Tuesday, March 31, 2015


After the meeting with Stan Lee, Ed Shukin and Roy Thomas, I returned to LA. Marc Pevers and the lawyers at Fox worked out the deal with Marvel which included 6 comics, the first 5 of which were royalty free for the first 100,000 issues, with royalties thereafter. Starting on the 6th, STAR WARS would be licensed by Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox to Marvel Comics. The deal was the first two issues had to be out before STAR WARS was released, with the 3rd being out the week of the film's release, May 25, 1977. There after, the comics would come out monthly.

Back in LA, I contacted Shel Dorf and arranged for Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin and I to be put on the 1976 Comic Con schedule, which, that year, was scheduled for July 25-27 in San Diego. We would fly Howard into LA, but Roy would be in LA as he was planning on moving to LA. At Comic Con, we would release a poster by Chaykin to promote the film and comic book. Comic-con was 5 months away. There was lots of other work which had to be done. George and Gary had returned to Los Angeles to finish the film. There was tying up the featurette interviews and preliminary work on marketing and publicity. Alan Dean Foster was working on his novelization. The deal for ADF's novelization was it had to be in bookstores 6 months before the opening of the film, or in Dec., 1977. Following the Toy Fair, there was a lot of post-Toy Fair business which had to be wrapped up, including concluding licensing deals. Then getting ready for Comic Con.

Once Howard had finished the artwork for the Chaykin poster, I took it to the printers and had it printed up. I had the ILM art department work on getting materials for the booth ready. Below you'll see a sketch Joe Johnston did up of the Comic Con booth concept, courtesy of Pete Vilmur. Like all concepts, the booth didn't turn out like the concept. Certainly wasn't as pretty and colorful. Joe Johnston also did the sign for selling the poster. Then the day finally arrived. I went to pick up Howard from the airport, and we were off for our start of the Comic Con adventure.

Much has been made of our presentation at Comic Con because it was the start of a Hollywood tradition of presenting movies at Comic Con. Prior to STAR WARS, movies didn't get announced at comic conventions, nor were comic books done in advance of a movie's release. Our first presentation had that very same Hollywood glamor which transformed Comic Con from the tiny acorn it was into such a huge, crowd-bashing, sold out event. A glamor, I might add, that even comic book folks are seduced by, as evidenced by the number of times comic book folk like to recount their brief touches with that Hollywood glow.

Comic Con was July 21–25, 1976. Roy had moved to Los Angeles and we flew Howard into Los Angeles for the Comic Con. After the convention, on July 27, 1976, I met with HOWARD CHAYKIN, ROY THOMAS, GEORGE LUCAS, and MARCIA LUCAS to discuss the MARVEL STAR WARS COMIC BOOK in my office on the Universal lot, which was George and Gary's old AMERICAN GRAFFITI office.

George: Well, I think this is just primarily to meet you. I'm a big fan of yours.

Thank you. It's nice to be accepted.

George: Got a lot of your stuff. Especially your Cody Starbuck. About half-way through this I discovered Cody Starbuck and it's great. It's fun. It's got a lot of, umm, I like the style.

Howard: [nodding head in agreement] I could do with it whatever I wanted to do.

George: If you like comics, you like comics.

Howard: Yeah, I like comics. I'm looking forward to getting started on this thing. And after I finish this thing, I've got my baby -- the thing I've wanted to do since I was seventeen. It's an adaptation of Chip Delaney's NOVA thing I've been playing with for years, and I probably don't give a damn (garbled).[1]

[NOTE: Howard is referring to his 1978 book, Empire, by Samuel R. Delany, which he illustrated with original paintings that was published by Byron Preiss. Preiss pioneered a short lived Fiction Illustrated book format which was kind of a graphic novel crossover. At the bottom of this post, I've footnoted the different Illustrated Fiction books we are talking about.]

Howard: Byron Preiss [1], the Fiction Illustrated publisher with those paperbacks.

Charlie: [to George] You haven't seen those yet, have you? They came out while you were away.

George: Yeah, I don't think so.

Howard: They're paperback size, digest size. Steranko's done one, Steve Fabian one science fiction alternative...

Charlie: [interrupting] STARFAWN [2]

Howard: Real flabby, real average. Did you think much of it?

Charlie: [shaking head] Uh,uh.

Howard: He loves it.

Charlie: Who does?

Howard: Byron. And Sutton, the Raven thing [3]. Ralph Reese is working on a set of Sherlock Holmes and a bunch of other things [4].

Charlie: How did they decide the format?

Howard: Laboriously. They had to redesign the pages completely. And they seem to be selling. You can't argue with success.

George: Well, it also gives you a chance to do what you want.

Howard: Chip and I are fairly close, to the point where like he says, "If you want, write the adaptation," because he's a tremendous novelist, but I don't think much of his writing in comics. So I won't have to contend with saying "no" or "Please don't." I'll do it myself.

George: Fine. That's great. What do we want to get into on this, Charlie?

Charlie: We're going to talk mainly about visual stuff. Have you thought anything about the visual style of the book.

