Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Flea Market Find: Beyond the Stars: Tales of Adventure in Time and Space

Picked this up at the Hartville Flea Market a few weeks ago, and bought it pretty much on the cover image alone:


FANTASTIC. Definitely-not-Luke-Skywalker-in-Bespin-outfit and certainly-not-Princess-Leia and possibly-not-C-3PO beneath absolutely-not-a-Colonial-Viper-Cylon-Raider-dogfight.

Screams “shameless unlicensed late 1970s ripoff,” no?

But there’s the kicker: This is from nineteen eighty-four, and its contents mirror a British edition published just a year earlier.  So this book is, in fact, five years past the close of the original Battlestar Galactica series, and a year removed from the conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy.

What’s inside? Let’s ask the back cover blurb:

Seventeen stories from the exciting world of science fiction, including Star Wars and Doctor Who and tales by Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.

Excellent! Without further delay, then, here are the contents:

  • Escape From the Death Star – from Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, by George Lucas
  • Trial by Combat, by Jay Williams
  • The Lights of the City by Garry Kilworth
  • Through the Moons of Mowl – from Dragonfall 5 and the Super Horse, by Brian Earnshaw
  • The Star, by H.G. Wells
  • Johnson, by Guy Weiner (I did not make this up. – JB)
  • The Smallest Dragonboy, by Anne McCaffrey
  • The First Half-hour – from Round the Moon, by Jules Verne
  • A Walk in the Woods, by David Campton
  • Summertime on Icarus, by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Baptism of Fire – from Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Collecting Team, by Robert Silverberg
  • Marooned on Splatterbang – from Escape from Splatterbang, by Nicholas Fisk
  • Terrafied, by Arthur Tofte
  • Planet-fall on Isis – from The Keeper of the Isis Light, by Monica Hughes
  • Half Life, by Rachel Cosgrove Payes
  • Return to Peladon – from Doctor Who and the Monster of Peladon, by Terrance Dicks

Interesting mix, and I look forward to reading them.

(Digression: The text of Escape from the Death Star seems to be reprinted faithfully from chapter 10 and part of chapter 11 of the Star Wars novelization, although it does open with an original two-sentence setup: Luke Skywalker, the old Jedi warrior Ben Kenobi, Han Solo and their companions are deep in the heart of the enemy battle station, the Death Star. Danger threatens on all sides as they struggle to free the young and beautiful Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil dark warlord, Darth Vader…)

Here’s what else the back cover promises, though:

This spectacular collection is illustrated throughout with specially commissioned drawings.

And, oh, the treasures here. All the drawings are black-and-white and in the margins either alongside or beneath the text, and feel like they belong in a much earlier science fiction era.

Now, to be fair, I’m really only focused on the illustrations accompanying the Star Wars excerpt, because again, this was a full seven years after the movie’s debut, and we all knew full well what things looked like in that galaxy far, far away. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that at this point, some characters and ships were already considered iconic.

Here’s this edition’s illustration of R2-D2 and C-3PO:


…and here are Han and Chewbacca:


More? OK. Our heroes heading for the Millennium Falcon:


…and blasting their way past the TIE fighters:


And maybe my favorite: Darth Vader vs. Ben Kenobi.


Several of these are highly reminiscent of pre-production Star Wars art, which is also interesting.

As a bonus, here’s an illustration from the Doctor Who excerpt, including the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.


The artwork and the typeface and the page layouts all combine to remind me an awful lot of the kid-focused science fiction books I loved when I was in elementary school.

It’s been a long time since I stumbled on anything this unexpected and fun at the flea market – and for less than a handful of change.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, science fiction | , , , , | Leave a comment

Seattle: Go See Tentacles, A Squiggly Art Show Curated by Bonnie Burton

Tentacles, A Squiggly Art Show Curated by Bonnie Burton at Ltd. Art Gallery in Seattle

“The Madame,” by Josh Ellingson.

Hey! You! In Seattle! Like weird and cool monster-y type art and stuff? You probably want to go to here: Tentacles, A Squiggly Art Show Curated by Bonnie Burton at Ltd. Art Gallery in Seattle.


May 3, 2013 Posted by | Current Affairs, geek | , , , | 1 Comment

Fresh off the sandcrawler.

Desktop astromech by Cleveland artist Bridget Daryl Ginley.

