001: Tantive IV – Pursued!
(c.1977/1978—age 9) What a weird looking Tantive IV! And I love the “John White Presents” bit! I’ve also done a SPECIAL EDITION version of this page – for fun. So, two can play at that game George! Watch out for more of these.
The childishness of the drawings is charming. The early version art was obviously just based on a single viewing of the film and maybe Star Wars Weekly Comic No#3—which would place this one in early 1978.
Lacking any other visual references, I basically had to try to remember what the ships looked like: hence the peculiar appearance of the rebel craft. Microphonic!—like a Shure SM 58 microphone; or a backwards Blake’s 7 ship.
I was amazed to discover that I still have my old Corgi brand Blake’s 7 Liberator ship toy. I remember my excitement around going into Naas town and buying it in one of the little corner shops. Some of the other boys in the class had them, and they were so cool looking. I wouldn’t be surprised if I still hadn’t even seen the TV series at that stage, because since moving to Ireland from Scotland, we only had one TV station! And Blake’s 7 was being shown on the new, second state TV station: RTE 2. If you wanted to receive that you either had to have a 30 foot tall mast in your garden with a whole mess of guy-line/wires radiating from it all over your lawn to hold it up with an aerial on top, or maybe you just needed to live in Dublin, closer to the TV station itself.
(This one’s for you Rod Hannah).
Over the Rainbow
The clue that this was done after I saw the comic, is in the positive/negative banded hyperspace effect which came from Marvel. When Howard Chaykin depicted the Millennium Falcon in hyperspace, Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic team still hadn’t tackled how the heck they’d depict it themselves! So Chaykin had to get creative and obviously his early take on it was good enough for me. It’s funny how quickly you get used to leaving the blackness of space as white isn’t it?
T.I.E. or Tie or TIE?
Someone on Flickr saw this image and said “The Imperial Empire – I love it!” I stopped and wondered what was so funny about it. When I was in school we called Tie Fighters T.I.E. fighters—pronounced, “Tee-Aye-Ee”. My friend Niall – who you’ll hear more about – suggested that it stood for ‘twin ion engine’.
TIE INITIALS + STAND FOR + THE IMPERIAL EMPIRE + + + + +
Star Wars Weekly Letters Page
But in Issue#21 of the UK Star Wars Weekly Comic, this very question was asked in their ‘Cosmic Correspondence’ letters page. And the Robot Editor’s answer was..?
So, take your pick. Sounded plausible. Because I was only 9 or 10, I didn’t realise that this was a bit like saying “Your High Highness” or “Princely Prince” or “Stinky Stink”. And just as I got used to the whiteness of space – it also never occurred to me how silly “The Imperial Empire” is. When Mike McGinnis made his remark about its silliness 30+ years later he gave me a good laugh at myself!
Alarm Bells at LucasFilm?
But was the Robot Editor always an in-the-know insider? Perhaps not, check out this letter in SWW comic – written by young Iain Gledhill, of Pudsey, West Yorkshire.
Incidentally, in many subsequent issues, the question about Artoo’s missing middle leg would come up time and time again!
In class, we were asked to come up with a sentence containing the word ‘retractable’. My mate Niall stood up and said
“Artoo Detoo has a retractable middle leg.”
—Niall F. (aged 10)
There was much giggling from the boys and much cruel mocking in the schoolyard afterwards. Ahh… kids. Horrible sometimes.
This is a black & white line art comic page, drawn in biro.
John White Presents :- is written in the rough, wobbly hand of a 9 year old child, followed by an equally wobbly rendition of the Star Wars logo.
We see Princess Leia's spaceship shooting through hyper-space. Space is rendered in positive and negative vertical bands.
It reads: 'This is a Rebel ship in Hyper Space.'
'And this - an Imperial Empire Ship.'
The triangular Imperial Destroyer comes down from the top of the frame in emulation of the movie, shooting at the rebel ship, which is twisting and turning to avoid being hit.