Is this the first graphic prop to feature
in a
Star Wars film?  

Hmm, a galaxy without books? is not.

Ok, before you read on I'm going to come clean. I am a ridiculously massive fan of Star Wars. Like many other fans, filmmakers, designers and creative folks alike, Star Wars has been a lifelong passion and inspiration for me. Now I hope that it won't affect my judgement of anything I am about to write here, but it probably will.
I have the books, the lego, the posters and the soundtracks. I am even the proud owner of original Ralph Mcquarrie concept art. I have stormtroopers on my slippers and a TIE fighter text message alert. But there is one thing I have waited nearly all my life to see.  A question I have asked for as long as I can remember:
Why is there no evidence of drawing, or print, or the written word in the Star Wars galaxy?
When George Lucas released Star Wars in 1977 to now famous worldwide acclaim, it was hailed as a true landmark in science fiction fantasy for it's depiction of a never before seen 'used universe'.  A universe where technology in all it's states of function and depletion governed the way various intergalactic cultures and communities prospered or deteriorated.
I have always viewed the Star Wars universe as a fascinating paradox where the saga that unfolded a long time ago had technology far advanced to that of our own today,  but nowhere in that galaxy did anyone develop a culture of writing or drawing?!
Well curious no more people, because everything just changed and the little stormtrooper fanatic in me is losing his mind! Just recently we got the full trailer to Episode VIII The Last Jedi, but before that,the teaser trailer was released and it contained this image:
Image courtesy: Lucasfilm / Disney
Books. Actual books, in a Star Wars film.
Yes my friends, protruding from a big old ancient tree is a book shelf! A BOOK SHELF!
I think this is an absolute game changer and quite possibly the most important use of a graphic film prop in 21st century cinema.
I know. Big bold claim.
​The image that follows contains a closer look at one of the books and there are a ton of exciting things to unpick here:
Image courtesy: Lucasfilm / Disney
So lets break it down and take a closer but somewhat light hearted look at what we can see:
If you know your Star Wars lore, then you will know that the gold star shaped symbol on the front of this book belongs to the Jedi Order, those ancient peacekeepers of the galaxy and protectors of the light side. Cool warrior librarian folk. From what we can see, the logo is almost perfectly depicted in it's shape. The blue wings on the logo look faded but they appear to have been sharply rendered also.
Maybe then the cover of this book was created in a Jedi screen printing workshop? It certainly suggests that there might be print technology somewhere in the galaxy. A limited edition print run from the Galactic Republic Press? Or someone with a snappy spray paint stencil?


It's fair to say that we don't know what the book is supposed to be made from. It could be created from some kind of creature hide, dried plant, or some other weird alien material. Perhaps recycled wallpaper that got scraped off while the Jedi Council on Coruscant was being redecorated? I am hoping the book is made from paper and was once in mass production like the Penguin Classics. Evidence of the first paper mill in space?  Probably not.

Stitch binding

The binding situated on the left would suggest that these ancient books adopted the western tradition of reading from left to right, front cover to back cover.  Unless this is one of the first choose your own adventure books, then Rey will be flipping back and forth all over the place through those pages like a prequel Yoda. Poor apprentice Jedi, she's already a bit confused. Congratulations, you have defeated The First Order, now turn to page 97 to discover who your parents are.
The Star Wars galaxy now used to have bookbinders. Amazing.

Hand writing

If you look left in the image toward the outer rim (sorry, couldn't resist it!) of the Jedi Order symbol, you can clearly see what looks to be a red arc of ancient written or drawn pictograms.  And this would naturally suggest ink and pens of some kind. We already know that the language of Aurabesh exists in Star Wars, but these new symbols suggest a new language or visual depiction of one  we have not seen before.
Thanks to Episode II Attack Of The Clones, we associate our force using heroes as the keepers of great holographic digital archives. But these books are the first hint of a more ancient time, long  before digital technology was used as a communication standard. They look more like the Jedi equivalent of the Illuminated Manuscripts.


There are three colours that we can see on that book. Gold, red and blue. And that would suggest ink made from some kind of pigment.  Given the age of this book I'll put all my republic credits on the fact I think the ancient ​wizardy scribe who penned it must have invested in Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Inks, because they are pigmented and allow  greater permanence.
Judging this book by it's cover
I know I've been a bit daft in my analysis but I am making a serious point here.  Any graphic prop that contains information, evidence of ageing, fading and dirt like the book shown is instantly communicating a visual story, created throughout the life of the object. This makes the prop instantly authentic.
I am pretty sure that this graphic prop is going to prove instrument​al in thrusting the plot of The Last Jedi forward. There be secrets in those books for sure and we'll learn them soon enough. But if these secrets are integral to pushing the saga in new directions, then using a book to do that is really special.  It changes the entire cultural subtext of a fictional universe while at the same time giving graphic prop design a really high profile starring role. 
This book might turn out to be the ultimate hero prop (props handled and used by actors) and in terms of storytelling, even though all we have for now is the front cover, it's telling us so much and is expanding a universe ​that's already a bit of a whopper.
So there you have it. It's just a trailer. It's just a film. it's just a million plastic figures. It's just grown men and women dressing up as bounty hunters. It's just heroes and villains, cowboys and Indians. It's just laser brains and walking carpets. It's just a forty year old cinematic phenomenon. And it's just make believe.
But it's not is it.

It's Star Wars... now with added bookshelf!​

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