If I could go back to 1977 and show seven-year-old Tony, a Star Wars superfan, a copy of The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, his head would explode like a Death Star.
Throughout my career I have shared with many the impact of the original films on my growing imagination as a young artist and writer. My childhood adoration for these films has evolved into a love of mythic stories. In fact, when I was developing The Spiderwick Chronicles, I often used Star Wars as shorthand to explain plot points and character archetypes. For instance, Hogsqueal (the opportunistic hobgoblin) was often referred to as our Lando Calrissian. Also, Spiderwick explored the theme of anger and how it can affect, or even control, one’s actions — not unlike the dark side of the Force. As an illustrator, the authentic world building seen in George Lucas’ universe is a mandatory component I seek to imbue in all my books.
To be asked by Lucasfilm to take Ralph McQuarrie’s visionary concept paintings and retell the story of Luke Skywalker for young readers was beyond an honor for me. I have admired Ralph’s artwork since I first copied his drawings out of my dog-eared copy of The Art of Star Wars. And, because he is no longer with us, I wanted to give Ralph’s legacy the respect it so richly deserves by introducing his artistic genius to a whole new generation of readers. I wanted his paintings to be reproduced as large as possible on each page spread in that unmistakable palette of his. For these larger images, I urged the folks at the Lucasfilm archive to produce high-resolution files scanned directly from the original artwork — something that is routinely done in the production and design of picture books, but had not been done with Ralph’s work (!).
What I hope is that in The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, fellow fans — both young and old — feel the same way as they did when we were first launched into “…a galaxy far, far away.”
I can’t go back to 1977, but I can tell you that this 40-something is over the Endor moon. Not only do I get to share my favorite childhood story with my seven-year-old daughter, but I can add a special slip-cased Limited Edition to my Star Wars library. The limited edition contains three additional favorite McQuarrie pieces, which were selected from the 200+ images that are contained in the Lucasfilm archive. I chose images that I felt displayed the scope of Ralph’s abilities: from slick spaceships in a Death Star dogfight and the lush environs of Dagobah to a ruthless gang of alien bounty hunters strolling into Bespin at sunset.
So, sit down with your young Padawan (or inner Jedi) and enjoy this celebration in words and pictures of the original Star Wars trilogy. And, May the Force be with you.
Join Tony DiTerlizzi and other Star Wars authors at a special Star Wars Reads Day event this weekend!
Saturday, October 11, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011