Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Star Wars Comics!

On Monday I mentioned that my kids got me a huge pile of comic books for Father’s Day. The first books I dove into were the original Star Wars comics, published by Marvel in 1977 as a tie in with the first movie. So how do they hold up after 25 years?

I’ve only read the first two issues so far, which gets the story up to the point where Luke and Co. fly out of Mos Eisley Spaceport headed for Alderaan. The writing is actually very good. The story is easy to follow, and the writers manage to work in a few details from the Star Wars universe that weren’t in the movies. The art, on the other hand, is a bit uneven. Often the same character will look almost totally different from page to page; Luke might have a square jaw in one illustration and a narrow jaw with a pointy chin in another. This often happens when comic artists are drawing to a hard deadline and trying to portray an actual actor’s face rather than the more stylized faces of comic characters.

The most interesting parts of the comics so far have been the scenes that were not in the movies. It is clear that the comic book was based on the screenplay of Star Wars and not the finished product. For example, there’s a scene near the beginning in which Luke hangs out with his friends and talks about wanting to go to the Academy. This scene was specifically mentioned in one of the featurettes in the Star Wars special edition DVDs, but didn’t make the final cut in the movie. Another scene from the screenplay but not in the movie is a conversation Luke has with Biggs before he heads back to space. Biggs tells Luke of his plan to commandeer the ship he’s serving on and join the rebel alliance. This makes more sense out of the scene later in the movie where Luke meets Briggs once again at the rebel base.

By far the most interesting extra scene in the comics though is Han Solo’s conversation with Jabba the Hutt. You remember in the special edition DVDs (or not, if you’re not a Star Wars nerd) how a scene between Jabba and Han was added in the first Star Wars film.? A scene had actually been filmed back in the day with a real actor in a shaggy coat portraying Jabba the Hutt. However, George Lucas knew that he wanted Jabba to look like an alien of some sort, so the scene was scrapped for lack of funds to create a Jabba costume. For the special edition, a CGI Jabba replaced the actor and the scene was kept. It wouldn’t be until Return of the Jedi that Lucas would settle on a look for Jabba the Hutt and the iconic giant slug alien would be born.

However, the writers of the comics decided to include the scene in the comic anyway, even though Lucas had not decided what Jabba should look like. So I suppose the illustrators had to come up with their own idea. If the Star Wars Holiday Special made you say, “What is this? I don’t even…”, then you’ll love what Marvel comics did with Jabba the Hutt.

He’s like a tuskless walrus-man! Oh the levels of intimidation!


Erica said…
I'm pretty sure just watching the Nostalgia Critic review of the Star Wars holiday special damaged my IQ.
Rick said…
Aha. See that's where I'm cooler (or lamer depending on your perspective). I watched the whole thing back in college. (Also I showed some of it to the kids this past Christmas. They didn't recognize how bad it was.)