Batavia, IL
December 31, 2006
Story and Photos by Chris Rhoads (dustrho)

Just less than one month ago I attended Art Appreciation Weekend, where Dave Dorman himself participated in while demonstrating his incredible artistic talent to a large group of artists. While I was there I was simply amazed at his talents, as I have always been interested in his artwork, but to be able to see it up close like that was out of this world. What was even more amazing that day was him drawing up a sandtrooper on a Dewback, and it was almost complete with colors in just about an hour. This was going to be one of those special moment you wouldn't forget for the rest of your life.

But, just when I thought I was having a great time the ante was upped a notch. Dave's wife, Denise, was onsite that day and invited all of us who participated during that event from the Midwest Garrison to bring in the new year at their house. I was totally flattered and in awe of this, and of course I couldn't turn down such an incredible offer. I didn't have plans for New Year's Eve, and what better way to celebrate New Year's Eve than doing that with one of the best Star Wars artists of all time? It was a no brainer.

Ever since the day I was personally invited over to Dave's house for New Year's Eve, I had been very much looking forward to that day. For the first time ever, my wife and I dropped our 21-month-old son (Lucas) off at my parents' house, where he would spend the night there away from us. It was a hard moment for us, but it was about time for him to spend an evening with his grandparents.

Afterward we made our journey to Batavia, IL, where Dave has been living for over a year. The drive took less than twenty minutes, so we were thrilled we didn't have to drive any further than that on such a dangerous night to be driving, with all the drunks out there partying it up. Once we arrived it was time to get the armor out of my car, as it was Dave's request that I bring my sandtrooper armor. I knew this was going to be a night to remember.

I had learned earlier that day that I was probably going to be the only member from the Midwest Garrison who would be there, as others had to cancel out at the last minute. That wouldn't affect me in the least, as I was ready to rock and roll. After saying hi to Dave and his wife Denise, I got suited up in the armor, and waited for all the guests to arrive. As they walked through the front door, many of them were shocked to see a sandtrooper standing in Dave's family room.

After people mingled for a bit it was time to take pictures with the trooper. Dave and his family were the first to do so, and we captured some funny moments with Dave holding up a Master Replicas lightsaber to add the Star Wars flavor to the mix. Next up for the photo shoot were friends of his, and most seemed to be enjoying the moment quite a bit. After the pictures were all done, it was time for me to get out of my armor and enjoy the party.

Several of Dave's friends who were there were artists, and throughout the night they all drew one scene or character into a sketch book. One guy drew something that reminded me of Eddie from the album covers of Iron Maiden, others drew their own developed characters, but Dave stole the show with the sandtrooper figure aiming his blaster at the viewer. He must have spent less than thirty minutes, but in just that short period of time he had put together something that looked great. The sketch book would be going with the Dormans to the next San Diego Comic-Con, where it would be auctioned off to create a scholarship fund for some lucky and deserving art student.

When I first arrived at the party I gave Dave a small present, a picture of us together from the Art Appreciate Weekend. I had it framed and I even signed the picture saying, "Dave, Happy New Years 2007! Chris "TD1043" Rhoads." He really enjoyed the picture, and I had printed another one for him to sign so I could put it in a frame for myself. Not only that but I also brought my book "Star Wars: The Art of Dave Dorman" so that he could sign the inside of it for me. He didn't just sign the book, but he also drew in a quick picture of a sandtrooper on a dewback. He wrote in there, "Sandtroopers rule the dunes!" When he handed the book back to me I immediately looked inside, and was just blown away by his artwork. What might have been just a simple doodle to him, it was something incredibly special to me. This is something I will not forget, and the book will be displayed proudly in my Star Wars collection.

The last part of the evening included me locating Dave to say my goodbyes and thank you to him. I was informed that he was downstairs in his basement, so I went down there to let him know that we were leaving. When I got downstairs it felt like I was in a warehouse, as there were just rows and rows of boxes, most of which were probably containing all sorts of artwork he had done throughout his career. On one table he showed us several Star Wars prints of his, and some of them I believe might have been the originals. If you think his prints are off the hook, you should see the originals! After seeing all of this I didn't want to leave, but it was getting really late so it was time to call it a night.

Dave, I wanted to say "thank you" to you and your wife, for inviting my wife and I over to celebrate New Years with you and your friends. We had such a wonderful time, and we're looking forward to getting together again soon. Happy New Year!

To see the photo gallery containing 23 photos click here.