Tue
Aug 6 2013 1:30pm

When Tom Bombadil You Are, Look This Good, You Will Not

Original sketches for science fiction characters

Many of the characters we love grow and change throughout their stories—but many of them also went through significant evolution before we even met them. Take, for instance, Yoda. You recognize the version on the left as a great Jedi, a warrior who doesn’t believe in war, a teacher who was willing to train Luke Skywalker despite his memories of Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side.

You recognize the character on the left er, right...as David the Gnome. Even though his name is also Yoda.

Instead of going with the more cartoonish-looking figure, Lucas aged the character, giving him wrinkles and absurdly expressive ears, so he was able to balance Yoda’s playful moments with his more serious and philosophical  conversations with Luke. Naturally Yoda’s not the only character to go through this kind of transformation, and the good people of Screen Crush have taken some of the iconic figures of pop culture and traced them back to their initial character sketches, with amazing results!

The Mad Hatter seen above is obviously not one of John Tenniel’s illustrations, but a concept for Tim Burton’s re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland. As much as we love Johnny Depp’s take on the character, we kind of wish the film had stayed closer to the three-eyed steampunky Hatter on the right...seeing those telescope spectacles in action would have been even better than Depp’s hot pink M.A.C. makeover. 

The concept art for The Amazing Spider-Man gives us a sleek, streamlined Spidey, with wings made of webbing and eyes that are so alien they’re almost frightening. This Spider-Man doesn’t throw cute quips at the bad guys, and he definitely doesn’t leave adorable notes on criminals he’s captured.

And finally, a change we completely agree with! While the Buzz Lightyear on the right is sweet and earnest (and actually resembles Heimlich from A Bug’s Life a little bit) the version we came to know in the Toy Story movies perfectly captures the character’s well-intentioned bluster and near-maniacal dedication to space rangering for Star Command. That chin is the chin of a hero.

Check out more of the sketches over at Design Taxi


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and also has early sketches of itself floating around somewhere. Probably in the Centauri Nebula.

2 comments
Luis Milan
1. LuisMilan
"You recognize the character on the left...as David the Gnome."

Yoda says: two lefts, a right do not make.
Alan Brown
2. AlanBrown
I'm glad Lucas said gno to that original drawing.
And, despite how cool the goggly Hatter looks, no actor wants to play a role with goggles on, as it is like trying to run with your legs tied together--your performance will not get you remembered. Just ask Whatshisname, you know, the guy who played Cyclops in the X-Men movies.

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