Saddened to read that Ralph McQuarrie has died. A great artist, he made a huge contribution to the look and feel of so many classic science fiction movies. Most famously, he was the chief production illustrator on Star Wars, but he also worked on a number of other productions, such as Coccoon, *batteries not included and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. That elaborate illustration of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark? That was McQuarrie. You can see a great deal of his designs and illustrations on his website, albeit as some pretty tiny image files. There's some bigger files of his Star Wars work here. I've always thought of him as a spaceships and vistas sort of artist, but he did a lot of work on aliens and creatures too. Learnt from his website that he did some designs for ET. I personally can't stand ET, but it's still interesting to see the possible alternative designs for the little weirdie.
(As a trivial aside: as noted on the gallery page, ET was described as being 'three million light years from home,' on the initial poster campaign. Now, many years later, The Phantom Menace showed an impressive Galactic Senate scene with all sorts of alien species, including delegates from ET's people. Now, they were loads of in-jokes in the film, but these guys were clearly visible. Most fans seem happy with the idea that ET originated in the Star Wars Galaxy. Which means that galaxy is 3 Mly away. Maps of the Star Wars Galaxy show that it's a spiral galaxy like our own, and it's usually described as being of similar size (i.e about 100,000 ly across). Now, the best match to those estimates is M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, which is around 2.5 to 3.0 Mly away (depending which side you're measuring from). It's a bit smaller, probably only around 50,000 ly, but it's still a better match than M31 in Andromeda, the only other possible candidate, which is much larger and also closer. So, the Star Wars Galaxy is M33. I reckon.)
So, McQuarrie is something of a legend. They even made an action figure of him. Plus, he worked on Star Trek, which makes me love him even more, although it's a shame little of his work ever made much of an impact on what reached the screen. A StarWars-y Enterprise would have been cool.
On the subject of Star Trek art, check out this gallery. Loads of behind the scenes images from classic Trek thanks to the 'birdofthegalaxy.' Be assured that some of these will show up in future CAPTAIN'S BLOGS.