Howard: Not to any great extent. Not to the extent, like Roy my only reasons for wanting it to be a black and white comic book were that reproduction was getting to the point where black and white is the best. I could see why you want it in color, of course.

Charlie: I think it's more than that. I think it's Marvel, too. I mean, we talked about it back and forth, but the way they're going anyhow, it's a problem of their's...

Howard: [interrupting] I mean, all reproduction in comics is incredibly inconsistent, but it's less inconsistent in black and white. But I think for the kind of comic book it's going to be, I think color would probably be best. I notice you got a copy of THE SCORPION. Since that job, things have been getting simpler and simpler and simpler.

Charlie: Yeah, that's a good example of really good black and white.

Howard: [And] more recent stuff? That's why I asked whether I should bring anything along.

Charlie: I brought a whole stack of STAR REACH. I gave it to him to see.

1. See following post for Steranko obit on Byron Preiss

2. Fiction Illustrated #2—Starfawn (Pyramid Books, 1976; by Preiss and Stephen Fabian
3. Fiction Illustrated #1 – Schlomo Raven: Public Detective (Pyramid Books, 1976; by Preiss and Tom Sutton)
4. Fiction Illustrated #4 — Son of Sherlock Holmes (Pyramid Books, 1977; by ... Red Tide and the 1977 Son of Sherlock Holmes, illustrated by Ralph Reese]

Byron Preiss will play a pivotal role in the MARVEL STAR WARS COMICS, which I will reveal as the story progresses. To get a sense of who he was, I'm posting an obit written by Jim Steranko which was posted on a forum. Besides doing my favorite of Preiss' Fiction Illustrated series, Jim did publishing (SUPERGRAPHICS) and edited a great little mag, Comixscene, which morphed into Mediascene, one of the first magazines to cover STAR WARS.


Around noon on July 9, 2005, writer-editor-developer-publisher Byron Preiss was involved in a fatal auto accident as he drove to his synagogue in Long Island, New York-and American popular culture lost one of its most productive and visionary champions.

For more than three decades, he spearheaded a multiplicity of mediaforms, from comics and ebooks to electronic games and CD-ROMs, that fused words and images like few other individuals would achieve in the entertainment arts. As an author, he generated dozens of books, from hard science and history volumes to profusely-illustrated children's literature. As a packager, he produced a stream of quality fiction and nonfiction titles for almost every primary publishing house, including HarperCollins, Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Rizzoli, Scholastic, and Oxford University Press, in addition to developing projects with numerous institutions, including Microsoft, Forbes/American Heritage, Fox Interactive, Comedy Central, MSNBC, Imax, Scientific American, the Grand Ole Opry, and Yahoo!.

Born in Brooklyn in 1953, he subsequently attended the University of Pennsylvania (graduating magne cum laude) and received his master’s degree from the Stanford Film School. I met him in1969 at a Manhattan convention, a tall, handsome kid with perfect teeth and thick, black hair who radiated enthusiasm like a human atomic reactor. He recounted his publishing dream so convincingly that I agreed to create some art for his first venture, a fan calendar, just to give his budding career a jump start.

Neither of us realized that our connection was the beginning of a friendship that would grow, ferment, agitate, evolve, bluster, and ultimately endure for the next 35 years. He was my best friend and confidant for more than half my lifetime—and his presence had a profound impact on me, professionally and personally.

One of our earliest projects involved an anti-drug comicbook that he conceived for near-illiterate grade school students (he was teaching at a Philadelphia elementary facility at the time). On a zero budget, we produced THE BLOCK, the tale of two inner-city brothers who choose to walk different paths, which was distributed citywide and met with exceptional success with both educators and students (some classes colored the panels, others read it aloud, and one even transformed the story into a rock opera). Preiss promoted it from New York City to Atlanta, achieving solid student acceptance and continual praise from all who saw and used it, right up to the majors at Sesame Street. The comic premiered in the summer of 1970, a year before the much-heralded Spider-Man and Green Lantern-Green Arrow drug mags.

Over the next few years, we spoke often about the future of comics, discussion which became the architectural foundation of his initial 1974 publishing venture, Byron Preiss Visual Publications (and recently ibooks), and a series of books that were the first to use the terms “visual novel” and “graphic novel”). My hardboiled detective thriller RED TIDE was one of his offerings. Preiss was the first to regularly and continuously publish adult, book-length comic-panel novels by the field’s top creators. His recent effort, Joe Kubert’s Nazi concentration camp epic YOSSEL stands as positive tribute to Preiss’ unyielding vision and belief in the form, as does his 2005 Harvey Awards win for Best American Edition of Foreign Material for BLACKSAD 2. Preiss was also a business partner of Komikwerks, LLC.

