When it came to designing lightsabers for the High Republic era, Lucasfilm knew that they had to be special — elegant weapons for a more civilized age, as Obi-Wan Kenobi might say. So they took inspiration from one of the most legendary swords in storytelling.
“We wanted to make the Jedi distinctive and instantly recognizable as Jedi Knights of the High Republic, and that applies not only to their clothing but to their lightsabers, as well,” says Michael Siglain, Lucasfilm Publishing’s creative director. “Internally, we often refer to the Jedi of this era as ‘the Jedi Knights of the Round Table.’ Taking that idea one step further, their sabers can be viewed as their own versions of Excalibur.”
Star Wars: The High Republic, a storytelling epic that kicks off in January 2021, will tell stories set centuries prior to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, during the very peak of the Jedi Order. But fans can get their first look at the lightsaber of Stellan Gios, a Jedi Master during the High Republic era, here on StarWars.com with this exclusive preview from Insight Editions’ The Lightsaber Collection, a compendium coming October 20 and available for pre-order now.
Following early explorations with artist Grant Griffin, Disney Publishing illustration manager Jeff R. Thomas further developed Stellan’s lightsaber hilt. “When designing Stellan’s lightsaber, I looked at the iconic lightsabers that have already been established,” Thomas says. “He needed an iconic weapon that could stand beside the other famous lightsabers, but at the same time be unique to him and evoke the time period of the High Republic.”
Thomas took special note of Kylo Ren’s cross-saber design as something befitting the era, but found it didn’t quite work for what he hoped to achieve.
“With the High Republic, we wanted to implement a more traditional crossguard, but I still wanted to include the saber-blade into the crossguard design, so that Stellan would be able to defend himself against saber attacks. That’s where Excalibur came into play,” Thomas says. “What would a lightsaber version of Excalibur look like? I started sketching and came up with a silhouette I really liked, but the practicality of holstering/sheathing it nagged at me until I had the idea that the crossguard didn’t have to be stationary. Perhaps it could activate or deactivate with the saber. So after some more sketches and some back and forth with Lucasfilm, it was decided that the crossguard would activate as opposed to always being open, which would give the saber the slimmer silhouette while holstered and would lend itself to some great visuals when activating.”
The end result is a bold, beautiful new take on the lightsaber. Gold plays prominently in the design of Stellan’s weapon, including decorative accents that echo the trim seen on Jedi robes of the time, while the crossguard elements reveal the high level of artistry during the High Republic era. It’s definitely a lightsaber, but one we haven’t seen before.
“As with everything connected to the High Republic, it was all very collaborative, and also a great deal of fun,” Siglain says. “Jeff delivered a truly amazing design, then the incredible folks at Insight Editions, including artist Lukasz Liszko, translated Jeff’s work into a beautiful photorealistic version for The Lightsaber Collection, and we couldn’t be happier.”
Obi-Wan would approve, we think.
The Lightsaber Collection arrives October 20 and is available for pre-order now.
Visit Lucasfilm’s official hub for all things Star Wars: The High Republic at StarWars.com/TheHighRepublic.
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. 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.
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