Star Wars Early EU Development and Review
Greetings! My name is Angel Santiago and like all of you, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I will be making analysis and commentary on the development and behind the scenes of the early Expanded Universe, as told by the old Marvel editors during the Original Star Wars comics run. The early novels will not be covered in detail, as many other EU fans have done an excellent job with that, but will be mentioned along the way. We will journey together back to a time when Star Wars was young and finding its audience. We soon discovered we were not just regular movie goers, that perhaps just saw the films in theaters or VHS and loved them, no, we wanted more adventures from those beloved inhabitants from a galaxy far, far away. I will review the stories, fan letters, their replies by the staff and any insight by George Lucas himself, regarding the story and characters as they were being developed.
Behind the scenes info from Star Wars #1
We will start from the very beginning, Star Wars #1 - 6, the original Star Wars film adaptation, issue #1 released on April 1977*, a month before the release of the film. I hope you all enjoy this trip back in time, as we re-discover, or perhaps find out for the first time, how the EU began and how it turned the awesome film trilogy into The Star Wars Expanded Universe Saga. Let’s go!
Was there ever any doubt? Not in my book. From Star Wars #2
The journey began in the early 70’s, when George began putting together the ideas that would eventually become “The Greatest Space-Fantasy of All!”. As many may or may not know, he knew the legendary comics writer, Roy Thomas and that is how the original 6 issue comic adaptation of the final version of the story began to take life. What some may not realize, or even consider, is that this comic adaptation, as well as the novelization from Ballentine Books (November 1976 Ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster but credited to Lucas) *, is in fact an early EU source. Why? Simply because they contain all the scenes that were edited from the film. Scenes, as well as concepts, eventually revisited and developed in future media years later by other EU writers, all approved by George himself for publication.
First comic appearance of Darth Vader in Star Wars #1 and him being mentioned as, Dark Lord of the Sith, as well as in the novelization, a concept not developed until years later by Dark Horse Comics. Thought this may be a point of contention, as the published version of Dark Empire was slightly reworked, thanks to what I call, the Veitch/Zahn Debacle. Let me explain, the published version of Dark Empire was first released December 1991 but it was originally going to be released in Fall 1990**, when Marvel still had the Star Wars license for comic publication. Dark Empire contains much information which would help grow even further the lore but it also included information regarding the history of the Dark Lords of the Sith. We simply don’t know to what extent Tom Veitch had to rework the story or concepts that appear in Dark Empire. Perhaps he came up with some ideas when he was first wrote it, perhaps during the rework. Whatever the case may be, the seeds of that specific part of the lore began with that first panel. Though I would personally love to interview Tom Veitch and talk about the subject.
First comic appearance of Darth Vader. Star Wars #1
Though the previous paragraph may look off topic, it is extremely integral to the understanding of early EU and its future integration into the larger Saga. The fact is, without these original comics, we wouldn’t have the EU as we all know it. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.
“The Original Star Wars Movie Adaptation”
These comics, as well as the novelization, contain the same story as the finished film released in May 25, 1977, but have slightly different dialogue and as stated before, content either edited or not finished. My intent with this is to showcase these interesting details, so new fans can enjoy these early works, while learning their origins and creation contexts and for older fans to revisit and enjoy them with a new light, rediscover why Star Wars is as beloved as it is. Since we all know this story, we I will only feature a few of the rare edited scenes as they were featured in the adaptation. Keep in mind that most of these scenes are from first two issues of the story. Enjoy!
Star Wars #1
Luke witnessed the attack on the Rebel ship by the Empire Star Destroyer. Star Wars #1
After witnessing the attack, Luke visits his friends to tell them of the events, reuniting with his friend Biggs Darklighter.
Biggs reveals his plans to Luke.
Star Wars #2
Han goes to talk with Jabba regarding the assassination attempt.
Though that scene was always intended for the film and was actually shot, the special effects intended for it were out of the question at that time, so in the end the sequence was cut from the film. In this case, an alien was created as a stand in. I just think of him as a messenger of the crime lord.
Leia’s interrogation scene.
