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Rest In Peace Ralph McQuarrie

Hey guys. Quint here. The great Ralph McQuarrie passed away today at the age of 82. This news has hit me harder than I expected it to. As a kid I had his artwork on my walls and looked in awe through the portfolio set of his artwork from Star Wars (I never called it A New Hope, the first film was always just Star Wars to me and to this day I still feel awkward calling it A New Hope).

Without Ralph McQuarrie we would not have Star Wars, plain and simple. George Lucas’ script was being turned down left and right. Nobody was understanding his vision. Lucas realized he couldn’t count on a studio exec having even a small amount of imagination and sought out Ralph McQuarrie to do a series of production art pieces that would visualize the world.

Lucas’ first pitch with McQuarrie’s art laid out before him was at 20th Century Fox and you know what happened next.

If that had been McQuarrie’s complete legacy we would owe him our eternal thanks, but not only did he grasp the story and imagery Lucas was desperate to put on screen, he set the template for the universe. I’ve included much of McQuarrie’s art below and when you look at his Star Wars stuff, look at how exactly his machines were adapted by ILM. I’d say you can thank Ralph for the lived-in look of the universe.

Back in my youthful days I remember being mesmerized by the alternate reality suggested by his image of Luke, with breathing apparatus, having a duel with Vader in Star Wars, and by the thought of what it would have been like had the Stormtroopers carried lightsabers.

When you get to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi you see his artwork and just kind of marvel at how, in both cases, that IS the movie.

McQuarrie’s art also influenced the mothership in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and he was even called upon to illustrate that great image from Indiana’s book depicting the power of the Ark of the Covenant.



While he will be forever known for influencing the look and style of Star Wars, McQuarrie also set the template for Battlestar Galactica and produced art for Cocoon (for which he won an Oscar), Total Recall, E.T., Masters of the Universe, Nightbreed (!?!) and Batteries Not Included.

Ralph McQuarrie achieved the dream of every artist: his work sparked the imaginations of millions. His particular style met with Lucas’ vision at the right time and that spark created the most iconic original film series in the history of cinema.

In my mind, McQuarrie was to Star Wars what HR Giger was to Alien. His contributions to film history are undeniable and I hope he knew they didn’t go unnoticed.

My thoughts are with Mr. McQuarries’ friends, family and many fans.

I ran a picture of Ralph touching up a matte painting from The Empire Strikes Back in a Behind the Scenes Column a while back. I’m going to re-use that photo here and let that kick off an avalanche of his artwork. His concept art for Battlestar Galactica will be first, followed by his Star Wars concept work.









































-Eric Vespe
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Readers Talkback
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  • March 3, 2012, 9:17 p.m. CST

    Amazing & Influential Artist!!

    by Mako

    He will be missed :(

  • March 3, 2012, 9:20 p.m. CST


    by Perigee

    Rest in peace, Ralph. Thanks for an amazing childhood.

  • I've never seen Robots humanized to such an extent all while maintaing that mystique. Google that image. He was an AMAZING artist.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:20 p.m. CST

    So Sad...

    by B Arnold Quizzling

    No first for this. RIP. A true visionary.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:21 p.m. CST

    such a same

    by proton45

    he was an inspiration.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:23 p.m. CST

    Appreciate these artists while you still can...

    by Boneyard

    So sad to hear of Mr. McQuarrie's passing. Please do yourself a favor - when you are at Comic Con or Wonder Con or Star Wars Celebration or where ever - if you appreciate or have been touched by someone's art, let them know. They'll appreciate it and you'll be glad you did.

  • Bugger, hit the wrong button. Anyway, Quint, never a truer word was said. We take so much of modern movies and the frankly fantastic for granted these days and I'm sure execs do as well but if it wasn't for McQuarrie's creating that link between crazy text and solidifying things in the mind, we'd likely not even have John Carter in cinematic form. He was unique, a genuine great of cinema design who ought to be counted along with Ken Adam ans William Cameron Menzies. So much of his initial designs for Lucas touted outline made it into the movies (even Empire, thinking about the original design for Cloud City) and that speaks volumes. He has left us all the richer.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:26 p.m. CST

    Ralph McQuarrie gave our dreams color.

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    We love you Ralph.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:28 p.m. CST

    I had the Star Wars novelization with the McQuarrie cover

    by OutsideChance the Vader he painted on that cover is, to me, the definitive one. RIP sir

  • March 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m. CST

    RIP.Thanks for your work.

    by KilliK

  • March 3, 2012, 9:31 p.m. CST

    Whoa...hadn't seen some of those

    by Bobo_Vision

    I like the Empire one of the men in the trenches. It's like Paths of Glory set on Hoth. The original trilogy really connected with the zeitgeist.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:32 p.m. CST

    The first artist who inspired me. at age 6. thank you.

    by wierdo27

  • March 3, 2012, 9:39 p.m. CST

    it's amazing...

    by mogwai_democracy fully realized his illustrations for Star Wars, Empire, etc... were. the final look of those films were VERY close to his original works. the feel of those films and those worlds are very much a result of his vision and brilliance.<p<p> so long, Mr. McQuarrie. your work and inspiration will live on forever.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:41 p.m. CST

    Brilliant Visionary

    by BubbaDestructo

    Thank you Mr. McQuarrie, for giving us the dreams.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:42 p.m. CST

    Damn..I had SW book Waaaaay back as a kid in late 70's...

    by conspiracy

    that had many of those pictures in it. God I loved looking at hose damned bad ass, cooler even than the images in the film itself. Great artist...

  • March 3, 2012, 9:42 p.m. CST

    Damn. That man was a genius...

    by Daytripper69

    ... and he helped sell Star Wars with those early concept paintings. "Genius" is a word I reserve for a few people only and Ralph McQuarry was one of them. "The Art of Star Wars" and "The Art of the Empire Strikes Back" are two of my favorite books of all time. May he rest in peace.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:45 p.m. CST

    I love the whole crew from the original STAR WARS. RIP

    by Margot Tenenbaum

    I wish modern filmmakers would go back and write films around the unused concepts of McQuarrie, Syd Mead, Giger and especially John Berkey.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:46 p.m. CST

    His matte paintings never ceased to amaze me...

    by Geoff Clingan

    I still think they're one of the highlights of the films.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:47 p.m. CST


    by ZaphodBeeblerox

    For my graduation from high school back in 83, a few underclassmen pitched together and got me the Return of the Jedi portfolio of artwork from Ralph McQuarrie. Those plates were the greatest gift I ever received. His art will be timeless and I really can't think of anyone whose artwork comes close in terms of being able to evoke these different worlds and creatures as well as he was able to. RIP Mr McQuarrie and thank you for sharing your talent with us while you were here.

  • March 3, 2012, 9:54 p.m. CST

    Sad day. Such an inspirational artist.

    by Mr. Waturi

    Thank you, Mr. McQuarrie, for your timeless and passionate work.

  • Even marginally successful ones too Mr. McQuarrie. RIP to a modern master.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:02 p.m. CST


    by t_allen

    I have the art of star wars, empire, jedi somewhere. As well as the sketchbook with so much of his art. So sad, such a great artist with a lot more vision and talent than many can boast.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:02 p.m. CST

    One of the true masterminds behind the original trilogy!

    by The_Genteel_Gentile

    Rest In Peace.

  • His concept drawings were incredible in their own right and then his matte paintings were a completely separate level of art. He voluntarily opted out of working on the prequels and I think it's safe to say that they suffered as a result. It's obvious that no one is going to paint composite shots on glass anymore. A true piece of movie making history has ended today.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:06 p.m. CST

    I remember...

    by tbrosz

    The Worldcon in Kansas City. There was a little room with a full-size C3-PO on display, along with Darth Vader's suit, a lot of cool props, and McQuarrie's paintings everywhere. On a stool nearby sat an eager young blonde guy, no older than me, telling us about the movie and handing out typewritten photocopied press releases on a single sheet of bright yellow paper. I still have a couple of those faded yellow press sheets, and maybe they still have a few of Mark Hamill's fingerprints on them.

