A long time ago in an infographic far, far away…
STAR WARS SUPER GRAPHIC
<gasps and squees from the audience>
Filled with gorgeous infographics involving every movie and show made in the Star Wars universe to date (yes, including Rogue One, and even Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as well as novels and comic books), Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away is a Star Wars lover’s delight. These aren’t just pretty pictures with Star Wars themes and colors. They impart real, often quite involved information from the universe in graphical form. And the way it is presented is just genius. The author, Tim Leong, quite obviously a huge Star Wars fan himself as well as a master graphic designer, noticed patterns and connections throughout the universe. So he studied it all in great detail, made all kinds of notes, and then turned that data into Star Wars-themed graphics that are included in this book.
Yoda’s mix of patience and what Leong calls “poor grammar” on the book’s cover makes a prime example of what lies within. The book will also give you the answer to this pressing question: Who mentions “the Force” more often? Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, or Qui-Gon Jinn? You can count up all the occurrences yourself, or just study the graphics in this book. Leong’s already done the work for you. Long-time Star Wars fans will notice plenty of humor as well as data and quality graphics in this book’s 176 pages.
Note: The book is full of spoilers, though, so if you don’t want anything spoiled, hurry up and finish consuming everything that is Star Wars and then come back to this book.
The minutae that Leong goes into for this book is just stunning. It’s perfect for pedants and those with great attention to detail. It brought a whole new appreciation for Star Wars, even for me, who has been a fan since the beginning. First when I saw the original movie in the theater, continuing on to countless “Star Wars retrospectives” that my mom would put on with our VHS copies of the movies when I was a kid (thanks, Mom!), and to now, when I get to share Episode VII and Rogue One with my own kids.
Though the graphics in this book are gorgeous, colorful, and relevant to the subject matter, Star Wars Super Graphic isn’t just a fun book to page through. It’s an honest to goodness reference book that you’ll turn to again and again. You’ll have bets and discussions with friends, and then head to the Google to settle arguments and dig even deeper.
Many of the graphical spreads have titles or subtitles that will appeal to punsters and those who like plays on words, with headings such as: Canon Fodder, Fly Bye, and Mind Tricks of the Trade. Plus, many of the infographics are shaped in a way that references what it’s explaining. The whole book is very meta, and has many layers of information that you’ll slowly peel back, the more you study them. It has also produced many giggles and knowing nods out of me. I just couldn’t stop laughing in a few spots.
If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you ought to give this book a look.
In addition to getting a preview of the book, I had the chance to interview author Tim Leong for GeekDad.
GeekDad: How did you choose what facts to include in the book?
Tim Leong: After brainstorming every Star Wars chart I could, I started researching the data that would be involved. Sometimes the data was there, sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes I found the data, but it proved my original idea incorrect. So once I had good research I did some quick plots to see how it looked. The trick is that the pages in Star Wars Super Graphic have to have good information in them and also look good. So if it was accurate but not an interesting visual, it had to go. Basically think of it as Venn diagram, with a circle for INTERESTING DATA and another for INTERESTING VISUAL. The intersection was what made it through.
GD: How many times did you have to watch all of the movies (or TV shows) to mark down all of the details? Or was it just a slog with a lot of pausing? (Or did you have help?)
TL: I watched each movie at least twice, sometimes more. Sometimes just specific scenes over again. The one thing I hadn’t seen was Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which is 125 episodes or so. That took a bit longer to get through—which, is no complaint whatsoever. Best research assignment ever. I also re-watched Star Wars: Rebels, and read a ton of the canon novels and comics. I did have some additional research help on three or four of the more intensive charts.
GD: For the graphics that had subjective measurements, such as how snarky a droid is, how did you determine the relative amounts?
TL: I gave each one consideration and eventually went with my gut. Though in this particular case LucasFilm thought Chopper was a little more snarky than I had him. No detail was too small for them, which was one of the best parts about collaborating with them.
GD: In your opinion, why or how are infographics good for learning?
TL: I tried to explain some of these concepts to my wife, and as soon as I start talking about hyperspace lanes or Imperial-I class star destroyers, I can see her eyes start to glaze over a bit. But when I put that information in chart-form, it was, “Ah, I get it.” Infographics can help explain things in ways words can’t.
GD: What are your inspirations for creating these infographics that are informative but also amusing and clever?
TL: Star Wars is such an incredibly visual and iconic brand. So many costumes are instantly recognizable even when they’re boiled down to the most basic forms. That was a super helpful tool to use as a design basis.
GD: Will you update the book after Episode VIII or IX?
TL: I hope so!
GD: What is your personal favorite Star Wars incarnation? Favorite Star Wars character?
TL: I actually loved The Clone Wars TV show. It was the one thing I hadn’t watched and I absolutely loved it. Really helped bridge the gap between Episodes II and III and really made the universe so much bigger. That said, if there’s ANY Star Wars movie on cable I will have to stop and watch.
Tim Leong is the Creative Director at Entertainment Weekly and also author of the award-winning Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe. Leong will be signing books at the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, July 22nd, from 11am to noon at the Chronicle Books booth (#1506). Though the book doesn’t officially go on sale until July 25th, early birds can get a copy starting July 19th (preview night at SDCC). Chronicle Books is also doing a special pre-order for the book. If you pre-order from their site and fill out the online form, they’ll send you a cool poster. They’ll also be giving out the posters at Comic-Con if you purchase the book there, too.
It doesn’t matter if you only just joined the legion of Star Wars fans, or if you’ve been here with us for 40 years. You’ll find Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away fascinating, entertaining, educational, and, at times, eye-opening. It will help you look at your favorite Star Wars characters and events in whole new ways. I recommend it to anyone who loves both Star Wars and infographics, which is, I’m guessing, most of you.
Note: I received a copy of the book for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.