June 2, 2014 in Books

The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

The classic tale of good versus evil set in a galaxy far, far away, quickly became a cultural phenomenon during its time, inspiring a generation of story lovers and storytellers. Now, the original trilogy of Star Wars shines anew with the vibrant concept art of Ralph McQuarrie, the legendary conceptual designer behind the original trilogy.

Collected in a picture book for the first time, McQuarrie’s art is paired with captivating text by New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi-a winning combination that will delight Star Wars fans old and new and delight generations of readers to come.

REVIEWS

School Library Journal

Gr 1–3—Back when Luke Skywalker’s adventures were just words on a page, George Lucas worked with concept artist Ralph McQuarrie to create the signature look of the vast Star Wars universe. Now DiTerlizzi introduces the original Star Wars trilogy to a new generation with a picture book illustrated with stunning sketches and gouache paintings. True to its title, this retelling focuses on Luke’s tale, relegating the other characters to supporting roles. It recounts the story of Luke’s journey from farm boy to Jedi Knight. DiTerlizzi delved deep into the Lucasfilm archives to select artwork that perfectly captures the most memorable locales, from the wretched hive of Mos Eisley spaceport to the stark interiors of the Death Star. The layout allows McQuarrie’s art to shine, alternating between small panels and large full page illustrations. DiTerlizzi’s lively text condenses the saga into a brisk 64 pages without losing the iconic moments that have delighted generations of fans. Blasters, explosions, and light sabers abound, yet the violence is restrained compared to the movies. It is the ideal initiation for young Padawans taking their first steps into a larger world.—Tony Hirt, Hennepin County Library, MN

Star Wars.com

‘The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight: Celebrating a Master’
Essay by Tony DiTerlizzi

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.

Wall Street Journal

Bookshelf
‘Children’s Books: Heroes New and Old’
By Meghan Cox Gurdon
Oct. 3, 2014 5:26 p.m. ET

Children who pounce on anything associated with the “Star Wars” movie franchise have a treat in store. Author Tony DiTerlizzi has woven into a single volume the story lines of the first three movies in George Lucas ’s Manichaean space fantasy—not in itself a novel act, perhaps, given the abundance of “Star Wars” books and paraphernalia that have appeared since the first film debuted in 1977. What makes “Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight” (Disney, 64 pages, $19.99) exceptional is the dramatic yet faintly unfamiliar artwork in its pages.

To illustrate the well-known story, Mr. DiTerlizzi has plucked drawings and gouache paintings from the oeuvre of Ralph McQuarrie (1929-2012), the concept artist who worked closely with Mr. Lucas to create the futuristic look of “a galaxy far, far away” before anyone outside the movie industry had heard of the project. We see again—alongside text punctuated with sound effects (“Kaboom!”)—the hideous monsters, wrinkled sages and intricate spacecraft of Mr. Lucas’s deep-space epic.

Interestingly, McQuarrie was drafting illustrations before the cast was finalized and before costume and makeup people joined the creative process; thus his initial depictions of certain characters differ from the ones we know. In the first drawings, for instance, Luke looks rather stocky, and Princess Leia wears her hair long, straight and blond rather than, as in the films, in auburn spirals. Spotting such visual differences and re-experiencing the story will satisfy fans of the series age 6-9 and may also draw enthusiasts of much older vintage.

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