Growing up in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Star Wars movies were a staple of my childhood. Once I graduated from college and entered the mundane, everyday reality of adult life, I seemed to have a growing desire to re-capture various elements from my childhood. Thus, as a caricature artist just trying to make a living, some of my earliest celebrity samples at our theme park stand were of Star Wars actors. I even thought to draw “The Maker” himself, George Lucas… …TWICE. While both caricatures of Lucas were most often greeted with a “Who’s THAT supposed to be?”…the drawings featuring the stars of the movies were getting plenty of recognition and attention from our customers, as well as from people passing by. This was mostly thanks to the theatrical re-releases of the Original Trilogy (the infamous “Special Editions”), which were introducing the then-20-year-old franchise to the kids of the late 1990s. And as the Star Wars train chugged along, I continued drawing those same actors again and again. For pure enjoyment. Even THIS could be qualified as a Star Wars caricature… On the pop culture landscape of that era, all of this nostalgia-fueled resurgence in Star Wars was merely the tip of the iceberg. The REAL event was yet to come, for audiences all over the world were being primed for a brand-spanking NEW trilogy of movies from the mind of Mr. Lucas.
This drawing of 26-year-old me, done by one of my old co-workers, perfectly illustrates my excitement at the time.
Rumor had it that these stories would take place BEFORE Luke Skywalker was even born, and show how Luke’s father became the evil Darth Vader. So, in the summer of 1999, the first movie came…
…and I kept drawing the characters. Over and over.
It sounds very silly to say this now, but I probably saw “Episode I: The Phantom Menace” in theaters at least 10 times. Really.
I must have been really taken by that Liam Neeson character. I drew him a lot.
Over the next year and a half, I remained absolutely jazzed about these new Star Wars films (later dubbed the “Prequel Trilogy”). I remember at least 2 more drawings I did back in those days (but alas, couldn’t find so I could show you). One was of the slobbering Gungan character, Boss Nass (I know…he’s a digital CREATURE…not the same as caricaturing a flesh-n-blood actor). Another one (which was left unfinished…similar to the Liam Neeson caricature above) was of kid actor Jake Lloyd attempting to peek under the skirt of Natalie Portman, in one of her outrageous costumes.
Sam Jackson always has a great face for caricature, no matter what role he’s playing.
Flash forward to 2002, and we got the 2nd movie, called “Attack of the Clones”.
And I eagerly began digging into caricatures of THOSE actors (strangely, many of whom were in the previous movie, but with different costumes and/or age makeup).
By this time, the Prequel movies had begun to develop quite an unsavory reputation. But I didn’t care. I was into it.
Again, attempting to caricature a fictional, CGI character. What was I thinking?
And then, in 2005, we got the wrap-up movie, “Revenge of the Sith”.
Again, this was still a movie series I was heavily into, at the time. I totally bought it, hook, line and sinker.
Over the next 5 years, certain things in my life began to change. I became bored and/or disgusted with using the airbrush as a medium. I drew fewer and fewer celebrity caricatures, mainly due to a much slimmer diet of Hollywood and movie news. My focus shifted away from collecting toys and DVDs. And, perhaps most importantly, I spent some time living in Korea.
George Lucas once again…this time, as The Emperor.
Once while working overseas, I attempted another Star Wars caricature. It was a return to the classic characters of the Original Trilogy, the one that I grew up on. Unfortunately, I never finished it; guess it didn’t seem like a drawing that excited me. I DID, however, begin a NEW Star Wars drawing just a few months ago…and I very much intend to finish this one!
Joyriding on Tatooine.
Now…as I type this…ANOTHER new Star Wars film is about to be unleashed upon the world in a matter of days. As it happens, I’m also just days away from my 43rd birthday. And I find myself at a bit of a crossroads. Last year, I watched a very in-depth series of YouTube videos about the Prequels…which caused me to completely change my mind, and to disavow my previous love for them. Objectively, I can simply no longer deny that those are horrible films (Sorry, George). As for those original movies from long ago (at least the first 2)…well, it seems that I’ll ALWAYS have a soft spot for them, because I was such wee lad when they first came around. Even if these new Disney flicks are totally fun and enjoyable, I kind of doubt that I will really have a strong desire to follow each future installment. Getting excited about a new Star Wars trilogy is something I’ve already done…TWICE…in one lifetime. For me, I can’t help but feel like that (space)ship has sailed, and that it’s time for me to move on.