  • I always wanted to see the movie he was putting on canvas.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Thank you so much Ralph!

    by Clavius

    I can't tell you how many hours I spent just STARING at every image in those "Art Of" books for all three Star Wars films. Even today, I find some of those primitive designs for Vader, the AT-AT's, Luke in a way, even cooler than what finally made it to screen. Very rarely am I so moved and genuinely saddened at the loss of someone I never met, but today is one of those exceptions. Ralph's art, not just for Star Wars, but Raiders, BTTF, E.T. etc. was a huge part of my childhood, and I can't thank him enough for that. Thank you Ralph!

  • March 3, 2012, 10:12 p.m. CST

    What A Great Loss!

    by Real Deal

    This guy is responsible for the look of most of the great SF we've seen on the big and small screen for the last 35 years! Since Star Wars you've seen his name connected to practically every franchise out there. Some people there's just no replacing. RIP.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:12 p.m. CST

    RIP to a visionary.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

  • March 3, 2012, 10:13 p.m. CST

    @halfscan I agree wholeheartedly.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

  • March 3, 2012, 10:23 p.m. CST


    by eric haislar

    He designed most of our childhoods.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:23 p.m. CST

    we need a giant coffee-table book collecting his work...

    by Jobacca

    Somebody was selling one at the last Star Wars Celebration a couple of years ago but it was crazy expensive....we need a nice,mass-market art book collecting all of the mans amazing work.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:24 p.m. CST

    ONE of the BEST!!!

    by DrMorbius

    A Visionary beyond reproach. Thank You, and Godspeed.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:24 p.m. CST

    As legendary as they get

    by I am_NOTREAL

    I had or saw many of the pieces Quint included in the article. A quiet genius. RIP.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:32 p.m. CST

    a legendary individual in the cinema industry

    by Carven

    the fact that he was instrumental in bringing us Darth Vader is enough for all of Hollywood to mourn his loss. RIP

  • Not that it matters. I didn't even know he did the Ark of the Covenant wrath of God painting.

  • March 3, 2012, 10:46 p.m. CST

    in threes...

    by talby

    john severin... ralph mcquarrie... and ... ... davie jones? ... whitney? shit, well... i hate for great artistes to die. seems like we lose a lot of them lately...

  • March 3, 2012, 10:48 p.m. CST

    p.s. looking at those previzs of sw,

    by talby

    i loved how black he could get the background when he wanted it. really stark and made colors really vivid, for something so seventies (damn, funny how "faded" the seventies can seem now!)

  • March 3, 2012, 10:52 p.m. CST

    Such beautiful art. RIP sir

    by manonfire

  • I got sucked way deeper into the SW universe through his paintings. I loved the idea of storm troopers w lightsabers (that looked more blade like). And Luke wearing an oxygen mask made shit seem more real and dangerous. RIP!

  • March 3, 2012, 10:57 p.m. CST

    heh yeah i grabbed that pic too for my desktop...

    by talby

    good god!" "yes, that's what the hebrews said...

  • March 3, 2012, 11:03 p.m. CST

    This sucks.

    by jackofhearts29

    He was probably the most influential designer of genre culture in my childhood. I remember poring over the Star Wars art books and the Raiders one too. And I agree with geofruben: it transcended the films, and extended them too. I probably wouldn't have as fond memories as I do about the first 2 Lucas films (the classics) if I hadn't also seen his production art. I know I wouldn't have appreciated the design as much if I hadn't had his imagery to study and fall into over and over again. It was truly a mind-expanding experience. R.I.P.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:06 p.m. CST

    A fine design artist he was...

    by ObiBen

    His work for sci-fi films was simultaneously exotic, techy, industrial and yet had such elegance and personality. I wish he was still around, showing us sights we've never seen before.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:06 p.m. CST

    So sad - there are so many images of his burned in my mind.

    by vic twenty

    What a life, to have had such impact on so many lives. I agree with the many posters above that McQarrie's images sparked the imagination better than the films. Action figure battles circa 1980 were always better in large part due to his inspiration. Rest in peace and thank you, sir.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:11 p.m. CST

    by neosporing

    As a seven year old, McQuarrie's paintings were all that I had to obsess over when trying to feed the insatiable appetite to see more after the movie left the theater. I remember seeing the Star Wars portfolio for the first time at a neighbors house and thinking that these pictures looked even better than the film that was fading in my memory. Seeing the stormtrooper with the lightsaber, vader's early helmet, the early Y-wing gave me as a child the first idea of the 'behind the scenes' that went into film making even existed. Because there was no internet, or even VHS i would just stare at Mcquarrie's work, lost in the rich details, living in his environments, just wanting to see more. My empire strikes back sketchbook remains to this day in a section of my bookshelf that i will B-line towards in the event my house is burning down. It was this sketchbook, that made me realize it wasn't actually star wars that i was in love with, it was McQuarrie's work. It is also one of the main reasons, i didn't like the prequels. When I heard Doug Chiang say on the 'making of featurette for TPM' that as a kid he thought that McQuarries ships 'looked wrong' i was appalled and offended. I can't imagine what my life would be like without Mcquarrie having graced our world with his presence. I am truly saddened with his passing. Thank you mr. mcquarrie for your gift; thank you for fueling my imagination.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:12 p.m. CST


    by Vicconius

    The man designed what all off us came to see as the way sci-fi looked. Star Wars. Battlestar. All him. Thanks Mr. McQuarrie. RIP

  • March 3, 2012, 11:13 p.m. CST

    RIP, Mr. McQuarrie you were a visionary

    by Chuck_Chuckwalla

    Huge fan. I've got a signed and numbered Ark of the Covenant print hanging in my office.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:14 p.m. CST

    Second only to Lucas

    by Keith

    McQuarrie is, in all seriousness, the second-most important person (after Lucas) in the creation of the Star Wars universe. His concepts made Star Wars work. His vision made it real. It could well have been a hokey lame-o-fest without McQuarrie. He made the Star Wars universe credible, properly-conceived, believable. When McQuarrie came aboard, Star Wars started to work. People suddenly had a mark to hit, and started to take action to ensure it WAS hit. This is very apparent when reading J.W.Rinzler's (excellent) books on the making of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes back.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Lets face it...

    by Sean1701

    This is the passing of a golden age in cinema. His vision is why we had such great films as kids growing up (I'm nearing 40).

  • March 3, 2012, 11:20 p.m. CST

    The Bespin concept art

    by Keith

    For those that don't know, this was originally created for the original movie, as a concept for what would become the Death Star. It was reused (or just used, I guess) subsequently in ESB when they needed a concept for Cloud City.

  • And even though I am a die hard fan of the BSG TV remake that ended a few years ago, I'd really love to see McQuarrie's Battlestar Galactica envisioned properly with a hefty budget on the big screen with top of the line special effects. Bryan Singer would be smart to go in that direction for his the design style with his Battlestar remake. RIP Ralph McQuarrie. You've truly given us all a great deal of visionary artwork that has brightened and enhanced our lives.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:23 p.m. CST


    by Geekgasm

    An enormous talent and an enormous loss. For those of us whose lives have been forever colored by the perspective of Star Wars, he was more than a giant. His visions became our dreams. God bless him and may he rest in peace.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:25 p.m. CST

    neosporing - Portfolio

    by ObiBen

    Idem for me, a friend of mine had these giant portfolios for Star Wars and CE3K (I was 9). This is when I fully realised that these things didn't just sprout to life in a vacuum, but that someone actually had to imagine, draw and make them.

  • Mass Effect anyone? I'd say the signature design aesthetic that McQuarrie used to conceptualize Star Wars rubbed off on Star Trek when they revived it with the motion picture saga in the late 70's.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Goodbye Dear Friend.

    by notcher

    Lightning, fire, power gun or something.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:42 p.m. CST

    Rather than lament for the here and now

    by Goodbye_America

    I'll just say RIP to a true genius, and hope that someone out there has been inspired enough to contribute work just as brilliant.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:44 p.m. CST

    Phenomenal artist

    by Triple_J_72

    That fifth picture with the giant screen taking up the whole wall... he painted that in the 70's? That shot can easily be used today! Remarkable. Mr. McQuarrie's vision was truly ahead of its time. I remember having a Topps bubble gum card of the picture with Luke on the Bespin gantry about to fall, while Vader is on the other side waving his sabre. (3rd from bottom) At first, I thought that painting was an actual still from the movie. That's how good McQuarrie was. R.I.P.

