By 2006, the relatively small Lucasfilm Animation crew at Skywalker Ranch was busily working on development of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In collaboration with their overseas partners, they had the responsibility of carrying Star Wars into a new era, and worked closely with George Lucas who guided the storytelling and mentored its creators.
Supervising director Dave Filoni had been hired in 2005 not long before the release of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The 30-year-old had been working as an episodic director at Nickelodeon on the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. He was also a passionate Star Wars fan who’d made his own costume of Jedi Plo Koon. Filoni’s love for the Kel Dor master not only inspired his appearances in The Clone Wars, but also a recognizable behind-the-scenes icon.
Filoni’s hand-drawn “Plo Kool” doodle was adapted into an approval stamp used to sign off on concepts, designs, and other artwork during the busy period of creating the foundational look and feel of the series. The tongue-in-cheek image was then affixed to a Clone Wars crew shirt from 2006 (perhaps Lucasfilm Animation’s first ever).
That year, Lucasfilm Animation rapidly expanded its team, hiring dozens between Skywalker Ranch and new offices in Singapore as The Clone Wars transitioned to a full production schedule, the first time Lucasfilm had been producing its own television series in some two decades.
Still two years away from the series premiere, the early crew shirt teased the show logo and imbued a sense of fun and camaraderie with the Plo Kool sketch, an important element of Lucasfilm Animation’s culture that has continued ever since.