Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Best Of Everything 100-day 100-question Star Wars Blogathon, Question 14


And all Rusty's non-gold-car-plated dreams have come true. You're halfway there, Rusty! Halfway there! (Wookies being 1/2 and Gold-Plated Rocket Cars being the other 1/2).

Andrew Leon, who probably dominated family games of Trivial Pursuit when that was still a thing, correctly pointed out the context for the quote that gave the world the name "Wookie," and this is how it happened according to the Wookiepedia:
The name "Wookiee" originated in George Lucas's film THX 1138. In a line ad-libbed by an actor, a character says, "I think I just ran over a wookiee on the expressway."

Which means that virtually every single thing about Chewbacca -- who might be the most-loved Star Wars creature -- was not invented by George Lucas. The name came from someone else. The concept art,

a 1976 piece of concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, which in turn was based on an illustration by John Schoenherr for George R.R. Martin's novelette "And Seven Times Never Kill a Man", published in the July 1975 issue of Analog. According to McQuarrie, he was told by George Lucas that the drawing was actually from the 1930s.
Did you catch that last part? I wonder why George Lucas would, in 1977, tell an artist that the sketch Lucas wanted him to use was from the 30s, rather than from the 1975s?

I'm just wildly speculating here in a manner which should never, ever, lead Lucas' team of Jedi Lawyers to track me down and sic torture 'droids/corporate lawyers on me, but, for wild speculation about why Lucas might have not been exactly as truthful as he could when he claimed that a page ripped out of a 1975 magazine actually was from more than 40 years before, let's consider that works which were published between 1932 and 1977 and not renewed were in the public domain after their copyright expired. The term of that copyright was 28 years.

So did George Lucas deliberately steal the idea for wookies? It's not for me to say.

But it is for this excellent article to say. Titled "George Lucas Stole Chewbacca But It's Okay," the article details how Chewie originally was a bush-baby-like cat thing and had a larger role in the first draft of Star Wars -- a jungle prince among Wookies who went on to become a hotshot fighter pilot at 16. Eventually, as Lucas refined the script, Chewie took a secondary role, ultimately simply being comic relief and an autopilot.

Here's First Chewie:

and he stayed looking like that through the concept-poster stage:

That poster blows my mind, and makes me wonder how close the world was to not getting a Star Wars with all its ramifications. Maybe it's just because I've been ruined by the stamp the movie put on sci-fi -- making everything have to be Star Warsy the way everything fantasy had to be Middle-Earthy until J.K. Rowlings gave people a break from that and everything vampire-y had to be Nosferatu until Stephanie Meyers made all the money tween girls ever had -- but that poster does not look like a movie I want to see. R2D2 has a weird appendage, C3PO is a sexbot, and is that a female Han Solo? That entire poster looks like a travesty and I'm sure, had the imagery stuck, the whole thing would've been tossed in the ashcan of society.

On the other hand -- or other weird robotic arm that would have completely prevented R2 from being lovable -- I have to wonder, too, if Lucas' original idea might not have been even better than Star Wars:

the first confused step towards Star Wars — then named The Journal of the Whills — introduces the name Chewie. Or more accurately, Chuiee, the writer of said journal.

Chewbacca, the character, also started his life in the rough draft (May 1974) as a kind of barbarian alien prince on the jungle planet of Yavin:

[…] five Wookees, (huge grey and furry beasts) […] The eight foot Chewbacca, who resembles a huge, grey bushbaby with fierce baboon-like fang […] (5)

Wookees communicate in grunts and whines and are in some respects close in character to what ended up on the screen, but far from in role. Also, there’s some stuff about a bonfire party and yodeling (seriously).

Furthermore in the rough draft, Chuiee permutes into the Chewie we know, though here it’s attached to ‘a young hotshot [fighter pilot] of about sixteen years’, who for the following draft has his named changed to Boma Two instead, presumably because Chewie and Chewbacca were too alike.

Boma Two dies by the way, spoiler alert.

That's from that same blog. Would The Space Adventures of Boma Two have fared as well as Star Wars? As thrilling as the movie sounds, I kind of doubt it: when have moviegoers ever gotten behind a clearly-alien hero? Even Hobbits are just little humans with hairy feet.

Anyways, the important thing for our purposes here today are to remember two critical facts:

(1) Rusty's favorite thing in the universes is based on a lie.

(2) The Milennium Falcon may or may not have been based on a burger with an olive, which actually makes it seem as though Lucas wrote/stole the entire movie for the sole purpose of having it appeal to people who are taking part in this Blogathon, since Grumpy's favorite thing to put on a burger is olive.
*takes moment to gag.*

Maybe. We don't yet know which particular part of Star Wars is expressly aimed at Andrew Leon, although it may be that midichlorians were inspired by Andrew, as he obviously has some sort of genetic Star Wars linkage.

Today's question is worth 45 points. Here it is: Name ALL of the bounty hunters shown here meeting with Darth Vader:

Official Business:

The standings are here.

1. You get 5 points for mentioning the Blogathon on your blog. Andrew Leon did it, so it's obviously the cool thing to do. So did Grumpy Bulldog. And Rusty Webb. Link

2. You get 50 points for referring someone: Here's how THAT works: you get someone else to enter the Blogathon. That person leaves a comment saying "[ your name here ] got me to enter this." Then THEY get 50 points, and YOU get 50 points -- and you can do this as often as you can find people to start taking part (and so can they!)

If you're new to this, don't worry: You can STILL win, and also get great weekly prizes. The official rules are here.

Also: The winner of this week's drawing was: Andrew Leon. Andrew, you win a free e-copy of Rusty's book, A Dead God's Wrath, as well as a free copy of my new collected works, Do Pizza Samples Really Exist? (And 117* Other Ways Of Looking At Life)(*Give Or Take).

If you already have one or both of those, email me and we'll work out a switch. And that means that next week's prize will include a free e-copy of Andrew's book, "The House On The Corner."


Andrew Leon said...

Boba Fett

Andrew Leon said...

Hmm... Zuckuss, 4-LOM's partner, should also be around somewhere, but he's clearly not in the picture.

Andrew Leon said...

Ooh! I won the prize! And I will email you, because I do have Dead God.
And, look! A copy of my book! Cooool...

Grumpy Bulldog, March Madman said...

I bet at some point my brother and I had all those action figures.

One of my favorite unintentionally funny moments in Empire is when the bounty hunters show up and a Star Destroyer officer laments, "We don't need their scum." And another officer says, "Yes sir!" Though that pales to the unintentionally moment when the AT-AT commander says to target the Rebel base's generators with "maximum firepower" but before shooting the generators they shoot some random Rebel soldier running away. Because I guess they wanted to test the weapons to make sure they were on maximum?

Grumpy Bulldog, March Madman said...

BTW, Ralph McQuarrie died yesterday or the day before, so maybe Lucas knew you were posting this today and sent hired goons to silence McQuarrie before he could say anything else...

And olives on a cheeseburger are better sliced and put under the bun. I'm just saying. Don't knock it till you try it.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Oh I'm so glad you put up this tribute to Ralph McQuarrie. I loved his art and have several of the books with his artwork in them. I was so sad to hear it.

Rusty Webb said...

Man, I totally would have got that too. Oh well, you take a day off and see what happens. I just decided after Saturdays Wookiefest that I had to celebrate and ended up losing a day to my party.

Actually, I hung out with my son, which was nice, even if he wasn't too thrilled about the prospect.