Empire Strikes Back Turns 30

Like I didn’t feel old enough already, now The Empire Strikes Back is 30 years old today.  I was (and still am) a huge Star Wars fan and while I love the original film, Empire came out when I was nine and had a far more profound impact on me simply because at that age I was really beginning to get into drawing.  The design elements of Empire are truly amazing–from the beautiful and unique color palates for each of the film’s major locations to the bizarre, almost art deco designs of the Cloud City.  I remember being particularly struck by the vehicles and other props in the opening Hoth sequence and can to this day draw a surprisingly-accurate Hoth rebel gun turret, having studied the film’s many design elements over and over from “The Art of The Empire Strikes Back.”  On a purely visceral level, I can still recall quite vividly the feeling of downright awe I experienced as a nine year-old seeing the opening battle scene of this film for the first time at the Navy base theater in Pearl Harbor where we were living at the time.  I’d pore over the film again and again in the years following via a bootleg VHS of the film my dad had somehow acquired back in the days when a VCR was an amazing new thing–that was about the size of a sofa cushion.

Anyway, in honor of the 30th, I’ve dredged up a few sketchbook drawings of Empire characters done by me, I’d guess at age ten or so:



(Remember, kids: always rough in your character lightly with pencil first.  That way you won’t run out of room and have to use masking tape to attach an sheet of paper for the feet!)


  1. Chris S says:

    That Yoda looks like it should be accompanying an article in the Atlantic or Rolling Stone or something. You were a baby genius!

  2. Ben says:

    @Chris S -It’s all been progressively downhill for me since then,though!

  3. Chris Rubenstahl says:

    Nice! You and I are in the same age group. I was eight when Empire came out, and had that same sense of awe, and of feeling utterly dumbstruck at the ending. I don’t have any of my drawings from that period, but I can distinctly remember drawing X-Wings, Star Destroyers, Vader, Boba Fett, and Luke on every scrap of paper I could find. Kudos on digging these up; they bring back a lot of memories for me.

  4. Ben says:

    @Chris – I probably wouldn’t have any of that stuff around either except for my mom’s diligence. She squirreled all that stuff away and handed it over to me when I was old enough to have enough sense to not just pitch it. And, yeah, I distinctly remember my “Aw, maaaannnnnn” reaction to Empire’s unresolved ending.

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