The company eventually published an extensive range of material, including many authored and co-authored by Preiss, such as:

1973 The Electric Company Joke Book
1973 The Silent “E”’s from Outer Space
1976 One Year Affair
1977 Weird Heroes (sev.l vol. of pulp-related stories illustrated by top comics artists)
1977 Son of Sherlock Holmes
1979 Dragonworld
1979 The Beach Boys
1981 The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon
1981 The Dinosaurs
1982 The First Crazy Word Book
1983 Not in Webster's Dictionary
1984 The Bat Family
1985 The Planets
1987 Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party
1987 The Universe
1990 First Contact: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—with Ben Bova
1991 The Ultimate Dracula
1991 The Ultimate Frankenstein
1991 The Ultimate Werewolf
1992 The Vampire State Building
1993 The Ultimate Zombie, The
1993 The Ultimate Witch
1994 Instant American History
1995 The Ultimate Alien
1996 Best Children's Books in the World, The
1997 The Rhino History of Rock ‘N Roll: the ‘70s with Eric Lefcowitz
1999 Are We Alone in the Cosmos?
2000 The New Dinosaurs
2003 The Ultimate Dragon
2003 The Ultimate Frankenstein
2003 The Little Blue Brontosaurus

Additionally, he edited hundreds of others.

Always on the leading edge of trends, he moved into interactive books, CD-ROMs, virtual comics, and online entertainment, generating a staggering volume of product, including many Marvel-related items. His audiobook The Words of Gandhi snared a Grammy Award in 1985.

Often working under severe licensing, financial, deadline, and distribution constraints, Preiss had an uncanny knack of believing in his product and his collaborative talent. He had a hands-on approach to every stage of production, a staggering juggling feat that blossomed into an operation so large it eventually filled two floors of a mid-Manhattan skyscraper.

Nonetheless, hardly a week went by that we didn’t connect in person or on the phone, often recalling the early days when I’d crash at his apartment for a couple days and we’d strategize our futures at all-night skull sessions at the Silver Star Diner on 3rd Avenue. During the next few decades, we alternated between practical jokes and serious soul searching. And somewhere along the way, we became brothers.

We worked together constantly on a myriad of projects, many of which were highly experimental in nature, not to mention risky—and, in this case, the risk was with his money. But he loved to break new ground, even if it took a few layers of skin off his hide. I still recall his shock when I insisted I’d only work on THE ILLUSTRATED HARLAN ELLISON if the story was printed in 3D (he purchased thousands of glasses and had them bound into the volumes) or the Captain America book cover I wanted produced without any type because, I explained, my painted figure of Cap said it all in every language (the volume had a phenomenal 89% sell-through) or the Wild Cards series title I recommended be run upside down in gloss varnish (it could only be read when angled toward the light, but was a knockout visual surprise).

He backed them all and many others, some of which required him to go toe-to-toe with printers, publishers, and distributors. Preiss took a sensible, cool, controlled approach to his proceedings, but I like to think I taught him a few things about fighting dirty to get the job done. We broke a few rules along the way and perhaps set a couple precedents, too. Unlike many publishers who only talk the talk, Preiss walked the walk.

Although our evenings ultimately migrated to the Friar’s Club, his dedication to the work—to the comics form and its creators—not only remained steadfast, but relentless. He cited me as his mentor for graphic design and narrative technique, and, in similar fashion, passed the torch along to others by discovering new talent and giving them the opportunity to breakout with showcase projects, in addition to supporting his favorite vets with ongoing assignments. He redefined the term loyalty.

His recent line of celebrity-created children’s books includes contributions from Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, LeAnn Rimes, Stephen Ambrose, Carl Reiner, Jane Goodall, Philip Caputo, Jay Leno, and Stan Lee. Several months ago, I pitched a fantasy series in a revolutionary, new format to him and immediately received the green light. Now, that light has dimmed.

He married and had two beautiful daughters, who became the pride of his life. And somewhere along the way, I became part of the family (I always thought I’d adopted him, which only proves how clever he was at making me believe that certain things were my ideas).

Preiss was a subtle, yet seminal force in contemporary popular culture and specifically in the evolution of narrative illustration. His vision will continue to inspire all those who knew him—and those who found something special in his work.

He is survived by his wife, Sandi, and daughters Karah and Blaire.

Jim Steranko

At this point, the important thing is understanding why we liked Chaykin's art. Prior to our hiring Chaykin, he had done Star Reach #1 Cody Starbuck and the ill-fated Atlas/Seaboard's Scorpion #1. Scorpion was later reworked into Marvel's Dominic Fortune. In my start of this article, I discussed Howard's work, and why we thought it worked with Ralph McQuarrie's.

These are the first panels of Chaykin's Cody Starbucks which he drew and inked. You can see his work has a lot of dynamic movement.

I don't have a scan of the Atlas/Seaboard Scorpion, so I'll post a few pages from Dominic Fortune. Though Dominic Fortune was done later than the original Scorpion, the artwork was done in the same style. Again, think of Ralph McQuarrie as you look at these Chaykin pages.

Chaykin's signature handling of action and panels. What was most impressive was his clean lines and use of action transcending panels.


[At the July 27, 76 meeting, there are a stack of comic books including the Atlas/Seaboard SCORPION and Star Reach 1, 4 and 5 which George looks at. Star Reach 5 is Howard's later work, which George refers to as liking less than the earlier work.]