  • Thanks for the beautiful work, Ralph. Love ya, man!

  • March 3, 2012, 11:59 p.m. CST


    by TheUmpireStrokesBach

    Death is a disease that needs curing. What a bummer.

  • March 3, 2012, 11:59 p.m. CST

    Why the Breathing Apparatus?

    by CigsandCoffee56

    Is there a back story to why McQuarrie included it in his drawing?

  • March 4, 2012, 12:05 a.m. CST

    RIP Mr. McQuarrie and thank you for your visionary work!

    by Thanos0145

  • March 4, 2012, 12:08 a.m. CST

    tbrosz, I remember the '76 Worldcon in Kansas City, too..., too

    by kisskissbangbang

    ... and that same room, (which also had a R2-D2 in it), and the presentation with Gary Kurtz and Mark Hamill talking about the film. That kind of promotion for an sf movie at a sf convention was unheard of in those days, and you can trace a direct line from that to the San Diego ComicCon and the media presence there. And it worked; I spent the next nine months telling anybody who'd listen how awesome this movie nobody had ever heard of was going to be. And the thing that sold me most were these paintings by McQuarrie. More even than the props, that artwork showed you the imaginative density of the film's look, the depth of thought that had been put into it. My favorite was one Quint doesn't show, of a confrontation in the cantina scene, with a tailed alien in it (hope I'm remembering it right after all these years). I also seem to recall one of a fighter craft in the trench. They were the distilled quintessence of pulp sf, the kind of stuff I knew I'd never see in a film. And if not for Ralph McQuarrie, I probably never would have. Peace be yours, Mr. McQuarrie.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:10 a.m. CST

    And thank you, Quint, for that close-up of the Ark illustration...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ..from Raiders. I had no idea McQuarrie had done that, too. We owe this man so much.

  • Look at that first photo and tell us who's the real artist, George. Now put everyone's original blood, sweat and tears-created work back into the films, where they rightfully belong, and then leave it alone and shut up forever more. The Star Wars OT is about so much more than Lucas. If he had a shred of integrity, he'd understand that. R.I.P., Mr. McQuarrie. You are a legend.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:12 a.m. CST

    Man, this really sucks.

    by jae683


  • March 4, 2012, 12:13 a.m. CST

    He was a truly great artist. His work changed SF forever.

    by Raptor Jesus

    He touched so many people with his art. So many. That's a pretty good eulogy right there.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:19 a.m. CST

    @cigsandcoffee56 breathing apparatus

    by wierdo27 Vader's outfit was supposed to be a spacesuit. can ya dig THAT?? VADER'S OUTFIT...WAS... A SPACE SUIT. Boggles the mind. I can't even handle it.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:21 a.m. CST

    Aw, damnit.

    by BobJ812

    The very first image I ever saw - the very first knowledge of a movie called "Star Wars" was a tiny little image of one of his paintings in Starlog. Thanks for all the wonder you gave me, and R.I.P.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:25 a.m. CST

    The ninth picture here

    by Keith

    The one under the lightsaber duel, showing the space-ship in the docking bay. That's the original concept art for Han Solo's ship, known simply as the 'pirate ship'. It was intended to be a long, spindly-looking thing with a cockpit at the front. But when Space: 1999 started to air in 1975, Lucas and co thought the design for the pirate ship was too close to that of the vehicles from Anderson's show. They did a redesign and the 'flying hamburger' won out. I think McQuarrie suggested repurposing the original pirate ship cockpit and just stuck it on the side of what would become the Millennium Falcon, adding some intriguing asymmetry in the process. The main body of the ship, which had already been built as a model, had a new 'hammerhead' cockpit bolted into it, and this became the Tantive IV blockade runner seen at the start of the movie. So, yes, Space: 1999 lead to the creation of the Millennium Falcon, with the Old Millennium Falcon becoming the very first ship you see in the trilogy.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:25 a.m. CST

    Lucas sends the guy off with some great words....

    by ZodNotGod

  • March 4, 2012, 12:29 a.m. CST

    Do you think hacks like Bay or Paul Greengrass or

    by ZodNotGod

    any stooge worknig today will have such a genius to work with? Exactly. No.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:29 a.m. CST


    by ZodNotGod

    give it a rest, douche.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:30 a.m. CST


    by lv_426

    Did McQuarrie himself do any matte paintings for the original Star Wars trilogy? I could have sworn I read that he did in one of those The Art of Star Wars books? I can't remember which one though, and I may be remembering incorrectly. Either way, the thought of that which your post reminded me of, makes me really feel like Lucas maybe ought to give us a release of the unaltered theatrical cuts of the Star Wars OT on Blu-ray. It would be a great way to do a tribute to Ralph McQuarrie. I guess it would need to be an OT box set covered with awesome McQuarrie artwork and conceptual paintings from the 70's when they were first designing Star Wars. Have the only special features be a documentary chronicling the work that McQuarrie did for Star Wars and other films over his long career. Maybe have a cool little collectible art book of McQuarrie's work bundled with it too. They could call it the Ralph McQuarrie tribute edition or something like that. Not to say, *oh great, Lucas should capitalize on McQuarrie's legacy after his death*, but more that it would be a cool and fun thing for the fans who have been wanting the OT, and at the same time a way to expose the younger Star Wars fans to McQuarrie's exceptional and legendary artwork.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:31 a.m. CST

    Can someone post his RAIDERS work?

    by ZodNotGod

  • March 4, 2012, 12:33 a.m. CST


    by Keith

    That is a great link. I don't think I had ever realized before that Vader's voice is so different in ESB from how it was in SW. The direct juxtaposition makes it quite stark.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:36 a.m. CST

    RIP Mr. McQuarrie

    by guido505

    I remember looking at his paintings from the original trilogy when I was a kid. I still find those original concept paintings to be just amazing work. He will be missed for sure.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:45 a.m. CST

    What dreams are made of.

    by CatVutt

    RIP Mr. McQuarrie. And thank you for endless hours of childhood fantasy.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:49 a.m. CST


    by bubcus

    I too was mesmerized by his work on Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and especially the artwork for Revenge of the Jedi (as it was known back then) that graced the last pages of a tribute magazine that I got at a Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back double feature. Such an inspiration. You will be missed.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:54 a.m. CST

    The look of my childhood

    by tumantorak

    Right before seeing this sad news my wife and I were showing Raiders for the first time to my five- and seven-year old. I didn't know he created that illustration that Indy shows the Army Intelligence guys. I still look at The Art of The Empire Strikes Back and The Art of Return of the Jedi several times a year. I remember fondly a time before the internet when there was no way other than reading Starlog or Cinefantastique, or attending a con or watching Entertainment Tonight, that you could find out about genre movies. Those art portfolios were the only other way to get an insight into how all these amazing things were created. There are times CG is good at creating things that would be difficult or prohibitively expensive to otherwise show an audience. The boldness and artistry that McQuarrie mastered is still a fundamental necessity in conceiving the look of a film, regardless of how it's ultimately realized. Somebody has to give life to descriptions and vague ideas when a director says "spaceship", "robot" and "alien". I think I'll go look at Art of Empire and Art of Jedi now. R.I.P.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:55 a.m. CST


    by tbrosz

    Anybody remember when, for just one McQuarrie sketch, Han Solo looked like George Lucas and Luke Skywalker was a girl?

  • March 4, 2012, 1 a.m. CST

    @zodnotgod, you're not impressing anybody.

    by kevred

    Least of all me.

  • March 4, 2012, 1:03 a.m. CST

    The one of the Cloud City interior...

    by Ryoga1124

    Did McQuarrie design the Slave 1?

  • March 4, 2012, 1:06 a.m. CST

    @lv_426 re: matte paintings

    by kevred

    I can't say for sure, but according to McQuarrie interviews and his own web site, he did matte paintings for both SW and ESB, at least. If so, I don't know which ones. My main point was more broad than McQuarrie, though. It was that real artists and craftsmen worked on the OT, and many of them have had their work thrown out by Lucas for the sake of digital tomfoolery. They're not all legends like McQuarrie. But they made the OT what it was, and if Lucas really values the flimsy work that produced the prequels over the singular work in the OT, then it's a sad statement. Love your idea for a special OT box set!

