Behind the Mask Artists

John Celestri

"Holiday Special" Animator



John shared the process on his blog in 2011:

In mid-1978, the animation staff at Nelvana finished up on "The Devil and Daniel Mouse", and was put on George Lucas' "Secret Project". Remember, Star Wars had just come out the previous summer and was THE mega hit! So, it was exciting to see the initial designs for the sequel.

George had decided to introduce the new villain (Boba Fett) in an animated comic book format in "The Star Wars Holiday Special" that was going to air on TV in December of 1978. Nelvana was selected to produce the completed animation based on our "A Cosmic Christmas", which George liked very much.

At that time, Heavy Metal (Magazine) was the graphic cutting edge for Science Fiction/Fantasy. The decision was made to go with a graphic style based on the artist Moebius (pseudonym for Jean Giraud) whose art was appearing in the French magazine Metal Hurlant (published in the United States under the title Heavy Metal).

Here are the model sheets for Boba Fett (by Frank Nissen, who designed the show), some of my rough first pass poses, and thumbnail sketches. It was a challenge to animate a performance with a character that had no facial features to work with. I had to use hand gestures, head tilts, and body language.

Following the artwork is the animated comic book that introduced Boba Fett. The entire show was animated in 6 to 8 weeks. When viewing this material, remember that in 1978 full animation industry-wide was pretty much dead except at Disney's.

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Last updated: February 20, 2023
Article ID: 238