Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2014 02:15:48 +0200
- OH NO!!
Did Game of Thrones Author George RR Martin Have a Hand in Creating Chewbacca?
A new discovery suggests Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin may have unwittingly helped create everyone's favourite Wookie (sorry, Tarfful).
The likes of Reddit and Slashfilm have compiled some pretty compelling evidence for the idea that an illustration done for one of Martin's short stories way back in 1975 was used by Ralph McQuarrie as the basis for Chewbacca's concept art.
Let's start at the beginning. Back in 1975, McQuarrie was working on the concept art for Star Wars. There were a host of variations here from the finished product, including the fact Luke Skywalker was a woman, but it's a bit of a struggle to see any link between this Chewbacca and the one we know today.
McQuarrie confirmed later that while George Lucas liked this design, he reckoned it could be pushed further. As a result, the decision was made to take off the flak jacket and generally explore other options.
Now, this is where the connection comes in. Before his death, McQuarrie explained how Lucas helped with the development of Chewbacca. In essence, the director gave his friend a bundle of artwork along with more descriptions.
"George said he wanted Chewbacca to look like a lemur, so he had great big limpid eyes in some of my early sketches," McQuarrie explained. "George also gave me a drawing he liked from a 1930s illustrator of science fiction that showed a big, apelike, furry beast with a row of female breasts down its chest. So I took the breasts off and added a bandolier and ammunition and weapons, and changed its face so it looked somewhat more like the final character, and I left it at that."
Here's the thing though. That drawing from the 1930s? Yeah, it wasn't from the 1930s. It was actually from a year earlier in 1975, done by artist John Shoenherr to illustrate a short story by George R.R. Martin called "And Seven Times Never Kill Man!" which was published in Analog in July 1975. Here are the two images below, side-by-side.
And here are the final looks as they appear in the Star Wars films, and alongside Martin's 1975 story:
It's important to note out that this kind of thing isn't unusual and there's no suggestion Lucas knew the sketches were any more recent than he claimed. Concept art created by artists other professionals admire is often used as a source, and the finished products certainly look reasonably different. What's interesting too is the bowcaster-esque weapon used by the creature in Martin's story. Did the Star Wars prop department see the original sketch and decide to riff on it a little bit?
So there you have it. A story by George R.R. Martin certainly seems to have inadvertently provided the inspiration for Chewbacca. Don't feel too bad for McQuarrie slaving over his original designs, however. After many years they're finally set to be repurposed and used to create the character of Zeb Orrelios in the upcoming Star Wars Rebels. It's the circle of life... or is that another Disney movie?