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Friday, 19 October 2018

What Mark Hamill and Gary Kurtz told science fiction fans about Star Wars in 1976

Charles Lippincott, Gary Kurtz and Mark Hamill promoting Star Wars at MidAmeriCon 1976


In 1976, well before Star Wars was ready for release, a campaign was going on to make science fiction fans aware of it. 


Charles Lippincott, who was in charge of merchandising and publicity for the film, organised convention appearances, at which he or producer Gary Kurtz would explain what the film was about. They would take artwork and information sheets with them and slow slides (yes, slides) to give some idea of the look of the movie.

As I wrote in a blog post at Amazing Stories recently, Gary Kurtz was the face of Star Wars for many fans back then, patiently explaining what the film was about.

One of those appearances is available on video – and it reminds us of a time when pictures from Star Wars seemed weird and exotic, and no one knew quite what the movie would be like.

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Star Wars Official Poster Monthly #3


The fold-out poster in Star Wars
Official Poster Monthly
#3



The words “Giant Darth Vader poster inside” were enough to sell almost any child on issue three of Star Wars Official Poster Monthly.

In the last article (at least for now) about those original 1970s poster magazines, I’ll take a look at articles that ranged from a profile of Han Solo to the very exciting news that we would soon have robot servants.

Friday, 5 October 2018

John Stears: the man who built R2-D2

John Stears with the landspeeder



There are a few Star Wars personnel whose names were mentioned a lot when the film was released, yet who don’t seem to get the attention today. 

One of them is John Stears, the British film industry veteran who was the film’s special production and mechanical effects supervisor. He once described his work on the film as “everything that moves, breaks or falls apart” – including R2-D2, the landspeeder, the garbage masher, and hundreds of other effects. 


Friday, 28 September 2018

Gary Kurtz, 1940-2018: an obituary

Gary Kurtz with Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill
on the set of Star Wars


Gary Kurtz died on Sunday, September 23, at the age of 78.

He was, of course, the producer of Star Wars – and screen credits don’t get much bigger than that. And yet I think he has also become one of Star Wars’ unsung heroes.



Friday, 21 September 2018

The Star Wars Official Poster Monthly #2


The US version of the Star Wars Official Poster Monthly #2


In another look at the Star Wars Official Poster Monthly, I'm going to examine how this 1977 publication lifted the curtain on the film's visual effects  and told us about life on Tatooine.

Friday, 14 September 2018

The original Darth Vader back story – before he was Luke's father



The back story of Darth Vader, as presented in the Star Wars Official Poster Monthly, issue 2


Star Wars told us relatively little about its mysterious villain, Darth Vader.

We knew he was a young Jedi Knight who turned to the dark side, murdered Luke's father and helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the other Jedi. But was he human, alien, part-machine? What was under that mask, and why did he make that mechanical breathing noise?

So much remained untold that it was thrilling to see a magazine article that gave us Darth Vader's back story  even if it was different from the one that would be developed in The Empire Strikes Back and afterwords.


Saturday, 8 September 2018

The Star Wars Official Poster Monthly


The giant poster inside issue one of the Star Wars Official Poster Monthly

The 1970s saw a craze for magazines that unfolded to form giant posters. Kung fu, Hammer horror films, the Fonz  they all inspired poster magazines.

Naturally, the biggest film of all time would spawn a title of its own.