  • March 4, 2012, 1:15 a.m. CST

    R.I.P. Ralph

    by D o o d

    I owe you my career and passion for art! :o(

  • March 4, 2012, 1:23 a.m. CST

    Golden Age artist Sheldon Modoff also died recently

    by MonkMayfair

    Drew Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman and others...

  • March 4, 2012, 1:24 a.m. CST

    Sorry, Moldoff....

    by MonkMayfair

  • March 4, 2012, 1:28 a.m. CST

    He was the best, and truly did inspiring work...

    by Jay

    Around 11th grade I had to write a report on an artist/animator for my animation & art class. Now this is before my family had the Internet at home (It was during the 90s), so all the info available on Star Wars and movie making in general wasn't at my fingertips. Knowing that I was a big Star Wars fan, my teacher actually recommended that I do a report on Ralph McQuarrie. His work was beautiful and inspiring. I know there's a few books highlighting his work, but I hope sometime in the near future we get a very extensive book about his life and work. He deserves to remembered as a great.

  • March 4, 2012, 1:48 a.m. CST

    A man whose talents will be long remembered ...

    by not_the_real

    Truly one of the greats has left us today. Quint, you said it; without McQuarrie, we wouldn't have had Star Wars. Lucas may have written it, but it was Ralph McQuarrie who gave it visual life. A one of a kind, he will be missed.

  • March 4, 2012, 2:09 a.m. CST

    An unsurpassed visionary...

    by Darth Scourge

    An unsurpassed visionary and a true master has gone. RIP.

  • March 4, 2012, 2:22 a.m. CST

    RIP sir

    by Evan Meadow

    The sheer amount of people he's influenced and those he will still influence in the future is immeasurable.

  • March 4, 2012, 2:28 a.m. CST

    That image from Raiders of the Lost Ark.......

    by david starling

    .......Amazing film, and that image, when it turns up in the film, sets forth the curiosity, in the horror, about what happens when the Ark is opened (to our eyes, watching the film). In effect the best example of the legacy, that a piece of his work, was shown in the film, and served as a key visual point!! Very sad. Rest in Peace Ralph.

  • March 4, 2012, 2:31 a.m. CST

    Godspeed Ralph

    by THX1968

    What a bummer. I got the Star Wars Portfolio in the Christmas of '77 or '78, and I remember poring over those images for hours on end. It was like reliving the movie, but a different version of it. I still have that portfolio, all three actually. My favorite image is that of Luke in breathing gear and Vader dueling. So great. McQuarrie was such a visionary talent, descriptive words that are tossed about too freely these days, but fit his genius perfectly. He really defined an aesthetic that will now be used forever. I love the Galactica stuff, and his Asimov book covers as well. Yet whenever I see his work, my mind always drifts back to his awesome Star Wars paintings that fired my imagination when I was a kid and still do. What a fine legacy this talented man leaves behind him! Godspeed Ralph McQuarrie, rest in peace.

  • March 4, 2012, 3:16 a.m. CST

    Godspeed and Thank You Sir

    by MGTHEDJ

    I was 9 when I saw Star Wars in 1977. It really did change the world. He worked on both Star Wars and Close Encounters. The one-two punch of those films showed the Hollywood studios what they could do. They had struggled with what to bankroll, since they were not willing to be as intimate as European films, an great example being Fox giving a wide release to The Other Side of Midnight (a glorified TV-movie) in May 1977 and giving Star Wars only a platform release. Hollywood studios were being too hokey with the big budget disaster films of the previous 4 years. While the Brits had more imagination, they didn't have money to make their projects really work. Ralph McQuarrie artwork gave the set constructors something to aspire to and the model makers really had to raise their game. Compare the model work of Star Wars to Logan's Run from a year earlier. McQuarrie is the reason Star Wars looks better. The Falcon on the landing platform at Cloud City was a matte painting? You fooled me for 30 years with that one, sir. m

  • March 4, 2012, 3:43 a.m. CST

    Very sad news

    by Righteous Brother

    He was the man. And as so many people before me have said, there would be no Star Wars without him. I've always been a huge fan of his work, may he rest in peace.

  • March 4, 2012, 3:53 a.m. CST

    cigsandcofee.......breathing aparatus

    by Righteous Brother

    Ralph McQuarrie reasoned that if people were travelling between spaceships they might require breathing apparatus, so that's why he added it.

  • March 4, 2012, 3:53 a.m. CST

    The most influential artist of the 20th century?

    by SiouxCitySarsaparilla

  • March 4, 2012, 4:01 a.m. CST

    Stormtroopers with light SHIELDS oh yes...

    by Fourthwall

    always thought that was what was missing from starwars now i know it wasnt - just Lucas didnt put it in. How close the trench run is to the 633 Squadron movie

  • March 4, 2012, 4:05 a.m. CST

    R.I.P Ralph

    by nobbythehappyelf

    Your work was one of the reasons why I had such a happy childhood. Thank you so much. A great loss to the motion picture and art worlds. Rest Gently...

  • March 4, 2012, 4:15 a.m. CST

    One day when they remake Star Wars the source material will be his paintings.

    by SiouxCitySarsaparilla

  • March 4, 2012, 4:38 a.m. CST


    by SonnyBonoWigDo

    Thank you for so much, Ralph. You were a true master.

  • March 4, 2012, 4:55 a.m. CST


    by KGB3317

    You will be greatly missed Ralph. Your art was an inspiration to all us young artists that were obsessed with Star Wars. Thank You.

  • March 4, 2012, 5:09 a.m. CST

    He created the look of Star Wars (and others)

    by Roderich

    a true Genius. He will be missed.

  • Thank you Ralph. You were the best.

  • March 4, 2012, 5:50 a.m. CST

    Lucas owes Ralph big time

    by Rtobert

  • RIP... SO sad, he was one of the true genius that got George Lucas vague idea and turned it into an icon (others include John Williams and the ILM team). RIP...

  • March 4, 2012, 6:37 a.m. CST

    And Ralph pretty much CREATED DARTH VADER... :-(

    by Ricardo

    RIP indeed, the saddest death here in AICN in QUITE a while....

  • Sad to see this visionary go.

  • March 4, 2012, 6:55 a.m. CST

    RIP Ralph McQuarrie.

    by UltimaRex

    And thank you.

  • March 4, 2012, 7:07 a.m. CST


    by JamesT

    RIP Mr. McQuarrie. Thank you for your amazing work.

  • March 4, 2012, 7:09 a.m. CST

    Thanks for sparking my imagination

    by christopher adams

    A childhood icon of mine has died at 82 years old. Ralph McQuarrie filled my imagination with unseen worlds full of robots, space ships, a plethora of extra terrestial beings and untold adventure. You see as I was growing up on the southside of chicago when the same kids who I had been playing G.I. JOE with just the summer before had gotten into the world of gangs and drugs I stayed firmly planted in my imagination. The worse my neighborhood got the more entrenched I became in the world of science fiction and fantasy and it was Mr. McQuarrie's work that fed my imagination. I set my sights on becoming an illustrator designing movie posters and robots for great epic stories. I will never forget your contributions to my imagination. Thank you. May you rest in peace. Sincerely, Christopher Adams

  • ... we haven't seen anything as impactful as their work in the past thirty years.

  • March 4, 2012, 7:28 a.m. CST

    He was a true great

    by steverogers5

    Even as a kid I could see that. Rest in Peace Mr McQuarrie. You've more than earned it.

  • March 4, 2012, 7:35 a.m. CST


    by jellypop

    I really didn't catch the concept art he produced until I read a few books when

  • March 4, 2012, 7:37 a.m. CST

    lv_426 - RM did concept art for Star Trek too


    Planet of the Titans and The Voyage Home:

  • March 4, 2012, 7:38 a.m. CST

    Incidentally I just found my dad's SW portfolio from McQuarrie

    by Robert Evans

    I was helping them move and came across it.. Stopped for a minute to relive the days of examining every inch of those pics

  • March 4, 2012, 7:43 a.m. CST


    by jellypop

    (I don't know what happened to my netbook took on a life of its own...damn thing) So to carry on.... I was a little older.By then I had different tastes so truthfully I didn't really like his drawing style. However, the impact he made was universal and should in no way be ever underestimated. To be able to conjure such iconic images that were capable of sparking so much imgination is something we should all admire. RIP Ralph

  • but Lucas changed his own Idea. Big mistake.

