Polish the Beskar, refuel the jetpack and prepare the Razor Crest for launch. It’s time to take a deep dive into The Art Of The Mandalorian!
It was SO difficult to review The Art Of The Mandalorian! It was SO difficult to open the cover and read through the pages! And if you believe that, I’ll tell you another LIE!
To be completely honest, the only difficulty I encountered was actually getting my hands on a copy. It seemed that everywhere I turned, the book was sold out for months. I could have turned to a particular bidding site (no names mentioned) where I could grab a copy at an incredibly inflated price. But finally, I managed to get my hands on a copy. Was it worth the wait? What do you think? This book is one of the best I have ever laid my hands on. Truly.
The front cover itself is enough to make any fan smile. The Razor Crest is here, in all her glory. Standing directly in front of it is our hero himself. Clutching The Child in his armored arms. It is an awe-inspiring piece of artwork from Doug Chiang, who also provides the foreword here. The title here is in bold, giving us an invitation to approach and open the cover. It is repeated along the spine as we look at the back cover. A TIE Fighter looms large. Front and center here are Moff Gideon himself. Flanked by two Death Troopers. Again, this is a wonderful piece of artwork.
We enter the pages and come across more visually arresting artwork. We see Din Djarin from behind, walking across a rainy plain. Heading towards a village and another bounty. We come across an interpretation of his first appearance. Entering a cantina to collect his bounty from the clutches of several angry patrons. We come across artwork depicting the attack on the Razor Crest from a walrus-like creature. And of Din Djarin fighting it off as he tries to flee to deliver his prize. It is breathtaking. And the time and effort that has gone into creating the artwork are astounding.
BEST FOOT FOREWORD
We come now to Doug Chiang’s foreword. We discover Chiang’s quest to enter the world of ‘Star Wars‘ upon his first viewing of the film. He was fifteen in 1977 and was blown away by what he saw. Fast forward to 1995 and his hiring by George Lucas to head up the art department for the prequel films. His learning curve from the master on what makes a design LOOK like ‘Star Wars.’ And how in 2018, he was approached to design the worlds for ‘The Mandalorian‘. He speaks of how he was tasked with keeping the design true to the 1977 classic film. How Lucas himself saw ‘A New Hope‘ as a western, not a science fiction film. And how the show would fit into the same kind of vein as the original film.
After a rundown of who’s who and a section discussing the pitch for the show, we discover how the series came about. Jon Favreau had been trying to get invited into the esteemed archives of Skywalker Ranch for years. Finally, he managed it thanks to his friend, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige. Thanks to his directorial success of ‘The Jungle Book.‘, Favreau was invited by Kathleen Kennedy in 2017 to look at a new direction for the franchise. Dusting off old ideas he had years before, Favreau pitched ‘The Mandalorian‘. While keeping the series in the realms of ‘Star Wars‘, he pitched a space western. The following day, Doug Chiang led his team in creating pieces of concept art to go alongside the pitch. Many of those concept artworks accompany the pages. And they are a joy to look at.
One of the pieces consists of a Mandalorian holding The Child aloft while eight more Mandalorians look on. It is a wonderful piece of art, one that screams out at the reader. We are then granted an in-depth look at Din Djarin himself. Across the pages, we discover various pieces of art for the main character. We discover the various designs for the costume seen in the show. Every aspect of the costume design is documented here. We are also handed the version of a component, breaking down various aspects of the costume. It is strange to discover that some of the costumes design was stolen from the outfits in ‘Rogue One‘. Several pieces from the Scarif Trooper and the Death Trooper costumes were re-used. We also discover the designs for the Mando blaster.
The Razor Crest is examined also. The various versions and designs the ship went through are all here. No part of the ship is left unexamined. One design resembles a cross between a Trade Federation Tank and a B-Wing cockpit. One is reminiscent of the drop ship from ‘Aliens‘. But the final design is quite fitting. A small cross-section design is included in our look at the ship. Also, we find the ship has an escape pod encased within her structure. No look inside the ship itself is complete without showing us the Carbon Freezing unit. With a final look at the ship, we move forward into the book.
What makes the book all the more enjoyable is the fact it looks at every episode individually. We discover the designs for the creatures we meet in the cantina from the show’s first episode. All are shown and represented here. The concept art for the Ice Speeder is an absolute treat for the eyes. We see the various designs of the Speeder Driver. And we are rewarded with a good look at the Walrus attack. The concept art for the entire opening sequence is given to us in glorious detail, allowing us to marvel at the thought put into it. We are allowed to see concept art for The Client and Greef Karga along with design notes. The Stormtroopers get a look in too as do the various Mandalorians we see in the show, their designs awaiting our discovery.
KUIIL & THE BLURRG
Even Kuiil (who went by the name Ugnaught originally) and the Blurrg get their chance in the spotlight. The concept art and designs are laid bare to be scrutinized before we move on to the second episode of the season. Here, we discover the designs for the Nikto bandits alongside the design of IG-11. But then we come to several pages devoted to The Child himself. And amazingly, he is even referred to as ‘Baby Yoda‘ in the text!
We all have to admit that we called him that and not The Child until we discovered his true name in season two. The various designs the character went through until they settled on one are documented here. As is his cockpit ‘Moses basket’ he is seen in for most of the time. Our time with him in this section is ended with a double-page art drawing of him clutching a frog in his hand.
This is but a taster of what The Art Of The Mandalorian has in store for the reader. But suffice to say, it is amazing. Every aspect of what we see on our TV screens is examined here. Pulled from the shadows and exposed in the light. It is wonderous. Phil Szostak, Lucasfilm’s creative arts manager and author of this fantastic book has once again pulled it out of the bag. He has delivered something that no ‘Star Wars‘ fan can even dream of missing out on. Some books are ‘must haves’ and this falls firmly into that category. It is a must-own. Rich and rewarding writing to go along with the stunning concept art. It is everything and more. And this book covers the first season only!
IF Abrams releases a book dedicated to The Art Of The Mandalorian season two, it will possibly be bigger in scale and length. What is packed into a tight package of 256 pages is incredible. A word to the wise. Don’t just get to the final words and close the book, thinking that is all there is. Some more concept art follows on and will blow the reader’s mind.
Some of what we discover in the book truly gives meaning to the word ‘Art’. I’ll give someone an idea here. With the concept art in this book, you could open a ‘Star Wars‘ art gallery and make a fortune! Fans will flock from miles around just to tour and stare at the masterpieces contained in the said gallery. They would marvel at the delights contained within. And I would most certainly be one of them.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!