An Accomplished VFX Artist Leaves A Clandestine Legacy
Richard Edlund, a close friend of Laine, kindly contributed this card, drawn by Laine for the Holidays. Thank you, Richard.
People working the visual effects field are often artists in many different disciplines. Many are cartoonists who draw funny behind the scene jokes under the pressure of production — much like the sci-FI cartoons in the editorial pages of old Starlog Magazines, which are entertaining, but not necessarily created in the halls of film production. John Van Vliet is famous for his cartoons, which focus on the plight of the VFX artist from an inside perspective. Often these cartoons tell a truth that is generally not publicized, but is common to us all. Sometimes they are cute, and at other times down-right funny. To this end, I present a treasure that unexpectedly fell into my hands; the comic art of Laine Liska.
If you saw Star Wars, you are familiar with the work, and creature suit performing of Laine. He was Mufta in the cantina band as well as other characters (in masks famously known to have poor ventilation) in the Mos Eiseley cantina scene. He did other VFX work in that franchise, and worked at BOSS films for several years after. Laine is a visual effects artist, working Battlestar Galactica (1978) and Caveman as well as a very nice individual, or so I am told.
I never met him. He unfortunately passed away early in the 1990’s, potentially from conditions exacerbated by exposure to the chemicals used in the VFX industry at the time. I came across his comic drawings from Alien3 after the BOSS film studios auction. My employer purchased an animation desk (which is legendary itself) from the studio, and gave me the contents. The cartoons were inside.
I contacted David Hutchinson at Starlog, the VFX editor for the magazine as well as one of their more prolific authors, and said we should take these and get them published in as a tribute to Laine. He thought it a brilliant idea, but unfortunately before it could happen, David Hutchinson himself passed away while very young — Starlog Magazine also eventually passed on. Unfortunately these drawings sat on my shelf for over a decade.
Today I will brave “the Mummy’s Curse” of these discovered documents, and pay tribute to Laine’s work here in this blog.
Hopefully these cartoons will let those who did not know Laine a chance to wonder more about him, and examine his art in other fields. Fans of the Alien series will also have more to add to the behind the scenes story at least. Mostly, I hope that family and friends who remember Laine Liska fondly can see these, and that the art can bring a smile to their face.
Here are some other examples of Laine’s work from across the web: