Monday, April 6, 2015


So the question is, why was Howard so behind in his work on the Star Wars comics? I got obsessed with this question and began to do a forensic breakdown of what Howard was doing with his life. Well, not his life -- I don't have that kind of supernatural power to investigate his hanky panky :) I restricted myself to his work. Started with a list of comics he has credited between what would roughly be the date we hired him -- Feb 76 -- and the end of his stint with MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS, or Issues #10, Apr. 78.

The first question was logistics -- how long in advance did the artwork need to be in for Marvel's print deadline? Howard was finishing Star Wars #1 the end of Dec. 76, which had a Release Date of July, but was in the shelves March 8, 77. Steve Leialoha finished inking & coloring Star Wars #2 the end of Feb, which had a release date of Aug 77, but was in stores April 12, 77.

For issue #1, between delivery of art to Marvel, Marvel printing and shipping, there's roughly 9 weeks max -- we don't know the actual date HC shipped art, so it could be less. For issue #2, there's less than 6 weeks.

Two days ago, commenting to my MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS 3 - F post, Wayne Beamer said "Howard was never a fast artist. It was when he got assistants on American Flagg, I believe, he was able to do a monthly book."

It's probable he had finished MONARK STARSTALKER by the time we did Comic Con, then after Comic Con, for a Dec. 76 release did NICK FURY 31 and THE MARK OF KANE #33. I'm guessing the Dec. release date meant a Nov. ship date with artwork in about 6-9 weeks prior, with 6 weeks being really cutting it close.

But here's where it gets interesting. So Chyakin then has THE MARK OF KANE #34, Feb. 77, and SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #18, Apr. 77, before the premiere issues of STAR WARS #1, July 77.

Now if you're like me, you'll pick up a book on the basis of the cover, look at a few pages in the beginning, middle and end. If the work looks good, I'll buy it.

This is the book Howie was finishing inking when he ran into Steve Leialoha in Dec. 76. Though the comic had a release date of July, we wanted it to be available for sale March 8, 77. Our deal with Marvel was that two issues had to be out by the time the film opened on May 25, 1977, with the third issue coming out the week the film opened.

W.R. Miller supplied me with the information that the comic was first printed in a run of 250,000.

We started publicizing the MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS at the July 76 San Diego Comic Con with a presentation on the film and a question/ answer panel by Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin and I. We handed out flyers, sold Chaykin's poster and I did interviews.

Comic Con was followed by World Con. Though Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin were not there, we made sure convention goers knew about MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS. With our prop and gallery display, and 'like fabulous, man, really whaza' presentations by Gary Kurtz, Mark Hamill and others, I'd say the crowd was getting hungry for anything STAR WARS.

Despite mentioning the MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS in whatever media opportunities we had, undoubtedly, one of the key factors in promoting the film and everything STAR WARS was Alan Dean Foster's novelization.

ADF's book had come out. before Steve Leialoha ran into Howard Chaykin in NY, the latter part of Dec. 76. By the time Steve Leialoha came to the Feb. 14, 1977 rough cut screening in Marin, the book had sold out.

The following is the first part of the emails between Roy and I which I edited down and reordered into a sequence of events. I should note here that I started interviewing Roy, then followed it with Steve Leialoha. I then went back to Roy. Last, I started compiling Chaykin's history.

Roy and I had emailed each other in Nov. 2014 after one of you posted this Comic Book digest which had just been released on my timeline. The section on MARVEL'S STAR WARS COMICS credited Ed Summer with setting up the Marvel deal. This was untrue, so I contacted the editors, who basically sloughed it off, saying we're not responsible. It's what Roy Thomas said. I got a hold of Roy, who sent me his ALTER EGO #68 with it's article on the Marvel Star War's history. I sent Roy the first Part of my MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS - PT 1.