  • March 4, 2012, 8 a.m. CST

    I was dreading this day. Ralph was a one of a kind visionary

    by alienindisguise

    and without him there would be a lot fewer artists, a lot less people inspired to imagine and create. This is a terrible day for all of us who never got the chance to thank him in person for all that he has done.

  • March 4, 2012, 9 a.m. CST

    from one Irishman to another, i'll miss you Ralph

    by Tigger Tales

  • March 4, 2012, 9:05 a.m. CST

    Didnt Follow ALL his work, but loved his Star Wars

    by doom master

  • March 4, 2012, 9:18 a.m. CST

    A Great Artist. I'm grateful for his gifts. RIP friend

    by DavidBanner

  • March 4, 2012, 9:24 a.m. CST

    Thankyou Ralph McQuarrie

    by Darth Saddius

    1976. I am in secondary school (High school on your side of the pond). I am a sci fi and fantasy geek. I had been spoilt by being taken to 2001 and Planet of the Apes as kid in the late 60s. 70's sci-fi films seemed for the most part visually 'cheesy' with a few honourable exceptions. Logan's Run? oh dear - that shite robot. The shopping mall city. Various made for TV sci-fi movies always seemed to involve people running around some scrubland outside LA - no imagination. Indeed at the time rock 'n roll seemed much more interesting than Hollywood and film in general to me at the time (though of course in retrospect I realised many great films were being made). One day in 76 reading New Musical Express there was a brief paragraph that George Lucas was making a film called the Star Wars involving various stuff including 'Jedi Knights' - hmmm intriguing. Then in an issue a few weeks or months later there was a follow up with a little image that I later realised was a Ralph McQuarrie painting of X-Wings approaching the Death Star exhaust port (not that I knew what they and it were at this point). Now I was seriously interested. The image seemed to have the feel I got when I was reading sci-fi with a space opera feel (as opposed to Dystopian sci-fi). It seemed that the artist understood this type of material. Then slowly but surely images by McQuarrie and stills entered the pre-internet public domain and my brain. There was as I recall a gap of a few months between the release of Star Wars in the US and the UK so the stills and design paintings one saw kept anticipation levels high - I particularly remember being psyched up by a McQuarrie painting of a rebel pilot in front or Y-wings in a hangar which was published in the Sunday Times magazine. Then on a science and technology program program called Tomorrows World they showed a brief clip of Tie fighters and X-wings over the Death Star - OH MY GAWD as we say in Sarf London. It is difficult for a generation brought up in an era when fantasy and sci-fi films are so common and where special effects are so highly developed (whatever your take on CGI vs Stop motion and matte paintings ect) to understand the impact that this had - spaceships - looking cool (and in the case of Tie fighters somehow sinister by virtue of their design), moving and changing course fast, very fast. Ticket sold there and then. A family friend took me and my family to see it at the London Dominion at the end of 77 and needless to say I was blown away. This was the film I had wanted to see when I was 9 (but I got 2001 instead which I loved but was puzzled by). One of the things that I thought was so impressive was the largely seemless use of imagery as part of the story telling. In the weeks and months that followed I, like many other talkbackers poured over the relatively small number of design paintings and drawings that had entered the public domain with rapt fascination. The look of the film, based on McQuarries paintings haunted my imagination pretty constantly. Sometime in 78 or 79 there was a limited re-release of Star Wars in UK cinemas. Me and some mates went to a showing in our local fleapit. Before Star Wars they showed a Deputy Dawg cartoon (cotton-pickin' brilliant) and then before Star Wars we got a very early trailer for Empire. What was unusual about this was that it consisted entirely of stills of some of McQuarries paintings for Empire. I think it is a mark of the power of his images that Fox and/or Lucas were confident enough to do this and that it got us all hyped up again (I distinctly remember brief glimpses of Cloud City and AT-AT's). Say what you like about Lucas but he had the vision to use McQuarries vision. From Star Wars I got a lifelong love of films in all their variety. For that to a large extent I am indebted to the artistry and vision of Ralph McQuarrie. My condolences to his family and friends. May the force be with him.

  • March 4, 2012, 9:40 a.m. CST

    The creator of Star Wars has died.

    by UltraTron


  • March 4, 2012, 9:41 a.m. CST

    Sad news

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Ralph was a legend for my generation - the Empire Strikes Back portfolio was simply mindblowing. Rest in peace sir, you left your mark on the world.

  • March 4, 2012, 9:49 a.m. CST

    RIP, Ralph. What an artist. I never knew he worked on Galactica.

    by Mr Nicholas

  • I have a few McQuarie concept action figures, wish I would've got them all.

  • March 4, 2012, 9:52 a.m. CST


    by VoiceOfSaruman

    Star Wars was magical and amazing to me and so many millions of other kids back then. But it never looked more magical, so mysterious, so full of fantasy and wonder, than in McQuarrie's original visions. Star Wars via Lucas is like the best popcorn film of all time, with a dash of eastern mysticism thrown in. Star Wars via McQuarrie is truly art, something so compelling and new that it crosses over into myth and literature and legend.

  • March 4, 2012, 9:58 a.m. CST

    I'm an artist today thanks to him.

    by puto tenax

    As a child, his work in the late 60s and 70s had me tracing those delicate, intricate lines of art. I recall a school notebook with beautiful renderings from either NASA or Boeing which he did showing various spacecraft in earth's orbit. Thank you, sir, for letting me trace those lines. I owe you so much.

  • March 4, 2012, 10:01 a.m. CST

    To darthsaddius

    by puto tenax

    Incredible story you have there. Amazing how Ralph effected you as well.

  • March 4, 2012, 10:37 a.m. CST



    The man was a genius.

  • WHy is McQuarrie's work unique? Because it's organic - it comes from the soul. Film posters have been consistently poorer for the introduction of Photoshop into cinematic art. McQuarrie I argue, contributed more to the overall vision of Star Wars than anyone else - his visuals made sense of the story and probably inspired Lucas in his re-writes.

  • March 4, 2012, 11:14 a.m. CST

    This is awful. I'll write more later.

    by justmyluck

  • March 4, 2012, 11:27 a.m. CST

    without RM, there is no STAR WARS

    by la_sith

    His work will always be remembered and cherished. What a legacy.

  • March 4, 2012, 11:42 a.m. CST

    RIP to a master. We were blessed to have had him.

    by Farrokh

  • March 4, 2012, 12:12 p.m. CST

    My visual compass for so many films, GONE ?

    by fathergeek

    Whenever I think back over the "STAR WARS" or "RAIDERS" series it is the images of the late great RALPH MCQUARRIE that flow before my "Mind's Eye" (or is that my "Mind's I" ?) Production Art just won't be the same without you, Master McQuarrie ! I'm at a total loss of words, this is such a total "knock-out punch" to me...

  • March 4, 2012, 12:37 p.m. CST

    Respect and thanks...



  • March 4, 2012, 12:38 p.m. CST

    It is a sad day

    by Keith

    ...but as crazy Mel once said, 'Every man dies. Not every man truly lives'. McQuarrie truly lived. While I mourn his passing, he has not died prematurely, nor has he died without fulfilling his potential. His lifetime achievements are way above those of the average man, and his life should be celebrated.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:39 p.m. CST

    I have all 3 of the Star Wars portfolios

    by disfigurehead

    He made even Jedi look good.

  • March 4, 2012, 12:53 p.m. CST

    It's called a New Hope.

    by Yelsaeb

    Just sayin'. This is said news, by the way.

  • March 4, 2012, 1:07 p.m. CST

    yelsaeb, New Hope is a name change

    by Mattman

    Learn your film history. "Just sayin'."