Other than these, the adaptation has minor differences like certain props that our characters interact with, obviously drawn with little or no source material. In the pic, we can see Leia’s interrogation droid. We can see another example of this is during Luke’s lightsaber training, while the group travels to Alderaan.
Star Wars #3
In this issue, events happen very much like in the finished film, no major changes, other than minor dialogue and props, as mentioned previously.
One of my favorite scenes. Issue #3
Star Wars #4
After finding Princess Leia in issue #3, here our heroes fight their way to the hangar where the Falcon is held, while Obi Wan Kenobi encounters Darth Vader. This issue contains the first letters section titled, Star-Words. Here we begin to see some interesting questions answered.
Luke finds himself facing the Death Star’s exotic wildlife. Issue #4
First, we find that fans back then were asking Marvel to continue the adventures beyond the film. Their answer of course is that it all depends on readers response and sales and that writer Roy Thomas. “Roy has a zillion ideas for the book’s future, many of them based on earlier, unused Star Wars movie scripts by the film’s writer/creator/director, George Lucas himself.!”. *** Second, a fan stated that he had read the novelization, referred to as paperback back in the day, and was happy for that Marvel was making a comic adaptation. The fan stated the differences he noticed in the adaptation compared to the novelization. He received a detailed answer, regarding the intricacies of adapting into comic form and the differences between the medias, film, prose and visual media. Their respective pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. What works and doesn’t on each and encourage the readers to enjoy and compare each. I’m a huge fan of comics and back in the day, letter sections were one of the most interesting aspects of them. Being able to contact, have your concerns answered in an informative and even educational and fun manner, that was special.
Star Wars #5
This issue covers the short battle after exiting the Death Star and their arrival at Yavin 4. It didn’t have a letter section but it included an awkward second kiss between Luke and Leia, obviously demonstrating the story was still in development when Roy Thomas got the script for adaptation, and the reunion of Luke and Biggs just before the final battle.
Luke and Biggs reunite.
Star Wars #6
At last, the final battle, as well as confirmation that the “Star Warriors”, as they were called in these comics, would indeed return with new adventures! As stated in the letters section by the editor, “George Lucas himself, of course, has had plans for more than one “Star Wars” film ever since its inception several years ago. In fact, there exist several earlier screenplays under the name “Star Wars” which bear almost no resemblance whatsoever to the film as it eventually emerged, and Roy was given these to scan to see if there that could be turned into a comic-book Star Wars #7 and beyond. While the screenplays are fascinating, they seem if anything to occur in the months and years before the movie itself, and we’re certain that it’s really the likes of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca, the droids Artoo and Treepio, that everyone wants to see more of.” ****
Failed first attempt at the target.
It is also mentioned that Roy Thomas had lunch with both George and Mark Hamill, to discuss the direction the story would take and wanting to be sure their ideas did not conflict with George’s future plans. This proves George was very hands on all aspects of the story’s evolution and was enthusiastic with the direction and ideas Roy and artist Howard Chaykin had in mind at the time. This issue had a few letters along with the upcoming follow up story announcement but only one was answered. This letter was about Han Solo’s comment on “made the Kessel run in twelve parsecs.” Their replay stating that they had asked George about it and that he said it was added on purpose, as partly an in-joke and to show Han as a bull artist. The rest of the letters were praise for the film, its adaptation and more requests for more stories beyond it.
Our heroes are honored by the Alliance rebel forces.
With this, we conclude the original film’s comic adaptation. We all know how the Star Wars film, later renamed Star Wars: A new Hope, became a box office sensation, a massive success and this adaptation, as well as the published novelization deserve a great deal of credit for that. Thanks to Roy, Howard and the rest of their team at Marvel! I hope you enjoyed this short journey back in time.
Did you like this Development/Review/Analysis? Be sure to leave a comment! God willing, I will return with more, on the continuing adventures of our beloved Star Warriors!
Long Live the EU!
** Marvel Age Preview #1 (1990)
*** Star-Words letters section, Star Wars #4 Oct. 1977
**** Star Words letters section Star Wars #6 Dic. 1977