A Star Wars must have for all purposes.
I am willing to bet that growing up, we all sat at the kitchen table, spread out our papers, comics, and action figures and drew Star Wars pictures and stories of some sort. I spent many many hours trying to perfect the curve of the Stormtroopers helmets jawline, and figuring out ways to get everything looking 110% accurate. Well, as much as an eight year old can. If I could go back and give my younger self a copy of the Star Wars Visual Dictionary, by now I could have been working with Doug Chiang on pre production for Episode IX instead of working in a regular job.
I was initially drawn to these Dorling Kindersley, or D.K. guide books during the prequels promotional period and fell in love with the high quality of the production and layout. The gorgeous close up photos have a behind the scenes feel, while the descriptions stay in character as a canon friendly guide book to all the people, droids, vehicles and gadgets of the Star Wars universe. The white backgrounds make the images pop right out of the page and make it easy to see details of even the blackest Sith robes. The images themselves are mostly unique to the books which in itself is a reason to snap them up, but beyond that they are often continuity reference shots from the production of the movies. Continuity shots means they are taken with the express intent to show off the costumes and weapons to be checked when shooting a scene in which that costume has already appeared. This is how I was first introduced to the shoddy homemade nature of Kylo’s Saber, and the red wire stapled to the outside of the handle. A tiny detail you don’t see clearly from just watching the movie.
I am now committed to buying four of the books released to accompany each new Star Wars movie, and they all fulfil a different role in my collection. The Star Wars Visual Dictionary supplies detail on the background characters and shows what they have inside their belt pouches, and what all those little gadgets do. The ‘tag-team partner’ of the Visual dictionaries, is the Incredible Cross Sections books, also by Dorling Kindersley. For me these are where my geek obsession really kicks into high gear, all the imaginary details of where the toilets are in the Falcon and just how many Stormtroopers can fit inside an AT-AT. The last two are the ‘Art of’ book with all the beautiful production work and concept art, and of course the hardcover of the movie adaptation for all the little scenes they cut out after the book was written and sent off to the printers. All of these books should be considered part of the complete movie experience, along with the Blu-Ray, a start to finish from design through shooting to Directors cut.
In my recent research into Diorama and prop making, Cosplaying and other offshoots of the Fandom I have seen people using the Star Wars Visual Dictionary as a reference guide to enhance the accuracy of their work. Everyone from artists and model makers, fan movie producers and 3D printed blaster and helmet makers are using these books. They are not just for obsessive armchair fans like me they are truly useful to productive obsessive fans too.
Of course there’s a new Star Wars Visual Dictionary for The Last Jedi, I’ll be getting mine on payday. If you want to have something interesting and engrossing to read in-between screenings this Christmas, why not preorder your copy here.