SWCVI: The Art of Ralph McQuarrie

John Scoleri | August 9, 2012

It sounds like a cliché, but when it comes to The Art of Ralph McQuarrie, preparations for the next Star Wars Celebration pretty much begin on the flight home from the last one.

Despite having exhibited at all seven prior Star Wars Celebrations, Celebration V was a particularly challenging undertaking for us. For the first time ever, we curated a gallery exhibit with more than 100 pieces of Ralph’s original Star Wars art — the majority of which had never been seen before.

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Needless to say, topping that was all but out of the question. But Ralph, who was always invigorated by the thoughtful greetings and messages that we brought back to him in the form of a guest book after each Celebration, spent the next year and a half signing away. We were quite excited that we would be offering our broadest selection of Ralph McQuarrie autographed pieces at Celebration VI, including many popular images that we had not been able to offer for some time. We knew that a number of those fans who had missed out at past shows were going to be very excited about the selection this time out. Everything was going according to plan.

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And then we lost Ralph.

The outpouring of love, support, and reverence we’ve seen in these past five months has exceeded our wildest imaginations. We’ve fielded calls from around the globe as mainstream journalists sought to honor the man who those of us in the Star Wars community have held in such high regard for decades.  It was clear that Celebration VI was going to be a very different experience for us. We quickly came up with a number of ways in which to honor Ralph at the show. I’m pleased to share what we’ve got in store for attendees of Star Wars Celebration VI:

Ralph McQuarrie: Video Tribute Presentation

On Friday, in the Behind The Scenes stage, there will be a special screening of a video tribute that we’ve also been working on for the past few months. Drawing on interviews with a number of Ralph’s colleagues, you will hear first-hand what a lasting impression Ralph made, not only as an artist, but as a man.

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The session will be moderated by Jon Berg, who worked with Ralph on Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and Dave Filoni, who continues to draw upon Ralph’s amazing concepts as the supervising director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Animated Series.

Tribute Art Prints

Breaking away from our Celebration tradition, rather than reprinting one of Ralph’s pieces as an art print, we contacted three of our good artist friends about creating individual tributes to Ralph. All three were eager to do so, with all proceeds of these print sales going to Ralph’s wife, Joan.

Mark Raats volunteered his very popular (and often requested) portrait of Ralph that was used on the Hasbro Signature Series Ralph McQuarrie Concept Action Figures in 2007.

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Tsuneo Sanda, who had created a stunning portrait of Ralph on the occasion of his 80th Birthday, has painted a new portrait incorporating images from Ralph’s entire body of work.

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Brian Rood, realizing a concept that Stan Stice (the man behind Dreams and Visions Press and The Art of Ralph McQuarrie) originally envisioned, has created an amazing painting of Ralph at his drawing desk, surrounded by some of his most famous creations.

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(Note: This is Brian’s comp – not the finished painting)

Each tribute print is $50, limited to 250 copies signed and numbered by the artist, and will be available exclusively in the Art of Ralph McQuarrie booth. Pre-orders for Star Wars Celebration attendees are available now at Dreams and Visions Press. As an added bonus, anyone who pre-orders all three tribute prints will receive a matching numbered set when they pick them up at the show.

Remembering Ralph McQuarrie: Dreamer and Visionary

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Having published three prior books on the art of Ralph McQuarrie, Stan and I knew we wanted to create a special tribute book along the lines of our Celebration V Gallery of Imagination  souvenir program. We contacted a number of Ralph’s colleagues and fans to say a few words about Ralph and what he meant to them. Key members of the original Star Wars crew like Phil Tippett, Jon Berg and Harrison Ellenshaw, as well as the next generation of artists like Doug Chiang and Marc Gabbana all graciously agreed to contribute, as did acclaimed artists such as James Gurney and Tim Bradstreet. We’re thrilled to include almost two dozen tributes in all.

In addition to the written tributes, we sought out original photographs of Ralph through the years, and interspersed those with a collection of never before published artwork that spans his entire career, including: cel animations depicting the Apollo space program, rare book cover art, unseen storyboards from The Empire Strikes Back, early concepts for the Illustrated Star Wars Universe, and a selection of his rare concept paintings for Irvin Kershner’s unfilmed Forbidden Planet remake.

book The book will be available for $20 in The Art of Ralph McQuarrie booth as well as on the Dreams and Visions Press website (for those not attending) on August 24th.

A Remembering Ralph McQuarrie book signing has been scheduled for Saturday between 4-5pm in the Celebration VI Collector’s Social area, and we’ll do our best to round up as many of the on-site contributors as possible for that event.

Signed Items

We have a full range of hand signed portfolio prints from Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Additionally, we will have a selection of signed 8×10 photos, a number of signed and matted pieces of various sizes, and an extremely limited number of specially framed items. We will also be bringing the last remaining pieces signed with Ralph’s full signature (while Ralph often signed with his initials throughout his career, the last few years he almost exclusively signed items as ‘RMcQ’).

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This may be the last chance for fans to pick up a reasonably priced Ralph McQuarrie autograph, so we encourage folks to come see us early in the show while we have the largest selection.

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Collecting Ralph McQuarrie

Finally, also on Saturday afternoon from 2:15-3:15pm, I will be hosting a panel on collecting Ralph McQuarrie memorabilia. In addition to reviewing the key items any McQuarrie fan wouldn’t want to be without, I’ll be sharing some unique trivia and showing off some of the less frequently seen Ralph McQuarrie items that are out there.

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We’re looking forward to reconnecting with all of Ralph’s fans, many of whom have been returning time and again after meeting us in Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Orlando. Be sure to stop by the The Art of Ralph McQuarrie booth (1141) and say hello!

Star Wars Celebration VI is coming to Orlando, Florida on August 23-26. Join the party that brings together fans of all ages to celebrate the pop culture phenomenon that is Star Wars.
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