One of the most enjoyable aspects of collecting is returning home from a convention and unloading your loot. Where will the new items find their rightful place? Didn’t I already have this figure? And sometimes, to your delight, you might have even forgotten that you bought a certain item. F.A.C.T.S. (Fantasy Anime Comics Toys and Space) is the largest convention in the Benelux (Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg) and this year the organization celebrated its twentieth anniversary. The convention has evolved throughout the years and you could easily call it the “Benelux Comic Con.” F.A.C.T.S. has always been organized in Ghent, one of the largest cities in Belgium (Flanders), and like Bruges, the city is often visited by tourists because of the medieval streets and buildings. For the fifth time the place to be was Flanders Expo, a large complex with several halls near the city.
Posts Tagged ‘Comics’
How do we get from a scene in George Lucas’ rough draft to a page in The Star Wars comic book? By transcribing its key visual “frames” and its most essential dialogue (feeling, plot, character, not necessarily in that order) to the comic book format. Fortunately, cinema and comic books tell stories visually (usually).
Issue #1, however, was difficult for all: for me, editor Randy Stradley at Dark Horse, and artist Mike Mayhew. Mike had a whole lot to design, from characters and locales, to ships, to props, and so on — before he could even start on his layouts. For my part I sort of naively jumped into my first professional comic book gig (I guess we can’t count the many I did as a teenager and before), but fortunately Randy took the time to explain some of the finer points (and some of the basics).
When I started this job, one of the first books I came across — and I was very excited about this — was a Dark Horse omnibus of a bunch of the old Marvel Star Wars comics. Come to mama, I thought gleefully as I stuck an extra copy in my bag to take home.
I suspect a lot of people would be surprised by this reaction. I know that those comic books do not have the greatest reputation among fans. But I unapologetically love them.
Insofar as there are annals of Star Wars promotional fiction, the tradition of Hasbro is truly storied.
Granted, some of that legacy is a result of inheritance — or acquisition, as it were. When Hasbro Inc. bought the toy company Kenner Products in 1991, it became heir to not just the legendary line of Star Wars action figures but of the weird and wonderful 1978 Imperial Troop Transporter pamphlet, a small storybook penned and illustrated by unknown creators chronicling the Stormtrooper attack on the Jawa sandcrawler alluded to in A New Hope (and which includes a plethora of unintentionally hilarious symbols, like ™, attached to every nameable Star Wars action figure and playset). Likewise, when Hasbro purchased Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. in 1999, it inherited historical claim to the 1996 mini-comic — written by Ryder Windham, illustrated by Bill Hughes, and published by Dark Horse Comics — packaged with various versions of Galoob’s famous Micro Machines line tying into the Shadows of the Empire multimedia bonanza.
These are the exploits revealed in the popular Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO animated television series, which aired on ABC starting in September 1985 and ran for a thirteen-episode season as well as a one-hour special titled The Great Heep. The cartoon also spun off into a series of comic books published under Marvel Comics’ “Star Comics” imprint, as well as a Spanish-language strip that ran in the pages of MyComyc magazine. Set approximately fifteen years before A New Hope, these adventures shed new light on an unexplored corner of the Star Wars universe and the enduring friendship of C-3PO and R2-D2.
Throne for a Loop
After their adventures with speeder pilots Thall Joben and Jord Dusat, and surviving a harrowing escape from the planet Aaron, Artoo and Threepio employed the services of the Intergalactic Droid Agency once more in obtaining new masters. Given the less-than-ideal outcomes the last several times they utilized the IDA, they probably should have reconsidered their options. The IDA sent them to the desert mining colony of Tyne’s Horky to perform waitering and drink service at Doodnik’s Café.
