Monday, March 05, 2012

Ralph McQuarrie, RIP

My friend K. reflected that, concerning the appeal of Star Wars, Ralph McQuarrie is at least the equal of George Lucas. I have to agree.

Lucas invented the characters and story and hired conceptual artist McQuarrie to create art and designs to show 20th Century Fox. These designs and storyboards convinced skeptical executives to greenlight the project.

My own understanding and visualization of the Star Wars universe is based heavily on three sources: the original film, the Marvel Comics series, and Ralph McQuarrie's art. I never followed his career as closely as I should have, as much as some other favorites. However, I have a strong and distinct memory of seeing those images from his imagination on the pages of Starlog Magazine and others. Some of the designs made it into the films intact, some were changed like the Millennium Falcon design, and others -- such as "Luke Starkiller" and the original Chewbacca design -- were dropped from early drafts. But they all have that great, grand feeling of adventure and they tell stories. You want to know who these people are, where they are from, what the source of conflict is.

Ralph McQuarrie designed concepts for many films and other projects, including Battlestar Galactica and the "Planet of the Titans" Star Trek film project, part of an outstanding visual legacy that will be long remembered.

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