Charlie: I brought a whole stack of STAR REACH. I gave it to him to see.

Howard: [Re #1] It won't be quite that simple, because Roy doesn't go for that approach.

[George picks up other work and begins to browse through it.]

George: Yeah, I actually liked the earlier. Something -- THE SCORPION and this style. I like that. Which period is that?

Howard: About two years ago.

George: This is very similar to around the same thing as CODY I liked a lot.

Howard: Basically, my reason for working in a simple style was to prove to myself that I could do it. Now I know that I can do it. [But] it's not commercial for people like Marvel. It's a really non-Marvel approach.

Charlie: Alex [Toth] talked about you. Did you see him?

Howard: No, I'm afraid not. He's a little bit of a (garbled). We've had some disagreements. We fight. We don't talk. He's a strange dude. He hangs up on people. He doesn't talk to people for months. I really don't like him, but how do you deal with it?

[turns to talk to George]

Howard: I'll do it in a fairly illustrative style and we'll see how the first one runs. I still want to keep it very simple, because the introduction of more is just going to go [to] shit. More and more we add is just going to go shitty. You're going to have to bold it up a little bit, just because the fine line just isn't re­producing.

I couldn't bring any of the SOLOMON KANE out with me, which I'm working on now. I'm going to finish that up as soon as I get back. That's with ink and oil. That was inked with pen, and brushed by Pentel. I will probably do it with these new Pentels which are very fine, which get pen and pen line effect, simply because it's easier for me to work that way. I can get an elaborate effect or as simple effect as I want. That's not the problem. I'm never happy with the results of my jobs in pen -- they're too scratchy. I haven't got the hand control to get like the flexibility that Simonson does, or [Bernie] Wrightson does. Well, Wrightson is meeting his deadline now, but there's so many [he missed]. That's why Wrightson's not working in color comics any more, or comics in general. His stuff's unreproduceable now.

Charlie: Is that what happened to Walt Simonson, too?

Howard: Simonson's still in comics. He got practical. He's not inking anymore, he's just laying out. He dropped out of the field. He never finished a book. He owes his father an enormous amount of money. He's taking his degree in geology and he's going to spend the next year laying books out. Also, he's living with an easy job. He comes up in the world, and then he comes down again. I think he'll still be inking a [bit] and an occasional [book]. That's what I'm going to do after the STAR WARS. I'm going to finish this book and go on lay out, and maybe get out of comic books.

George: And get into what?

Howard: Illustration, maybe. Regular [crap]. I'm real tired. Technically, the field is just falling apart. They're reproducing on paper plates now. Fine lines no longer break up now -- they wiggle! The response that I get from people who read comics is really, on a general level, pretty replusive.

[PHONE rings. Meeting interrupted as GEORGE talks to JIM NELSON. CHARLIE and HOWARD continue discussing reader responsse to comics until GEORGE finishes conversation with JIM and returns]

Charlie: Are you familiar with Alex Nino's work?

Howard: He did the adaptation of Harlan's REPENT, HARLEQUIN?

Charlie: [to George] If you haven't seen it, I've got it at home.

Howard: It's gorgeous stuff.

Charlie: He did it for the special science fiction — black and white --

Howard: He did BEHOLD THE MAN.

George: Oh, the Marvel --

Charlie: Yeah.

George: Oh, then I must have seen it. I've got all of those. But I don't remember the name.

Howard: It's very ehhh. It's not really great comic stuff. His storytelling is real weak and his design is occasionally a little too far-out to read, but the basic structure of his brush line is perfect, and that's similar to what I want to try on the STAR WARS, because it's sparkly and it reproduces. So I want to stay away from fine pen. No cross-hatching. There's enough gray. The reproduction is bad enough. I'd like to go for bold effects. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to do the laser swords. I have no idea. I think I'll just have to get down and do it. Fuck it up a couple of times before I get it right. And it might have to be draw in by color. That's what I'll be doing.

George: That'll be great. We're looking forward to it. Our wonderful adventure in comics. We all hope. It'll be interesting to see how it goes with the movie.

Howard: Are there going to be any problems with likenesses?

George: Well, I don't know. That's another thing. How do you feel about that? Do you feel comfortable with attempting likenesses or would you rather avoid that completely?

Howard: Are any of your actors going to be [gesticulates with hands]?

George: No, no problems.

Howard: Okay, because that's come up often. In the PLANET OF THE APES adaptation we couldn't use certain faces from the film. I'm going to attempt likenesses, only a simplified likeness. I mean over a single book, I could probably do it over six issues, it's going to be a royal pain in the ass. Simply because no matter how many photographs you give me -- you could give me tons and it still wouldn't be enough because there are just so many shots of heads. So what I've basically done with the poster, and also I feel that kid who plays Luke is a little soft in the face and I'm going to harden him up a little bit. He's got a great cleft and that's fine, but he looks like sixteen, and I'm going to harden him up. It'll make him more heroic in the picture. Han Solo is perfect. He looks like I drew him. He looks my cliche mercenary hero. He looks like Starbuck. Alec Guiness is no problem. He reeks character. You could break him into a caricature. In everything else -- I will need considerable material on the hardware. I've got all the material I need on the gun, because I've got not only the photographs provided, but plenty of small arms in the world catalogues. And the guns used in the film are very familiar weapons. I mean you look at the dominant force who carries 1896 gun. I recognized the gun immediately and fell out of my chair. Seemed like that was the only reason they gave me the job. Chewbacca will be no problem. Same thing is true of Darth Vader. Darth Vader is a comic book character. He looks like a comic book character -- Doctor Doom. I need plenty of material on the X-fighters and the Y-fighters, much more than I have now, if there is any available. Period.

