The world of Westerns — a lawless land on the edge of civilization where the fastest gunslinger wins the day — and the galaxy far, far away have always intrigued Doug Johnson, the creative director for Heroes & Villains. Now in the brand’s latest collection, that classic iconography meets The Mandalorian in a new line of T-shirts from Heroes & Villains designed as an homage to Spaghetti Western poster art.
As a kid, Johnson was hooked by the strange creatures, speeder bikes, and scout troopers zooming through Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and the rest of the original trilogy. “I have always been intrigued with the lawless bounty hunters of the universe and to have more insight into that world is amazing,” Johnson tells StarWars.com. Now as an adult, “watching The Mandalorian really struck my Western gunslinger nerve.”
Born and raised in Texas, when Johnson wasn’t watching Star Wars, he loved spending time in the world of classic Westerns. “I grew up watching all the classics… The Good The Bad The Ugly, Fist Full of Dollars, Once Upon a Time In The West and so on. Images of cowboys twirling six shooters and riding horses off across the dusty sunset inspired me just as much back then as they do today.” And some of the same tropes and themes imbue The Mandalorian. “From the opening episode when the Mando walks into the bar full of outlaws and throws down, the mood was set… only thing missing was the clanging of his spurs as he walked in.”
The new designs make Johnson’s dream something of a reality, creating faux poster art for the Disney+ series in the style of its Western forebears. “One of my favorite aspects of those classic Western films is the poster art,” he says. “The rough, high contrast, and gritty feel of the Spaghetti Western-style posters is one of my favorite graphic styles,” adding, “Each tee is inspired by a classic Western poster.”
Ahead of the collection’s drop this Wednesday on the official Heroes & Villains page, we asked Johnson to take us back to the drawing board as he designed each of the four new styles.
“If you are familiar with the Clint Eastwood classic The Good The Bad And The Ugly, then you may recognize this layout. There is a classic poster of Clint standing with his hips cocked to one side, hand on his pistol and the movie title layered over him. It’s a classic and evokes that gunslinger, not-to-be-messed-with vibe. I wanted that same feeling with this design and the phrase ‘This Is The Way’ felt appropriate.”
Warm or Cold, Your Choice
“Another Clint Eastwood-classic, A Fist Full of Dollars, inspired this one. I love the panel poster; it makes it feel like a sequence in the film… almost like storyboard cuts. I wanted to get that same feeling with this graphic. Adding the Mando tag line let’s you know the severity of the situation when you come in contact with this guy. Calm, cool, and to the point.”
The Kid’s Coming With Me
“This graphic is inspired by a more recent animated film poster, Orient City. The film is a Spaghetti Western-inspired animated film about a samurai warrior who is sworn to protect a young girl and is out for revenge… pretty similar story and western vibe. The art in this film is beautiful and the poster is fantastic. I wanted the same feeling of this rugged gun slinger with this vulnerable child set out against this lawless landscape of adversity.”
Both Hunter and Prey
“This one is my favorite… Just the ominous feeling of this poster art is amazing. This one was inspired by the classic Charles Bronson film, Once Upon A Time In The West. The lone gunman in this unforgiving landscape with a target on is back… I feel like the implied skull and the rugged setting really illustrates the severity of his situation. I just really like the way this one turned out because it’s so bold and tells the story in an interesting way.”
Shop the new Heroes & Villains collection featuring The Mandalorian starting March 11, 2020.
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.
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