r2-d2 comic page detail

Weird fingers!

Art Notes: Tiniest of Details

vader drinking coffee comic detail

Have a little look in the bottom left panel. Notice anything – odd?

I posted a comment to Blue Milk Special‘s webcomic some time ago because I’d discovered a peculiar and amusing panel in Howard Chaykin‘s Marvel adaptation of Star Wars. Have a look at it on the left. Over on Blue Milk Special Vader drinks coffee: for comic effect. It’s a parody of the film. I mean, honestly: how on earth could he possibly drink coffee? Well look what I found the other night in a box of old comics in the attic (left).

Vader’s Coffee: A Mystery…

Yep, in the Howard Chaykin Marvel comic adaptation of 1977– Vader is actually depicted holding what looks like a paper cup of latte – or milk! Perhaps he liked it before bedtime, with a biscuit. Even weirder: in the top left panel, the cup seems to float in mid-air, steam rising from it, then in another panel it’s in his hand! All those mighty powers – and look what he uses them for: parlour tricks. Rod Hannah of Blue Milk Special was as surprised as I was! And their Vader always holds a coffee mug.

vader drinking coffee chaykin marvel

Where did Howard Chaykin get that coffee cup? (view larger)

Of course, Howard Chaykin/Marvel‘s adaptation did look odd sometimes, but that was because they didn’t have much reference material to work from. The film wasn’t even finished! The studio didn’t have enough production stills to give them for reference. There was an excellent article on Star Wars.com – now gone – by the comic’s editor Roy Thomas in which he confirmed this.

roy thomas

Roy Thomas (left) and Howard Chaykin (right) discuss the Marvel adaptation at the 1976 San Diego Comic Con.


But… do you know what? The origin of ‘Vader Levitating and Drinking Coffee’ has been found. There it is – in the 1977 novelisation! Lucas must have omitted it from the film because of budgetary constraints.

(Not because it was silly or anything – obviously)

“A huge metal-clad hand gestured slightly, and one of the filled cups on the table drifted responsively into it.”

1977 Novelisation

Gary Kurtz: “Jesus George, Fox are going to pull the plug if we don’t get the film finished – on budget. So which one will we do? The floating coffee cup with all that expensive black thread – or – the Death Star exploding?

Coffee cup – Death Star – Coffee cup – Death Star. Agh… I can’t decide!”

Finally, the Bean Counters at 20th Century Fox prevailed. The coffee cup was axed. And poor John Dykstra wept because he’d never wow audiences with cinema’s first levitating coffee cup.

The Coming Threat

vader drinking coffee?

Lucas the genius beats everyone to it – again

Now I’m worried: If I read the rest of the novel, will I find that some of my other comically-genius additions actually came from the Novel too? Do I really want Lucas to take all the credit for those masterstrokes? Like the bit about ‘ducks’ for example. Confused? You will be.

Next: She’s beautiful!