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Monday, May 14, 2012

Star Wars Comic Book Artists Speak on the Birth of an Empire

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2012 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge HOWARD CHAYKIN AND STEVE LEIALOHA
  • Howard Chaykin and Steve Leialoha

In the ever-expanding supernova of subsidiary content in the Star Wars universe (action figures, Lego sets, video games, novels, TV movies, cartoons, and theme park rides), comic books hold a special place. One reason is because the first of Marvel's six-issue comic adaptation of the original film hit stands just a month after the movie was released.

Marvel made a good bet on Star Wars. The 107-issue series continued for nearly 10 years. Despite pauses to adapt the stories of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, most issues contained original stories -- the first body of derivative Star Wars story material ever released.

Two key contributors to the early days of this run, penciller Howard Chaykin and inker Steve Leialoha, appear tonight at the Cartoon Art Museum for the event Celebrating 35 Years of Star Wars Comic Books to mark the 35th anniversary of the first issue's release.

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The first six issues contain a brisk, spirited adaptation of the film, and the series includes some intriguing oddities. Chief among them is the appearance of Jabba the Hutt, who is rendered as a yellowish humanoid creature conceivably modeled on President Chester A. Arthur.

Chaykin and company were evidently using an early cut of the film as the basis for the comic, which results in a few other "deleted scenes" showing up (watch for the exchange between Luke and Biggs on Tatooine early on). Star Wars comics have more recently become big business for Dark Horse, which has reprinted the entire Marvel run and continues to expand the larger story of the films with several limited and ongoing series.

Tuesday night (May 15) fans have a rare opportunity to hear Chaykin and Leialoha explain how the Star Wars comic phenomenon began.

Celebrating 35 Years of Star Wars Comic Books: An Evening with Howard Chaykin and Steve Leialoha starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), S.F. Admission $7.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Casey Burchby

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