Star Wars: The Complete Vader

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Star Wars: The Complete Vader is the definitive book on the history, myth, and cultural impact of Darth Vader. From his early development in the first Star Wars film by George Lucas, to the new legends created in comics, videogames, and novels, to his ongoing appearances on everything from television commercials to bedspreads, Vader presents a complete view in all his incarnations as the Dark Lord of the Sith. Going beyond the films to cover his further adventures in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the book ...

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Star Wars: The Complete Vader is the definitive book on the history, myth, and cultural impact of Darth Vader. From his early development in the first Star Wars film by George Lucas, to the new legends created in comics, videogames, and novels, to his ongoing appearances on everything from television commercials to bedspreads, Vader presents a complete view in all his incarnations as the Dark Lord of the Sith. Going beyond the films to cover his further adventures in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the book combines new insight with exclusive interviews and photographs from the Lucasfilm Archives. Interactive reproductions of rare memorabilia fire the imagination, while pages packed with never-seen-before images explore the world’s endless fascination with the notorious Darth Vader.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"You don't know the power of the Dark Side." Darth Vader has epitomized that power since he appeared in the very first draft of George Lucas' Star Wars. In this fittingly large scale interactive coffee table hardcover, the father of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia emerges in hundreds of images of early concept sketches, rare collectibles, movie posters, script pages, and an uncut sheet of Darth Vader trading cards. In addition, Star Wars: The Complete Vader contains a generous selection of interactive artwork including lift-up flaps, envelopes, and cutouts. With its exclusive interviews and photographs from the LucasFilm archives, this is the Star Wars gift of the year.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345522979
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/18/2011
  • Series: Star Wars Series
  • Pages: 183
  • Sales rank: 247,307
  • Product dimensions: 9.32 (w) x 13.16 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Ryder Windham is a former editor of Star Wars comics and has written more then fifty Star Wars books, including Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force and The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader. He is also and instructor and the Certificate Advisor for the Comic and Sequential Art Certificate Program at Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education.

Peter Vilmur is the co-author of The Star Wars Vault and The Star Wars Poster Book, both written with Stephen J. Sansweet. He has written for Star Wars Insider magazine,, and, and is currently an editor at Lucas Online.

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Interviews & Essays

What compelled you both to write this book? Was this something you had been discussing for a while?

Ryder Windham: Like almost all of my Star Wars book projects, this assignment began with an editor sending me an Email. In this case, Kjersti Egerdahl, an editor at becker&mayer!, a book packager in Seattle, asked if I'd be interested in working on a non-fiction book about Darth Vader. According to Kjersti, Lucasfilm recommended me because of my work on Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide, which dealt with the Star Wars movies as well as the Star Wars Expanded Universe stories in books, comics, and games . Because the book would also feature a lot of information about Vader merchandise, Kjersti hired an expert, Pete Vilmur himself, to write about the merchandise and collectibles.

Pete Vilmur: I had written a lengthy article on Vader collectibles for a one-shot magazine a few years prior to Complete Vader, which is one of the reasons Lucasfilm Executive Editor J.W. Rinzler asked me if I'd be interested in working on a more expansive exploration of Vader, one that investigated the history of the character as well as his impact on pop culture. As soon as I found out Ryder Windham—whose works I'd been reading for years—was to be my co-author, I was all-in.

Did you each stick to your own chapters throughout the book, or was the writing more collaborative?

RW: Pete and I started off writing our own chapters, but we started reviewing each other's work closely to avoid redundancies. For example, I'd been writing about how Darth Vader's flagship, the Executor, was introduced in the Marvel Comics Star Wars series and also the Star Wars syndicated newspaper comic strip, while Pete was writing about the various Executor toys. Read in separate chunks, the info seemed somewhat haphazard. The only way to make all the information flow well was to more proactively collaborate, to make sure we were consistently on the same page.

PV: When we started, we both agreed that Ryder would take on most of the "in universe" material, such as the character's evolution throughout the films, comics, and novels. I would concentrate on the collectibles and physical development of the costume, related props, hardware, etc. Like Ryder says, though, each section quickly became a collaboration with each of us chiming in on the other's chapters to both unify the voice and enhance the descriptions.

What do think it is about Darth Vader that has made him a global icon for decades now?

RW: For one thing, concept artist Ralph McQuarrie came up with a truly incredible looking character. But I think Darth Vader has become such an icon because just the sight of him taps into a wide range of emotions, from fear and desire to sympathy. Many people would love to have Darth Vader's powers, but few people want to be Darth Vader. Even though we know his whole life story, Vader remains weirdly enigmatic.

PV: I actually approached this question in a chapter about Vader's international appeal, suggesting that because the character is masked, essentially anyone—any face—might be behind it, allowing us to project whomever we want into an archetype of evil. Of course, as Vader's story evolved, he also became a somewhat sympathetic, tragic hero, giving audiences an emotional bond with the character. It doesn't hurt that Vader happens to be very photogenic as well.

Which one of you has the larger collection of Darth Vader memorabilia and what's your favorite piece?

