Image of the day: Ralph McQuarrie's long-lost cover art for The Empire Strikes Back novel

Dearly departed artist Ralph McQuarrie is a legend, and even though much of his work has obviously been chronicled, he’s still capable of pulling off a few surprises.

The official Star Wars website has been running a retrospective on McQuarrie’s work for the Star Wars franchise, and as the man responsible for creating much of the series’ look and feel, it’s made for some interesting finds. But one of the most fascinating pieces is one that even the experts didn’t realize was ever actually finished.

Back when the tie-in novels for the original films were on the way, McQuarrie was tasked with creating a cover for The Empire Strikes Back. After weighing his options, the artist decided to create a shot inspired by the production artwork he’d created showing Luke Skywalker escaping his downed snowspeeder in front of an Imperial Walker. It’s a great shot, but, for whatever reason, the final version of the novel didn’t actually use it. So the general consensus was that McQuarrie scrapped the piece and moved on. 

But, after some digging in the Lucasfilm archive, they managed to find the completed piece. An ultra-rare solicit for the book also showed up on eBay. Check out the final piece below and geek out at the greatness:

(Via Star Wars)

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