early 1977 | age 9 Panel 2 will have been copied from the shot of the rebels awaiting the enemy to board their ship, which was on the Trading Cards and later, on the inside of my Soundtrack album.
This is a scene that shows its age somewhat nowadays – but it’s still exciting stuff!
Of course our first glimpses of the two droid stars are wonderful and the characters are all there – established immediately. The troops running into position – and the attack itself – are economically handled. It’s not drawn-out, as it would be these days, and indeed always is in the post original-trilogy. No finely-detailed and cluttered CGI-rendered scenery, blizzards of laser bolts or explosions; or dozens – or even hundreds of characters racing here and there. No, because of Lucas’ aesthetic sensibilities – or budget restrictions – this is pretty simple stuff. And all over very quickly indeed.
Contrast this with the wayPrequel Trilogy producer Rick McCallum waxed lyrically about the CGI work on the newer film: “There’s just so much happening in every frame!”
Blink and you’ll miss it!
In 1977, much of the action was over so fast you had to keep your eyes open – and not even blink! Every laser bolt was precious – as was every glimpse of a stormtrooper. Little wonder that those who could afford to, went outside the cinema when the movie finished – and started queuing for the next showing! It all had to imprinted as indelibly as possible onto the memory for subsequent replays! No wonder the books, comics and toys were so important to us.
Dynamics, Contrast & Pacing: Crucial tools.
I think back then, Lucas and his peers had a sense of dynamics. Don’t overdo anything or you’ll have nowhere left to go. A peak of excitement here – a trough of quiet thoughtful time with character development there… and when the audience almost has their breath back – hit them again! Rinse, repeat. I remember once seeing a Halas and Batchelor Studios chart of how the drama would rise and fall and be paced throughout their animated feature film Animal Farm. It really worked!
With friends like these…
It’s funny though, talk about understatement; when Lucas’ best friend Francis Ford Coppola [or was it DePalma?] saw Vader’s big entrance he said: “George – is this how you introduce your villain?” Or words to that effect. Obviously John Williams’ score helped, but the kids were buzzed anyway. You know, Lucas probably knew that Vader’s large triangular black form would – in fact – look very impressive amongst the predominantly white set and stormtroopers. It works: compositionally, and in terms of extreme visual contrast.
“AND …A TRACTOR BEAM”
This was a crude attempt (as ever) to join the last page of 1980, onto this one of 1977! Cross out ‘AND’ and add the three little dots. The Tantive has been doctored too – to remove the < microphone design.
This is the first appearance in the comic of the ultimate illustrator’s blunt instrument: a big permanent black marker. Dad brought these home from work and not only did they write on almost anything (terrific for turning a grey Action Man Wehrmacht helmet into a shiny black Waffen SS one) but they also covered better than anything I’d ever used before. The tips were anything from 1cm to 2cm wide! Well, high-finish was never a priority in the early stuff. Either that, or at a tender age my under-developed critical faculties were lacking.
Anatomically, things are a bit iffy! As I < said in the intro: these are anatomy lessons for beginners – so pay attention if you want to draw like a beginner!
There’s also some unnecessary text here. Most filmmakers are guilty of it: “GET READY MEN!”. Other classic superfluous lines (some screenwriters must be paid by the word) are: “Come on”, “Let’s go!” and “That was close!”
Next: We meet the droids and things hot-up!
In this wobbly 1977 or early 1978 comic page, drawn when I was 9 or 10, the Rebel blockade runner spaceship, Tantive IV is pulled up into the Imperial Star Destroyer ship with a tractor beam.
Inside the Rebel ship, Rebel soldiers prepare to be boarded by Stormtroopers, guns at the ready. One of them says, "Get Ready men!"