I crossed paths online with Cleveland artist/WRUW dj/first-generation Star Wars fan Bridget Daryl Ginley back when I still worked in the Warehouse District, and last week I finally got the chance to meet her in person when I visited to Studio 404 so I could pick up this piece for my desk at work that would make a Jawa utinni with envy. (You know what? That’s a long and bizarre sentence, and I’m leaving it that way.)

For awhile now, I’ve liked Bridget’s skull sketches and found art assemblies and pop culture references – and even her handwritten alternative music (kids, ask your parents) playlists from WRUW. All sorts of weird and cool stuff. When she started building these shiny-domed tributes, I knew I’d wind up with one of my own.

She’s got several other variations on the theme in the studio, and materials to build a gaggle more –

– so there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a near-sighted scrap pile to call your own, if this is your kind of thing. (She’s also doing a lot of steampunk work these days, since it blends pretty well with what she’s been doing for years, and if you’re a Doctor Who fan, she might even be persuaded to tackle a Dalek for you, if you ask nicely.)

Bridget’s trying to move a lot of art from Studio 404 (classic space – amazing views of Cleveland’s skyline) now, so the time’s right, and she’s pretty cool, and this was totally the droid I –

– nope. Not gonna say it.

Also, if you like that throwback music I mentioned earlier, check out her Erie Effusion radio show. Do not request Blue Monday.

July 7, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jim Carchidi’s George Trifecta

I just realized I never posted the totally-necessary (unlike, say, Godfather III) completion to our Paintings of George by Jim series.

In the tradition of the portraits of George Harrison and George Lucas which he painted for Jenn and me, our friend Jim Carchidi created this piece for Kelsey, who’s a huge Harry Potter fan:

George Weasley by Jim Carchidi

March 5, 2012 Posted by | Books, Film, geek | , , , | 4 Comments

Remembering Ralph McQuarrie: 1929-2012

I wish I had gotten to meet Ralph McQuarrie to thank him in person.

As a little kid who hungered for all things Star Wars from my first viewing of the movie, learning about McQuarrie and seeing his visions of George Lucas’ universe were a way to see even more of its unexplored corners, and to get a glimpse into its creation and evolution.

McQuarrie’s works took me places – and still do, in ways that I couldn’t have imagined as a kid: While they still provide those windows to a galaxy far, far away, they’re also lightspeed trips back in time, thanks to powerful memory associations.

One of my favorite Star Wars-era McQuarrie paintings is from The Star Wars Portfolio, which my friend Mike had. It was also reproduced on a set of German Star Wars cards:

Two other McQuarrie favorites come from The Empire Strikes Back:
His matte work on the Millennium Falcon at Cloud City landing platform still has the power to touch the part of my brain that holds the 8- or 9-year-old me who was eagerly awaiting the second Star Wars movie.

And at least once or twice every winter, there’s an afternoon where the sun and clouds mix with just the right color notes to make me think of this painting from The Empire Strikes Back Portfolio:

My other favorite McQuarrie piece is one that I only learned was his when I saw it in person at the Ralph McQuarrie exhibit at Star Wars Celebration V:

Oh, man: Totally triggers the goosebumps and a mental playback of John Williams’ slow, mysterious and foreboding Lost Ark theme music. “Lightning. Fire. Power of God or something.” Indeed.

I’d thank McQuarrie for far more than his art’s impact on my own memories, though: Several of my closest friends are blessed with artistic talent, and they’ve often said over the years that seeing McQuarrie’s work as kids was a huge inspiration and motivation. In turn, I have been inspired and awed by their own creativity and passion.

Thanks for your visions, Mr. McQuarrie. I see differently because of them.

March 4, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, geek | , , , | 2 Comments

Boba Fett: Death by Walking Stick

At the 2006 Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club Summer Social, I picked up an original 42-illustration sequence from the 1993 Software Toolworks’ Star Wars Chess computer game.

I had this game for the first computer I purchased as an adult – an IBM PS/2 with a 486 processor – and while I rarely played full games, there was much fun to be had just setting up and watching all the animated battles, like R2-D2 taking on a Scout Walker, or C-3PO knocking off the Emperor. The game was released during the Dark Times, shortly after my move to Florida, so, as with other bits of Star Wars‘ re-emergence into pop culture in the early 1990s, my memories of playing it are tied to strong emotions and a particular sense of time and place.

The pencil drawings I purchased illustrate Boba Fett’s death at the hands of Yoda, as seen at the 4:24 mark of this compilation clip.

At the time, I didn’t have the means to compile these into a video, but I was looking at these drawings today and realized that’s a much easier process than it was five years ago, so, here you go: (Looks best at 720p.)

