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In one of those odd-if-minor retailing coincidences, I had someone on Saturday asking about the Marvel Star Wars treasury editions from the 1970s, adapting the original film…and then an hour after that customer left, someone came in with a collection containing a couple of those treasuries. As 1970s treasury comics go, Star Wars seem to be the most common, at least given how often we’ve seen them at our shop (the Howard the Duck treasury being a close second).
Now, that first person was asking about the Star Wars treasuries because he had the copies he owned from his childhood framed and displayed on his son’s bedroom walls. Specifically, he was wondering if he was inadvertently sitting on a vast fortune of rare comics, slowly depreciating as sunlight cascading through the windows gradually turned the covers a pale blue. He did relate, in a rare case of someone not familiar with the hobby recognizing that there is such a thing as “condition,” that his copies were well-read and worn, so I assured him that, in all likelihood, his copies probably weren’t worth a whole lot. It’s my feeling that the Star Wars treasuries exist in such large numbers, most of which read to death by 1970s-era children (some of whom may have even used markers to color-correct the lightsabers…not naming names, but that child’s initials may have stood for “Mike Sterling”), that actual mint or near-mint copies will command premiums, but anything less than that is much, much cheaper.
I also shared with him my old story about, a couple of decades back, we had full cases of the Star Wars treasuries that we’d been stuck with, and we ended up blowing out copies for a quarter apiece. We were glad to get that much, since of course at that time Star Wars was dead, dead, dead and it was never coming back, not ever again. And, as I related that story, it occurred to me that surely we weren’t the only shops to have cases of unopened copies of these treasuries, and some may yet remain unopened still, stowed away in some dusty corners of rarely-visited storage units, awaiting the day they are uncovered and dumped onto the marketplace, unleashing an ÜberStraße Götterdämmerung of plummeting price guide values.
And then after that fellow left, the person with the comic collection for sale dropped by, where I obtained the first Star Wars treasury, along with the seemingly more rare (well, relatively speaking) third treasury, which was a collection of the first two, effectively putting the entire movie under one cover. I remember seeing this in the wild back when it was originally released, being excited that, hey, there was a new Star Wars treasury that was different than the ones I’d already had, read a million times, and perhaps colored in though I admit nothing. Once I discovered that is was simply reprinting the other comics, I was disappointed and passed on buying it (or, rather, didn’t try to talk my parents into buying it), and I’m guessing this was a common experience. Oh, I’m sure some people bought it to maintain a complete collection, or replace the previous books they’d read to pieces, or just straight up bought it without realizing it was something they already had. But if I had to guess, I’m sure the print run on #3 was far less than #1 or #2.
In this case, it didn’t really matter since both were beat to hell and we’re probably not selling them for much more than a couple of bucks each anyway. However, the third Star Wars treasury remains a rare enough sight that I can’t help but still remember that small bit of excitement seeing it when I was a kid and thinking it was brand new Star Wars material.
Speaking of Star Wars comics, I mentioned a while back I was going to discuss the new Marvel titles announced at Comic Con, and, well, now that I look, I don’t really have much to say. This article has a good overview of what’s coming, and it looks like at least one series is essentially replacing the current Brian Wood series at Dark Horse for the “between Episodes IV and V” period. I was expecting something a little more Episode VII-prologue-y, but maybe it’s still too soon for that.
Then again, since Han, Luke and Leia are appearing in the forthcoming movie, maybe in a way these comics featuring the Original Trilogy characters are lead-ins to Ep. VII in a way. I wonder if any elements in the forthcoming film will pop up in these books? You know, like Admiral Ackbar appeared in the Star Wars comic strip before Return of the Jedi? (“WHO IS THIS MYSTERIOUS CHARACTER? Find out next year…or, like, 25 years later in story time, in Star Wars Episode VII: Lobots on Parade!”)
Well, okay, technically this isn’t from the back room, but rather from a recently acquired collection of stuff, things, items and doodads, but man, I had no idea this even existed:
The Chewbacca Bandolier Strap
from 1983, where you can, I don’t know, strap it to your body and act out some weird Star Wars-ian twist on Dr. Shrinker
with Peter Mayhew in the place of Jay Robinson?
Here’s a closer look at the picture on the box, with
the victims your Star Wars pals in place:
Chewie looks a little freaked out there, understandably so since he’s trapped in a giant version of his own sole piece of clothing.
I dared to open the box, seeing as it was barely being held shut by dried-out masking tape and not exactly “mint,” and here’s what I found inside:
In case you’re wondering, yes, I did briefly contemplate donning this item and posing for pictures for the site, but 1) this bandolier is darned small, and I’m not even sure it would have fit around my neck, much less my torso, and 2) surely there are enough terrible pictures of me on the Internet already. Oh, and 3)
…those little foam packing pieces wedged into the belt are thirty years old and have become surprisingly flaky and sticky and not something I want coming in contact with my fancy dress shirts. Or my bare chest, not that I thought about taking Chewbacca bandolier photos like that. At all.