Charlie: I've got color prints of the models, of the x-wing and the y-wing.

Howard: I'll need profiles on that stuff. That's what it is.

George: I think also, when they took their stuff, the problem with what they did is it's very square-on. They didn't do any --

Charlie: The model shots?

George: Yeah. They didn't do any good angles. When he did it, he drew them all at great cockeyed angles, but he didn't... When they took their stills they're all like planned.

Howard: Well, that's okay. That's no problem. I can do that in my head. My profile books never give you shots that mount or that record a view. They give you right-on or front and back of them.

George: Well, they have that -- a complete set of --

Charlie: Yeah, they have shot all the weapons and everything.

Howard: Yeah, I've got the weapons, but I need the aircraft. And I need the interiors on Death Star. I have absolutely no idea what it looks like.

Charlie: That's a problem. There are not good shots --

George: Well, you can see it. Too bad. I wish I had that book. I just assumed that you'd have lots of stills laying around like we did there.

Charlie: Well, we have a box of stills, but it's only limited up to a certain point.

George: In this book -- we've got a book. Maybe I'll send it to you. It has the story in fifty stills.

[NOTE The "Glory Book," as the photo book is now referred to by fans, given to HOWARD has a plain cover. When Roy Thomas and and Howard took on the job, they were mailed a Script, package of Ralph McQuarrie's drawings and production stills]

George: In this book -- we've got a book. Maybe I'll send it to you. It has the story in fifty stills.

Howard: Oh, with the laser sword wrapped around it?

George: No, it's like that only it's an 8"X10", only it's got fifty stills from the actual picture.

Howard: Can you take a new order?

George: Yeah.

[George steps our and arranges for Carol to find a copy of the Glory Book.]

Howard: Fine. That would help me to key. I could then take my stills and kind of piece it together. Each still from the fifty, with the others from my collection.

Charlie: Do you want all those proof sheets?

Howard: The ones you've got out there? Ah, not really. There's almost too much material there to use, you know what I mean?

Charlie: What would be better, then, is if you went through it -- which is going to take you a while -- and mark what you want.

Howard: I may have time tomorrow. Is tomorrow all right?

Charlie: Yeah, it's all right with me. It's too bad 'cause I just put in an order last night at 11:00. But if you can do it tomorrow, fine. I'll just put them to work on it.

Howard: I'll need the interior cockpit shots and stuff like that. Also some color guide. My first vision of the color film was here. I had no idea what color Han Solo -- his outfit, his hair; the Princess; I suspected Luke was blond, but it could have been sandy hair. Various things like that, my only key was the paintings.

Charlie: Why don't you come in here early tomorrow? Because you can go through the black and white, and mark out the numbers that you want. And the color -- go through the transparencies, what's here, and then mark out what you need and I'll duplicate it and send it out.

Howard: Not transparencies.

Charlie: It's the only way.

Howard: Don't you have any prints?

Charlie: It'd be better to use transparencies and just project them, because if we try to get prints it may not be very good.

Howard: I thought you were talking about the contact sheets.

Charlie: No, but we're talking about color.

Howard: Oh, those. I don't even need those.

Charlie: But if you wanted to see what the color was like, that's what I'm saying.

Howard: That I don't need immediately, and...

Charlie: Because the black and white I'll have made up as 8Xl0s. It'll take about a month to do.

Howard: Well, I'm glad I don't have to get started yet. I just don't want to fake anything.

Charlie: But I mean, if you wanted stuff that was color-keyed --

Howard: That, again, can wait.

Charlie: See, the color on a print will not be as good

Howard: Well, I won't have to color the books. The first issue isn't due on the stands until Februrary, and that means they're due in the house in December. By December, I hope to have all the books penciled, at least, and most of them inked. I hope to have the whole bunch finished by December or January. So that's cool. So I can spend January coloring six comics. So that's no rush on that.

Charley: Where's Roy? Are you sure he knows he's supposed to be here?

Howard: [shrugs] Are you sure he knows he's supposed to be here?

Charlie: [Carol] tried to call ILM, but once again, we can't call into ILM. The phones are so screwed.

George: When did that happen?

Charlie: It started happening yesterday, I guess when you arrived. And then, I don't know... It doesn't make any sense. We've called his house -- everything. It's too bad. He must have started talking to somebody and forgot.

Howard: I'd like to get on him and have him read that script, then re-read it and break it down for me because I want to get started on the job, on the first issue. I have no intention of doing break-down myself.

