Posted Monday, May 4th, 2020 by Barry

Star Wars (1977) 1

Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter has never spared credit that Star Wars was the salvation of the company during a hard time in 1977 and 1978.

So, to celebrate Star Wars Day let’s take a look at the history of the space fantasy in the four-color universe.

Lucasfilm Publicity Supervisor Charles Lippincott first approached Marvel figurehead Stan Lee in 1975 about publishing an adaptation prior to the film’s release. Lee declined, citing he would do nothing until the movie was completed. Roy Thomas, a writer at Marvel and key figure in licensing Conan for Marvel, arranged a marriage between the publishing company and fledging movie maker.

Star Wars (1977) 1

To sweeten the pot, Lucas agreed not to accept royalties until sales exceeded 100,000 issues. The first issue hit spin racks April 12, 1977. When the movie was released, the comic went into several reprintings. The boost in sales got Marvel over a hump during a hard time in the industry.

The series continued from 1977 to 1986 with 107 issues and three annuals.

Star Wars issues one through six adapted the movie. With issue seven, Roy Thomas began penning original adventures. Archie Goodwin replaced Thomas with issue 11 and teamed with penciller Carmine Infantino. Together, they crafted adventures to keep the faithful placated until the cover-dated September 1980 issue 39. In that publication the adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back began.

Following the six-issue retelling, Marvel returned to its original stories with David Michelinie and Walt Simonson acting as the new creative team with issue 51. Ron Frenz took over artistic duties with issue 71.

Marvel deviated from its normal practice when adapting Return of the Jedi. The third installment of the original trilogy was printed outside the chronological order of comic books in a four-issue mini-series.

Following Return, Jo Duffy took over writing chores with art by Cynthia Martin. LucasFilms chose to discontinue the series by 1986.

As part of Marvel’s Legacy numbering, issue 108 was released in 2019 continuing original issue 50’s ‘The Crimson Forever’ story.

It’s hard to imagine a time when Star Wars was hard to find. For those who were there, Marvel’s continuation of the saga was a God send. For those who weren’t, it’s a hard read and a curiosity.

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