Book Review: The Art of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ By Phil Szostak & LFL

Author: Phil Szostak, and Lucasfilm Ltd
Illustrator: Various artists
Foreword: James Clyne and Neil Lamont
Publisher: Abrams Books
Formats available: Hardback
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 300 colour illustrations
Release date: 25th May 2018

Synopsis;

The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story reveals, for the first time, the design evolution of each new fantastical set, otherworldly machine, and unforgettable character in the film. Packed with hundreds of spectacular images, including production paintings, concept art and sketches, storyboards, and matte paintings, The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story is the definitive guide to the art of the film—and a must-have keepsake for fans.

The review;

I remember going to a shop in the mid to late 80’s and finding the Ralph McQuarrie artwork for The Empire Strikes Back on sale in a discount shop. Although the Star Wars franchise was then firmly in a deep slumber, prior to being reawakened in the 90’s, I still had to have these wonderful pieces of art. With the release of ‘The Art of Solo’, I feel like I’ve been sent back to the days of my youth thumbing through those McQuarrie prints and marvelling at a galaxy far, far away.

The dust jacket shows Han and Chewie in front of the ‘Kessel Run’ Millennium Falcon looking rather windswept. But then here’s the good bit, take off the dust jacket and marvel at the immense artwork that lies beneath it. On the front the Falcon being chased by TIE Fighters and the back is either a sunset or a sunrise.

Looking through this book, you get the feel for how much time and effort goes into pre-production and the actual production of the movie. It’s not just about the actors playing their part and speaking their lines, it’s about every single detail in there. Page 17 features a ‘Who’s who’ in the whole process. The list is far too many name here, but it reinforces that scale of vastness beyond the film.

Should that switch be blue, silver or red? We may see the red one on screen, but that is a decision of minutest detail that has to be made somewhere and by someone.

The book is like taking the ring in a boxing match. The illustrations fly at you from all angles and bombard your senses to overload. 300 illustrations crammed into 256 pages is good value. Many are full or 2 page spreads.

The highlights for me are shown in the pictures I was allowed to choose to accompany this review. My absolute favourite is Mimban Establishing Version 2A by Jon McCoy. It shows an intense situation on the battlefield and akin to a World War I scene and felt it harnesses the raw energy of fear and starkness of war.

I must admit I do have one thing that I do feel has been missed. It all surrounds the planet of Mimban. For those of you that may not know, the planet was originally created by Alan Dean Foster for the novel ‘Splinter of the Mind’s Eye’ that was released in 1978. I understand that in theory only the name of the planet was used and not the actual concept, but it would have been nice to have seen Alan noted as the creator of the planet.

The words, the illustration and the quality of the book is there to be seen. Some people may say that the price point may be a little high, but once you open it up it is worth every single penny or cent.

I still have my McQuarrie artwork sets for the original trilogy and this book sits next to them and does not look out of place in such revered company. It is a wonderful book that is fit for any book shelf or coffee table this side of the maw.

To Phil Szostak, Lucasfilm Limited, Abrams Books and all those people involved with the creative process from behind the scenes, thank you for sharing your work with us all. I would also like to say a personal thank you to Sally Oliphant at Abrams Books for sending us the high resolution pictures for the review and her support for Jedi News.

Availability;

The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story by Phil Szostak is published by Abrams. It retails at £30.00 and is available from Amazon and all book stores online and on your high street.

BOOK CREDIT: The Art of Solo: A Star Wars ™ Story by Phil Szostak, and Lucasfilm Ltd. © Abrams Books, 2018
© 2018 Lucasfilm Ltd. And TM. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization

Steve Galloway
Steve was 5 years old when he saw Star Wars for the first time during its first UK cinema release. He considers himself a first generation Star Wars fan and in his own words is a ‘Child of 77’.