Wednesday, September 22, 2010

“George Lucas Stole Chewbacca, But...”

I highly recommend this article about how Chewbacca came to be - and my father's role in that process. But what troubles me - and has troubled me and my family and many of my father's friends in the Science Fiction world since 1977 - is that he was the unwitting, uncredited, and uncompensated “collaborator” in this creative endeavor. And is that really okay?


  1. Ian,

    Unfortunately your father wasn't alone. The film industry has a history of this kind of homage. When you understand that the artists and technicians are fans of science fiction and fantasy it makes sense but credit and remuneration should still be given. Some justice has been served by the original authors, A.E Van Vogt's creature Ixtl from Voyage of the Space Beagle was used as the inspiration for the movie Alien, Harlan Ellison's Outer Limits screenplays 'Demon with a Glass Hand' and 'Soldier' were used for Terminator. After being sued the film companies paid up. There is actually a great youtube clip of Harlan talking about what happened in his case.( the language in the clip might offend some people)
    Unfortunately that is not always the outcome and some creators are not credited or compensated as in the case of your fathers work or Jim Gurneys or H. Beam Pipers in relation to the Star Wars series of films

  2. Hello Ian, I just wanted to say thank you for posting so much of your father's wonderful art. I grew up seeing his work and always was amazed and inspired by it...seeking it out at every opportunity! His work has that magic 'touch of life'. A joy to see!
    I also share a deep love of Pyle's work.
    best--Paul Rivoche

  3. Hi Ian.

    I'm the author of the Chewbacca piece; thank you for your kind words. The article has moved to my blog/book about the inspirations of Star Wars:

  4. I updated the link. Thanks for alerting me - and, especially, for doing such an in-depth job!


    There seems to be a old pattern to beat down paying for work done。

  6. Dear Ian, I am working on a history of Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy, who was named Jeftichew. It is very clear to any causal observer the connection between Jo-Jo (world famous due to PT Barnum) and Chewbacca. The overlap of names is also not likely a coincidence, nor the fact that Jo-JO was so famous and his poster was known by a large majority of the world. He also launched many, many 1930's Science Fiction images. Are you aware of any inspiration that was taken from Jo-Jo in the creation of, or naming of Chewbacca?

    1. Off hand, I don’t know of any connections - at least as far as my father’s involvement was concerned. I can’t recall him ever mentioning Jo-Jo, but he may well have been aware of him - or at least of hypertrichosis in general. A book he owned - Dear Dead Days by Charles Addams - featured a portrait of a 17th or 18th Century woman with that condition.

  7. Do you know that there is a family with a condition similar to Chewbacca's? They were featured several times on Italian talk shows. Apparently one of the young boys in the family has a very possessive (and beautiful) girlfriend. It's too bad George Lucas never tried to give Chewbacca a romantic interest...