Monday, January 25, 2010

At Last! Beyond the Movie! Beyond the Galaxy!

I was thinking about Marvel's Star Wars comics from the 70's today, and remembering how much fun they were. Of course, this was before Lucasfilm really had their vampiric death grip on the licensing, sucking out all the joy and adventure that Star Wars should have and replacing it with an obsessive, convoluted and restrictive continuity. And though these books are kinda sneered at by today's Star Wars fans for being cheesy (this issue kicked off a six-part take-off of The Magnificent Seven* with one of the mercs being a 6' green space rabbit), I always thought cheesiness was part of the franchise's charm ("Luke Skywalker?").

Anyway, I have very fond memories of buying this series – and this issue – at the local corner store. Writers Roy Thomas and (especially) the late Archie Goodwin, spun some sublimely sweet space opera back in the day, and I still love 'em. Fortunately Dark Horse Comics reprinted the entire Marvel run in some nice trade paperbacks, so I can read them over and over again.

* I wonder if this is was where Roger Corman and John Sayles got the idea for their 1980 Star Wars rip-off, Battle Beyond The Stars, which also used The Magnificent Seven as its story template?

15 comments:

  1. When I was little, that big green bunny tripped me out. I was also afraid of Kiss posters, so who knows.

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  2. Oh yeah, I remember well copying the art from this issue (and a couple after it) as I was learning to draw. This, Marvel's John Carter of Mars (with Dave Cockrum) and Michael Golden's run on Micronauts were a big influence on me. Great stuff

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  3. Also, did anyone ever think that the alien Chewy is holding up in the back -- that his head is exploding? It was years before I realized it was was his skull

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  4. Marvel's STAR WARS comics of the 70s were published as graphic novels here in Sweden. Blown up to European album size and about 100 pages. I thought there was something magical about them when I was a kid. I was also disappointed by some of them, since I found some of the artwork a tad strange.
    The Goodwin/Williamson daily strips were compiled and re-edited into comic book format ("The Swedish Way") and published in a regular, b&w comic book.

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  5. That green rabbit may be my all-time favorite Star Wars character.

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  6. I feel the exact same way about these comics. I was born in 1974, so I was 3-4 when the Star Wars mania hit and it just blew my mind. I remember having the next issue (#8, the one with the "magnificent seven" all lined up with their guns pointed at the reader) and pinning the cover to the wall of my room. and, yes, the green rabbit was badass and indicative of the fun, freewheeling kind of stuff that happened in Marvel's Star Wars comics. I also have never been able to get into the Dark Horse Star Wars stuff, and I missed the boat when DH did their reprints of the Marvel stuff years ago. However, they are now going to reprint them again in their nifty omnibus format. See here: http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/16-777/Star-Wars-Omnibus-A-Long-Time-Ago-Volume-1-TPB

    One of the things I liked the most were the covers, especially the way the characters were so off-model. Ditto for the Marvel Indiana Jones comics. Boo to restrictive iron-handed licensing people.

    By the way, I love the blog. My older brothers were all into this stuff, so of course I was too. One of my brothers was so into Star Wars that for his birthday he asked to be dropped off at the theater and left there so he could watch it all day. That was back when you could pay once and just sit there all day and watch a movie over and over. When I told him about this blog, he said it was like someone had created a blog specifically for him.

    Keep it up and I'll keep reading. I follow all of your blogs, but this one is my favorite.

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  7. I have a bunch of these old comics, and loved them to pieces (literally, many of them are now falling apart). They are--for my money--some of the most exciting comic books produced in that era.

    BTW, For the last week, Reis O'Brien over at Geek Orthodox has been posting the Pizzazz Star Wars comics which are every bit as fun!

    /link goes to "comics" tag on his blog

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  8. Awesome! I only had the first few issues of this when I was a kid. I always wondered where the story threads went.

    Thanks for the tip on Dark Horse, I'll be watching for this (due in June!)

    http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/16-777/Star-Wars-Omnibus-A-Long-Time-Ago-Volume-1-TPB

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  9. Great comics from back in the day... Here in the UK we got free gifts with the first three issues: cut out and fold card X-Wing and T.I.E. Fighter with a map of the Deathstar Trench. How I wanted that X-Wing!

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  10. I continue to adore these. I sense SW's pulp roots more strongly in these mags than any merchandise created since. Also, the work by Chaykin and Infantino continues to please.

    If I may, I'd like to offer a different perspective in response to Matt Haldeman's "off-model" comment.

    As far as I can tell, in the world of comics, it's the broad strokes that matter most. For instance, Batman has a point-eared cowl, a scalloped cape, and has a blue and gray color scheme. Get that right, and he's on-model. So, as long as Han Solo is a guy in dark vest and pants and Chewbacca is a big, hairy ape-thing, then you're good to go!

    Glad to hear Dark Horse is putting them back in print. I may have to pick them up for my nephews.

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  11. I was such a fan of everything Star Wars up to the 90's and then the new movies came out. Now I can't even get in the mood to play the D6 RPG anymore. What a shame.

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  12. As Jon pointed out, the Marvel comics (and other early SW tie-ins) were much more in the tradition of Lucas's admitted inspirations of pulps, comic strips and serials.

    About the time he started talking Kurosawa and Joseph Campbell, and taking SW so seriously, a lot of the fun got sucked out of the franchise.

    But - I've got those comics and SPLINTER OF THE MIND'S EYE and the Han Solo trilogy on my shelves anytime I want to revisit the "fun version" of STAR WARS, I can.

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  13. This is probably my favorite single Star Wars comic ever--the idea of "further adventures" blew my seven-year-old mind!

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  14. @Jape77: Those three comics as influences sound like one hell of an RPG campaign.

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  15. I absolutely loved the Marvel Star Wars comics when I was a kid. They really helped fill in the gap during those awful three-year-long waits between the movies. And that six-foot-tall green bunny was way cooler than Jar Jar Binks!

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