…in a popcult galaxy far, far away…

by waxbanks

I’ve been reading old Star Wars comics. I mean the really old ones — the original Marvel run with Archie Goodwin (at first) on scripts and Chaykin and Simonson and other hitters handling art duties. These are such groovy comics! Tonally they’re completely at odds with the family melodrama that the movies became, retaining instead the pulp-mashup feel of the first film. They are, in a sense, less ‘Lucas-y’ — closer to Lucas’s inspirations and source material and less reflective of his much-talked-about vision for the story. In other words, there’s no Joseph Campbell in here and little enough Eastern spiritoo-allity… It’s an odd mix.

I love the taglines that ran at the top of the first round of covers:

THE GREATEST SPACE-FANTASY FILM OF ALL!

…and of course…

AT LAST! BEYOND THE MOVIE! BEYOND THE GALAXY!

The titles are of course ludicrous: ‘Coffin in the Clouds,’ ‘The Last Gift from Alderaan,’ ‘Death Probe,’ ‘Red Queen Rising,’ and — the best of all, the best possible title of a Star Wars comic — ‘DROID WORLD!’ Luke has a mop top, Leia has gravity-defying perfectly conical breasts, and the galaxy is overrun with giant four-legged purple lizard-dogs and many-armed swordfighting space rhinoceri. In short, the books are tasteless, guileless, reckless, and ultimately perfectly satisfying.

In short, they have nothing in common with the ‘responsibly’ (boringly) curated Star Wars stuff on sale today. Because in those days there was nothing to lose. Heartily, happily recommended, not least as a refreshing tonic after the disrespectful cynicism of the (perfectly enjoyable) latest movie.

(I also strongly recommend the wild Sunday-strip expressionism of Veitch and Kennedy’s Dark Empire series. Kennedy’s art takes the Star Wars universe in a really cool visual direction — again, somewhat at odds with the look and tone of the films, but beautiful on its own terms.)

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