Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
Is it possible Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin helped to unknowingly create Star Wars‘ Chewbacca? Hit the jump and we’ll take a journey through the creation of the famous Wookiee from a galaxy far, far away. We’ll discover the George RR Martin Chewbacca connection and examine what it might mean.
The Creation of Chewbacca
George Lucas went through many iterations with different artists to create the Chewbacca we saw on screen and fell in love with. Above are some of the first pieces of concept art created for the creature by Ralph McQuarrie in March and April 1975. The below painting showing the main characters of Star Wars was famously created by McQuarrie on April 1st 1975 when Luke Skywalker was still a female character:
Around the same time, McQuarrie also created the following Chewbacca designs for the production:
McQuarrie revealed that “George liked this Chewbacca but I suppose he thought it could be a little more weird, and he decided to take off the flak jacket.”
Storyboard artist Joe Johnston (later director of The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park 3, and Captain America: The First Avenger) incorporated McQuarrie’s early Chewbacca concept designs (alongside an earlier design for Princess Leia based on artist Alex Tavoulari’s interpretations of the character).
The George RR Martin Chewbacca Connection
Then comes the image above, which has been making the rounds (via Reddit, etc) but first appeared online in 2010. The image shows a creature created by artist John Shoenherr for George R.R. Martin’s short story ‘And Seven Times Never Kill Man!‘ which was published in Analog in July 1975. That art is side-by-side with a November 1976 piece of concept art of Chewbacca created by Ralph McQuarrie for George Lucas’ Star Wars.
As the story now goes, Ralph McQuarrie was handed a copy of this drawing by George Lucas (who claimed it was from the 1930s) as part of a pack of art to help inspire the look of his Wookie creatures. Here is the quote from McQuarrie:
“George said he wanted Chewbacca to look like a lemur, so he had great big limpid eyes in some of my early sketches. 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.”
The quote seems to originate from this posting which was compiled around the time of McQuarrie’s death.
Was the design stolen? We have more concept art images and information to share as this journey continues.