RT: Weirdest thing is my memory that you told me Stan had turned you down on STAR WARS before you came to me. This must be based on my misunderstanding something you said... you probably meant simply that you couldn't get through to him, while I took it to mean that you had talked to him and he'd said no. But again, you would know your actions that time in February 1976 better than I. Interestingly, that's the very month--I don't know if it was earlier or later--that I spent a week in L.A. and decided to move there and to renege on the agreement I'd made only days earlier with Stan and Galton to return as editor-in-chief. But I don't know what part of the month I was in L.A.

CL: We thought Chaykin's Cody Starbuck looked like Ralph McQuarrie's work, and that's why we wanted him. We hadn't thought of you as writer, but we hadn't thought of anybody -- that you volunteered to be involved, WOW! I was flattered you would consider it. I mean, you really pulled Marvel together, and your getting involved meant the comic would happen.

As it turned out, that was true because Chaykin turned out to be a flake. You know, Howie is like Cody Starbuck. :) Maybe in his old age he's mellowed out, but he was a rather rascally guy.

Galton. I don't know where he got the SW/Fox wanted money from issue #1. Could be simply that after the first 100,000 copies, they had to pay royalties. But I never changed my view, and Marc Pevers, who handled the contracts for Fox, basically went along with me.

RT: I've always figured Jim Galton misremembered the money part... Steve Sansweet, who researched such matters as the history of the comic book for STAR WARS histories, confirmed my view.

CL: It wasn't that we didn't want you to write Star Wars. We just hadn't gotten that far. The initial meeting was in Feb. 76, and we were talking about releasing the comic books in 1977. I didn't know if you would be Editor in Chief again, or what, so I hadn't thought of you.

Now George may have, but George is kinda a funny guy. He doesn't always remember people's names. George never told me he wanted anyone to write it, but that's because George was more worried about doing his film so he wasn't really thinking about the comic book. That's why if you had come up with a Green Rabbit in the beginning, it might have flown. By the time issue 3 came out, the film was released so George had lots of time to obsess about what was happening with the Star Wars franchise.

With Alan Dean Foster, George had him basically write Splinters in a Mind's Eye with the thought it would be the sequel to Star Wars. Once Star Wars was released and became a big hit, George changed his mind and did Empire Strikes Back. ADF thought he was writing the sequel. Turned out to be just a follow up novel.

RT: Anyway, it seems I've been wrong in a few assumptions and remembrances or quasi-remembrances), but at least I was right on the main outline. In any further accounting, I'll try to take these new revelations into accounting. Like you, I've no wish in perpetuating a history which is false in any particulars. I've always hated that old quote from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" about "When the legend becomes the truth, print the legend." It should always be the truth, never the legend unless the legend IS true, period.

CL: In Wikipedia, it says "Chaykin left after ten issues to work in more adult and experimental comics, as well the more lucrative field of paperback book covers." 10 issues! I recall being told -- think it was you -- after the 2nd issue Howie was no longer inking and Steve Leialoha was taking over. Where does he get 10 issues from?

RT: Howie did indeed officially rough-pencil/lay out all issues of STAR WARS up through #10, and all that Leialoha (and 2-3 other artists in #6) did in #2-5 was finish and ink. Apparently Alan Kupperberg ghosted at least 2-3 of those last 4 issues (#8-10 or thereabouts), without my knowing it till later... again, for another artist to finish, mostly Tom Palmer, maybe Frank Springer. So Chaykin did do #1-10 in a sense... and I think he did a couple of those short "Star Wars" chapters with me for Marvel's PIZZAZZ magazines at about the same time as #7-10, if you're familiar with them... they've been collected, too.

CL: You know, I was really pissed at Howie for flaking out... still am. I seem to remember he had some kind of 2 book deal he was jumping ship for. Do you remember what this 2 book adaptation was?

