The Art Of Star Wars: The High Republic Review: A Gorgeous Look At A Different Star Wars Era

If there has been one consistent in the "Star Wars" universe, it is the quality of their Art and Making Of books. From the very beginnings of "Star Wars" and the art of Ralph McQuarrie to books from folks like J.W. Rinzler, Phil Szostak, and American Ratcliffe, Kristin Baver joins the fray with "The Art of the High Republic."

For anyone not familiar with "The High Republic," it began as a prequel to the "Star Wars" prequels in the Lucasfilm publishing program. Set hundreds of years before the events of "The Phantom Menace," the era gave us a new window into the world of "Star Wars." Even more folks will be following into the fray with the announcement that Leslye Headland's "Star Wars: The Acolyte" will be set during this period as well.

Ian McCaig

Baver is a deft hand at weaving the narrative of the behind-the-scenes of the book initiative together in an interesting and utilitarian way. The story of how the artists came together and designed "The High Republic" the way they did is clearly laid out. One of my favorite stories in the book comes from Michael Siglain, the man in charge of Lucasfilm's publishing initiatives. As they thought of their pie-in-the-sky requests for who might be able to lead the charge on the art of "The High Republic," the name that kept coming up was Ian McCaig.

McCaig was the genius behind the design of Darth Maul and many of the most iconic pieces of Padmé's wardrobe. His taste and design sense are particularly suited to "Star Wars" and having him age back the prequels made a lot of sense. Siglain felt that McCaig would never have time, they'd never be able to afford him, and he'd obviously say no. But when they asked, he agreed.

Turns out, McCaig is a much bigger fan of books than movies and was delighted to bring his skills to the world of "Star Wars" publishing as a change of pace for a medium he loves more than the rest he'd worked on.

Tracing influences

The thing that one learns about "Star Wars" is that no design goes wasted. This book proves that even further. Ralph McQuarrie was the first concept painter to work on "Star Wars" and his work seeped into the DNA of the world and "The High Republic" is no exception. This book shows comparisons to some of the inspirations he offered to this era of "Star Wars," and also how older designs for other movies or "Star Wars" projects find their way into new installments of the saga.

Watching this symbiosis between the movies and the ancillary storytelling going on in the galaxy is nothing short of fascinating. The book offers a perfect window into that.

The comics

Comics are art, and since there are associated comics with "The High Republic" era, the artists produce a lot of material. "The High Republic" quite capably goes through these projects as well, showing how they're iterated and how things get removed for various reasons. Sometimes those reasons are good, like when the artists, along with writer Cavan Scott, try to sneak in Jedi which also happens to be Jawas. Having a strong editorial process present helps keep that sort of nonsensical stuff from happening. Seeing the evolution of comic art in a tome that shares equal footing with art from masters like Ian McCaig elevates comics and is refreshing for a book like this. In fact, it made me think about how cool it would be to see an "Art of Star Wars Comics" book, one for each of the eras of "Star Wars" comics.

Baver's interviews really helped tell the story of that evolution as well, and her captions and interludes shape a very compelling story about the philosophy of art for the entire "High Republic" era.

Put it on shelf

For those wanting a window into the creative process of Lucasfilm's publishing efforts, this book is a must-read. For those who want a book to sit on their coffee table with beautiful "Star Wars" art in it, this book is a must-have. For fans of "The High Republic" that want to collect all of the art for the first phase of the program and have a handy reference that will help them keep track of the characters, this tome is a must-own. "The Art of Star Wars" books are always attractive and gorgeously printed, and this one is no exception. Baver's deft handling of the narrative makes it a pleasing reading experience. And the art is gorgeous, giving us a look at a time in the galaxy without any filmed storytelling (yet.))

"The Art of Star Wars: The High Republic" is available now, wherever books are sold.