The comic book artist discusses his stunning Luke Skywalker prints, releasing in new variant forms on May 25.
There's a great tradition in Star Wars of artist interpretation. It goes as far back as the original movie posters for A New Hope, runs through Topps' Galaxy trading card series, and continues in new forms like Internet fan art. Mark Englert, a comic book, animation, toy, and product development artist, made his stamp on Star Wars with two dynamic works. Titled "I'm Here to Rescue You: Tatooine" and "I'm Here to Rescue You: Endor," they depict two seminal moments in the journey of Luke Skywalker: his yearning view of Tatooine's setting suns in A New Hope, and his solemn burning of Darth Vader's armor in Return of the Jedi. On May 25, new variants of the stunning pieces will be made available in a special 77-hour timed release.
"As a huge Star Wars fan, I've noticed a trend of collage-style Star Wars posters that mirror the Drew Struzan movie posters," Englert tells StarWars.com over e-mail, "which makes sense because there are so many characters and moments to love in the Star Wars films. So, I really wanted to narrow my focus to a single character and the character that made the most sense to start with was Luke." Seen together, the prints act as bookends in the story of Luke (thus far). "Due to my starting my art career in comic books, I'm most drawn to telling a story within my poster work," the artist continues. "When I thought about making a piece based on Luke, the images just clicked into place."
Working with a silk-screen format, Englert narrows down the color palette to heighten the emotion of these scenes, while at the same time drawing clear parallels between them. "The limited color palette is the end result of the medium," he says. "With silk screening, for every color you add, it costs more money to produce. Thus, it makes the most financial sense to get the most out of as few colors as possible." But those limitations also push him as an artist.
"I enjoy the puzzle aspect of trying to get a lot of depth and detail out of an image using four to six colors," he says. "It's a lot different from coloring a comic book where you have a nearly unlimited amount of colors you can get from mixing cyan, magenta, yellow, and black."
The new variants feature an altered and more complex color scheme without forgoing the emotional impact of the originals -- the haunting purples and reds of the Tatooine sky touch the lifeless desert ground, and the celebratory yellow fireworks above Endor juxtapose the tragic funeral pyre flames reaching up to meet them. "Variants tend to come up while I'm working on the piece," he says. "If I have a different idea of how to present a piece, but one is a little better than the other, I'll make that the regular edition and the other idea becomes the variant." Sometimes, the variant gives Englert a chance to move his art into an entirely new place. "When I made the Endor variant," he says, "I got to take an image that was just one color and push it to the next level by adding multiple colors. I'm really happy how that turned out."
Both pieces, in their regular and variant forms, convey the mix of sadness and hopefulness present in the original scenes. Englert won't take all the credit, though. "A lot of the heavy lifting is done by the films," he says. "My job is to try and evoke the movies as much as possible. A few people have told me that when looking at the piece they can't help but hear the Force theme in their head. My aim is to squarely hit the spot in a fan's memory." Is there a key to capturing the feel of these classic movie moments? Not quite, the artist admits -- but there is one factor that definitely helps.
"I haven't really nailed down a science to it," he says. "Being a huge fan myself is an essential tool."
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm's senior content writer, and spends his days writing stuff for and around StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.