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SYFY WIRE Original Video

Star Wars comics: The Saga you never knew

By Mike Avila

Did you know that Luke Skywalker and his friends once saved Marvel Comics as we knew them? Four decades before Marvel and Lucasfilm were the crown jewels of Disney, George Lucas had trouble convincing anyone to publish a comic based upon his then-upcoming movie, Star Wars. Eventually Marvel took a chance on Star Wars, and it quickly became their best-selling title in 1977, even before the movie came out. According to Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, Jim Shooter, Star Wars sales were so robust that they kept the company afloat during the lean years of 1977-78.

In the beginning, Lucas and Lucasfilm didn't offer Marvel much in the way of creative guidance. That's why the ongoing Star Wars comic book series quickly went in its own wild directions as it came up with new heroes and villains for Luke, Han, and Leia to meet every month. That's also why many of those stories have long since fallen out of continuity: They simply don't fit the accepted vision for what Star Wars has become.

Although Star Wars saved Marvel in the late '70s, in the early '90s Marvel let the rights lapse. Dark Horse Comics picked up the Star Wars comics license and helped reignite the dormant franchise. For over two decades, Dark Horse kept the flame alive while Disney eventually made deals to acquire both Marvel and Lucasfilm. Once that happened, it was inevitable that Star Wars would return to Marvel in 2015. Now the Star Wars comics are a key part of Marvel's output, but IDW was also brought in to create a new line of Star Wars comics to appeal more closely to kids.

For more details about the men and women behind 42 years of Star Wars comics, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE's Behind the Panel!