Much of Star Wars literature focuses on world-building within that galaxy far, far away. Pablo Hidalgo‘s reference book Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy is certainly no exception. Readers might know Hidalgo from StarWars.com’s Rebels Recon webisodes. In fact, Hidalgo got his start at Lucasfilm by writing reference guides, and he infuses Star Wars Propaganda with a rich level of detail.
What’s even more remarkable about Star Wars Propaganda is that it honors many real-world artists who contribute to the saga. The book focuses on an array of propaganda posters that have roots in different parts of the saga. Here are some riveting pieces of Star Wars propaganda, as well as the artists who crafted them.
Taxation Without Federation
More often than not, propaganda reinforces stereotypes against certain groups. A notable example is Taxation Without Federation from artist Ganamey Davloterra. The piece stems from The Phantom Menace, in which the Trade Federation protests the Republic’s taxation of trade routes by invading Naboo.
Davloterra paints the Trade Federation’s Neimoidian overseers as unscrupulous double-dealers. However, she utilizes the stereotype of the “fat Neimoidian plutocrat,” with her subject bearing a stark resemblance to General Lok Durd (voiced by George Takei) from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Davloterra also exploits other racist imagery, namely the Neimoidians’ resemblance to the Duros species.
Within the real world, Taxation Without Federation comes from comic book artist Joe Corroney. Corroney has made extensive contributions to Star Wars art, and he currently contributes artwork to Star Wars Insider magazine. Ultimately, Corroney’s piece is proof that any kind of debate can suffer from racism and prejudice.
Deliver Us From Jedi Evil
The Clone Wars were a turbulent time for the galaxy. And for better or for worse, warfare advances propaganda, and vice versa. This piece, Deliver Us From Jedi Evil (perhaps a play on the Christian mantra “deliver us from evil”) comes from Separatist propagandist Moshenu Phobi. Anti-Jedi sentiment was rife among the Separatists, with this particular piece by Phobi drawing upon the Jedi’s reputation as warmongers. The silhouette of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant can even be spotted in the background.
The piece’s real-world artist is Ben McLeod, a newcomer to Star Wars publishing but by no means a stranger to Star Wars — or other popular fandoms, for that matter. McLeod’s work is certainly on point. I mean, just look at that Jedi’s haunting eyes!
Evil Has Its Eyes On You
For much of the galaxy, Count Dooku and General Grievous became the public faces of the Separatists. For Evil Has Its Eyes On You, Republic artist Donclode Onstruss depicted Dooku and Grievous as grotesque caricatures. However, there’s an inside joke within the painting: Onstruss’s so-called “grotesque caricatures” are the exact designs for Grievous and Dooku from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
As a CGI animated TV series, The Clone Wars had a distinctive aesthetic that didn’t sit well with some fans. Dooku is probably the most extreme example of the show’s 3D animation. The show exaggerated Dooku’s features, making him angular and haughty. Consequently, the fact that Star Wars Propaganda describes Onstruss’s caricatures as such is basically an acknowledgement of the show’s disconnect with some fans.
If the Headgear Fits
When the Galactic Empire replaced the Republic, it relied upon recruitment drives to replace its clone troopers with non-clone soldiers. This piece comes from concept illustrator Coba Dunivee, who used the Empire’s sleek and modern armor designs to appeal to young recruits. Specifically, Dunivee used the Imperial Army’s different roles to show a wide range of opportunities for soldiers.
This piece has some real-world history before it made it into Star Wars Propaganda. Concept artist Amy Beth Christenson originally designed the poster for the 2014 launch of Star Wars Rebels. By and large, Christenson’s poster is proof that in Star Wars, many concepts find new life beyond their origins.
Sienar Fleet Systems
The Imperial Army wasn’t the only arm of the Empire that relied on recruitment posters. Sienar Fleet Systems, which supplied the Empire with TIE fighters, commissioned this mural on Lothal from Saespo Choffrey, a cousin of the Sienar family. Sienar and other companies exploited the Outer Rim as a source of labor, creating revolting work conditions to fulfill its quotas. A recent Star Wars Rebels episode, “An Inside Man,” is a prime example of the Empire’s disregard for its workers.
