If you were in San Francisco last week and sensed a great disturbance in the Force, don’t worry — it was probably just the Lucasfilm Sidewalk Art Festival. The event is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an excuse for employees of Lucasfilm and ILM to deface the walkways of San Francisco’s Letterman Digital Arts Center, but in an awesome way. After all, how could you not love a competition that results in the above piece, ““Calvin and Hoth,” by the “Let’s Chalk About It” team? Apparently we aren’t the only ones who love it, as “Calvin and Hoth” won first prize in the competition.
Growing up, I had four framed pieces of science fiction art hung on my bedroom wall for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t tell you who the artist was, only the vague recollection of my dad telling me they were all cover art for one pulp SF mag or another. The details weren’t really important; what mattered to me is that they conjured up dreams of far-flung alien worlds and sleek starships to take me there. So I truly love that there are honest-to-gosh legitimate museums out there now that showcase pictures of aliens and superheroes and movie monsters with just as much loving affection as anything you had to study in art class. Case in point: the L.A.-based Hero Complex Gallery, which just kicked off a new exhibition with an “alien invasion” theme.
How come adults don’t get meals that come with prizes? Some of my favorite rituals from childhood involved being elbow-deep in a box of cereal, feeling around for the prize, or dumping all the food out of my Happy Meal just so I could get to the toy. So how come we don’t get a grown-up equivalent? After-dinner mints and fortune cookies don’t count, damn it. I want to be able to finish my snazzy, five-star meal, and then have the waiter bring me out a Rocket Raccoon action figure on a silver platter. Sadly, I will probably never live in such a world, but at least pretending is a little bit easier thanks to these faux Happy Meals that were ripped right out of my Happy Place.
These awesome fake Happy Meals are the work of Los Angeles digital artist Newt Clements. (He mostly comes out at night. Mostly.) His Pinterest is full of a wide variety of crazy projects, but his Happy Meals collection is one of the most extensive. He’s got over 100 of the things by my count, and they’re all incredibly well done. Designing Happy Meal boxes to tie into Doctor Who, Aliens, or Escape from New York would have been worthy of a story in and of itself, but Clements goes the extra mile by imagining what toys might be included with each meal as well. And I don’t care what bounty McDonald’s has on offer, there’s no way it’s cooler than an action figure of Firefly’s River standing atop a pile of Reaver corpses.
Even if the name Jim Burns doesn’t immediately ring any bells, odds are that, as an avid consumer of science fiction over the previous decades, you’ve encountered more of his art than you know. He has worked on movies, games, and books for longer than many of us have been alive, and his shelves at home are speckled with trophies that include multiple Hugo Awards and numerous British Science Fiction Awards, among others. His gorgeous new book, The Art of Jim Burns: Hyperluminal is scheduled to hit bookstores (both brick and mortar as well as digital) at the end of this month and collects may of his paintings and covers, both that you’ve seen and that you haven’t.
Burns is probably most known for his concept work on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. He’s largely responsible for the look of the flying cars that, while modern, still maintain some classic lines. (In addition to that, he also did some work for Scott on his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, a film that, sadly, never came to fruition.) As author Joe Haldeman (The Forever War) says in his introduction, while Burns has all the technical bells and whistles—clean lines, good composition, unique color work—it’s this ability to take everyday objects and give them a “science fictionalization,” to take the mundane and make it something fantastic and otherworldly, many infused with a sense of eroticism and sensuality.
The rejiggered Star Wars universe has begun rolling out the first elements of its new canon, with Star Wars: A New Dawn hitting shelves recently and the Star Wars Rebels animated series due to premiere in a few short weeks. (There’s also a little film called Episode VII due out next year.) But if you’re craving even more of George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away, an upcoming Star Wars-themed online art show could be just the thing, and an excuse to bedeck your walls some awesome sci-fi artwork.
Described as “an online artists’ alley,” Acme Archives’ “Join the Alliance” event is currently underway and featuring a collection of Star Wars art by nearly twenty different artists. You can purchase any of the prints for $40, and the event will be running through September 15, just in case you need to wait for a paycheck to clear or something.