Charlie: But he needs a new script. That's another reason for coming over here today. He mislaid the script I sent him.

Howard: I'm not going to break the script up for him, because that's his job. I can fight with him after he's made the decision, after I've made mine. It's going to be a lot of fun to do. There's a lot of material to work with.

Charlie: Is there anything else you're going to need, other than the black and whites, do you think?

Howard: I can get the copies of the model shots now? They're in color?

George: Are they going to out there and look at them?

Charlie: Yeah. If you want to look at footage tomorrow, we can do it in the morning.

George: Actually, if they're going out there, they can also see the models.

Howard: Also, I need head shots on all the characters, the major characters and the minor ones. I have no idea who Biggs is -- the other pilot. The general in the war room with the Princess, I don't know him.

Charlie: You'll see once you get the stuff made up and you can look at the stuff. It's very kind of story-sense. Mark out the stuff. Because then what I'll do, I'll give you the sheets tomorrow. There's caption sheets for all the photos. So you can go through the caption sheets, figure out some of them.

Howard: I'm leaving Thursday.

Charlie: I know. Then what you do is mark up the shot and when I get the shot back, I'll write the description on the back.

Howard: That's okay?

Charlie: Unless you order a thousand.

Howard: I can't really see that happening. I need ship detail, background stuff, and curio detail. There are some shots of Han Solo sitting in the cockpit seat with a headset. That kind of stuff.

Charlie: Well, that's easy enough.


George: Well, have we given Roy up for lost?

Charlie: I don't know. I don't know what to do. I'm surprised at him.

George: What time is it?

Charlie: It is five of 5:00.

George: Where is he?

Charlie: He lives nearby. He lives in that new development over here on Barham.

George: Oh, yeah, there.

Charlie: It's that direction. Look at the way the lot is.

George: Oh, right. Over there.

Howard: Heavy with the lights on. Incredibly busy city.

George: Wonderworld.

Charlie: Jean-Luc Goddard called it "The Great Garage." I guess it is. You have to have some place to stuff all these people... You're signing the backs of them.

George: Yep.

Charlie: Oh, I thought the whole thing was to sign the front.

George: This is not a very good pen.

Charlie: What kind of pen do you want?

George: Well, Pentel. I want one of the narrow guage. This is one of those funny new pens. Works great, but it doesn't work so great on the back of these.

Charlie: You want a narrow, black Pentel? There may be one here [goes to desk & gets pen]

George: The pen ran out of ink. What a dud.

[Roy arrives and Charley motions in greeting.]

Charlie: We were talking about style a little bit, the illustration work.

Roy: Yeah, the illustration work. The writing will follow the screenplay, with a few captions that we'll put in... "Suddenly," for example.

Charlie: An occasional "suddenly." There's a lot of "suddenlies" in the script.

Roy: Yeah, I know.

George: "Suddenly this," and "suddenly that."

Charlie: We put a few in the novel. We put a few in today.

George: We added one to novel. He didn't have any "suddenlies."

[Conversation between Howard and Roy indecipherable.]

George: I wanted to bring up that thing, too, now that you're here. The possibility for the editorial page we talked

Roy: The naming sometimes...

Charlie: That's why I want to bring it up, because he doesn't know .. To see how he feels. The comic book is going to be seventeen pages of artwork.

Roy: And there's one page that’s used for a letters page or whatever.

Charlie: Right. That's what I meant by the editorial page, anyhow. Gary is keen on having like a credit copy or something like that for the movie, which I don't think is necessary. I think it should be replacing the letter page in the first two issues, because they'll be out before the movie. Then we'll just have copy about the movie, which is agreeable to everybody.

George: Right. I don't think we need credits from the movie.

Charlie: And that way we don't take away pages for the story. And then, the first two letter pages would definitely be just material on the movie, because they'll come out before the movie.

George: I doubt if it's necessary even after the movie comes out to do —

Charlie: Unless we want to take up half the letters page, which is probably all we'd need anyway.

Roy: I can get it typeset into half a page and we can run a few letters in the third issue. Whatever you prefer.

Charlie: That way we keep it to seventeen pages of art so that you know consistently, six issues of seventeen pages each.

Roy: And one a whole flashback sequence, which we may need occasionally. Keep it to an absolute minimum. We can get by without them.

Howard: It isn't going to be a problem.

Roy: Sometime, too, we might make the second page -- as a suggestion, one page regularly could be like "the story so far" kind of thing. And I wondered how you would feel. Any problem with that?

George: No, that's all right.

Roy: And so we could always make the second page of the story be that, and then go on from there -- another splash over there.

George: Have you figured out at all how you're going to break it down? Have you tried at all to break it into seventeen...

Roy: No, we haven't really discussed that because Howard and I never really got together, but we will...

Howard: Before we start, we'll just figure that out first.

George: ... because I haven't the foggiest idea how it's going to work.

Howard: [to Roy] What I'd like you to do -- because I'm leaving Thursday -- is read it and give me some vague idea of how you want to do it. And call me, or drop me a line and tell me.

