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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Looking back at Star Wars Weekly – issue 6

Warriors of the Death Star: Star Wars Weekly 
cover by Howard Chaykin

Episode Nothing is back after a lengthy gap. My apologies.

I'll return to discussing the film itself soon, but today, another look at the Marvel comic strip adaptation, as we in Britain experienced it in Star Wars Weekly.

We're up to issue six – March 15, 1978. The cover took some liberties with the story of the film, as just about all of them did, but it was impressive. Our heroes were confronting the “warriors of the Death Star” – there was Luke wielding a lightsaber in one hand and a blaster in the other, while Han and Leia (she was in an orange dress, for some reason) fired blasters and Chewie waved his fists.

The pace really picked up in this issue and although the strip still often looked very different from the film, writer Roy Thomas and artists Howard Chaykin and Steve Leialoha were really creating some memorable pages. Take a look at these examples, where I think the comic really does succeed at conveying something of the movie's frenetic pace:

Some of Howard Chaykin and Steve Leialoha's
art for the Star Wars comic strip

Alas, the eight pages of new story were quickly consumed, and we were soon at the cliffhanger:

Our heroes in the detention block in this 
Howard Chaykin-Steve Leialoha art 
from Star Wars Weekly
The other comic strips in this issue were, once again, reprints of rather wordy and downbeat pre-Star Wars SF strips, under the banner “Stan Lee presents: Tales of the Galaxy”: Man Gods From Beyond the Stars and The Sword in the Star. Both are so heavy with text that I find them off-putting now, so I can't imagine how anyone expected them to appeal to children. It's more likely, I suspect, that Marvel were clutching desperately for any off-the-peg science fiction it could reprint to fill the rest of the pages.

But there were other attractions in the comic. We got to meet Harrison Ford in a short profile. There was a chance to win a copy of the film on Super 8. (My copy has the entry form cut out, but since I didn't own a film projector, I have no idea what I was intending to do with my prize if I won.) And there was this ad for the UK Star Wars Fan Club:

"Be the first on your planet": the ad in Star Wars Weekly
for the official UK Star Wars Fan Club

All very exciting, but at £2.95, I can't imagine many kids could afford to join it. Bear in mind that the comic itself cost 10p.
The comic also contained a reminder that there was another big science fiction epic in the offing, with this ad for Marvel's Close Encounters of the Third Kind:

"We are not alone": Star Wars Weekly ad for
the Close Encounters Collector's Edition

I liked the sound of Close Encounters. I would have been very happy to see it. But I would have been even happier to see Star Wars a second time.


Adam said...

Just wanted to say how much I like this site. The Prequels have obscured the Star Wars of my youth, particularly the first two films. It's nice to see someone doing the hard work unearthing an older vision of a galaxy far far away.

Darren Slade said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Adam. Good to know there's some interest in Star Wars as it used to be. Keep reading and I'll keep posting.

John I. White said...

Hi Adam, very nice to see you here. Spread the word!