RT: I only recall that he insisted he found he couldn't pencil AND ink the book (and of course he was also looking at the research, such as it was... and making the decisions as to how much went in each issue, etc., which I was too busy to get involved in and knew he could do). His story is that he got to talk to Leialoha, then a young artist starting out, and he sorta foisted Steve on us. Steve is very talented, but at the time couldn't make it look at all like Chaykin... who could have? but Steve was not that far from being a novice. Could've put my foot down, but wanted to give Steve a chance since Howie insisted he couldn't do it... but in the end, I went along to see how it turned out. I wasn't happy with the result and have said so, at the risk of annoying Steve today... and he's a nice guy, and very good now... but I'd have been angry (and I don't recall being so) if I'd thought he was working on something else at the time. He may have been... but I've never heard that story before, that I recall. I do know I felt that George, if not yourself -- and of course I tended to think of you as a unit -- blamed me and Marvel for Howie's half-defection, but there was nothing we could do about it. We could have pushed him and probably had to replace him... but that wouldn't have solved anything. I'd have probably have tried to get Gil Kane to step into the breach, but we'd still have needed an inker.

CL: Gil Kane.. wow! Gil Kane would have been great... OK, so we made the deal in Feb., then you guys did the Comic Con panel July, 76. When did you have the scripts done?

RT: Afraid I have no record of that... whether you mean, by when did we finish the script & art for #1, or for #6. But if STAR WARS #1 was on sale in March, as I think I've heard, we've had had to finish that one -- both script and art and editing -- by around the turn of the year (1977), if not late '76. (If the first issue went on sale in April, you can move those dates forward one month each.) The original opening crawl (seen in STAR WARS #1) was still in place when we saw the screening at George's place in Feb. '76, and by that time the comic was locked in.

If there's no record of Chaykin having anything else come out during that period, then probably you're simply misremembering something... seems like I, too, would've found out in Chaykin were "moonlighting" while doing those first issue of STAR WARS.

Partial list of Comics which Chaykin did during his working on SW # 2 and SW #3.

The release date of DC's MYSTERY is the same as SW #2,
Ditto for SAVE SWORD OF CONAN and SW #3


Now with STAR WARS fever hitting the nation, temperatures are skyrocketing and names associated with STAR WARS are HOT. And remember -- Chaykin is not one of those guys able to crank it out fast.

MARVEL jumps on the STAR WARS bandwagon, and with their comic license, is able to get a couple of STAR WARS comic pages for their magazine, PIZZAZZ, which Roy writes and Chaykin draws.

For Nov. 77, these are the comics which Chaykin has released. Conan is Roy Thomas' main project. It was a property he edited and managed.

Dec. 77... are you beginning to see a pattern? Who is minding the shop? These aren't one of two pages inside a comic. These are full stories. Agreed, the PIZZAZZ is a couple of pages, but really, how many pages does this come to a month?

It should be noted here that SW Issue #6, Roy replaces Steve Leialoha. Probably somewhere during Issue #5, which would be in the summer of 77, was when Roy met with George to discuss doing his own stories once Issue #6 was done because they'd have run out of material.

Issue #6 is inked and colored by several people.

Jan 78. Academy Awards is in the air. Star Wars has made history. Chaykin is chained to his production line. What is Chaykin like? In a lot of ways, I think Chaykin's art reveals who Chakin is. comicvine describes CODY STARBUCK:

"Cody was Howie's first real go at what has since become the patented Chaykin hero: A morally ambivalent, free-wheeling good/bad guy in a decadent, sexually explicit universe who looks more than a little bit like Howie himself."

I don't have the actual release month of the full CODY STARBUCK issue released by STAR*REACH in 1978. These are a few pages of this comic book.

Feb. 1978

March 78. He's gotta be doing more than a page a day of original art. Or so it would seem. But this is the period where it is later revealed Howard is no longer working on STAR WARS. His work is being ghosted.

And so we come to Issue #10, when both Howie and Roy leave the STAR WARS COMICS

CL: Steve Leialoha said that he met Howard in the middle of Dec 76, and Howard was 1/2 way through the inking of #1. Howard said he was "miffed" because the deadline had been moved up for the comics. I don't recall changing the date of the comics delivery to an earlier "moved up" date. What I don't understand is if both of you knew we were doing the Marvel Star Wars panel at Comic-Con in July 76, why only issue #1 was half way inked by the middle of Dec.