  • March 4, 2012, 1:08 p.m. CST

    His artwork totally captured my imagination

    by Brian Hopper

    as a kid in that run-up to the Star Wars release in mid-1977. I can remember seeing some of those drawings in Starlog and elsewhere... I even cut out a b&w version of one of them that had appeared in a newspaper article. I'm sure a lot of kids had the same reaction I did to McQuarrie's work: you just KNEW based on those images that Star Wars would be special. (And sure enough, it was.) In particular, his Tattoine renderings -- two faves of mine are Luke and his group next to his speeder on a cliff overlooking Mos Eisley, and especially the Tusken Raiders in the desert amid a wrecked spacecraft -- had an incredible other-worldly quality. It's clear McQuarrie's vision was elemental to the success of Star Wars as a film, but I can't say enough how important it was to the SELLING of Star Wars... his renderings made Star Wars cool and gave it the feel of an event before the film was ever even released.

  • March 4, 2012, 1:17 p.m. CST


    by Darth Thoth

    This is a tremendous loss. Thank you Mr. McQuarrie. Your work touched billions and inspired me in countless ways. May God bless your soul, your family, friends, and fans during this difficult period. Onward...

  • March 4, 2012, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Along with Gogos, DiFate, Berkey, Mead, and the late, great Frazetta

    by Dark Knight Lite

    The artists of my childhood. Thank you sir, and may you find rest.

  • March 4, 2012, 1:20 p.m. CST

    This is cool... I was just looking through my copy of Starlog #6

    by Brian Hopper

    (June 1977 issue, but on newsstands before Star Wars was released), and there on page 9 are two of McQuarrie's drawings... stormtroopers with lightsabers, and TIE-fighter-cockpit view of Millennium Falcon firing (or being fired on). I remember looking at these McQuarrie drawings as a kid in early 1977 and scarcely even believing that something so cool would actually be in a movie theater that summer. Says Starlog: 'Pictured on this page are two pre-production paintings that can only start to suggest the scope and action of this grand-scale space opera.' Yup.

  • March 4, 2012, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Gone But Immortal

    by rickdeckard1

    His artwork and his vision will live on and be a catalyst for future film makers and artists in all the years to come.

  • That's his legacy. For me, when I was a kid, there were three guys who bought me Star Wars - George Lucas, Ralph McQuarrie and John Williams. Someone with the cahoonas needs to pool together all the work of his that never got used and produce the shit out of a sci-fi epic.

  • March 4, 2012, 3:14 p.m. CST

    Great artist and an inspiration

    by judge dredds fresh undies

    Ralph McQuarrie is one of main reasons I became interested in concept art and visual effects, all that stuff. Still trying to build a career in the field and a large part is because of his inspirational artwork.

  • March 4, 2012, 3:41 p.m. CST

    A key talent in the Star Wars legacy...A central figure.

    by seansarto

    I share the sentiment about the alternate "Star Wars"universe....I remember asking myself those same questions as a 6 year old...There was no immediate answers back then...Mom, Dad and Grandma didn't know what I was talking about....I had to go see the film again to see if I had missed something...

  • March 4, 2012, 3:41 p.m. CST

    A key talent in the Star Wars legacy...A central figure.

    by seansarto

    I share the sentiment about the alternate "Star Wars"universe....I remember asking myself those same questions as a 6 year old...There was no immediate answers back then...Mom, Dad and Grandma didn't know what I was talking about....I had to go see the film again to see if I had missed something...

  • March 4, 2012, 3:42 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Mr. McQuarrie, and thank you...

    by bat725

    ...for co-creating THE GREATEST SCI-FI MOVIES EVER MADE!

  • I mean, c'mon, Whitney Houston was a decent singer, but she never wrote or composed a note of her music. What did she do to deserve the sickening amount of coverage over her death, and subsequent funeral. It seemed like it was on every channel. By contrast, you have a visionary artist such as Ralph McQuarrie, who single handedly influenced a generation of film-makers, production designers, artists...and touched so many of our lives. The juxtaposition between the media clamor over the death of someone like Whitney Houstonm, versus the media silence over the passing of legends such as Ralph McQuarrie, is an indictment of our "pop culture"-centric society. It is shameful, really.

  • Plus, when Hasbro made figures based on the first of McQuarrie's concept art, I had to get them. 2007 was one of the last years that I really pounded the pavement looking for SW figures. I think next week, I may do a little review of the McQuarrie series Boba Fett they came out with (even though Fett's design was a combination of both McQuarrie and Joe Johnston).

  • what an eye I once bought a coffee table book with his starwars paintings still have it will view it tonight. RIP. Ralph

  • March 4, 2012, 4:57 p.m. CST

    RIP McQuarrie

    by Mad-Maximus

    RIP Ralph McQuarrie - Thank you for inspiring my imagination and to allow me to be a kid with my toys from your work.

  • March 4, 2012, 5:16 p.m. CST


    by ZodNotGod

    Good. Give it a rest.

  • March 4, 2012, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Besides the obvious, his best work is in EMPIRE...

    by ZodNotGod

    when Luke and Vader are fighting it out in Cloud City...the background stuff, matte paintings by Ralph are still captivating and remain unchanged for the score keepers out there. I don't recall any of the matte paintings being changed out for CG renderings actually...

  • March 4, 2012, 5:22 p.m. CST

    Too bad he felt this way....

    by ZodNotGod

    Rick McCallum offered McQuarrie a role as designer for the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but he rejected the offer, noting he had "run out of steam" and Industrial Light & Magic animator Doug Chiang was appointed instead.

  • March 4, 2012, 5:27 p.m. CST

    by ZodNotGod

    As a tool, I think they can help the artist do amazing things," he wrote. "However, it's just another tool. It does not replace the skill or technique required to design, compose and execute an illustration. When I used to go to conventions and meet young artists, all too often I would see beautiful renderings of Star Wars imagery, or other existing characters and concepts. The advice I always tried to give was to show imagination in their work, come up with their own ideas and designs.

  • March 4, 2012, 5:36 p.m. CST

    It's a pity the on-screen Coruscant didn't live up to his designs.

    by Gabe Athouse

    Truly amazing.

  • March 4, 2012, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Thanks for all the memories!!

    by Han Cholo

    I never realized how much of an impact Ralph McQuarrie's designs had on my childhood and life in general. Because of Star Wars, I've always been inspired to draw and create sci-fi stuff. Now that I look back on his illustrations, it's plainly obvious his work was the most recognizable Star Wars art. Therefore, after spending many a year staring at Ralph's work, I now realize that he was a HUGE influence on me and that is worth more than all the money I will or will not make, whether I am successful or not, I will always have Ralph McQuarrie's body of work to enjoy and be influenced by. <p> Thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this man who has forever influenced a whole generation of young men who wanted to draw and paint. Thanks for everything Mr. McQuarrie!!

  • March 4, 2012, 6:15 p.m. CST

    Too bad he didn't come on board the prequels...

    by ZodNotGod

    Sorry to hear he thought he was "out of steam," I doubt that!

  • March 4, 2012, 6:19 p.m. CST

    RIP : (

    by Mace Tofu

    The Master is off to the unknown. My eyeballs thank you and your minds imagination and your talent to put it into a form that rocked the world. Glad to have been around for the whole ride. Jim Steranko put out a paper with those Battlestar paintings before the show came out and I had cut that artwork out and had it on my wall for many years. Loved that brush stroke look. I spent 17 years as a painter : )

  • March 4, 2012, 6:28 p.m. CST

    McQuarrie was a master, Doug Chiang is nothing to sneeze at

    by JackSlater4

  • March 4, 2012, 6:57 p.m. CST

    Very sad, even though he was 82

    by Roger Moon

    I had his SW and ESB portfolios as a kid and spent countless hours staring at those prints. They are transcendent pieces of art.

  • And even though his Star Wars work is iconic and what will be most remembered, and justifiably so, I always loved the work he did for Clive Barker's Nightbreed. I'll also always remember his poster art for The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which has stuck with me ever since I first saw it. A true loss.

  • March 4, 2012, 9:16 p.m. CST

    Only want to add...

    by attackpatterndelta

    So many here have expressed what I've been thinking, I will only add this. For a generation of us, when movies like Star Wars were brand new, he helped make our imaginations soar, helped make us love movies, hell, probably why many of us post here on this site now. We not only wanted to see these movies, we wanted to learn how they  made them, who created these amazing images, causing us to chase down every morsel of information like artwork and interviews in magazines like Starlog, or where ever else we could find it. I thank Mr. McQuarrie for his contributions to my favorite movies, may he rest peace.