In actuality, the Sienar Fleet Systems mural is another piece from the early marketing campaign for Star Wars Rebels. Concept artist Pat Presley designed the piece before moving on from Lucasfilm. Lucasfilm used the mural as the background for a promotional website. Tellingly, the website has since been overrun with graffiti from someone whom the Empire — and Rebels fans — know as “The Artist”.
Fly For Freedom
Infamously known as “The Artist” to oblivious Imperial commanders, Sabine Wren formed a distinctive style that she left wherever she went. Originally, she crafted this poster as a gift for Hera Syndulla, seen leading Phoenix Squadron into flight. However, Wren’s work caught the attention of Mon Mothma, who requested that Wren tailor it as a recruitment poster. As a result, Wren completed the poster and added a call to action: “Fly For Freedom“.
Outside of the Star Wars galaxy, the poster comes from the legendary Chris Trevas. Trevas has done so much Star Wars work that I won’t even attempt to list it all. This poster is also notable because it shows that eventually, Sabine will meet Mon Mothma. Does that mean Mothma will debut on Rebels one day? If the amount of Rebels Easter eggs in Rogue One was any indication, then the answer is probably yes.
The Disaster, otherwise known as the Death Star’s obliteration of Alderaan, remains one of the Empire’s worst atrocities. (Along with the Hosnian Cataclysm, in which the future First Order’s Starkiller Base destroyed the Hosnian system.) One of the most gripping works from Star Wars Propaganda is this poster from Alderaan survivor Oba Dunimea.
A staunch critic of the Empire, Dunimea led a diverse career as a composer, novelist, and sculptor. She beautifully cast the image of Alderaan against the Starbird symbol of the Rebel Alliance. Sadly, Dunimea became another casualty of the Empire’s eradication of Alderaan. The Imperial Security Bureau killed her as part of an effort to silence Alderaan survivors, in line with the events of the short story “One Thousand Levels Down” and the comic miniseries Princess Leia.
The poster comes from real-life concept artist Adam Rabalais, a first-time artist for Lucasfilm.
Protect the Republic
Although the New Republic lasted longer than the Empire that it deposed, it never gained enough traction. The new Galactic Senate suffered from corruption (like its predecessor in the previous Republic), as well as a polarizing bipartisanship. When the Centrist party proposed the position of First Senator, the opposing Populists strove to elect their foremost member: Princess Leia Organa. Fellow Alderaan survivor Janray Tessime contributed her talents to compose this pro-Populist propaganda for Leia’s campaign.
This poster is yet another work that found a second home in the pages of Star Wars Propaganda. Random House art director Scott Biel crafted the poster for the marketing campaign for Claudia Gray‘s novel Bloodline, which debuted on the New York Times Best Seller List.
What also makes this poster special is that it’s one of the last fictional images of Leia before actress Carrie Fisher passed away earlier today. Even though it’s fictional propaganda, it truly captures the resilience that Carrie Fisher infused into Leia. R.I.P., Carrie.
Might Is All
Both the Empire and its fanatical successor, the First Order, drew their power from the might of their navies. In open defiance of New Republic law, the First Order developed a military to wage its war of conquest. Though the artist of this recruitment poster hasn’t been identified, the work prominently features the First Order’s TIE fighters, replete with the imposing Resurgent-class Battlecruiser.
Might Is All is another work from a first-time Lucasfilm artist: Marko Manev, who designed several works for Star Wars Propaganda.
Poe Dameron probably never wanted to be a poster boy. Nevertheless, Resistance pilots joked that they could bolster their numbers if Dameron ever posed for a poster. Their joke turned out to be true when fellow Resistance pilot Yolo Ziff designed this poster as a prank and it generated actual interest from prospective Resistance pilots. I guess the joke’s on Poe Dameron!
Chris Trevas designed the poster for Star Wars Propaganda, wisely drawing upon actor Oscar Isaac‘s boundless charisma.