Though C-3PO had served as a bona fide cook and maître d’ aboard the Tantive IV, the droid was severely out of practice, and his clumsiness annoyed Doodnik Sharpelz, the four-armed Jillsarian café owner and chef. Doodnik, raised by adoptive natives on the planet Ojom, had come to Tyne’s Horky full of gastronomic dreams with his friend and fellow gourmand Dexter Jettster, before making a deal with Dirconite mercenary Kleb Zellock for part-ownership of his own restaurant. Hardened by fringe life, Doodnik didn’t tolerate fools, and he quickly fired the incompetent robotic servers.
Some friendships are forged in a single moment, others from a lifetime of experiences shared. Poets have devoted countless pages to celebrating such friendships, but there is another about which far less has been written. That friendship is forged in chrome.
C-3PO, built by nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker from the scrapped remains of several Cybot Galactica protocol droids, had a marked tendency toward fretting and prissiness. The smaller R2-D2, an Industrial Automaton astromech with an amazing knack for thinking his way out of trouble, had little tolerance for such qualities. And yet, theirs is a friendship that has stood the test of time.
Introduced to each other just before the Battle of Naboo and reacquainted ten years later, R2-D2 and C-3PO went on to share many adventures together. The droids’ circuits recoiled as they watched the Republic transform into the Empire, Anakin Skywalker fall to the dark side, and Padmé Amidala die in child birth. But they also witnessed the birth of a new hope, the Skywalker twins Luke and Leia.
Some of the most popular Star Wars tales in both comics and prose fiction take place in eras or locales far removed from the stories of Episodes I-VI. The most recent example of this kind of story is Dark Horse Comics’ newest installment in the Legacy series, which takes place over 100 years after Return of the Jedi. Although a series like Legacy may not depict characters we’re immediately familiar with, it’s important that it still feel like Star Wars. But what does that mean, exactly?
The 1980s were a period of transformation for Star Wars. Following the release of Return of the Jedi and L. Neil Smith’s Lando Calrissian trilogy, there were few new tales being offered, aside from Jo Duffy’s Marvel Comics run and West End Games’ role-playing game books. Although it may be difficult for newer fans to fathom this, given the huge amount of Star Wars material being produced these days, the mid to late ’80s were lean years for the franchise.
It was during this period that Star Wars began focusing on stories for a younger audience. Jedi‘s resident teddy bears branched off into two TV movies, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. Simultaneously, Lucasfilm developed two animated series, one featuring R2-D2 and C-3PO, the other Wicket and his Ewok playmates. Star Wars: Droids and Star Wars: Ewoks (later re-named The All-New Ewoks) aired in an hour-long block dubbed The Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour, each spinning off a variety of children’s storybooks, as well as a corresponding comic book series from Marvel’s Star Comics imprint. In addition, a 48-minute special called The Great Heep aired in 1986, several months after Droids‘ cancellation, and Dark Horse rejuvenated the Droids concept with new stories eight years later.
It’s the collector’s universal dilemma: No matter how much stuff you amass, there’s always something left to find, always one more cool item you didn’t know about. When it comes to Star Wars comics, that’s certainly true.
More than 800 Star Wars comics have been released over the past 35 years, from Marvel, Dark Horse, and the L.A. Times Syndicate. But even if you’ve managed to track down everything from those publishers, there’s still a wide variety of comics you may have overlooked, from Star Wars 3-D, Star Wars Kids, Pizzazz and Contemporary Motivators to Kenner’s Imperial Troop Transporter comic, Rocket’s Blast Comicollector #139, Hasbro Italy’s exclusive comic, Golden Books’ An Ewok Adventure coloring comic and more. No matter how hard you’ve tried to be complete, the chances are good that you’re missing something.
So I’m writing another blog. What have I been up to? Well, I’ve had a series of long conversations with Edward (Ed) Summer, which are being published in interview form in the next three issues of Star Wars Insider. Most fans have never heard of Summer, though he’s in at least one photo in the book The Cinema of George Lucas. I first met Summer at the Barney Greengrass deli on the Upper West Side of New York City while doing research for that book. As a result, he allowed us to publish from his collection a photo of George Lucas and Frank Frazetta, outside the latter’s home, probably the only photo of them together (with Summer in it, too).