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We Have The British Punk Movement To Thank For Star Wars: The High Republic's Nihil Antagonists - Exclusive

"Star Wars: The High Republic" is an exceptionally exciting new set of multimedia entries in the "Star Wars" world. "The High Republic" tells the story of Jedi at a high point in their civilization before the Sith had the resurgence that saw the Jedi on the run. The series follows Jedi and non-Force users alike as they navigate a series of new threats, including the deadly, anarchistic forces of the Nihil — a group of sophisticated, space-bound marauders who reject the Jedi powers-that-be. It's a gorgeous telling of a narrative that's significantly different from the "Star Wars" films we know and love.

A new Looper interview celebrating the excellent new book "The Art of Star Wars: The High Republic (Volume One)" discusses the Nihil, their development, and the real-life cultural influences that fueled their creation. Far from being abstract villains created ex nihilo, the Nihil have deep inspiration from a source one might not expect: a particular British musical and cultural movement, whose style and perspective informed the Nihil's chaotic visage as they oppose the High Republic and its powerful Jedi Order.

Anarchy in the High Republic

In our exclusive interview, book author Kristin Baver and artist Grant Grifin revealed that the great marauding villains of the new "Star Wars" world — the Nihil — were developed with inspiration from an unanticipated 20th-century cultural phenomenon: the British punk movement. Griffin explained that his first designs for "The High Republic" "dealt more with the wilder parts of space, outside the borders of the Republic's protection," with the Nihil proving a strong standout. "The initial idea for the Nihil," he explained, "[was] an anarchistic group of punk-rock space Vikings. I pulled heavy inspiration from the '70s punk movement in Britain and gave it a 'Star Wars' makeover."

The design inspiration worked wonders, in part because it wasn't limited to their visuals alone. "The look of the Nihil has some of its roots in the British punk movement aesthetically, but that anti-establishment mentality is also evident in the way the group is written across Phase I," said "The Art of Star Wars: The High Republic (Volume One)" author Kristin Baver.

What's perhaps the most unsettling feature of the Nihil is the almost cultlike devotion they have to their goals. "I think the scariest thing about the Nihil is that you can't reason with them. Their goal is turmoil," Baver noted, "so you're not going to talk them out of that. They're selfish, and they'll come in and take whatever they want." 

In a strong sense, they truly do exemplify one interpretation of the punk movement itself: their inherent rejection of authority, even when that authority is the Jedi at a point of peace and prosperity. In the new art book, you can dig even further into the stages of development that created the Nihil in all their anarchistic glory.

"The Art of Star Wars: The High Republic (Volume One)" is now available in bookstores.