George Perez(!), Paul Pope, Tim Sale, and more, all exclusive to this special collection.
Still, even with the above mentioned treasures this book displays, there are disappointments as well. With a 30 plus year history of artistry to showcase, there are bound to be creators not represented or only briefly featured. This critc regrets that Carmine Infantino's contribution to the original Marvel comic series (a creative run of over 25 issues) was spotlighted with only one page.
Another very gifted Star Wars artist, Jan Duursema, has been a cherished creator to the "Prequel Era" of Dark Horse Star Wars comics. Ms. Duursema, along with her longtime collaborator, John Ostrander, also took the Star Wars Saga into a future beyond the time of Luke Skywalker with the epic "Legacy" comic series. But unfortunately this book only gives the reader one illustration from this great Star Wars artist.
In this reviewer's opinion, "Star Wars Art: Comics" also falters in the decision to exclude the Star Wars Comic Strip from its pages. Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, this early version of the "Expanded Universe" ran in newspapers across the country from 1979 through 1984 and featured the work of Archie Goodwin, Alfredo Alcala,and Al Williamson. But most importantly, this unique series of Star Wars comic art also showcased the last work of another comic art master, Russ Manning. Mr. Manning wrote and drew the strip with his clean and elegant style in its debut year but was forced to leave the project due to declinning health. The creator of the classic "Magnus Robot Fighter" comic for Gold Key Comics in 1963, Mr. Manning also contributed highly regarded artistry to Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan of the Apes" in comic strip and comic book form for many years. He died in 1981.
Mr. Manning was my very first favorite comic book artist and creator when I was a child. When I learned that he would be devoting his talent to a comic strip version of my all-time favorite movie, "Star Wars," I couldn't have been happier! But as the years have grown into decades, this great comic artist's work in the Star Wars Saga has nearly been forgotten. While some of Mr. Manning's comic strip work has been reprinted by Dark Horse Comics in 1994-1995 in a 9 issue series called "Star Wars: The Early Adventures," the strips were edited and reformatted to fit the dimensions of a comic book. Mr. Manning's full and complete Star Wars art has never been given a proper exhibition. It would have been an extra special joy for this reviewer to see some of Mr. Manning's work displayed within the pages of this book, along with other of his fellow artists. But it was not to be.
In closing, "Star Wars Art: Comics" opens the pages of Star Wars history to its long interpretation in the comic book world. Because it is a vast and varied history still being revealed, this book's all too few pages offer only glimpses of that history, that myth from "a long time ago." Still, the glimpses are grand! It comes recommended to any who take joy in the art of Star Wars.