RW: It's an easy bet that Pete has the larger collection. It's hard for me to pick a single favorite, but one that's way up there is Kilian Plunkett's original concept sketch for the cover to "Thank the Maker," the short story we produced for Star Wars Tales (Dark Horse Comics). The image of Vader holding C-3PO's decapitated head has itself become somewhat iconic, and that sketch was the very first version.

PV: It's hard picking a favorite, so I'll pick three—
• Poster: A 2005 Japanese transit poster printed by cellular phone company AU depicting Vader on a park bench marveling at a girl's cell phone (we actually reproduced this as a gatefold in the book).
• Prop: The Ralph McQuarrie-designed full size Vader helmet developed by prop replica company eFx. It recreates the Vader helmet as depicted on the first 1976 Star Wars novelization.
• Premium: The Darth Vader humidifier ("Darth Vaper"?) from Japan, which was a giveaway associated with a 2005 Pepsi promotion exclusive to that country (this one's also in the book!).

Is there a Holy Grail item amongst all the Darth Vader memorabilia? That one item a collector dreams of finding?

RW: While working on The Complete Vader, I was introduced to Vader costume expert Dr. Thomas Diefenbach, who contributed a lot of information about the construction of Vader's costumes. After talking with Thomas, I'd say the Holy Grail might be an actual Vader helmet or lightsaber prop, something Vader wore or handled onscreen. Such props have come up for auction occasionally, but good luck finding anything you can afford!

PV: Aside from original props, I think most Vader collectors would consider the original Kenner Darth Vader action figure with the "double-telescoping" lightsaber feature a grail collectible. These "DS" figures featured a miniature telescoping lightsaber that extended twice when a lever on the figure's arm was pushed forward. Because it was difficult to manufacture, Kenner quickly reduced the telescoping feature to a single extension, creating one of the rarest action figure variations in the hobby (especially if the figure is still attached to its original 1978 cardback!).

In researching and writing The Complete Vader you must have discovered some facts that were new to even experts like yourself. Could you give us an example of something you learned about Darth Vader that you didn't already know?

RW: I had no idea that Darth Vader has been the subject of numerous butter sculptures at state fairs in the Midwest over the years. I also learned that to create a proper butter sculpture, one must use unsalted butter. The Complete Vader is filled with odd tidbits of information like that.

PV: As I went back to research early media mentions of Vader before the first Star Wars was released in 1977, I was surprised to discover that Tarkin—Vader's Death Star partner in crime—was touted as the film's "heavy," with Vader barely getting a mention in the mainstream press. This makes a bit more sense, however, when you consider Peter Cushing, who played Tarkin, was one of the only recognizable names attached to the production along with Ben Kenobi's Alec Guinness.

How cooperative was Lucasfilm in researching this book? Did you get to explore the mythic Lucasfilm archives for lost Darth Vader treasures?

RW: Pete can vouch that Lucasfilm was extremely cooperative, that they granted permission to use many previously unpublished images. Private collectors were also very generous, allowing us to present scans of original artwork.

PV: Since I work at Lucasfilm, I was able to mine several gems out of the file cabinets in our Image Archives, including early Darth Vader public appearances, concept artwork, and even a great shot of Vader actor Dave Prowse posing with one of the very first Darth Vader collectibles—a ceramic tankard sculpted in the guise of his screen alter-ego.

The book is titled, The Complete Vader. Does that also mean that you'll discuss his past as Anakin Skywalker as well?

RW: Yes, Anakin Skywalker is covered extensively, from his first appearance in Return of the Jedi, through his exploits in the prequels, and up to his current incarnation in the ongoing TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

PV: "Complete" also encompasses hardware and extras associated with Vader, such as his personal TIE fighter, lightsaber, meditation chamber, and even his boyhood Podracer on Tatooine. Vader is as much defined by the technology surrounding him as by the broken man within.

Flipping through the book there were a number of pages that instantly brought me back to my childhood. The sheet of stickers from the trading cards is just one example. Is there that one image in the book that reminds you of Star Wars over thirty years ago?

RW: For me, all the images of Vader from the Marvel Comics Star Wars series work like a time machine. Seeing images from the movies is one thing, but my brother and I bought those comics over thirty years ago, and I still recall the kick of picking up issues that had Vader on the cover.

PV: Funny you mention the Topps trading cards, as these (the third series yellow set, to be exact) were the very first Star Wars pieces I ever collected (and actually still own!). The card depicted at the very center of that page is probably the most evocative for me, being one of the very first objets d'arth I ever held (and yes, we coin that term in the book).

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    Perfect Gift for any Star Wars fan

    The Complete Vader is a great read for any Star Wars fan. Authors Ryder Windham and Pete Vilmur did a great job of keeping the book fun to read and avoiding a dry historical account. The book has lots of fun facts about Vader and Star Wars. Yet there is a lot more to the book than the story when you take into account the tons of beautiful artwork and photos that are included. From Ralph McQuarrie prints and sketches, to behind-the-scenes pictures of the actors and Vader promotional shoots, there is a lot to enjoy. For collectors, a lot of Vader merchandise is also covered. On top of it all, there's also a lot of fun interactive elements such as fold out pictures, hidden pockets with loose articles, and even copies of film cells. Definitely a book that's worth the money.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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