Star Wars: Planets of the Galaxy, 1991
I wish I could remember how I first made contact with West End Games. It might have been as simple as sending in art samples and being accepted. It must not have been a struggle, or I’m sure it would be lodged in my memory. Either way, in 1991 I figured out how to turn my Star Wars fandom into freelance income. It didn’t pay a huge amount, but it almost certainly balanced out everything I bought. Not a bad bit of rescuing.
Art Director Stephen Crane was my benefactor at West End, and it was through him that my assignments flowed. From 1991 to 1996, I contributed a substantial number of illustrations to twelve books, all in support of Star Wars: the Roleplaying Game.
Find PDFs of the entire West End Games library here. (Heads up: there are a LOT more than ten!)
Approvals were much easier than I expected. All the material was subject to Lucasfilm oversight, but Stephen almost never asked for changes to my roughs and I never noticed any adjustments to the finished pieces in print. Of course, it all transpired in the Expanded Universe years when standards weren’t as tight as they seem to be these days.
Find more info on West End at Wikipedia and Wookieepedia. See a video history on Youtube here.
Planets of the Galaxy, Volume 1 was my first West End assignment, and it was a good one to start with. The books in this 3-volume series presented gamers with new planets on which to plot their adventures, none of which had been established in the original trilogy. The writers came up with a dizzying array of alien species and worked out their worlds and cultures. Someone on the editorial side decided on which needed illustrating, and prepared descriptions for me to follow.
I was 26 at the time, but teenage me came bubbling right up to the surface every time I sat down and dug into these assignments. I wasn’t telling Star Wars stories, but I had the pleasure of providing content for others to tell theirs.
Below are all the illustrations I did for Planets of the Galaxy, Volume 1.