RT: If the date was "moved up," it was probably because the original date given Howard was a bit vague. As for when we started... remember, there was little reference material on hand to give Howard... didn't he make at least one flight to the West Coast to look over things? Whatever contracts were to be in place had to be worked out in advance... we had to have the script that was (so far as we knew at the time) the final one, etc., etc. We'd have begun work on the feature as soon as we could. Maybe Howard also had to finish up something else first... I dunno.

CL: When we met in NY, in Feb. 76, the script was finalized and George and Gary were off shooting. By Comic-Con, July 76, the film was shot and being edited. Certain shots, like the special effects, were still being done, but the movie was basically locked. The release date never moved. What was your working arrangements with Howard? How did you pick the scenes and work out the story evolution? Did you do up a rough script, then Howard drew it?

RT: Here's what I remember of our working arrangements... Basically, Howie and I each had a copy of the script... and I basically left it to Chaykin to decide how much of the screenplay he felt he could fit into each of six issues. He knew the drill... approximately 1/6 in each issue, but no hard-and-fast rule. I was available for consultation anytime by phone, but I don't recall our having much discussion about it. Maybe I said a bit more about the first issue, but mostly I left it to Howard... so my contributions to the book (after getting Stan and Galton to agree to it) was to serve as editor--which meant not only to proofread, but of course to oversee the art (I didn't usually get too involved with the coloring... the more so since I was in California)--and as editor I could demand re-drawing or whatever, if Howard (or the inker later) did something I didn't feel worked. But I don't recall any problems... remember, Howard had seen more reference materials than I had, so it would've been hard to second-guess him, and I had a lot of faith in him. Secondly, of course, I wrote the dialogue and captions. Less involvement than I usually had in an issue of a comic I wrote, because in most cases I gave the artist a plot for the story, or at the very least talked over the story with him... but in this case a very detailed story was already written out (i.e., the screenplay).

CL: After the 5th issue, Steve Leialoha was fired and other people were brought on to ink. Up until the 6th issue, you guys were working from the script. Howard would pencil out the story, send it to you, you'd write your dialog & story blocks, then it would go to the inkers. Who made the decisions?

RT: All decisions on the art were mine, starting with not proposing Gil Kane or any other artist when I heard George wanted Chaykin... since Howard was fully acceptable. I had to approve Steve Leialoha, which I did because Chaykin wanted him... but then I felt that Steve wasn't up to the job, at least not of making Chaykin layouts wind up looking anything like Chaykin's work. (A few years later, Steve would've been fine.) I don't recall replacing Steve... my memory has always been that he left on his own, not that I was that sorry to see him go at that stage. But if he has said he was pushed off the book, I wouldn't argue with that... I simply don't remember. I don't recall who suggested Rick Hoberg as the official replacement, but it might have been me, since I had gotten to know Rick and considered him a comer. He had help from Bill Wray and, eventually, from Dave Stevens... but that was mostly just to get the book done in time. We may have started off a bit under the gun deadline-wise with the 6th issue, I don't remember... but the comments by one of them in AE #68 would indicate they were especially rushed.

With #7, while occasionally I just talked stories out with artists over the phone in advance, I suspect that in the case of Chaykin I began sending him several-page (2- or 3-, I suspect, but could be slightly more) synopses from which he (and/or his reputed "ghost," Alan Kupperberg, whom I only learned about a few years later when Alan began talking about it) drew the story in rough form. I then got it back to script/dialogue, and then it was lettered and sent on to the inker, who in this case was called an "embellisher" or more formally "finisher."

I don't think Chaykin had anything to do with the selection of Rick Hoberg, though I could be wrong on that. At this point, we just needed to get the issue done.

