Star Wars the early days part two

“The story is a bunch of cliff hangers, like the old Saturday morning matinees at the movie with Lone Ranger, Dick Tracey. Hopalong Cassidy, Superman. The male lead gets in scrapes. The special effects will have to be invented. The female character is not a real woman, more like a guy in a dress; drinking, fighting. All of the characters are like cardboard cutouts.” I concluded my coverage of the mysterious script they had given me to report on. “..and the name is odd; Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Lindsey nodded, getting most of what I was trying to get across. It was a big budget Saturday matinee with special effects yet to be invented. Not a real dramatic production. Comics. She said, “If this one goes…and they are going to make it. What do you think the sequel would be?” I was quick with an answer.”If you’re going to do paranormal stuff like the Ark of the covenant, mystical, magical subjects then, Sword and Sorcery is probably the next step for you; like Conan the Barbarian.” Lindsey did not know about Conan then, it was 1978. I got into an argument right away with our artist, Russ Manning. over the comic strips. He was an old school Marvel artist of great repute. We were lucky to have him, and he let us know that. I put forth the first story where Princess Leia gets cold cocked by her heroic loyal pilot and stuffed into an escape pod, unconscious, then ejected before Darth Vader’s battlecruiser destroys the rebel ship she was just leaving. I described the escape pod as a solar sailer. Imagining a schooner type billowing mylar sail large enough to catch the solar winds and carry her to a safe landing on a remote mining planet. Russ told me that solar sailers did not work. I told Russ that Jim Lovell, the captain on Apollo 13 told me about solar sailing as a form of slow but steady propulsion. Here was a clash between science fiction and science fact. Russ drew space suits that looked like a 57 Buick grill. Ray guns looked like Buck Rogers. He was drawing a style he had helped create but was now redefined because the wacky ideas were now reality. The solar sailer looked like a 57 Maytag crossed with a tanning table. We went at it about various other technical aspects until he finally got a little too old to handle the work load. I liked him a lot and got to experience a great artist first hand. I hid other messages in the strips; On one episode, Princess Leia had to go up into orbit and replace the XTC module in a satellite. That band was getting some serious airplay at the time. No one picked it up, Lindsey was supportive of cultural and political commentary in the strip. I have spoken with people who remember that particular era and were into the stories. We had a great time creating ideas, technologies and dramas. The Kessell Run was one of the stories. I don’t have copies of the scripts but I wish I did. My mother saved color splash panels from the Sunday St. Petersburg Tribune.

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