Roy: Oh, yeah. I will. You mean when you're back east? I get the phone tomorrow, and so forth. Well before we begin, we'll sort of figure out about where we'll be in terms of space. Yeah, I don't think it'll cause that much of a problem.

George: It's also tricky, because as a unit it starts slow and builds, so you've got to be really... The first couple of issues you're going to be really scraping to try and make something happen, or you're going to have to skip along -- merrily.

Charlie: Why? The first issue's got that whole capture.

George: Of the robots?

Charlie: No, of the capture of her -- of the ship.

George: That's right

Charlie: And by the second one you've got the robots being hunted down. You've got something in there that's built-in for a comic. I don't think there's a problem.

Howard: Even when there's nothing happening, to see...

Roy: Stuff! Yes! To be visually exciting!

Charlie: Howard, what about the sky battle at the end? How do you think we can solve that?

Roy: You mean the impersonality of the whole thing? Well, there are shots in the cockpit...

Howard: Well, by constant dubbing inset panels, cutting back to head shots, the way you do it in a film. I mean, like going for -- again, that'd be a graphic problem. Inset panels, shooting back and forth. We've got plenty of room. That's the good thing, you know, there is room.

Roy: It'd be kind of strange for a comic book. I know that traditionally there is this kind of comic, you know, stories about sleek jets fighting. But in this case, it's going to be part of a continued story, and by the last issue, or two, where this is happening on this scale, they're going to be pretty well into it where we can afford an issue of that type.

George: Your basic "fighting Air Force" issue.

Roy: Something like that, yeah. A lot of big shots and insets and cutting back and forth, yes.

Howard: And the ships themselves are neat enough looking. They make nice lines.

George: Yeah, well, at least we have a variety of them and stuff like that. We're not stuck with one or two kinds of ships.

Howard: Right. That kind of stuff can get real dull real fast. As long as there are interesting designs on the ships, as you say... and a comic book isn't quite the same thing. Because the ships streaking one goes by and then after that it begins to get a little boring repeating those heads

Roy: But I think it'll work out pretty well. We started a couple of weeks ago.

Howard: You sent me something?

Roy: Yeah, it'll be back in New York by about Monday. Several pages there right now. Five or six are waiting for you.

Howard: That's what I'll do, then, next week.

Roy: And then, I'll call you next week, and we'll work out...

Howard: I'll spend my rare moments of leisure designing the calendar.

Roy: Right, of course you've the stills and you have to transfer...

Howard: Yeah, I'm going to harden certain things up and idealize others.

George: Yeah, he's going to go through and get a bunch of stills that he wants. Also we have a book that we've done which I'll send with about fifty stills in it, so that there's a vague

Howard: [cutting in] That'll help us let us see --

George: Yeah, you know, going through the story thing.

Charlie: Shouldn't be any problem.

[Marcia interjects something to Charlie who responds, indescipherable]

Marcia: [to Charlie] Have you spoken to her lately, since she's come back?

Charlie: No, I haven't phoned her since the day before she left. I've been meaning to, but [indescipherable]

Roy: There's a lot of doodads about it. A lot of action shots, sketches. People kept coming up and they were -- there was a lot of interest.

Howard: Everybody back East who had seen the collection of materials people have all gone nuts. The reaction has been incredible. Because at first it was like "come on, one more, who wants another crummy science fiction movie." Because they're all crummy science fiction movies. And when they see the material they can tell. Scientists in particular with airplanes and blowing up things, they know there's something for a start. All the guys at the studio want sets of those paintings. Even Neil.

Roy: Yeah, there's a lot of enthusiasm and I think that it should go over.

Charlie: What logo are we using?

Roy: There's a couple of good ones. But I was wondering, do you have a regular logo that will be well-known by that time or are we free to design our own if we

Charlie: We'll be in the process of designing one. I know 20th wants one.

George: Yeah, it's It's hard to know whether we should let them go ahead and do what they want, because I mean, the one we've got is essentially the company logo, which doesn't really

Roy: Is that the one like...

George: It's the one that's on the t-shirt.

Roy: I know they'd be kind of reluctant to use that. It's a little hard to read on a newsstand when a kid's looking to buy it.

Charlie: Oh, yeah.

Roy: We'd probably be best off if we made something simple -- a two-line thing. It's not THE STAR WARS? You never called it THE?

George: We used to, but we took THE off.

Roy: I thought you dropped something.

George: Yeah, we dropped it.

Roy: I think just putting those two names and perhaps there's... we ought to put a line above the title, too... kind of a lead-in.

Charlie: Oh, my God, he liked THE STAR WARS!

Roy: No, it's what you'd like to say that could be used in the movie's advertising. You know, like "Frenzy in a far-flung future," that kind of thing. You know, if there is something like that that might go well above the logo in addition, or some lead-in, something or other that ends in the words STAR WARS. Or something like that.

George: Well, we're still looking for that.

Charlie: I'd like to get that, because some people in this town still think it's the battle between stars at one studio and stars at another.

Roy: Well, I guess it could be.