  • I'm trying to get my thoughts together on this huge loss and may write more later. I doubt it will be much though, since McQuarrie and Joe Johnstons' illustrations and designs were a major childhood influence and it's too personal.

  • March 4, 2012, 11:18 p.m. CST


    by ufoclub1977

    Truly responsible for iconic stuff, and most important to me... the MOTHERSHIP

  • March 4, 2012, 11:29 p.m. CST

    Thank you for all you saw, and showed us.

    by blackwood

    Rest in peace.

  • March 4, 2012, 11:49 p.m. CST

    Nothing in his pictures that say "kids movie"

    by Simpsonian

  • March 5, 2012, midnight CST

    The teaser trailer for ESB

    by TRON

    I just shit a brick seeing only the artwork at the time.

  • March 5, 2012, 12:53 a.m. CST

    I like Cloud City the best

    by hallmitchell

    Great concept art. I think you can get Ralph's design for action figures.

  • March 5, 2012, 1:28 a.m. CST

    McQuarrie's work transported us.

    by justmyluck

    Here's the first painting I remember as being his : This is what the first wave of STAR WARS fan club members received. I know, because it went on my wall immediately and stayed there for years (probably a common reaction to that poster). Many of you have probably not seen this Ralph McQuarrie painting because it was, AFAIK, never officially reprinted as a poster outside the fan club. This was before the SW fan mag was even known as *Bantha Tracks*. With it you received an embroidered patch, a membership card, an 8x10 (with Chewie's mane tickling Carrie Fisher's boob if you were looking there) and a few other things. The whole deal cost five bucks. That poster was the prize piece. You could see McQuarrie chose to put you right in the cockpit with Luke at the critical moment. It was brilliantly thought out, composed, rendered and *transported* you into the scene to create an alternate memory for the movie itself. No home video then, kids! I was hooked on McQuarrie's art right there. I could elaborate about studying his illustrations for insane amounts of time for years later, and that's all been discussed in various ways here. The collective consciousness was obviously touched by his visions. Further to that point — and feel free to break out your Ouija boards — I was debating whether to share this, but finally decided, *Where else?* Yesterday morning I dreamed I was asked, *What is SDI?* and dream-replied, *It's the Strategic Defense Initiative* and woke right up with a massive, splitting headache. I immediately popped a Tylenol Extra, and went to the computer to Google *SDI* to see if it had other meanings — why not? The only thing I recognized, being half-asleep, was that old Reagan SDI project, so I clicked the Wikipedia entry and went back to lie down with the headache. Luckily I dropped right back off and woke up unknown hours later. Returning to the computer, that Wikipedia SDI page was still there, but instead I checked some regular web sites and there was Ralph McQuarrie's obituary. I tabbed back to the Wikipedia page and it stated, *(SDI) was soon derided as Star Wars, after the popular 1977 film by George Lucas.* Click. Would STAR WARS or *Ralph McQuarrie* have stuck in my mind if I had dreamed about them? Maybe not. So, for those of you who may think dreams could be scrambled messages from the global brain, there you go. If not, I hope Ralph McQuarrie has upgraded his tools to the infinite canvas. THANK YOU RALPH.

  • March 5, 2012, 2:53 a.m. CST

    Thank You For Sparking My Imagination...

    by Media Messiah

    ...and making me want to dream higher:)

  • March 5, 2012, 3:25 a.m. CST

    Between this and Davy Jones, what a terrible week

    by SithMenace

    Of course McQuarrie's death hits a lot harder, the man is literally a legend among Star Wars fans. Thank God he left us with a huge library of amazing work to remember him by.

  • March 5, 2012, 6:51 a.m. CST

    Humbling Talent...!

    by Minotaur7

    I think the striking thing about McQuarrie was that he planned out a fantastic world which felt as coarse and practical as it was otherworldly... which seemed to enhance both aspects by bringing it a core of reality. The mood he gave a scene like Jabba's Palace with a real sense of foreboding, like finding hell in an opium den prison... it doesn't reoccur in Attack of the Clones even as an undertone. The monsters in mist within the Dagobah swamp or the clouds above the evergreens in Endor... the rock-hewn base on Hoth, the ethereal light of Cloud City - which would've made an incredibly trippy Death Star.... incredible artist.

  • March 5, 2012, 6:51 a.m. CST


    by smylexx

    how refreshing to find a talkback on this website that hasn't devolved into the usual griping, cynical venom we usually see. I think that really shows just how much Ralph's work meant to us. My thoughts go to his family and those that knew him closely. What an incredible legacy he left for us.

  • March 5, 2012, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Oh man

    by Jeff

    This is definitely sad news. I love McQuarrie's art and bright vision, more so than the Star Wars movies themselves these days. Plus he did famous book covers, art for other movies, strikingly powerful futuristic art for his own enjoyment, and seemed like a good guy too. I'll miss having him around.

  • Thank the stars that Lucas was a visionary businessman who picked the right artists for the job. He deluded himself into thinking he was the creator of the art himself and would grab the head or wings off one character and slap them onto another with no regards for that creature's 'evolution' or physics. Lucas didn't know when to take a back seat to the true experts he hired. I can talk about lucas like he's already dead because he is. On a fun note- when Cameron built Sador's ship from battle beyond the stars he just crammed together the 2 ships seen in the opening of Starwars. The blockade runner and the star destroyer.

  • March 5, 2012, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Iconic images that truly struck a chord.

    by impossibledreamers

    I remember that lightsaber duel image with Vader and its fascinating to note that Lucas commissioned Ralph to do several art pieces to sell Star Wars to the studio. "It was McQuarrie who suggested that Vader wear breathing apparatus.[1]" - Wikipedia.

  • March 5, 2012, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Please don't use the talkback to bitch about Lucas

    by Rendell

    We're here to celebrate the life and work of Ralph. This is no place for hate. I will of course come up with a proper tribute for Ralph, just as soon as I get over the shock...

  • March 5, 2012, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Rest in peace my friend..u gave me a lifetime of dreams.

    by TheAwareness

  • March 5, 2012, 11:39 a.m. CST


    by Keith

    The Star Wars movie released in 1977 is called 'Star Wars'.

  • March 5, 2012, 11:48 a.m. CST

    darth busey - mattes in Empire

    by Keith

    'THE FALCON SHOT FROM THE BESPIN LANDING PAD IS A MATTE?' You would be amazed how many shots in Empire are mattes. The entrance to the rebel base on Hoth, the bridge of the Executor, most of the shot when Vader and Luke are nearing the end of their fight on the gantry arm...the quality of the work is stellar. Of course, when you step back and think about it, it makes perfect sense: most of those environments are simply too big to have been done any other way. But the quality is so high that your brain simply accepts them as being real intuitively. I was truly amazed to learn about the Executor bridge mattes, though. What I'm talking about is this:

  • March 5, 2012, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Ah Quint, you broke my heart...

    by Blue_Demon

    Like MY6, the first image from Star Wars was from my Starlog magazine. I still have that issue. I remember looking at the stormtroopers in the hallway and thinking, "Wow. I'm going to see THAT when it comes out!" By that time, I was already a budding artist (Marvel Comics and John Buscema had a lot to do with that) and I began to look for Mr. McQuarrie's artwork wherever I could find it. In those pre-internet days it meant haunting the drug store magazine rack. The thing that struck me about Mr. McQuarrie's artwork is how atmospheric it was. Looking at it, I could see that it was not as polished as some of the other painters out there. You could clearly see brush strokes as they spread the acrylic across the illustration board (I don't really see canvas texture but I could be wrong), but he knew that the secret to atmosphere was color. Look at the painting of the stormtroopers with the lightsabers - those metalic sheens - You're in a cold, soulless place. His painting of the sandcrawler at night conveys moonlight perfectly. His bar scene in Mos Eisley has a lot of dusty yellows and made it look like something out of a western. It wasn't the painting quality that made his work immersive, it was his knowledge of light. A swath of color here, a tick of highlight there and a patch of shadow over there and he popped the object right out of the frame. Sorry, I'm rambling. I almost want to type, "You have no idea what his art meant to me," but of course you all know EXACTLY what his art meant to me. We're all on the same page here. The man raised the bar for science fiction film design. Before he came along, most were happy with the dayglo skies of Star Trek and it's styrofoam rocks (not knocking it, it has a fantastic charm and I love it to this day). After his paintings came out other artists got the message. If you paint something fantastic, try to anchor a bit of it in reality. The planet in the painting may be on the other side of the galaxy, but that light is something we all see, and more importantly - feel - at sunset, or early morning, or high noon. Thank you for transporting us Mr. McQuarrie. Rest in peace.

