Much contributed to the success of Star Wars, but nothing cemented its iconography the way Ralph McQuarrie did. His initial paintings did what Lucas's confused script couldn't, and got the movie made. His imagery will forever be a part of our culture. Imagine; from this one guy sprang such icons as Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, The Millenium Falcon, The Death Star, Cloud City and yes, Chewbacca. Nevermind his equally impressive work on Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In a sense, I enjoy his paintings even more than I enjoy the films themselves, perhaps simply because they hold the moment, the right and unaltered moment, in time. Perhaps because they are like the Star Wars I grew up with, yet... different. A slightly more stylized version of the universe than was eventually realized. Sleeker, more naive and brimming with adventure.
He will be missed.