‘Star Wars: Visions’ examines George Lucas’ creation

Los Angeles Times

What is “Star Wars: Visions” (Abrams: 176 pp., $40) all about? If you want, you can skip the prefaces by George Lucas, Sean McLain and J.W. Rinzler and go directly to Page 87. There you’ll find an answer suggested by Peter Ferk’s painting “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of.” It’s one of the book’s most emblematic images of fandom.

A storyboard artist and animation director, Ferk captures what most of our “Star Wars"-obsessed bedrooms looked like when we were kids — and what our own kids’ rooms often still look like now. The twin-sized bed at the center of the painting is covered with toy spaceships and action figures. There’s no room for sleeping on that bed. Long after the credits rolled and we were home, we all took out our toys because we wanted to keep the story going.

It’s just a small light-speed jump from that idea to the creation of this book, which collects illustrations from a wide range of contributors. Lucas invited “a select group of great contemporary artists … to create interpretations” of the “Star Wars” saga, he explains. More than 25 artists are included here, and each carries on the story — much like novelizations, video games and Dark Horse comics series have been doing — in his or her own signature style. The book includes scenes from the trenches of the Clone Wars, quiet moments in the life of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the wookiees of Kashyyyk, aliens and droids aplenty (a few of these artists have a definite thing for blue alien slave girls), in styles reminiscent of Picasso, Turner, Titian and Andy Warhol.


Many illustrations reach an emotional level that Episodes 1-3 mostly don’t have — especially concerning the tangled, tormented love of Padmé and Anakin. Their doomed love, for instance, is moodily rendered by Kirk Reinert in “Vader’s Dream” as something straight out of the Pre-Raphaelite school. Masey’s “Regrets” focuses on Vader’s mask, wet with raindrops — are they a substitute for his tears? Or else there’s a creepy image by Dan Thompson of Anakin’s pregnant mother and the hovering ghost of the emperor in a scene that puts a hellish spin on the Annunciation story of the Gospels.

Lucas created a story that, like a perpetual motion machine, shows no sign of ever slowing down or failing to attract new fans, and “Star Wars: Visions” is a stunning visual reminder of how strong that momentum is. This book acknowledges what fans have felt all along: They don’t want to be mere spectators but involved in the storytelling too.