mid-1978? | age 10? Indeed: What’s a duck?  Put aside those philosophy and self-help books dear reader. All the wisdom you’ll ever need is before you–right now. Read on

This was, one of the pages which most spurred me into publishing this comic online. When I read this after 30+ years I was speechless! Surely only a child could come up with this stuff? Well, we’ll see…

Text: What’s a Duck?

Kenobi’s Quack Philosophy: Words to Ponder, Words to Live By

Star Wars age 9

“Oh well a duck can quack”

It appears that the former General Kenobi has seen more things in the universe than poor simple Luke, the young farm-hand, could ever dream of. You know, like DUCKS for instance. Surely if George Lucas ever sees this he’ll be kicking himself:“Dammit! If only I’d been able to come up with that! Words to live by indeed!”

And do you know what? Luke—the simple idiot—doesn’t even pause for a moment to fully absorb the import of this mighty philosophical nugget. He immediately blurts
Not even as a question. What’s-a-duck-exclamation-mark. Luke, you absolute fool!

philosophy books

Republic? Bagavad Gita? (Rrrraspberry)

Or… was there a page—now lost—that followed this rhetoricalquestion? Perhaps Luke meant:

“After all Ben, (he shrugs). What’s a mere duck? (big grin)”

Yes, I think we can absolutely accept that this was not what happened. Luke’s a simple idiot. Ben offers up to him this greatest ever life-lesson and Luke just blurts nonsense!—slack-jaw-idiotically.

Pearls before swine, my friends. Pearls before swine.


Well guess what? George and/or Alan Dean Foster beat me to it—«again! This is actually my mangled and mis-understood version of a part of the conversation which Ben has with Luke in his home, about Luke’s father. It concerned how natural talent still needs to be nurtured and developed and practiced. I took the Duck bit and just stuck it in the wrong place. I wonder if I was proud of myself for creatively re-purposing it?—or was I just on auto-pilot and not even thinking about the text? (That is extremely possible!)

“Still, even a duck has to be taught to swim.”
“What’s a duck?

—1977 Novelisation, Alan Dean Foster


And “Laggards—laggards?” Surely not. Does Ben really say that? Is he trying to put working-class <cockney chappie Luke in his place? “Oh yes, I went Oxford doon’t yoo know! I like nothing better than to prang a few clay-womp-rats with me blunderbus before ahh-fternoon tea.”


Luke does a double-take—long before I ever heard of double-takes. His hair flies up making him look like one of the PUNKS that were scandalising Britain at that time in the ’70s.

Film Notes

alec guinness and mark hamill on location in tunisia

Mark Hamill was most impressed by Alec Guinness during these early Desert shoots. Not only was he very giving—in the best possible way—of his advice to the young actor; but Hamill recalled how old Sir Alec, Knight of the Realm—when just made-up and outfitted for his scene, laid himself down on the ground and rolled about in the dust. To get the authentic look. Guinness was most definitely not an advocate of the method-acting  school though.

alec guinness on location - mos eisley

Oh, those loveable, eccentric old English actor types. He was peculiarly sane compared to some of his contemporaries though. Guinness worked opposite Sir Ralph Richardson at the Old Vic.

Richardson was bonkers.


Robin McKie, The Observer, 26 September 2004:

“…Ralph Richardson (…) knocked on the dressing room of his old pal Alec Guinness and flattened him with a punch to the jaw. Stunned, the floored thespian demanded a reason for the attack. ‘Who can one hit,’ Richardson replied calmly, ‘if not one’s friends?'”

alec guinness and dave prowse on set

. . .


↓ Transcript
(2-shot. Close-up on Ben, medium-shot on Luke in Tattooine's Jundland Wastes Desert)
"Ooaaaeeeowlll!" shrieks Ben Kenobi.
Luke does a double-take, with shake lines around him and a question mark above his head. "Huh?" he blurts.

"That'll get rid of those laggards." says Ben, smiling.
"That's a Krayt Dragon call!" shouts Luke in astonishment.

(Head and shoulder side-shot of Ben)
"It just takes a set of well-used vocal chords. That's all."

"Oh well, a duck can quack!" says Ben.
"What's a duck?" shouts Luke, confused.