Saturday, March 3, 2012

Men of Vision, Part 1 [edited]

Back to back, two men of vision that I respected terribly for their dedication and love, their hope for the future and their desire to put their careers on the line for what they believed in have passed away.

One of them gave his life. He had the higher calling to serve God and for it he was murdered. The other died at a ripe old age, and since I knew him first, like so many Star Wars fans, I will begin with him. [Later Notice: the man I thought was murdered, a pastor in Iran, is still alive. The report of his death was erroneous and, in my opinion, irresponsible.]

Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars Artist, Passes Away
Today Ralph McQuarrie, the production artist and designer who created the fundamental images of Star Wars and brought that epic space fantasy to life for generations of youth, has died at the age of 82.

That man brought joy into my life, though I never met him personally. From the first moment I encountered it, I was in awe of his artwork and instantly understood the power an artist could have to create new worlds for the imagination.

In fact, the first image of Star Wars I ever laid eyes on was a painting of Imperial Stormtroopers looking down a hallway from a worm's eye POV [see above].

I remember hovering for hours in Waldenbooks, looking over and over again at The Art of Star Wars, unable to purchase it but unable to put it down. I was in another world, standing in that narrow aisle, cooling off in the air-conditioning after a 40 minute summer bike ride - a magical world of droids and starfighters and mystical warriors. It was NOT a marketing system, or a series of poorly written sequels - "... well, not yet."

It was "A New Hope"; it was another world, and unlike the poor images on our broadcast TV, and before cable TV poured movies like water into our living rooms, the mere experience of having his artwork in your hands had the power to transport a 14-year old boy to a world of high adventure in seconds.

Thank you, Mister McQuarrie.

Your God-given talent gave joy to millions.

Even if it was 'merely' a fantasy, it was a GOOD, well-crafted, heart-touching fantasy.

And, for myself, it gave hope in some very dark times.


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