Force Visions: The Star Wars Art of Kilian Plunkett
Titan Publishing’s Star Wars Magazine was essential reading back in the early days of the internet; a monthly hit that created a regular gateway to that galaxy far, far away. In 1998, while visiting my Nan in Hemel Hempstead, I picked up the latest issue and instantly lost myself between the covers.
Featured amongst the interviews and pictures of that sweet, sweet merchandise was an exclusive comic about two alien swoop punks on the harsh desert sands of Tatooine. It was a savage, world-expanding story with stunning art – my first exposure to the work of Kilian Plunkett.
Plunkett’s mastery of the characters, vehicles and locations of the Star Wars universe perfectly complemented his kinetic cartoon style, and his early work producing covers for the Droids series and interiors for Shadows of the Empire and The Jabba Tape allowed him free reign to show what he could do.
The used-future punk aesthetic and general griminess of everything elevated his stories above the work of many of his Dark Horse Comics peers. While Cam Kennedy gave Star Wars the late-eighties cyberpunk flair that the films could have grown into, Plunkett’s work seems like a snapshot of Star Wars at the moment of the Special Editions; screen accurate forms with weight and dirt, yet cartoony enough to serve as kid’s entertainment.
Plunkett’s ability to capture that ‘Star Wars feeling’ extended to his work on one of the very best EU stories, ‘Thank the Maker’. I’ve never been a fan of Anakin Skywalker creating C-3PO, but this story, written by Ryder Windham, takes the concept and expands the hell out of it with a beautiful ‘between-the-scenes’ moment from The Empire Strikes Back. Plunkett’s beautiful linework seamlessly meshes the characters and locations of The Phantom Menace with those of The Empire Strikes Back, creating one of the stronger bonds between episodes.
While it was comics that brought Kilian Plunkett to Star Wars it was the expansion of the franchise that kept him there, and in 2005 he started work as a designer on the Clone Wars. It started a path that has taken Plunkett all the way to Art Director for Clone War’s spiritual follow-up series, Rebels. It shows in the art style, which blends a cartoon style with the grungy environments of the original trilogy time frame.
For two decades Kilian Plunkett has helped to shape the visual lore of Star Wars. It’s something he’s likely to do for many more years to come.