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Chewbacca's Origins: not Lucas' dog
September 23, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Though George Lucas said Chewbacca was based on his dog, an intrepid fan tracked down a different origin story.

The true story fits odd comments together to show that Ralph McQuarrie (prev., twice) was inspired by art by John Schoenherr for a short story by George R. R. Martin (entitled And Seven Times Never Kill Man, named for a line from The Law of the Jungle). In the clip linked above the break, McQuarrie claims he saw some art from the 1930s that inspired him to draw a 6-breasted furry creature, which sounds remarkably like Schoenherr's design, as detailed extensively in the Binary Bonsai research piece linked above the break.

Bonus bits: YT user mranderson00001 has a lot of Star Wars documentary-type clips, including both parts of The Characters Of Star Wars Featurette, which includes Lucas and McQuarrie talking about evolution of the design for Chewbacca.
posted by filthy light thief (34 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
But while the official sources are often great, compiling from many different sources to dispel myths about Baba Fett’s ship, Slave 1

......aaaaaand, I'm done.
posted by felix betachat at 7:34 AM on September 23, 2010


Oh, you're in denial about the original Baba Yaga Fett design, whose space ship was to have chicken wings instead of the more traditional Baba Yaga chicken legs? It's a hard thing to embrace, but go with it.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:43 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's Big Foot, people. It's hardly the most original idea in the world.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:43 AM on September 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was expecting something about racist stereotypes.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:49 AM on September 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I, for one, am mightily glad that Chewbacca didn't cut about on the Millennium Falcon with 3 pairs of tits nestling in his hairy chest.

Because that would have been weird.

Although it would explain why Chewie growls a lot. That ammo belt would chafe something rotten.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:00 AM on September 23, 2010


Err....

Not this one? See also this.

(Which of course means Star Wars is about the Gold Standard, but I digress...)
posted by chavenet at 8:00 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Han Solo is not the fucking Scarecrow, jesus. Talk about grasping at straws.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:03 AM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry but that is such a racist comparison Chewie and Bigfoot, could not look more different.
posted by oddman at 8:03 AM on September 23, 2010


Interesting that Lucas's dog was also named "Indiana."
posted by crunchland at 8:20 AM on September 23, 2010


>Talk about grasping at straws.

Just what you need for a cup.
posted by chavenet at 8:23 AM on September 23, 2010


Chewbacca did sound like a dog.
posted by bearwife at 8:38 AM on September 23, 2010


I was expecting something about racist stereotypes.

That's Oompa-Loompas.

Interesting that Lucas's dog was also named "Indiana."

"We named the dog Indiana."
posted by filthy light thief at 8:46 AM on September 23, 2010


That was a great story and a wise perspective on the creative process.
posted by bonsai forest at 8:47 AM on September 23, 2010


Simmer down people, pretty much every idea has been "stolen" either subconsciously or overtly.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2010


Just what you need for a cup.

You call that a Solo cup? Now this is a Solo cup!
posted by TedW at 8:57 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's Big Foot, people. It's hardly the most original idea in the world.

It's pretty tough to deny the Schoenherr influence on McQuarrie after looking at the images side by side, though.

I mean, Big Foot? Okay. Big Foot who uses a space-crossbow (pardon, boltcaster)? That's a bit of a coincidence.

Not that there's really anything super-wrong with it -- Star Wars is a pulp throwback, so it's no surprise that the films were heavily influenced by those pulps. It's nice to see Schoenherr get some recognition, though -- he made some really great art.
posted by Amanojaku at 8:59 AM on September 23, 2010


Rowr. Aaooongha!
posted by homunculus at 9:08 AM on September 23, 2010


This guy's tumblr of photos and posters related to the original trilogy is pretty sweet.
posted by lholladay at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lemurs do not look like that. Lemurs look like this.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:16 AM on September 23, 2010


star wars
[this is bad]

oh sorry. wrong site.
posted by PugAchev at 9:18 AM on September 23, 2010


I'd be willing to bet that the true origin story of Wookies is interminably long, and involves at least one senate.
posted by crunchland at 9:19 AM on September 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Lemurs are also not the same as Galagos (which coincidentally look like this). In fact, if you ever see a Bush Baby and a Lemur at the same time you're probably either in a poorly laid out zoo or drowning in the Mozambique Channel, either way you have bigger problems.