  • March 5, 2012, 12:23 p.m. CST

    Awwwwww, LUCAS is this, LUCAS is that.....

    by Afzal

    Please man, RIP McQuarrie. And know this: There is a good chance that Lucas is feeling this death more than dumbass TBers.

  • March 5, 2012, 1:30 p.m. CST

    mad skills


  • March 5, 2012, 2:17 p.m. CST


    by Plathismo

    That's me sneezing at the work of Doug Chiang in the Star Wars prequels. There was not a single memorable design in all the prequels, as far as I was concerned. Certainly nothing on the level of McQuarrie, who was simply a genius. Scary fact: John Williams turned 80 a few weeks ago.

  • March 5, 2012, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Darth Maul was memorable...

    by ZodNotGod

  • March 5, 2012, 2:38 p.m. CST

    RE: smylexx

    by ZodNotGod

    Too late, leave it to a select few who can't resist being petty.

  • March 5, 2012, 2:38 p.m. CST


    by talby

    he did do the cover of "splinter of the mind's eye," didn't he... good link for that one. still trying to get over the brilliance lost lately, ralph and john so close together... funny how john was getting to riff off of ralph's creations. i was just wondering if anyone has made serious attempts to interview those kinds of guys and preserve their memories and recollections of the projects they did. i'd love to see some incredibly detailed "artist" documentaries like the two-discer "tron," something for the real artists out there. can't wait to see what those guys draw up there until i get there... celebrate!

  • March 5, 2012, 2:42 p.m. CST


    by talby

    "celebrate" as in "jazz funeral" for these guys. take time to re-admire their work, and share it with friends who may not have ever experienced their work in its original pure form. p.s.2 the lucas link someone posted upthread had a nice slideshow reminding me also that he did the cover of "the jedi master's quizbook", that one from around 84-85! i sure remember that book; borrowed from a friend and made sure i got every one right in case for "jedi jeopardy" in the future. one of the best paintings ever really; dagobah in springtime seemed like a nice place to live.

  • March 5, 2012, 2:53 p.m. CST


    by talby

    thanks for posting that poster art. my grandparents bought me a "bantha tracks" subscription xmas 77/78 i don't know, around #3 issue... wasn't the first few for sure. i hadn't heard that title or phrase since then, so it blew my mind to be reminded of it. (i think i at least got one of the nice early "cheesecake" posters of young carrie out of it then, unfortunately long gone.) man yeah... back then before even having a video-game or computer or internet or ... most everything people nowadays consider essential... (we had -LIBRARIES,- and -WEEE LIKED IT!-) crazy to think then that some maniac was off in the north of africa shooting what would become the series of films to truly change the world. even spielburg, bless 'im and all his talent and staying-power... still not really anything else as a movie, just that one movie, has really changed the modern world the way it has. it came right at the cusp of computer-controlled cameras - and that's about all the "computer" you really got onscreen with the very first "star wars" - that is, until the 97 re-dos... well let's not devolve to there. as we already all agree, this is all for ralph.

  • March 5, 2012, 6:14 p.m. CST


    by Keith

    Is that supposed to be Baltar in the third picture here? (With the beard, sitting behind the cylons.)

  • March 5, 2012, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Well I'm channeling my sadness into anger.

    by UltraTron

    At least the anger got aimed at that meddling menace.

  • March 5, 2012, 7:01 p.m. CST

    @talby: re: *Bantha Tracks*

    by justmyluck

    TY for the comments. There was a contest to name the STAR WARS newsletter in the second issue. It was called *Bantha Tracks* after that. Yes, McQuarrie painted the cover art for *Splinter of the Mind's Eye*.

  • March 5, 2012, 7:37 p.m. CST

    If it wasn't for Ralph McQuarrie...

    by TheBigFuckinLebowski

    ... and if George Lucas had been surrounded by yes men as he is today, Star Wars would have looked like the cheap Flash Gordon serials Lucas wanted to emulate. With flying space dildos instead of X-Wings and Tie Fighters...

  • March 5, 2012, 9:10 p.m. CST

    Great artist, great stuff ... RIP

    by Vince Ricardo

    Always loved that painting of the Y-wings diving at the Death Star. I'll reserve being sad at someone's passing for close relatives. McQuarrie had 82 years here and made the most of them, and will be remember 82 years times 100 for what he did. No reason to be sad at all. Again, RIP, man.

  • Lucas brought the Ralph McQuarrie paintings in to show the suits and that is how he got to make Star Wars. Amazing that is, (as Yoda would say.) Ralph McQuarrie is the real artist of our childhood dreams. RIP sir, well done...

  • March 6, 2012, 3:45 p.m. CST

    Not only would there be no Star Wars without Ralph...

    by v3d

    No Battlestar Galactica, the Universal Studios response to the success of SW after passing on the Lucas script. Also no ILM or many of the careers that facility launched. Including all the studios formed by former or competing effects artists. No PIXAR, originally a subdivision of ILM. Think about that for a minute. The ripple affect of that film not being made would have had a profoundly negative effect on sci-fi and filmmaking. Thank God for the genius of Ralph McQuarrie.

  • March 6, 2012, 8:52 p.m. CST


    by Annie The Pod Racer

    The Bespin drawing is beautiful, R.I.P.! Proper Jedi Burial-

  • March 6, 2012, 9:01 p.m. CST


    by WeylandYutani

    well said.

  • March 6, 2012, 9:22 p.m. CST

    To me his genius...

    by WeylandYutani

    was probably culled from his years working in the aerospace industry for Boeing and NASA. This seemed to give his work a very real-world, tactile feel, Which I greatly admired as a kid in the original SW films. In contrast, while I thought there were many beautiful designs by Doug Chiang et al in the SW prequels, they seemed too designed and often did not look entirely functional. A lot the the set, costume, prop work looked more Flash Gordon than SW... more fantasy than "real" world. For this, McQuarrie deserved great credit. He just "got it" when it came to Lucas' proposed films back in the mid 70s.

  • March 6, 2012, 11:09 p.m. CST

    McQuarrie did not design Jar Jar Binks..

    by darthwaz1

    But he did design Ewoks!

  • Rest in Peace and thanks so much for your amazing contributions in Sci Fi Cinema as well as being a major force in Pop culture.

  • March 8, 2012, 3:20 a.m. CST

    by ruslan1986ph

    Очень верно написано. Жду новых материалов. С уважением, <a href="">Артем</a> <a href="">Вадимович</a> <a href="">Иванов</a>

  • March 8, 2012, 11:11 a.m. CST

    Very Sad, RIP

    by monorail77

    A truly gifted artist. He will be missed but not forgotten.

  • March 8, 2012, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Vaders in the Raiders Sketch?

    by monorail77

    Look closely at the guys just below the Ark, the soldiers facing the viewer. Don't a bunch of them look like they are wearing Vader helmets? Its probably just the shading but it sure looks like a "nod" to me.

  • March 8, 2012, 10:01 p.m. CST

    McQuarrie > McG!

    by EastBayFrankenstein

  • March 10, 2012, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Jean Giraud...

    by REDD

    aka Moebius has passed away.

  • March 10, 2012, 4:42 p.m. CST

    What? An impostor Mad Maximus?

    by mad maximus


  • May 9, 2012, 3:13 p.m. CST

    by mihajlov1982jw

    Всё правильно написано. Завтра зайду к Вам ещё раз. С <a href="">превиликим</a> <a href="">уважением</a> <a href="">Александр</a> <a href="">Федорович</a> <a href="">Селезнев</a>