Review | Star Wars: The Complete Classic Newspaper Comics Vol 1

The first of three volumes that reprint for the first time the classic Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979-1984 in its complete format — including each Sunday title header and “bonus” panels in their meticulously restored original color. Initially the color Sundays and B&W dailies told separate stories, but within six months the incomparable Russ Manning merged the adventures to tell brand new epic seven-days-a-week sagas that rivaled the best science fiction comics of all time. Volume One contains 575 sequential comic strips from the strip’s premiere on March 11, 1979 to October 5, 1980.

  • Library Of American Comics, May 10 2017
  • Written by Russ Manning, Steve Gerber, Don Christensen, and Russ Helm
  • Drawn by Russ Manning, Alfredo Alcala, and others
  • Edited & Designed by Dean Mullaney
  • Introductions by Rich Handley and Henry G. Franke III
  • 11” x 8.5” full-color hardcover with dustjacket, 264 pages
  • Order online: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca

Here is Star Wars, fresh from the first and only movie at that point, in a new media appealing to the broadest audience possible. As Rich Handley discusses in his excellent introduction, this newspaper strip wasn’t the first or only broadening of the Star Wars universe, but just like the movie was an all ages romp through this new and exciting science fiction epic.

Because of the medium readers were presented with small bites of story every day, with little character development or overarching storylines. We have our core cast of heroes doing battle with the Empire and it’s clear villain Darth Vader. Thankfully the stories take place in strange and new environments, with an always rotating cast of support and obstruction, good and evil.

The strip starts off with one story in the dailies and one in the colour Sundays, then morphs the Sunday strip into a colour recap of the week’s black and white dailies. Effective for complete readership coverage, and a treat to see the six daily strips transformed into a larger single colour strip, but a waste for regular readers or those of us reading the story in a collection.

Even though four writers tackled these two years of strips, the stories don’t feel forced or out of sync. Since each was self contained with no overlap or continuation they stand just fine on their own. Also worth keeping in mind they were keeping to the core values of the movie characters while putting them in whatever fantastical elements they wanted.

Manning’s clean style works wonderfully for daily comic strips, and shines through on the Sundays even more. He loved the close up shot to highlight facial expressions, and we’re treated to them again and again. Well crafted execution day after day. Towards the end we get fill in artists and the transition to Alcala, whose style is jarringly different from Manning. The Stevens’ strips are real gems, with his unique look coming through on the occasional face as he tries to mimic Manning’s style.

The book’s second editorial features a look at Manning’s work by Franke III, and provides a nice overview with samples of original art. We’re also treated to some strip roughs and Manning’s sample submission with some great Tuscan raiders.

Production is excellent, with decent matte paper stock and a silk ribbon. Almost all the strips are clear and present well; there are the occasional muddy strip but they’re few and far between. Strip dates run along the bottom corner of each numbered page. A dust jacket bears the same images as the book’s front and back cover, leaving me wondering its purpose.


Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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3 Comments

  1. June 12, 2017

    The dust jacket same as the cover is a glossy cover for show, that may protect the cover for a period of time. This double cover is something i enjoy, and apparantly costs very little to produce, juat wrapping a print around the cover.

    I am unsure how this Star Wars reprint 1979-1980 compendium will be priced.

    It would be great to see produced an Artist Edition, or original strips with margin notes and pencils ahowing through. I like Russ Manny and especially his Chubacca rendition. Also a double sixe twice up would be better the 11 x 8 inches which is half the orininal Los Angeles Times size of original newspaper.

    The StarWars 1979 strip first featured writing and art by Russ Manning until poor health forced him to retire from the strip. Russ Helm took over writing duties, followed later by Archie Goodwin with an adaptation of the novel Han Solo at Stars’ End.

    Later after 1980, Artist Al Williamson joined Goodwin for the next story, The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell, and their partnership continued until the final strip, published in 1984.

    Reprints

    Decades later, Dark Horse Comics edited, colored, and reprinted most of these stories in two comic-book series: Goodwin and Williamson’s strips in Classic Star Wars, and Helm and Manning’s in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures. These comics did not include Planet of Kadril or the Sunday strips. Later, Han Solo at Stars’ End was reprinted under the Classic Star Wars title, as was the Sunday strip The Constancia Affair. The Star Wars Scrapbook is a department of the comic strip.

    In 2005, StarWars.com’s Hyperspace began publishing the newspaper strips alongside all-new stories. All of Manning’s daily strips were included, as were most of Goodwin’s.

    According to the Star Wars Insider magazine’s Special Edition 2012 article “The Empire Strips Back,” Dark Horse Comics planned to collect and anthologize these comics.

    Stories

    Gambler’s World, by Russ Manning (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures 1, 2, and 3)
    The Constancia Affair, by Russ Manning (Reprinted as Star Wars Special: The Constancia Affair)
    The Kashyyyk Depths, by Russ Manning (The only strip not reprinted)
    Tatooine Sojourn, by Russ Manning and Steve Gerber (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures 4)
    Princess Leia, Imperial Servant, by Russ Helm and Russ Manning (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures 5)
    The Second Kessel Run, by Russ Helm and Russ Manning (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures 6)
    Bring Me the Children, by Russ Manning (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures 7)
    As Long As We Live…, by Russ Manning (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures 8)
    The Frozen World of Ota, by Russ Manning (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures 9)
    Planet of Kadril, by Russ Helm and Alfredo Alcala (Reprinted as a webstrip on StarWars.com)
    Han Solo at Stars’ End, by Brian Daley, adapted by Archie Goodwin and Alfredo Alcala (Reprinted as Classic Star Wars: Han Solo at Stars’ End)
    The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted as Classic Star Wars 1, and 2)
    Darth Vader Strikes, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 2, 3, and 4)
    The Serpent Masters, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 4, 5, and 6)
    Deadly Reunion, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 6 and 7)
    Traitor’s Gambit, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 7 and 8)
    The Night Beast, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 8, 9, and 10)
    The Return of Ben Kenobi, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 10 and 11)
    The Power Gem, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 11 and 12)
    Iceworld, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 12 and 13)
    Revenge of the Jedi, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 13 and 14)
    Doom Mission, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 14 and 15)
    Race for Survival, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 16 and 17)
    The Paradise Detour, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 17 and 18)
    A New Beginning, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 18 and 19)
    Showdown, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 20)
    The Final Trap, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (Reprinted in Classic Star Wars 20)
    Collections

    I love the dust jucket – same as the cover. The dust jacket same as the cover is a glossy cover for show and pizzaz, that may protect the cover and add a bright gloss. This double cover is something i enjoy because it gives extended wear.

    I am uncertain how this Star Wars reprint 1979-1980 compendium will be priced but would like it at under $45.

    Why no artist edition in larger format?? It would be great to see produced an Artist Edition, or original strips with margin notes and pencils ahowing through. I like Russ Manny and especially his faces close ups. A double sixe twice up would be better in 13 by 20 inches which is morelike the aize of the orininal LA Times original.

    Great poat!

  2. mel taylor
    June 13, 2017

    Steve
    I would like to say “Great poat!” to you too, but “Russ Manny”? And twice yet? I know, from your previous comments on Magnus, you think he’s just a Jesse Marsh clone, but at least spell the guy’s name correctly.

    cheers, mel

  3. June 19, 2017

    Mel. I am truly sorry…I will be more careful. I think my auto spell check has a mind of its own, and clicking on post comment twice creates an unintended partial duplication. Being new to posting, i think i now have the bugs worked out now.

Make It Good.