Executive Editor J.W. Rinzler Talks Star Wars Art: Comics

StarWars.com Team | October 4, 2011

Star Wars Art: Comics, the second in a series from Abrams exploring artwork inspired by the Star Wars saga, reveals the best original artwork from the past three decades of Star Wars comic-book publishing. Lucasfilm Executive Editor J.W. Rinzler, who has worked closely with George Lucas in developing the Star Wars Art book series, offered some insights into Lucas’ affinity for comic book artwork:

First, what inspired Star Wars Art: Comics?

Well, the Star Wars Art series is George’s idea. The first one was Star Wars Art: Visions, and this is the second. In this one, George wanted to highlight the best of Star Wars comic art, including a few new commissioned pieces from top comic book artists, old and new. His main objective was to present this comic book art as fine art.

Lucas maintains a vast collection of movie posters, which one might expect of someone so closely associated with the filmmaking industry. Why has he also decided to collect Star Wars comic artwork?

Well, George, in his youth, read comic books, was interested in comic books, and even launched a comic book to publicize Star Wars, so I think he’s always been interested in comic book art. This is just my opinion, but I think he believes that comic book art and illustrators like Norman Rockwell deserve to be up there with fine artists. He’s very interested in narrative art. He likes it when one image tells a whole story. That’s why we didn’t want to have a lot of dialogue balloons — there are a few because that’s just the way they originally did it — but we wanted it as much as possible to be a silent movie. (Because dialog balloons are now dropped into an image digitally, Star Wars Art: Comics has left those balloons out whenever possible to allow the imagery to speak for itself).

What were you looking for in the artwork you chose for the Star Wars Art: Comics?

George went through his own collection and picked things. He wanted to see stuff that was visually telling a story. Now his collection is mostly from Dark Horse [Comics], so we reached out to collectors for much of the earlier material. Luckily, we were also able to contact Cori Williamson (artist Al Williamson’s wife) and she was able to give us a lot of stuff (the book is actually dedicated to the late Al Williamson).

The book appears to be arranged somewhat chronologically, but not rigidly so. What directed the flow of images?

Abrams pitched us the idea of doing it in story order starting with Episode IV. It is loose, though.

So it’s ordered by episode, not necessarily when the artwork was created?

Right, and then loosely by subject matter within the episodes.

Continuing in the tradition you established for Star Wars Art: Visions, we see several new commissions created by comic artists for this volume. What types of artists were you specifically looking to do these?

George picked out the pieces he liked from his collection, and I submitted several names of comic artists to him that I thought might work well in the book, to which he’d say yes or no. I probably submitted 35 people and got roughly 20 approved. Our mission statement to them was to tell a story visually — not to use any words. For instance, I mentioned to Sam Kieth that George really likes this robot artwork [by Ian Gibson] in which the robot goes “TUP TUP TUP TUP…” So Sam, who’d already created a rancor piece, did a second piece in which the robot goes “PUT PUT PUT PUT…” and we put them face to face.

As the Comics book is the second in a series, what can we expect from the series in the future?

We can’t say what they are just yet, but there will be a third, a fourth, and a fifth, definitely.


Star Wars Art: Comics is available now from Abrams, including a limited edition which includes five signed prints and dozens of additional artworks showcased within the volume itself.

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