A Visual Guide
to a Galaxy
Far, Far Away nolead ends
nolead begins By Tim Leong
Chronicle. 176 pp. $19.95
Reviewed by John Wilwol
nolead ends 'Never tell me the odds," Han Solo once said. But that was in a galaxy far, far away. On our data-driven planet, we can't get enough of the odds, the stats, the digits. After all, those Fitbits we're wearing are essentially little R2-D2s quantifying every step we take.
The Force is with Tim Leong. In 2013, he published a hit called Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe. And now he's back with Star Wars Super Graphic, which beautifully illustrates the beloved space opera's quantifiable trivia.
Some of the book's infographics are for beginners. Those who've struggled to make sense of Star Wars' anachronisms will love a chart called "Wait, Where Do I Start?" It color-codes the various films, TV shows, novels, and comics, then places them in order from start to finish. Later, Leong uses a similar chart to illustrate that anyone obsessed enough to binge on all of those properties would need to free up about 180 hours. Patience you must have, my young Padawan!
Movie buffs will find plenty in Star Wars Super Graphic to geek out over. An illustration titled "Every Transition Wipe," for example, shows the number and type of visual transitions that directors have used between scenes throughout the franchise's seven feature films. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith boasts the most, and the side-to-side wipe appears most frequently.
Nearly every page of Star Wars Super Graphic offers some blend of amusement, charm, and stylish artistry. One of the book's most frame-worthy graphics shows a white disc on a stone background with multicolored rings that indicate the galaxy's fastest ships in "megalights per hour (MGLT)." The A-wing starfighter, at 120 MGLT, wins out.
Elsewhere, Leong gives us "Insults by the Numbers," a colorful chart that rates zingers absorbed by the six most verbally abused Star Wars characters. "Will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?" ranks among the sharpest - a barb Princess Leia aims at Chewbacca in Episode IV: A New Hope.
But the graphic that best captures this book's wry sensibility and cool aesthetic is "A Venn Diagram of Daddy Issues." It sorts 10 Star Wars characters into three vivid, overlapping circles: separated from parents, divided by fundamental disagreements, and witnessed fathers' deaths.
"With shifting allegiances, disappearances, and sometimes tragedy," Leong writes, "fatherhood in Star Wars is complicated." In Star Wars Super Graphic, it's also really fun.