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Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Star Wars Bookshelf #3: The Star Wars Storybook

The front cover of The Star Wars Storybook

Every Star Wars fan remembers the novelization of the original film, credited to George Lucas but in fact written by Alan Dean Foster. But it was not the only version of the story on the bookshelves back then.

There was a junior version of the novel, which here in the UK had a red cover instead of the original's white cover. And then, in April 1978, there was The Star Wars Storybook.

The Star Wars Storybook, published by Scholastic, was also clearly aimed at a younger readership, as we can infer from its bright cover bearing a picture of the droids. The text is pretty much a short version of the novelization, including all the bits that were changed in the finished film.

But the thing that distinguishes the Star Wars Storybook is the pictures. I didn't own a copy at the time, but I remember walking home from school one day with another Star Wars fan while a third boy let us examine the book. Even though we had the novel, the comics, the bubble gum cards, the poster magazines and the Story of Star Wars LP, there were shots in this book that neither of us had seen before. We examined the book with the reverence of an expert jeweler appraising a fine diamond, declaring at least once per page: “Now, that's rare.”

This year, I finally acquired the book just for the purpose of sharing it here. I managed to pick up a copy on eBay for next to nothing because the binding was coming apart. Here are a few of the pictures that so impressed us at the time:

The Star Wars Storybook gave us our first good look
at Biggs. Cape, leather trousers,Burt Reynolds
moustache - could a man be any cooler?

The Star Wars Storybook contained several familiar scenes
from unfamiliar angles. We never see the wounded
See Threepio full-length in the film

Another example of a familiar scene seen from a surprising angle in The Star Wars Storybook

It's difficult to explain how gorgeous shots
like this seemed to us in 1978

This page from the story's climax contains
at least one shot that isn't in the film


John White said...

Oh yes, my friend had this: how I envied him!
A rare treat was when he lent it to me for a night and I just pored over it - and held it in my hands like some sort of treasure.

I don't think there was any way at the time, early 1978, that I could have possibly got a copy of it from a shop.

You're right, it's difficult to express how much those photos meant to us. Little portals into another exciting world...

Anonymous said...

I had this book as a kid and loved it to bits - almost literally! I read it so much that, in my last memories of it, it had started to fall apart. Unfortunately I have no memory of it's eventual fate other than a suspicion it was eventually given away.

I was obsessed with the first few pages and the pictures of scenes that weren't in the movie - Luke watching the battle through his binoculars, Luke and Biggs. I thought there must be a secret, rare version of the film with these extra scenes and desperately wished I could see it. It was only very recently that I finally got to see the scenes in question on the Blu Ray box set. A childhood ambition finally fulfilled!

Darren Slade said...

Thanks for the comment, Anonymous!
Because of the storybook, the comics, the novel and later the radio series, it always felt as though the Biggs scenes were a real part of the Star Wars story, even though they weren't in the movie. You're right that it was great to finally see them 36 years later.

steve said...

I just found this book buried in a box at my mom's house as I was going through old stuff from my childhood. It was in near mint condition. I gave it to a friend of mine who is part of that 501st stormtrooper thing. I don't have any real affinity for holding onto Star Wars stuff from my youth. Only thing I still have is my original Boba Fett figure. A few years ago I got all my old toys, cards, etc together and gave most of them to him. I had a lot of figures (including the blue tall Snaggletooth), the Death Star playlet, the Millennium Falcon, few others vehicles, the dew back, tauntaun, probably multiple sets of all the Topps cards, the vinyl albums of SW and Empire.... well you get the point. I had a lot. The Topps cards he found me a buyer for and the rest I gave to him. He's got some young kids who are into Star Wars too. It felt good knowing I was passing this stuff of to them cause I knew they'd appreciate it and play with the stuff.

Anonymous said...

The photo with injured C-3PO is especially noteworthy because you can see some green shrubs on the left side of the frame. For the Tatooine scenes in both ANH and ROTJ, George Lucas was adamant that there be no vegetation visible.