I don't recall discussing the artists with you or anyone at Lucasfilm after the Chaykin thing at the beginning... except when someone (probably you, on George's behalf) expressed some dissatisfaction with the art from #2 on, as if I had the power to chain Chaykin to a board and make him work 80 hours a week, which is the only way, apparently, he could have done both penciling and inking on those jobs. I either had to accept when Chaykin was willing to do (layouts) or let him go entirely.

CL: I don't remember us ever really doing approvals - other than the Green Rabbit. I sorta remember being very busy and leaving you guys to your own. Did I interfere much, or need to give approvals?

RT: I don't believe there was an approval process on the first six issues... I certainly never heard of one, or heard about any changes asked or demanded by you or George or 20th. I'd been a bit apprehensive, because we had some Godawful expensive problems with 20th over PLANET OF THE APES... but here they didn't get involved. With #7-10, I talked over the storyline I wanted to do in a general way with George at one meeting at his office on the Universal lot, but never had any other contact with him... figured I'd talk to him again about #11, but of course I left after #10. Clearly, though, once the movie became a hit, George and you (if not 20th) were going to pay more attention to what was done in "merchandising," including comics... and that's where the trouble started, and quickly ended. With the green rabbit and other complaint you gave in that one phone call that I remember, you made clear that you were speaking for George, and I accepted that George had a right to object to anything I did. Which made me decide, instantly, that I no longer wanted to do STAR WARS. So I didn't. But I'm proud to have been associated with it, and you can be proud of all you accomplished for "Star Wars" in those months before and after the movie debuted.

RT: There's an irony that occurs to me these days: you and George felt that a STAR WARS comic was important as publicity for the movie, hence the insistence on an issue or two of the adaptation being out by the time the movie debuted, which Marvel managed (just barely, it seems) to do.

And I was, as I said, blissfully unaware of the precarious state of Marvel's financial health, which had been going downhill as sales continued fairly strong but inflation and changing marketing realities ate away at the profitability of a comic that sold for, by then, about 30c. Galton and Shooter have said that STAR WARS virtually saved the company by giving it such an influx of cash in '77, maybe into 78... sort of giving it time to make the adjustments to profitability that Galton had been brought in to make, which was mostly dumb luck for them... the reason Galton told my publisher friend/literary prof Matt Bruccoli about a decade ago to say hi to me because "he made me rich."

But--was the STAR WARS comic, in the end, of any real use or importance to George and the Star Wars organization? The low print run STAR WARS probably had, even if sales figures on #1 of something like 57% (good for the era) have stuck in my mind, means that something less than 200,000 people bought STAR WARS #1, and who knows about #2... after which the movie needed no help from the comic or much of anything else. Did the STAR WARS comic, in the end, make any difference? Even assuming more than one person read each sold comic, like siblings and friends of the buyer in some cases, only a few hundred thousand people could have been really aware of the movie because of the comic... and the chances are that at least some of the comic buyers knew about the movie in advance, despite the relative lack of advance advertising for it. It made a lot of sense to try to get the comic out there, certainly... nobody, including clearly Alan Ladd Jr. was certain the movie was going to be a hit, let alone the phenomenon that it became... but in the end, it seems to me that the movie did more (accidentally) for Marvel than Marvel could possibly have done for the movie. Maybe that's why George never said thanks... or much of anything else.

CL: Oh no, the numbers of the comics were much higher than that. I have the same fans/historians who've given me the sales figures someplace. Can't find them right now, but think it was closer to 1M by the end of the year. That's just off the top of my head. I got the research for the article in bits and pieces on my computer and will be incorporating them into my article's summation.

RT: I was talking about the "first edition" that came out in the spring... not that the 57% I remembered was a final, but by the time the movie came out, most of the remaining copies of #1 had been taken off sale as #2 came out. They reprinted several of the issues, though I don't know the details... #1 & #2 for sure, probably others... and perhaps they were able to raise the print runs for the later issues in time to garner more sales on the first edition. But any million-count was for a later printing, I'm sure.

