Geeking out…

Since getting my copy of Ralph McQuarrie’s new book I’ve been geeking out hard on Star Wars. So skip this post unless you are prepared to trip down that nerd path with me.

A few nights back, I spent a few hours online trying to track down a few images I had seen years ago. After almost giving up the hunt, I stumbled upon a fantastic online catalogue of pulp magazine covers that contained the first thing I was looking for; a black and white sketch illustration and colour cover from July 1975 issue of ANALOG Magazine:

Both were drawn by John Schoenherr to illustrate a short science fiction story called And Seven Times Never Kill Man written by George R.R. Martin. These crossbow wielding furry alien warriors certainly remind me of one the characters from a blockbuster-hit science fantasy film that came out two years after this issue hit the news stands.

As a kid, Chewbacca was one of my favourite characters and was a rare case of my preferring what appeared in the film over any of Ralph McQuarrie’s early designs, which looked more like a big, bug-eyed lemur. You other Chewie fans out there might enjoy this theory that, when viewed as a whole, the Star Wars films reveal that R2D2 and Chewie are really in control (It’s a long read but interesting and fun).

Another fan has come up with a funny theory that Leia and Luke got busy after the Death Star was destroyed in the first Star Wars movie. Yes! Worth a read, eh? (short, funny read)

Speaking of Luke, fanboys and haters still debate Mark Hamill’s career and argue over his acting chops. Despite what many people say, I think that Mark Hamill is far from being a bad actor. In fact, compared to the relentlessly stiff acting by Samuel Jackson, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and many of the other respected actors in the prequels, Hamill’s portrayal of Luke’s growth from whiny farm boy to Jedi Badass is actually one of the better performances in the Star Wars movies… (Bracing for a backlash in my comments section 🙂

Look at this history of the screenplay drafts of the original movie, starting with the rough outline written in 1973. Most of these drafts are barely recognisable as the final film, and pretty terrible into the bargain… which I found inspiring in a way; Don’t give up on your idea if it seems shonky at first. Just keep plugging away at it until it works.

The next thing I found during my exhaustive “research” online is a great picture of the Prototype Darth Vader which more closely resembles the original Ralph McQuarrie design. I had never seen this picture or anything like it before. Isn’t the internet wonderful?

And, finally, here is the second image that I went online to search for in the first place; a painting by Syd Mead done way back in 1968 for the book “CONCEPTS” as a promotion for for US STEEL. Does this gizmo remind you of anything? A wicked cool walking vehicle from a 1980 smash-hit science-fantasy film perhaps? It’s even walking around in the snow!

I think it’s time; I need to watch the original three movies again…

13 thoughts on “Geeking out…”

  1. I didnt think Liam was stiff in TPM i thought he was the best thing in Episode 1,Maybe SLJackson was a little but not Liam

  2. you are correct sir; Re: snow walker. George ripped Syd off. I’ve seen the shirts with the oakland cranes equating the AT-AT and’ve heard people perpetuating the myth. It is well known in specific circles the confrontation between G and Syd- G defending “I didn’t rip you off.” Syd: “I never said you did.” Guilty as charged. (Those US Steel books are rare- if you see one.. snag it with extreme prejudice.)

  3. Karen>> I like Liam Neeson too. I didn’t intend to bash on him or any of the other actors in the new SW movies. All of them have entertained me in many films and I know that each of them are good actors. The point that I was trying to make is that Mark Hamill has been criticised for 30 years as being a bad actor when, in my opinion, he turns in just as good a performance as many actors who had already established themselves as good actors before appearing in SW.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Patrick>> It’s a great design, isn’t it?

    Jshu>>When I saw these images, back in the early 1980s they kind of rocked my world… Two of my fave designs from the first two films were done even before visual development had started on the movies..

  4. My dad was working for General Motors when Syd Mead did those US steel books. He very kindly gave them to me for my birthday a few years back since I couldn’t stop drooling over them. Those are without question among my MOST prized possessions. JShu is the only other person I’ve met who has them. Those books are WAY ahead of their time; and amazing.

  5. Wow Jamie!- This blog post just blew my mind about Chewie! Also, it was great to see the early drafts of the screenplay- it’s all there.

  6. Cool post. Chewie was easily my favorite as a kid. In fact, he was the first Star Wars action figure I got WAY back in the day.

    I’m in agreement with your Mark Hamill assessment. I think he’s considered one of the if not top, better voice talents in LA because of all the crazy stuff he can do with it.

    That Mead painting is AMAZING!!!

  7. Nice! I agree with the Mark Hamill comments — I think Liam is great…but not in TPM! But I don’t blame him for that. Episode 1 felt like an effects extravaganza, and the actors were just in the way.

  8. Ted>> I envy you (and JAY) for owning those books. Look after them! In the early 1980s I used to have another Syd Mead book, I think it was called SENTINEL and like many of my ART books back then, it fell to pieces from constant reading. I think it may have had a version of his WALKER painting in there. Anyway, he is an amazing visionary.

    Rhode>> Sorry to have blown your mind! I know how you feel, though. I was shocked when I found this stuff, and I am surprised that the similarities aren’t remarked upon more often… In the late 1970s, there was a lawsuit against the producers of Battlestar Galactica claiming that they had ripped off ideas and designs from Star Wars. I never heard of any lawsuits going in the other direction though, despite Star Wars itself being clearly influenced by other earlier Science-Fiction. It’s a thorny issue; the difference between “inspired by” and “ripped off”, and I deal with that myself all the time. Anyway, none of this changes the fact that I still love these characters and the movies too.

    John>> Glad that you agree about Mr Hamill being unfairly maligned over the years… Harrison Ford was lucky enough to play the “cool” space-gun-slinger character, and Mark Hamill had to play the whiny small town geeky kid who wanted to travel and have adventures… hmmm… no WONDER I identified with THAT character as a 13 year old… 🙂

    Kevin>> These movies must be very hard for actors to work in and even more so on the NEW ones, where so much was shot in front of blue-screens, and some of the script was even kept secret from the actors themselves. BUT At least the prequel actors had already established good reputations to retreat back to afterwards, whereas poor old MH was stuck with the “bad actor” label for life.

  9. *the lawsuit was brought against Battlestar by G- but it was Ralph and Joe Johnston who freelanced on that gig! it all gives Chewie a big headache.

  10. “Verilly It is I who owns science-fiction! Cease and desist, thou copyright infringing Naves! Huh? Oh, Hi SYD… how’s it going? A million? What the!? OK, OK, here you go… SHHHH!”

  11. oh star wars!! i just can’t stay mad at you! i still love the original three movies. the new ones, eh – not so much.
    one positive note about the newer films: the complete and utter deep-nerd let down of the ‘Phantom-Clone-Attack-Menace-Revenge’ blah blah movies did help emotionally prepare me for the later crushing disappointments that were the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. so i thank george for softening the blow!

    i heard that syd mead settled out of court with george lucas regarding the snow walker similarities. thanks for the pics jamie!

  12. Giantmonster>> That is a very interesting point. I too have come to realise that learning to live with reduced expectations is the best survival strategy for living in the 21st century, but I hadn’t realised, until you mentioned it, that process actually DID begin in 1999….


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