Friday, 20 July 2018

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th July 2018: "The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story" by Phil Szostak. Foreword by James Clyne and Neil Lamont (Abrams Books)

It's time for another one of those sumptuous and luxurious Star Wars art books to grace our Book of the Week slot. The 2nd this month in fact...!
"The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story" by Phil Szostak follows hot on the heels of previous book of the week "The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (also by Phil).

Unusually for me I picked this book up before I'd managed to scrabble to the cinema to see the movie. I'm a real sucker for all things Star Warsy but I've completely given up on trying to avoid story spoilers for the series (and most of the major spoilers for this movie had already leeched out - thanks IO9 and your badger-baiting article headlines that always ruin movies for anyone visiting your site!)

Back on track and this book doesn't disappoint. For the art teams concerned, and due to the timeline for the way the movies were rolled into production once Disney soaked up Lucasfilm, a lot of the designs and ideas you see in this book were spun into development even before "The Force Awakens" had been properly released out into the world.

The rest, as they say, is history and though this particular movie shrugged off two previous directors before taking on Ron Howard to finish the job, the vision for the team's core designs from costumes to creatures, from cool speeders to amazing planetary vistas was amazingly strong.

The Lair of the White Worms. Ew!

Imagine being on an art team that was tasked with developing ideas around one of the most iconic characters in the franchise, in their solo movie (hahahaha yes I won't be making that joke again, I do apologise).

Han Solo was the character everyone at my school wanted to be when we'd run around the playground firing at each other with blasters made of twigs, or swooshing huge lengths of hot wheels track around like lightsabers. We'd all have regular fights over who got to be Han so it was inevitable that one of the first characters in the franchise to get their own standalone movie would be him.

Some of the regulars assembled for other movies in Disney's reboot of the franchise have once again been on the art team for "Solo" and have really pushed the envelope for a flick that pays homage to a stack of cultural references, from hot rods to heist movies, westerns to prison break flicks.

Imagine winning a spaceship this cool in a card game. Lucky blighter!
The book follows the movie from the first tiny seeds of inspiration and influence right through to the finished designs, all the time adhering to design cues laid down by the might Ralph McQuarrie, whose influences and amazing art will always be like a bible of star-warsiness for the new movies and those yet to come.

It's a fascinating book, particularly when you see how teams wrestled with various ideas, looks for the key characters - and sweated blood over making sure everything looked just right.

"You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought!"
It's easy to see why people get so obsessive over Star Wars when the teams working on the movies are such perfectionists.

As per usual, these books aren't cheap but they're worth the investment - particularly for would-be artists like me who love looking at the process pieces and the designs here, marvelling at the sheer talent of all involved (absolutely fantastic to see a stack of work in here from blog faves Glyn Dillon and Ian McQue)

Scintillating stuff. Go grabbit!

"The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story" by Phil Szostak is out now, published by Abrams (self purchased - not provided for review).