I don't know who this hack Lucas is, and I don't know why he picked the two most adorable clades of primates to represent a 7 foot tall fang beast, but he's no primatologist. I can assure you of that.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:28 AM on September 23, 2010


I'm sorry but that is such a racist comparison Chewie and Bigfoot, could not look more different.
posted by oddman


That's only because Chewie appears so clear. You need to be further away, squint a little, and shake your head while you look at him.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:32 AM on September 23, 2010


I'd like to see the origin story of that interminable Star Wars Christmas Special scene with Chewy's wife, father, and son. It goes on forrrrrrrreverrrrrr.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:33 AM on September 23, 2010


You call that a Solo cup? Now this is a Solo cup!

No, this is a Solo cup!
posted by mazola at 11:54 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Come on people, of course Chewie is a bigfoot!

That is to say, there clearly is a long term covert Wookie operation going on in the Pacific Northwest. They must be scouting our redwood forests to find a suitable substitute for the forests of Kashyyyk.
posted by Widepath at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2010


One thing missing is that nobody seems to have tracked down this alleged Ralph Wookie in Texas. Yahoo finds two people named Wookie in the US, but not Ralph.
posted by beagle at 1:20 PM on September 23, 2010


Man, it's hilarious reading phrases like this from the second link about THX 1138:

Laden with overt social and political commentary, the hairy dwarf-like creatures may have sprung into life as a reflection of fringe existences, sacrifices of the consumer society and so on.

And then thinking about the Phantom Menace and Jar Jar Binks. An interesting look at Lucas' changing political and social beliefs over time.
posted by formless at 2:29 PM on September 23, 2010


Amanojaku : "It's pretty tough to deny the Schoenherr influence on was explicitly plagiarized by McQuarrie after looking at the images side by side, though."

Fixed that for ya.
posted by dgaicun at 3:31 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jeez... there's such an agenda behind this article. Ralph McQuarrie's turn on Star Wars as conceptual designer must rank as perhaps the most sustained and iconically influential bursts of creativity in the history of cinema. From Darth Vader through to the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon and R2-D2, element after element flowed from McQuarrie's imagination and ultimately sold the project to 20th Century Fox. It's anybody's guess how much reference Lucas was bombarding him with: I'd speculate that it was a lot. Seizing on McQuarrie's recollections, 30 years on, for various inconsistencies seems a cheap shot.

John Schoenherr was a wonderful, wonderful artist, but I don't recall much fuss being made about his illustrations for Dune forming very much the groundwork of the 1984 film adaptation. Despite the contemporary Cinefantastique cover, I don't believe he ever enjoyed an onscreen credit.
posted by specialbrew at 3:34 PM on September 23, 2010


No one's complaining about images of Chewbacca's boobs corrupting their childhood?
posted by sawdustbear at 4:37 PM on September 23, 2010


So who lays claim to the idea of having Chewbacca randomly mewl at 110db during covert, sneaky infiltration missions?
posted by unigolyn at 6:09 AM on September 24, 2010


Everyone who has ever owned a boxer knows that Chewbacca's "mewls" were obviously created by a foley editor with a boxer. Boxers as a breed have an enormous speaking range that is entirely distinct from barking or growling; it is known among owners as the "woo woo" noise and pretty much all of us will say "my dog sounds like Chewbacca." I have no idea if Ben Burtt owned a boxer at the time but I'm convinced someone on that team did.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:52 AM on September 24, 2010


George Lucas In Love will always be my Star Wars origin story.
posted by CaseyB at 6:53 AM on September 24, 2010


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