Anyway, here’s a better look at the bandolier in action:
Chewbacca’s the one on the right.
Here’s everything else in the box…a catalog, the two pouches, and a decal sheet with stickers for said pouches:
There’s probably a bra joke there, but I’m not going to make it.
“…and definitely not weed. Do not put your weed in the pouches!”
“IT’S A SNAP!”
In case you need an adult-sized Chewbacca bandolier, well, a quick Googling reveals lots of people making and selling replicas, but of course you can always just make your own
..as represented by the single greatest thing an eight-or-so-year-old Mike could have seen after having gone to the movies to see Star Wars for the fourth time:
“ALL NEW STORIES NOT SEEN IN THE MOVIE!” Three whole new comic books, in one package? For 99 cents? For new Star Wars adventures? Sweet jumpin’ Judas on a pogo stick, if I didn’t get my paws on those comics that very second, surely I would have dropped dead in that aisle right then and there.
And yes, I absolutely loved these comics…reading them and rereading them and just about committing them to memory. And I continued to follow the New Adventures of the Star Warsians, both in the three-packs and in regular monthly installments purchased from the newsstands* as opportunity allowed. I stuck with the series ’til about issue 25 or 26 or so, and I’m not entirely sure why I stopped buying them on a regular basis. I did return to the series off and on over the years, buying a few monthly issues in sequence or buying the occasional annual or special issue. It wasn’t until well after the series reached its 107th and final issue, and during those Star Wars doldrums when no new movies were coming out, and the whole thing seemed like it was good and finished, that I finally filled out my run of the series out of quarter boxes. Well, mostly filled, as I skipped the issues adapting the movies, as I owned those in treasury edition, paperback**, or Marvel Super Special*** form.
That eight-year-old I used to be, and is still rattling around in my head somewhere, is excited to hear about the return of Star Wars to Marvel Comics out of purely nostalgic reasons. The part of me that sells these things for a living is interested to see if this will pull the comic spin-offs out of their mostly moribund sales (though I suspect the impending Episode VII would have given the comics a kick in the pants, regardless of publisher…and the forthcoming Brian Wood series looks like it’ll be fun as well).
Anyway, one of those three-packs turned up in a collection at the shop recently, still sealed, reminding me of my absolutely sincere and overwhelming excitement all those years ago that such a thing even existed. It’s probably my enjoyment of those early comics that makes me brook no negativity about my favorite new-to-comics Star Wars character. Hey, maybe Marvel will bring him back!
* I remember spotting a new issue on the racks at a local bookstore/newsstand, and being so excited I grabbed it off the rack and dashed outside with it to ask my grandmother to buy it for me. …That I didn’t do a nickel up the river for shoplifting is something of a miracle…or that the bookseller didn’t mistake my youthful exuberance for criminal intent, at least. I did quickly return with my grandmother, who bought the comic. I suspect there was a comment or two about not leaving a store with unpaid-for merchandise even for a moment or by accident, but man, I was too busy reading my Star Wars comic to care.
** A childhood friend of mine made lots of fun about the fact that Yoda’s appearance in this specific edition of the comic was way off from his appearance in the movie. If only I’d known enough to be able to explain “lead times” and “artist only having access to production art, and not the final product,” I could have put that kid in his place.
*** This adaptation was released to newsstands about a week or two before the actual release of the film, much to Lucas’ chagrin. Of course I bought it right away and happily spoiled everything for myself…which didn’t curb my enjoyment of the movie one bit.
ALL YOUR COMMTECH CHIPS
Context, if you insist.
So as a young Mikester in the late ’70s, I found this particular Star Wars trading card to be of interest:
…as it gave us one of the few really good glimpses as to what the Jawas looked like under their hoods:
The official (or semi-official, or “canon,” or whatever) explanation
is that the Jawas are “rodent-like,” and that what we’re supposedly seeing there isn’t
a Jawa’s actual face, but just more protective covering with gemstone eyepieces. But I think it’s this specific image that has me associating Jawas with more insectoid characteristics than rodential. I mean, look at it…it’s like a giant ant under there. That’s completely creepier than a rodent.
By contrast, this Battlestar Galactica sticker featuring the Cylons’ Imperious Leader could’ve used a little more mystery:
The Cockeyed Space Tyrant is puckering up…for you
AAAAAAAH! “Can’t sleep, Peter Cushing will get me.”
Here, let’s balance things out a bit:
Ah, yes, very dashing indeed. “I dashed the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” “Why, that is
I found this piece of art being auctioned on the eBay almost exactly three years ago…Bob Marley and Yoda, together as Jah intended. I don’t know who painted it (I can’t make out that signature), but God bless whoever is responsible for bringing such a thing of beauty into the world.
(Some of you may recognize the image from my wall o’previous icons. It has the privilege of being my only icon that is not comics-related.) (EDIT 5/31/12: Okay, that bit about my icons isn’t true anymore. What can I tell you.)