George: They think it's about the Elizabeth Taylor - Richard Burton story.

Roy: There's a little confusion with using that against the War Wizards

George: Also the same studio.

Charlie: Theirs will be out before, if they're lucky.

George: Maybe.

Roy: I just wondered if you wanted to play with stuff like that, and give a call? Check if there's any problems?

Howard: Talk to Novak, maybe he'll design something.

Roy: He'd design a nice, simple...

George: The main thing we're trying to go for is the romantic angle on everything.

Howard: The Seahawk?

George: Yeah, again the thing that was right on is the Cody Starbuck Arnwold kind of thing. Romantic space.

Howard: That wasn't naughty as the one chained to one of them. What was the change of the sword? From a Samurai grip to a rapier. The impression I got from the artwork was really Samurai-outfit and the sword!

George: It is very Samurai-ish but the only problem with the poster was the style of the poster and the way it was working was it looked very Kung Fu, which is very popular, but it really read Kung Fu more than anything. And so by taking it down it sort of took away from that a liitle bit. Although in the movie, it is a very Samurai — it's much more a Samurai thing.

Howard: Well, the sword seemed too long to use as a rapier.

George: No, it is a Samurai -- You don't really see it work that often. The only thing is when Ben and Vader at the end... when they have their fight, that's the only time you see it in any kind of a fight. Hopefully, in the future, I can begin to get Luke into more of a swordsman. But there just wasn't any room in the picture utimately for it.

Roy: Particularly when the climax is the space fight.

George: Well, also with the sword thing, it got very difficult -- which it always does in a situation like that. Alec Guiness was pretty good with a sword, but the guy who played Darth Vader was terrible. Alec Guiness wasn't a swordsman, but he still could do it. And getting them to actually be good at it was really

Howard: That was the one negative reaction -- they look very silly with the swords... Fairbank's shots, even Flynn's stills, look a little silly. But Fairbanks, even the stills of him, are great.

Charlie: Oh, well, that guy was an athlete. I mean, he was just beautiful.

Roy: Well, luckily, we're not stuck with the stills. In the movie, they aren't stills, but I know what you mean.

Howard: Well, I will choreograph the swordplay.

George: The other thing is it's hard in real-life, especially if you aren't a swordsman, to actually get it to work.

Howard: That's one thing I will idealize.

Roy: It never looks as dramatic as the drawings you make of it.

Howard: We'll probably be a little bit bummed out

Roy: Looking at how it comes out on photographs.

Marcia: (garbled)

Howard: No, that one's actually a little bit larger. If you draw the proportions as they are in real-life, I mean, in the drawing his head would be larger and he looks like a child.

Roy: There's just a slight change.

Howard: Ray Morrow draws like that.

George: Yeah, they look very odd.

Marcia: Will Han Solo still be bigger in comparison?

Howard: Yes, oh, yes. Make their heads a little smaller and their hands a little bigger. I've really concentrated on Han Solo.

Marcia: I love him. He's really great.

Howard: He's the one that looks like my stuff.

George: That's why I say when I first read your stuff, you know, I was right in the middle of this, and, oh yeah, gee. And I was like every page, wow! You could really see it.

[George is informed that Mike Schultz and co. have arrived and steps out.]

Roy: Just one more minor thing... [points to letter in comic pile]... I notice that the word STARWARS and CORPORATION is listed as one word.

Charlie: No, that's a mistake. That's Ed's doing. That's Ed's letter.

Roy: Oh, because I thought it was really spelled as one word and I wanted to make sure that I had that right.

Charlie: No, it's two words.

Roy: To see Spider-man without the hyphen... it's little things that throw you off. You can spell things differently in two different places. I was just checking to make sure it was, indeed, a two worded thing. And drop the THE.

Charlie: Are there any changes now since that script, Marcia?

[George comes back into the meeting.]

Marcia: That was a short meeting. [George shakes head] Wait a minute. There must be something more important.

Roy: Well, I've talked to Charlie a couple of times, and Howard and I have talked about it.

George: And, of course, we talked about it a long time ago.

Roy: Right.



The following is Rinzler's edited version of the July 27, 1976 meeting between Howard Chaykin, George Lucas, Roy Thomas, Marcia Lucas and I. I'm a little confused with Rinzler describing 20th Century Fox as "entertaining little hope of making its money back and ... trying to divest itself of the movie." I was there, working at Fox, and saw no evidence of hopelessness or attempts to divest itself of STAR WARS. Maybe Rinzler, where ever he was, with his extra-sensory perception, saw something I didn't because I was blinded by being in the midst of the trenches.

While I'm grateful for being credited with pulling off a "minor miracle," the reality is it wasn't that hard to do. Marvel was, as I found out later, in trouble, but to stay alive, it had to produce product, and we were offering to promote it. If you were Marvel, between producing more of your own material which you would have to promote or build a market for -- a tactic, I might add, that had been failing because otherwise, why were they in financial trouble? -- wouldn't you want to jump on a bandwagon that might have a built-in market? You could make sales that wouldn't take a lot of effort on your part. What was there to lose? You had to produce product.