CL: I understand the first 2 issues had a print run of 250K, but don't know when reprints were done, or how large the editions were.

Here's a page which one of the SW historians, W.R. Miller, sent me from Comic Buyer's Guide listing sales figures

CL: W.R. Miller also sent me the shipping and release dates of the first six issues of Star Wars:

#1 July 1977, SD: March 8, 1977, RD: April 12, 1977
#2 Aug 1977, SD: April 12, 1977, RD May 10, 1977
#3 Sept 1977. SD: May 10, 1977, RD: June 7, 1977
#4 Oct 1977, SD: June 14, 1977, RD: July 12, 1977
#5 Nov 1977, SD: July 12, 1977, RD: Aug 9, 1977
#6 Dec 1977, SD: Aug 9, 1977, RD: Sept 13, 1977

RT: Is there anything to Ed's story (in that STAR WARS mag I haven't run across yet) that he -- and, I thought he indicated, you -- really wanted Warren to do it, with DC a second choice, and Marvel third? Of course, that may have been Ed's view of things, while you may never have considered Warren, which would have had a different audience.

[Ed Summmer is George Lucas' ex-partner is Supersnipes Gallery. A former comic-book store owner and long time associate of George, he has claimed involvement in the Marvel Star Wars deal. Photo below is of a young Ed and George before Star Wars.]

CL: Marvel was always the 1st choice because of what you had done when you were Editor there. Seriously, you made Marvel into a very vital company. It didn't occur to me that we would get turned down so I never thought of an alternative. I know Marvel didn't do long runs, but figured when the film came out it would carry the comic. I don't know where Ed gets the idea of Warren publishing. From the same place he gets the idea he was involved in the Star Wars comics?

RT: Of course, Ed Summer WAS involved in the STAR WARS comic... but only to the extent of arranging the meeting with you and, to a lesser extent, accompanying you to my apartment. After that, although he and I probably mentioned it in a conversation or two, we never discussed in in any depth. Certainly Ed had no part in the adaptation, nor do I recall his ever making any specific suggestions re it. That was all Chaykin and me... and, with a few discussions here and there, I left most of it to Chaykin, as I said. I'd have done more if he'd said he needed it, but he seemed happy with the arrangement... he was just looking for paying work in those days, and he and I got along well. He, Alan Kupperberg, and I had gone out clubbing a couple of times after my separation from Jeanie, and I worked with him on a couple of stories, including Solomon Kane.

CL: Can I ask you about the financial payments? How much you were paid -- it was per page, right, and whether Marvel paid Leialoha, or if Chaykin sub-contracted the work out to him.

RT: I don't know my rate by then. $15 a page? More likely a bit more, maybe as much as $20 or $25 a page. It was a per-page rate, as it was for Chaykin. I can be pretty certain that Steve Leialoha was paid directly by Marvel, since he was the credited inker/finisher on #2-5. I'm less certain about #6, which had three inkers... perhaps one was paid (Rick Hoberg?) and he got help from the other two, incl. Dave Stevens. If Alan Kupperberg did some ghosting on #7-10 or any of those, he'd have been paid under the table by Chaykin, since Marvel wouldn't have approved the arrangement.

Ed Summer & George
GI JOE character TORPEDO named after a young Steve Leialoha who survived the trenches
CL: It was a flat work for hire, right, so all these re-issues which Marvel is now doing, or the international issues, you never got residuals on, right?

RT: Nope, not a dime. A sore point with me as regards both George and later comics publishers, as you know. I got small reprint payments (maybe $2 a page) once or twice from Marvel in '77 when they reprinted #1-6, and later when I complained Stan gave me a piddling $500 bonus for "bringing" them STAR WARS... but the only money I've ever got on the Dark Horse stuff, or now Marvel again, was when I'd be asked by Dynamite or some such to sign comics for some anniversary. I don't feel I was screwed in the way you probably were... but it hasn't gone down well, just the same.

