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About Star Wars Comic Books
By Robert Vaux
Source: UGO's Star Wars comics page.
STAR WARS: EMPIRE #26.
© Dark Horse Comics
OverviewThe Star Wars phenomenon encompasses every strata of pop culture, from toys to TV shows to clothing to comic books. The latter permutation has enjoyed a long and productive history, starting with Marvel Comics adaptations in the late 1970s, but it really hit its stride with a series of comics produced by Dark Horse in the mid-1990s. Comics have the benefit of being relatively easy to create, but contain the visual potential to match George Lucas's universe, as well as a fast-paced storytelling style which fits the Star Wars ethos well.
Marvel ComicsMarvel Comics first leapt on the Star Wars bandwagon in July of 1977, shortly after the first film came out. The first six issues were an adaptation of the movie, while subsequent issues created all-new adventures based around Luke, Leia, Han and their friends. Marvel published the comics until September of 1986--through the original trilogy--when falling sales caused them to drop the line.
Newspaper ComicsIn the midst of Marvel's comic book run, writer Archie Goodwin and artist Al Williamson produced a series of newspaper strips set in the Star Wars universe. It covered events which took place between "A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back," and ran continuously between 1981 and 1984. Dark Horse Comics reprinted the strips as "Classic Star Wars" graphic novels in the early 1990s.
Dark EmpireThe real golden era of Star Wars comics began when Dark Horse Comics began publishing a new series of books in December of 1991. "Dark Empire," as the storyline was known, took place after the events of "Return of the Jedi," with the newly established Republic continuing to battle the remnants of the Galactic Empire. Originally conceived as a mini-series, it proved so successful that it produced two sequels of its own.
Additional Dark Horse ComicsWith the release of the new trilogy in 1999, Dark Horse revived the Star Wars comics line with "Star Wars: Tales," a continuing series of one-shots set in the "Star Wars" universe. Two additional lines appeared in 2002: "Star Wars: Republic" set in the era of the Clone Wars, and "Star Wars: Empire" featuring stories with Imperial characters as the heroes.
VisionariesCoinciding with the release of "Revenge of the Sith" in 2005, Dark Horse released a special collection of Star Wars comics entitled "Visionaries." It features art and storylines from Lucasfilm itself: the creative minds who helped design the parameters of the Star Wars universe. "Visionaries" was published as a stand-alone compilation of short stories, but because of its pedigree it proved exceedingly popular with Star Wars fans.