Ralph McQuarrie's long-lost Star Wars art FOUND!

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

Without artist Ralph McQuarrie, who helped visualize George Lucas' concepts, Star Wars wouldn't have been Star Wars. Hey, as we told you last year, Darth Vader wouldn't even have had a helmet! And now that a cache of long-lost conceptual art has been found, we're getting to see more of just how big a debt we owe McQuarrie.

"We thought that we had seen all of Ralph's Star Wars work here at Lucasfilm—literally hundreds of production paintings, matte paintings and sketches, all carefully photographed, inventoried and preserved," said Steve Sansweet, the Lucasfilm director of content management and head of fan relations. "But because his home furnace needed to be repaired a few years ago, and a forgotten bookshelf unit had to be moved to let the repairman get at it, Ralph discovered an old box on a shelf that was filled with the treasures."

One of those special treasures was the Darth Vader sketch above, made by McQuarrie while conceptualizing The Empire Strikes Back.

"This was a rediscovered piece that we had not seen before," Sansweet said. "This Ralph McQuarrie sketch from The Empire Strikes Back was done to prepare for a production painting of the lightsaber battle on Cloud City between the Dark Lord and his son, Luke Skywalker."

If you want to see more, you'll have to head to the convention Celebration V in Orlando, Fla., in August, where there'll be a McQuarrie masterworks exhibit that will include reproductions of 100 pieces, including sketches from what's known as Day One—the drawings the artist made the day he received the Star Wars script from Lucas.

We're so there!

(via Hero Complex)