The Empire Strikes Back, 1980


Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back

Illusrated by Patricia Wynne
Paper Engineering by Ib Penick
Copyright 1980 Lucasfilm Ltd.
Published by Random House
6 3/4 in x 9 1/4 in  17.5 cm x 24cm
12 pages

Through the 1970s and 1980s, Random House published a respectable number of interesting pop up books for a young audience.  The title in question is number forty one in that Random House series.

It is widely held that the art of moveable and pop up books underwent a renaissance through the 1960s to the 1980s.  Many artists were producing pop up books and moveable books for both juvenile and adult audiences.

Random House was at the forefront of creating a new mass market for moveable and pop up books.  At the same time, move makers such as George Lucas were seeking new ways to generate income streams from success at the box office.  The marriage of a wildly popular movie and a pop up book was a match made in heaven.

The book itself employs a variety of moveable techniques.  The reader is greeted with a pop up in the title page, the following two pages that use pulls to animate the illustrations.  Pull tabs are used for pop up elements and in volvelles throughout the rest of the book.

The book is an interesting blend of pop up and moveable techniques.  The books required significant hand construction to make the papers nest and the pulls work correctly.  Thanks to cheap labor in Singapore, the price of these complex books was low enough for fans of all ages.

Like other moveable and pop up books that were created in conjunction with movies, the plot of the book faithfully follows that of the film. You can see the Pop Up Star Wars here.

The paper engineer for this book, Ib Penick, is a wonderful part of the entire book.  Mr. Penick was a major figure in creating the modern pop up book industry in making pop up and moveable books ubiquitous in today’s world.

Mr. Penick created this and many other books for Random House in his long career.  This book is a wonderful time capsule into the cross-marketing of movies and books in the early 1980s.  It is the combination of the two that has is largely responsible for the wide variety of pop up books we have today.