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  1. #1

    Ralph McQuarrie was the best

    I just learned of RMQ's passing this morning, and it hit me a little harder than I expected, just because to me his work and his work ethic and his background all feel so alive and accessible. RMQ's ability to take a simple drawing and give it life and action even from the simplest detail made him unique, through his concept work on Star Wars and other sci-fi products I got to see an artist that really spoke to me through the still drawing. His work was magical without being show-offy, he seemed to know exactly the right amount of detail to put in a frame -- I have never seen his works be overly busy or simple, even the tiny pencil sketches he did for the earliest Star Wars stuff.

    But I can't stress enough how much life, how much action and story he conveyed in his works, how his drawings weren't just stills, they were suggesting a greater story even if it was just a guy standing in a field or a plane flying by a building. RMQ's characters at their simplest always were expressive, especially the ones with almost no features where it's just the smallest of steely gazes to suggest readiness, or the droop of a shoulder to express longing.

    When I moved into my place last year, one of the things I wanted to do was get ahold of some McQuarrie posters, but I've been reticent to put anything on my walls so far. I think RMQ's passing should light a fire under me to get it done, and it'll be one of the things I look for at Wondercon in 2 weeks. In searching the web, I haven't found much material except from Zazzle, whom I have found in the past to be somewhat overpriced, but they do have a ton of his work, almost every piece I can think of they have. Here's the ones that most resonate with me, and now I have to track down or order:
    http://www.zazzle.com/mcquarrie_art_...38996816036308
    http://www.zazzle.com/mcquarrie_art_...01131103994588
    http://www.zazzle.com/mcquarrie_art_...09441409175745
    http://www.zazzle.com/mcquarrie_art_...33183329003750
    http://www.zazzle.com/mcquarrie_art_...39235390885652
    I want to get a poster too of RMQ's Docking Bay 94, but I haven't found any online except for this which isn't quite my sort of expression, but it does have RMQ credibility even though it's pretty small:
    http://dreamsandvisionspress.com/cel...kingbay94.aspx

    I don't even know what my point is really, I guess I just wanted to talk Ralph McQuarrie with my fellow Star Wars buddies.

    RMQ's autograph is the only Star Wars autograph I own. I bought it at Celebration IV from the Dreams and Visions Press Art of Ralph McQuarrie booth. It's on a Galoob Action Fleet Flight Controller - RMQ was hired by Galoob to do SW packaging art for their Micro Machines line, it was some great stuff and showed just how amazing the Galoob SW team was to not only think to do that but to make it happen - and is part of a batch of one of the last things he signed before his Parkinsons overwhelmed his physical abilities.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    I think it's because he didn't actively and shamelessly promote his accomplishments. Mr. McQuarrie was humble but clearly talented. Wasn't he part of the animation of moon landings? That's awesome! I remember being in a panel at some convention where the person helping him in his older days and health issues spoke; that guy was clearly also inspired by RM's work and work ethic (he might've been the webmaster of RM's site).
    "That's what Sheev said."

  3. #3
    You are so right about him being humble and not a show-off.

    RMQ started doing technical drawings for Boeing, and in the mid '60s he started focusing on work for the entertainment industry. From there, he did still drawings for CBS news which helped explain the Apollo missions to their audience years before the moon landing, CBS took the drawings and turned them into animations. It got him national exposure. He also did concept art and matte work for advertising.

    At Celebration IV, Dreams & Visions Press had a panel about McQuarrie where they showed some of his earlier technical works and his CBS works, they were very good and quite recognizable as his style, though it was amusing to see the master's early technical works which weren't allowed to live and breathe the way his entertainment, NASA, and personal stuff did.

    One thing I think that stands out for me with RMQ's work is how good he was at capturing how fire looked in action -- from the burning of the sail barge to the thrust of rockets, it all looked realistic and conveyed the proper amount of brightness, smoke, and action.

    Unfortunately, The Art of Ralph McQuarrie is a difficult book to get now, and very expensive, so there's not a lot to be seen as reference right now.


    I think I'm going to go wash and dry my hands, and look through my various Star Wars art books. Frustratingly, I haven't unpacked them all yet.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  4. #4
    I ended up thumbing through the Illustrated SW Universe, still an amazing book, but then I finally cracked open The Making of ESB, and holy crap there's a treasure trove of RMQ in there! I'm only 50 pages in, but lots of drawings, art, and interviews so far.

    Too bad the book is so massive that it can't support its own weight. Dude, seriously, 300+ double-wide pages in this layout in hardcover is too much, I had to remove the dust jacket just to hold it upright.

    Luckily, the content itself is worth the effort, and makes for a lovely tribute to McQuarrie even as you read the greater story of it all.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  5. #5
    I couldn't have said it better, JT.

    The one piece I wish I could even find a nice .jpg of is a picture of the command centre of Echo Base. It's got Artoo plugged into one of the control modules and the back of Threepio's head. You can see his hand gesturing to Artoo as if he's telling him to be careful or to not do something foolish. I love that picture.
    OK... I BLOG. YOU READ. at http://jedipartner1967.livejournal.com
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JEDIpartner View Post
    I couldn't have said it better, JT.

    The one piece I wish I could even find a nice .jpg of is a picture of the command centre of Echo Base. It's got Artoo plugged into one of the control modules and the back of Threepio's head. You can see his hand gesturing to Artoo as if he's telling him to be careful or to not do something foolish. I love that picture.
    What source is that from? It doesn't ring a bell for me, there's a lot of RMQ Echo Base art in The Making of ESB, but I don't remember coming across the one you described (at least, I haven't seen it YET), it sounds pretty good. So funny how "thing" characters R2 and 3PO can be given such emotional statements in a still piece of artwork.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  7. #7
    Just think how many iconic designs he had created or worked on! Even though he hadn't been illustrating for a while, his passing is an enormous loss to the community. His art does exude a sense of magic; I've tried to think about why that is, but in a way I don't want to break it down to a science and ruin it. But I don't think that would even be possible. It's still a treat to see his designs pop up now and again on The Clone Wars, which I hope will continue - in that way, we'll continue to have Ralph's work brought to life, even though he's gone.
    My Photos and Reviews: SSG Toy Guide
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JEDIpartner View Post
    The one piece I wish I could even find a nice .jpg of is a picture of the command centre of Echo Base. It's got Artoo plugged into one of the control modules and the back of Threepio's head. You can see his hand gesturing to Artoo as if he's telling him to be careful or to not do something foolish. I love that picture.
    Like this mousepad image, JP?
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    "That's what Sheev said."

  9. #9
    Wow, even if that's not it, I've never seen that piece before, it's really good. I don't think I've ever seen him do something that claustrophobic before, it conveys that as well.


    In Making of ESB, there's a lot of color tests of works and thumbnails of works, but there's also a pre-finished version of a final painting, and he attacks it so methodically, the way an engineer would draft lines, then fills them in with colorful grace. It answered a lot of questions I had about how his lines always looked so good.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  10. #10
    I know I'd seen this one before, simply because I recalled the ed goggled guy in the middle; it definitely is a different style of his. I just searched "McQuarrie" (see SSG thread on 4:20/11:38) on eBay to scan through the prints' images.
    "That's what Sheev said."

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