Getting random review copies is a nice side perk of being press. Usually they’re not literally random; publishers reach out to gauge interest before sending out books. There’s almost always a press release included, too. This time, I found a box with two tiny Star Wars art books nestled in my mailbox with only a packing slip to explain what I was looking at. I might have put them to the side for later reading if they hadn’t been… well, Star Wars. Star Wars always makes my “read now!” list.
I’m glad I made the time. These little art books are way more fun than I expected.
Disclaimer: In case you missed it, I received free review copies of these Star Wars art books. The opinions are my own.
When I say “tiny Star Wars art books” I’m not joking. These books are way different from other Star Wars novelty books we’ve read here. They’re just a little bigger than my palm and about an inch thick. At first glance they seem like the sort of thing you add to a bigger gift when you aren’t quite sure it meets the Secret Santa limit. Once you look inside, though, they both have a lot of substance to them.
The first book is Star Wars: The Concept Art of Ralph McQuarrie. Ralph McQuarrie, who died in 2012, was the first artist George Lucas hired to work on Star Wars. His aesthetic guided a lot of the art choices we see for the original trilogy (for example, he’s the reason Darth Vader wears a mask!). Little bits of his unused work found their way into the newest movies as well as The Clone Wars and Rebels. McQuarrie has another Star Wars art book which is a massive 800 page beast that, at $250, is something most fans have to save up for, so seeing the $11.99 on this little gem made me smile.
I wasn’t sure how easily his designs would translate to such small pages. While you definitely want to look at it in the light (some drawings are dark), there is plenty of room for the details to come through. Such details, too! I had a good time revisiting the original trilogy as I flipped through. Some scenes are a shot for shot match to his art.
The pages have a nice gloss and feel satisfyingly thick. I wasn’t afraid I was going to tear them. Add in the spot gloss on the cover and it feels high end for such a little book.
I did find the introductory text on the first page a little small. They space it out so it’s moderately easy to read, but if I were designing this I would have upped the font size and let it stretch to two pages. (It’s not like they’d have to scramble to find things to say about McQuarrie. He worked on Battlestar Galactica and Raiders of the Lost Ark, too.)
Next up was Star Wars: The Complete Marvel Comics Covers Vol 1. As advertised it’s a collection of comics covers, but there are photos of collectible toy packages mixed in every now and then. What I enjoyed most was seeing the transition in art styles and themes over time.
This one is a little more niche than the McQuarrie book. It’s less a straight Star Wars art book and more a fun little treasure map for collectors and comics fans. I stared reading Star Wars comics in high school, so there are plenty of earlier runs that I didn’t know to look for. I’m using this as a shopping list on Comixology.
These pages are matte, not gloss, but they’re the same good quality paper as the first book. The cover also have spot gloss accents, so that’s nice. The introduction has some trivia that you will either be interested to learn or feel geekily smug about already knowing. Both routes are fun.
I have two main criticisms of these books, though only one is about the books themselves. I had to puzzle out where to put them on my bookshelves. Do I just… slip them in somewhere and ignore the comical size difference? Set them in front of a row of books? Leave them out on the coffee table? For right now I’ve tucked them between some Star Wars Funkos in my office, but eventually I want to display them out in my living area for people to flip through.
The second criticism is that they just showed up with no supporting press release. You’d think a Star Wars art book, even stocking stuffer-sized ones, would warrant an email or maybe a flier insert.
Fortunately, I like these enough to Google the details myself. You can find both Star Wars: The Concept Art of Ralph McQuarrie and Star Wars: The Complete Marvel Comics Covers Mini Book, Vol. 1 at the Simon and Schuster website. Barnes and Noble also carries them. Bonus: these just came out October 8th, so it should be a safe bet the Star Wars nerd in your life doesn’t have them already.
What do you think about tiny art books? Have you seen one of these?
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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