Thursday, January 19, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: The Star Wars #2 Ralph McQuarrie Variant

It is hard to believe today, but Ralph McQuarrie's art for the Star Wars movies was not original meant to be seen by the public.  George Lucas used several Ralph McQuarrie paintings based on the script for Star Wars to help convince 20th Century Fox Studio to fund the making of the movie.  His conceptualization of the Star Wars universe was extremely important to the success of Star Wars, as many of the characters, ships, and locations seen in the movie are based on his work.

When Lucasfilm was drawing up plans for the Rebels animated television series, the creators drew heavily from McQuarrie's paintings for the look of the show.  Not only are the colors, locations, and background characters based on McQuarrie's aesthetics, but two of the main characters are as well.  Chopper is based on McQuarrie's early design for R2-D2.  Several McQuarrie sketches and paintings of R2-D2 show him with arm like appendages protruding from the side of his domed head and Chopper has a propensity to use his appendages giving him the look of the early R2-D2 artwork.  McQuarrie's early concept of Chewbacca is an inspiration for the look of another Rebels' character, Zeb.  Zeb's facial shape including goatee and ears clearly are inspired by McQuarrie's Chewbacca design as well as his size.  (In The Force Awakens, the Hassk Triplets are also inspired by the early Chewbacca design.  They more closely resemble the concept art, although they are smaller in stature.)

The Star Wars is an 8-issue comic adaptation of George Lucas' original draft screenplay from 1974.  Dark Horse used a McQuarrie painting, titled Fabulous Five, as a variant cover for The Star Wars #2.  Surprisingly, Dark Horse did not use more McQuarrie paintings as variant covers for this series and the Star Wars #2 is the last issue of this series to even sport a variant cover!  Imagine Marvel today forgoing a variant cover on any Star Wars issue let alone an obvious variant cover based on McQuarrie artwork!

The Star Wars #2b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 2014)
Ralph McQuarrie variant
The Fabulous Five was painted in 1975.  Since the painting coincides with the completion of the second draft of the movie, I believe the characters in the painting from left to right are: Deak Starkiller, Luke Starkiller, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2.  In the background are Y-Wing Fighters attacking the Death Star.  Notice the Death Star's weapon is located on the bottom.

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