I have a passion for collecting vintage Star Wars merchandise from the late 70's. Action figures, comics, trading cards etc - anything related to the first Star Wars movie. But why only until 1980? It's not that I don't love The Empire Strikes Back and beyond (I really do), but there is something about that first wave of Star Wars mania that really grips me, back when it was all fresh and exciting...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pizzazz #10 (July 1978)

Pizzazz was a magazine put out by Marvel between 1977 and 1979 aimed at teenagers. Focusing on movies, pop/rock stars and TV, the magazine only ran for 16 issues but is a fantastic time capsule of late 70s pop culture. Of course Star Wars would inevitably pop up on occasion and Pizzazz in fact ran two serialized comic strips separate to Marvel's regular Star Wars monthly comic book.

Yep, that's Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees on the cover, taking a stroll around the set of the utterly bizarre and largely derided musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978). This was the 10th Pizzazz which began the second Star Wars story entitled 'The Kingdom of Ice'. Frustratingly, this story was never completed as Pizzazz folded after issue #16. But anyway, here is the beginning of what looks to be a pretty good story...

The rest of the magazine has some great stuff and no teen-magazine is complete without an 'agony aunt' column. These are usually good for a few laughs (especially the really dated ones). These kids writing 30+ years ago don't seem to have any problems that would be out of the ordinary today, but it was one of the less than sensitive 'solutions' offered that really caught my eye. When one kid writes that her sister thinks she's fat, even when she isn't, 'Miss Pizzazz' suggests some reverse psychology; "Try telling her she is fat and should weigh herself." - Yeowch!

As always the ads are worth a look too. I can't say that 'Gee, your hair smells terrific!' has ever got me anything but a restraining order though...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marvel #17 - The Crucible

Keeping going with the one-shot story format, Marvel brought out this story of Luke's pre-Star Wars adventures in the very next issue where we see him living an average teenager's life on Tatooine; bulls-eyeing womp-rats (not in his T-16, but from his landspeeder this time) and generally mooching about and complaining about how Biggs gets to go to the academy while he has to stay put and help out his uncle.

The artist's depictions of Owen and Beru are pretty far from what we see of them in the movie, particularly Beru who actually looks like quite the cougar here...

Luke heads off to Beggar's Canyon for Biggs' farewell do and they race their Skyhoppers. After the race a landspeeder crashes the party (literally) and a wounded militia scout is dragged from the wreckage, babbling about Tusken Raiders on the warpath with newly acquired weapons after one of their sacred wells was poisoned. This seems to draw some sort of parallel between the Tusken Raiders and Native Americans of the Old West, which I've never really considered before.

The Sandpeople arrive and there is a firefight. Luke and Biggs try to make for one of the Skyhoppers to get help, but are attacked and Biggs takes a hit in the shoulder with a garderffi stick with its tip dipped in sand bat venom. With the poison working fast, Luke pilots the Skyhopper through the deadly 'Diablo Cut' and narrowly avoids being blasted by more Sandpeople. He lands back at his uncle's farm safely where Biggs presumably gets the medical treatment he needs, leaving Luke to gaze at the twin suns and daydream once more. We are then treated to a great one page panel montage of future events...

This Micronaut cruiser here which can split into 7 different vehicles looks thoroughly awesome.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Read Along Book and Record

I don't have a record player so I've no idea how this plays but the vinyl looks in pretty good shape. There were several Star Wars read along records (eventually re-released on cassette tapes of course) covering the movies and a couple of new stories in the kiddified wake of Return of the Jedi. This one is from 1979. I was planning to scan a few pages to give a taste of what the book is like but a quick Youtube search shows that some kind soul has gone that extra mile so we can all enjoy this product pretty much as it was intended complete with scratchy pops and crackles!

Those are some pretty nifty pictures for the young Star Wars fan in the days before home video entertainment and my copy of the book is pretty well-thumbed. With only a few pages to tell the entire story of the movie, there are naturally a couple of cheeky shortcuts, most notably the quick shift from Luke discovering Leia's message to going off to visit Ben Kenobi. There is no mention of R2 running away or of any Sandpeople.

None of the original actors reprised their roles for this despite authentic sounds and music from the movie. It's really odd hearing other people voice Luke, Han and the gang (most especially strange is Darth Vader). But Corey Burton, who voices Luke, does a pretty good job at capturing Hamill in my opinion. Little trivia fact; Burton is still working closely with the Star Wars franchise by voicing Count Dooku among others in the Clone Wars.