Each element of the battle was animated separately – so Yoda and the laser blasts and even the crater at the end are not seen on these pages.

Each drawing is on a 10.5 x 12.5 sheet of paper, which is slightly larger than my scanner will handle, so to keep things aligned, the leftmost few inches of each page fell outside the scanned area. In most cases, this was blank, although there are a few pages with reference numbers that aren’t visible here, and there may be one drawing toward the end where a few bits of the explosion go out of frame.

I also created a version which holds each frame for a second to allow for a little closer look:

The sheet which begins the video came with the set and – for the viewers who noticed that there are drawings numbered 1, 1a, and 1b – clarifies that there are actually 42 all together.

January 14, 2012 Posted by | 1990s, geek, science fiction, video games | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Georges from Jim

Last summer, my friend Jim created this fantastic painting as a birthday present for Jenn:

George Harrison by Jim Carchidi

And lo, was I made envious.

This weekend, then, a package from Jim arrived, five days before my birthday. Upon opening it (which, yes, unless such things are explicitly marked “Do Not Open Until…” I will almost always open immediately), I found –


George Lucas by Jim Carchidi

Twin suns? Faux brushed-metal Kenner-esque font? Ego-stroking book reference? To say Jim knows me well is clearly an understatement.

Thanks, Jim!

November 13, 2011 Posted by | 1980s, geek | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bounty Hunters: More Dave Perillo Star Wars Sweetness

Check. It. Out.

Bounty Hunters by Dave Perillo

Image: Dave Perillo

This was attached to a very cool and complimentary email about Collect All 21! this week from artist Dave Perillo, whom I met last month at the Pittsburgh Comicon. It’s a companion piece to Dave’s Mos Eisley Cantina “advertisement”, inspired in part by the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. And you can bet the next time I cross paths with the guy, I’ll be picking up a Bounty Hunters print. (Bossk’s smile is killing me!)

I can’t say enough about this style – his Twilight Zone alphabet piece for the Gallery 1988 “Another Dimension” show knocks me over, too.

May 27, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, geek, science fiction | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Read This Year

I know it’s only August, but I hereby nominate the following online comment (posted under an alias at and shared here in its entirety) for 2009’s Dumbest Things Awards:

Science fiction like the other expressive arenas of music, art, poetry even comic books are bastions of the left propaganda. Is it any wonder that few movies are profitable?

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Fiction, Music, science fiction | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Of Mice and Clones

I met Sean Forney last summer at the Buckeye Comic Con and ran into him again at Screaming Tiki in October, when he showed me some designs he was working on for a possible Lucasfilm-licensed T-shirt. And a few months ago, he came to mind when I got a BGSU alumni newsletter mentioning him. (So, bonus points for being a fellow Ohioan and a Falcon!)

Click to enlarge.

Sean emailed me recently to share the final product, which he did for Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2009 in conjunction with Blue Planet Gear, and though I can’t find any information on where these shirts may have been sold – I wonder if they were some sort of exclusives for the 501st or the Rebel Legion – I still think it’s awfully cool. (I particularly like the detail on the leftmost clone in the trio.)

Now that the shirt’s done, Sean, who grew up a Star Wars fan, told me a little bit more about the whole process in an email:

“I received an email from Bill at Blue Planet out of nowhere about doing a Stormtrooper shirt. The initial design was a Stormtrooper and two Clonetroopers for a shirt for the 501st. After that design I was asked to do a Mickey Mouse in Stormtrooper gear for the Star Wars Disney Hollywood Studios Weekends. I finished this design and Disney passed on the idea of Mickey as a Stormtrooper. So I was asked to re-do the first Stormtrooper design and it was approved for the Disney Hollywood Studios Star Wars Weekends.”

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

“The idea for the design came from Bill at Blue Planet, but I came up with the poses through a series of sketches. Blue Planet was in contact with Lucasfilm and had the license to do the shirts. The final product came out just like the original designs and there weren’t many revisions.”

“It was thrilling. I have to admit it was a little nerve-racking making sure all the details were correct on all the troopers but in the end it was definitely worth it.”

To me, one of the neater aspects of the “new” Star Wars era – which is actually pushing two decades old itself, if you put its birth around the time of Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” release in 1991 – has been seeing this incredible array of artistic takes on the saga and its inhabitants, as compared to the relatively limited number of interpretations in the original trilogy era.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Fiction, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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