CL: I kinda got the impression you've been able to comfortably retire. Do you think your being able to make enough money to retire is atypical or typical of comic book artists?

RT: I don't know about the retirement abilities of the typical comic book artist/writer/editor, but it all depends on their luck and planning. In my case, along with other good breaks (like Marvel paying decent "incentive payments" for the past couple of decades as they collected my work into paperback and hardcover books, even before the movie thing), I married a woman who has done some decent investing and is naturally frugal. That and having a (late) father-in-law who moved to South Carolina so that we, visiting him, stumbled upon a 40-acre place with two houses and a pool ("40 acres and a pool") and decided why go on living in LA, from which we planned to move in a few years anyway? Talent is good, and you have to have it (as you and I do, in various kinds), but luck is even better.

CL: But from Marvel Star Wars all you got was the original per page fee, plus 1 reprint fee of $2.00 per page and that $500 bonus. Nothing else for foreign or all the other reprints?

RT: You got it right re: the STAR WARS comic. I guess Marvel is (or will be) reprinting those 10 STAR WARS comics one of these days... I'm curious if I'll get anything out of it. They do pay for other reprints (AVENGERS, X-MEN, etc.), even though they call it "incentive payments," not "royalties," and do not (as DC tends to do) admit they "owe" anything. Dark Horse does less well by me on Conan reprints, though I do get a (really) token amount. I just always felt George could've shown a bit more appreciation for what I did for the movie... or at least was trying to do, even for my own and Marvel's reasons (but tinged with a great respect for his work)... and that has colored my thoughts about him ever since. But I guess I'm not alone.

CL: Can you tell me a little more on how Marvel handled their distribution? They sent out #1 so sale by 3/8/77, and shipped out $2 by 4/12/77. Did they recall the unsold #1? Did store owners mail the torn off covers of #1? Or were any books mailed back to the warehouse? Did unsold & unshipped inventory remain warehoused?

RT: Afraid I never got involved with distribution... too busy, though I should have learned more. All unsold copies of comics were supposed to be destroyed by the distributor, I think... but we all know that often in the old days the retailers just tore the title off the cover and shipped that back to show the comic hadn't sold... then they sold coverless or cover-damaged copies. Sometime in the 70s Marvel and I think DC started accepting the idea of "affidavit returns," meaning just a sworn statement that the comic had been returned/destroyed... which mean the crooks didn't even have to ruin the cover! It was, we used to call it, a "license to steal." Marvel didn't generally warehouse any unsold copies, at least not for any length of time. They did occasionally do such a thing... I once ended up, quite legally and above-board, with 1000 copies of SAVAGE TALES #1, which helped finance my move to LA.

CL: Thanks, Roy, you've helped clear up a lot of the mysteries.

More international STAR WARS COMICS of Issue #1, original first printing

Now some of you fans who bought the first comics and treasured them dearly may have developed a deep, uncritical love for these first issues, so you'll have to excuse my worker-bee mentality. Instead of looking at Issues #1-6 with the eyes of a young boy wonderstruck with love and adoration, I'm looking at it as the guy who made the deal. I'm looking at it as the guy who put together the later HEAVY METAL ALIEN ILLUSTRATED comic by Walter Simonson and Archie Goodwin. I'm looking at it as the guy who expected a Dominic Fortune and got something far less than that.

I wasn't alone in my criticism of Issues 2-5. Here is James van Hise's RBCC critical review of MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS and a 2 page comic they did.

And Glenn Greenberg's first 4 pages of his BACK ISSUES #9, March 2005 exhaustive article on MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS. The complete article is 14 pages but I uploaded only the first 4 pages pertaining to Thomas & Chaykin.

Roy Thomas wrote up his version of the Marvel Star Wars history in Marvel's magazine FOOM #21, which had the release date of Spring 78. This is his article.

Not to be outdone, there was also MAD MAGAZINE who did their own comic in the Jan 1978 issue.

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