Ralph McQuarrie is dead

There’s no doubt in our hearts that, centuries from now, amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say…

“That looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.”

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t into movies, but I can remember when, as a kid, I first became fascinated with what went into making them: it was when I saw Star Wars, and my first reaction as the credits rolled was Wow. How did they do that?!

So I looked into it. I found out that some guy named George Lucas came up with the story and characters I enjoyed so much. Someone named John Williams wrote the music I couldn’t stop humming. A dude named Ben Burtt recorded the sound effects I’d try to vocally extemporize as I swung my toy lightsaber. And, as important to it all as any of them, an old man named Ralph McQuarrie made everything look the way it did.

I’m a big fan of giving credit where it’s due in general, but especially in cases where someone who’s had a great impact has, for whatever reason, gone largely unrecognized. This is the almost inexorable fate of conceptual artists, whose contributions, though they may be staggeringly important to films of great renown, cannot save their creators from anonymity. Well, for the millions of people who’ve been entertained over the years by Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, whether they know it or not, Ralph McQuarrie was more than relevant – he was a fucking star:

He single-handedly designed the look of my favorite series of movies. He made me want to dig beneath the surface of film and understand what went into it as an art form. He set my imagination aflame, and for that, to me, he was a giant.

Too bad Andrew Breitbart couldn’t have just died twice, instead.

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