A few years ago, at Star Wars Celebration VI, I debuted a print that was a culmination of a long-held desire: To do a large crowd scene set in the Star Wars universe that would act as a tribute to the work of concept designer Ralph McQuarrie and the French comic book artist Moebius (who both had a massive influence on the Star Wars trilogy and passed away within a week of each other). It would also act as a celebration of Star Wars fandom. All the fans who have been inspired by Star Wars and many of the things that inspired Star Wars itself. The print was a massive amount of work and filled with in-jokes and well-known fans who cosplay, and in the end was about two and a half months of solid work. The print, known as “A Fan’s Hope: Namm’s Huttese Theater, Tatooine,” was a big hit and has become one of the most popular images I have ever made — even so far as being voted this year as one of the 25 all-time greatest Star Wars posters by ComingSoon.Net.
Well, with anticipation building for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the beginning of an all-new phase in the Star Wars franchise, many projects were put in the works in the last year to help celebrate the brand. Last December I got a call from Lucasfilm art director Troy Alders to see if I would be interested in creating new images for a secret project for Toys R Us. I was very interested and we began to discuss the project, which would become Star Wars: The Epic Battles. Collaborating with editors from Lucasfilm, Disney, and Toys R Us, we created four images, trying to find a way to make them fun and exciting –and our original idea of having about half the characters per image (as in the Celebration poster) soon melted away as each ended up with hundreds of characters, ships, details, and in-jokes. When it was all said and done, each image again took about two months to complete, with breaks for three conventions. It was a tremendous amount of work — and now you can experience it yourself.
Star Wars:The Epic Battles is a seek-and-find game that changes every couple of weeks. When you find the five items that are listed along the side, you have the option to replay and find MORE items or to get a certificate that you completed the game, which you can take to a local Toys R Us and get a HERO’S MEDAL for completing the game.
Each of the four images took about two months to do. The first month of the project was getting the basics of the backgrounds established and to begin designing the flow of characters. Then, each poster was worked on individually until they were complete. There were many telephone conferences deciding what should go in and should stay out. There were many different versions of each image as the images evolved.
Points of interest on Yavin:
• It’s not really Yavin at all — it’s actually the orbit of Endor — although it could be the Fourth Moon of Yavin. We just called it Death Star while we were working on it.
• There is a character washing an exterior window. There is a window washer character in all four pictures.
• On the surface of the Death Star, near the Y-wings and near the A-wing you can see LEGO pieces on the surface.
• You can see both halves of Darth Maul falling down the shaft where the tractor beam control is.
• Emperor Palpatine has a wampa rug.
• On the viewscreen in the Emperor’s throne room you can see the Star Wars Rebels cast — who seem to be watching Luke and Vader’s duel.
• Near the hanger where you can see the Falcon, there is a stormtrooper with a red balloon. Beneath that stormtrooper, you can see Darth Vader and Obi-Wan dueling — and there is a stormtrooper watching them while eating popcorn. Near them are a group of stormtroopers taking a selfie.
• A couple of levels below that you can see another stormtrooper with balloons — but this time walking a dog.
• In the very bottom right corner, you can see stormtroopers who have been shopping.
• At the very bottom, you can see detention block doors and two Imperial soldiers guarding Wicket the Ewok.
• Near the lower middle of the picture — below where the Death Star cafeteria is, you can see a Houseplant and two stormtroopers in front of a poster showing an First Order stormtroopers that says “Coming Soon” in Aurabesh.
• Below that, near the bottom center, you can see Han Solo being chased by a mouse droid — which is being chased by a house cat.
• Next to that, on a lower level you can see a fish tank that is filled with smaller versions of the Naboo fish and undersea creatures from Episode I.
• Dexter and his waitress droid are serving food in the Death Star cafeteria.
• Above the cafeteria, near Dexter, is a conduit in the shape of a “Hidden Mickey” — a collection of three circles that forms a very basic Mickey Mouse head. Artists throughout the years have put Hidden Mickeys in many Disney illustrations, movies, AND the Theme Parks. Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, I have put Hidden Mickeys in many of my illustrations.
• In the cafeteria, the food being served is actual meals that have been served at the Lucasfilm cafeteria. As well as Star Wars cereal such as C-3POs.
• The glasses are from Dexter’s Diner. There is an Imperial Officer choking on some food that went down the wrong way. Near him is “Doctor Ball,” the medical/torture droid.
• At the bottom left is the trash compactor. The dianoga is reading a Star Wars novel. The stormtrooper is trying to “clean the pool” of some of the junk that’s found it’s way down there.
I hope everyone has been enjoying playing the games — and also is keeping an eye out for all the EXTRA things we packed the images with, beyond what you are asked to look for. There are many hidden surprises in store if you play!