Without this artist, Darth Vader would never have been so bad

Popular culture iconic villain, Darth Vader, has and continues to score of his aura science fiction universe and in particular the Star Wars franchise. From the 1st episode published in 1977 to the series Obi-Wan Kenobi who will come out at Disney + in May, the famous helmet adorned with a breathing tube continues to do its thing in the galaxy far, far away … But originally the Sith lord was not supposed to look like that. It’s so thank you in a cartoonist’s shadow work that we owe this iconic skin.

McQuarrie’s imprint on the trilogy

major science fiction work, Star Wars is one of the indelible symbols of pop culture, through its 9 movies spread over 5 decades, of these variations in series, video games, books or even the treats that result from them. Everything started with Star Wars: A New Hope by Georges Lucas published in 1977 (and later became star wars episode iv) which expanded the boundaries of science fiction and left its mark on cinema history. A monument to which all the benefits have been ascribed to its director. However, in the shadow of the father of the most famous Rumopera saves on many people who worked for the success of the film.

One of them is named Ralph McQuarrie, concept artist responsible for creating the visual universe of the film. Died March 3, 2012 at the age of 83, McQuarrie began working on industrial illustration for Boeing in the 1960s, and found himself creating a cartoon for the Apollo space program. He was hired by Lucas in 1974, three before the film’s release, and took responsibility for, among other thingsimagine the design of the film’s future characters, but also the scenery, and to illustrate the script for several sceneslike the arrival of droids R2-D2 and C3-PO on Tatooine for example.

“He came to my house with his friends and talked about a great space fantasy movie he wanted to make. It did not have a title yet. I showed him a proposal I had been working on in 1972 for a sci-fi movie called ‘ Galaxy ‘… I did not expect to see him again, and then one day he called me to ask if I would be interested in a project for’ Star Wars’he confided in Star Wars Insider magazine (issue 76).

The man in Father’s shadow

It’s him we owe chara-design of the famous Wookie Chewbacca, but also, and above all, the of Dark Vador. It was actually McQuarrie who created his famous full face helmet and breathing tubes. Originally, the set was only designed to be worn under the control of the Executor, however the design appealed to Lucas so much that he decided to keep it permanent.

Originally, Lucas imagined the big bad in a silk cloak with a mask that must have been inspired by Samurai warriors. But the illustrator pointed out to Georges Lucas that this would represent an inconsistency in the manuscript.

George said he wanted a suit flying in the wind, it would have been some kind of dark guy in a black cloak with a big helmet, like a Japanese warrior. But the manuscript urged Vader to navigate between his spaceship and the rebel ship from outer space, smashing his way through a wall by disintegrating it with his saber. I was expecting Darth Vader to go through a bit of a vacuum, so I suggested to George that he should wear some sort of spacesuit to help him survive. George replied, ‘Okay, draw him some kind of breathing apparatus.’ So in addition to the big helmet, I drew this mask for him.

A book in his image

The one who greatly helped to bring sith gentlemen in the Pantheon of the most emblematic characters in the 7th art was the subject of a book published in 2016 and entitled Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, a giant of 800 pages and more than 2000 illustrations. Co-author of David Mandel, Brandon Alinger and Wade Lageose, that book contains all of Ralph McQuarrie’s work with licenses. Thus, there is a wealth of sketches, concept art or even storyboards. We learn that too planet Kashyyyk was first designed for The empire strikes back before being placed under a lid.

On our site, in 2017, we presented some for you in our columns concept art by Ralph McQuarrie for the film, some of which were shelved. The opportunity to see that Luke was a woman, that Han Solo had green skin, or that Princess Leia was not part of the story.

Note that we will of course find Darth Vader opposite Obi-Wan Kenobi in the eponymous series, which will be released on Disney + on May 27th.

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