Wednesday, 17 December 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: POINTING THE WAY!


As suns-set begins on Tatooine, a friendly Jawa points the way to Anakin Skywalker as he continues his search for his mother, kidnapped and taken into the depths of the harshest of wastelands, in this lovely image taken during location filming in Tunisia by George Lucas himself, for EPISODE II.

Monday, 15 December 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: FATE OF A JEDI!


Having knowingly walked into a trap, Luke Skywalker, arrived in the hot and eerie Bespin Carbon Freezing Chamber, awaits his destiny with Darth Vader, in this classic scene- a colourised B/W still - from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

HAPPY UK 'STAR WARS' DAY!

Art by Paul Shipper.

To all the dedicated fans young and old across this fair isle, and to those hundreds flocking to the British Film Institute on London's picturesque South Bank to immerse themselves from the cold in a special Classic Trilogy Special Edition film screening, a genuine warm-up to EPISODE VII next Christmas, May the Force Be With You!

UPDATED 15/12/14: 8 things we learned from Star Wars Day | BFI

Thursday, 11 December 2014

EPISODE I AT FIFTEEN: THE ESCAPE BEGINS...


In the Theed Hangar on Naboo, a fast as lightning Obi-Wan Kenobi launches into a group of Battle Droids in order to free captured soldiers and pilots now vitally needed to help Queen Amidala escape her planet, whilst also setting up a resistance force against their Trade Federation occupiers. An exciting scene, and showcase for Obi-Wan's Jedi abilities, from EPISODE I.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

CLASSIC ART: THE 'STARKILLER' THAT WAS...


Showing its roots as a deliberate homage celebration to the classic fantasy comic/book adventures of FLASH GORDON and JOHN CARTER, this is the cover to a very special, and very rare, auction collection piece (belonging to early STAR WARS spacecraft designer Colin Cantwell), of George Lucas's original epic, altogether very different screenplay draft for the film from the early seventies, when it was evocatively known as Adventures of the Starkiller

If anyone has any more on this, or who the cover artist was, please get in touch...

More on Colin Cantwell's rare auction pieces (including other work on 2001 and the BUCK ROGERS TV series) can be found here: Unseen Star Wars artwork and designs come up for auction, in pictures - Telegraph


With thanks to Chris Baker for the heads-up on this.

Monday, 8 December 2014

CLASSIC STRUZAN: 'THE CRYSTAL STAR'


Luke Skywalker is front and centre of the action in Drew Struzan's exciting cover for Vonda N. McIntyre's 1994 Expanded Universe hardback tale, The Crystal Star. And let's face it, the cover really was the most popular thing about a book that quickly and sharply divided fandom on its original release twenty years ago. I personally found it a chore to read- a shame as McIntyre is a solid author- with characterisations for our core heroes that felt way off base in most respects.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

'TEMPLE OF DOOM' AT 30: A DIAMOND THAT'S NOT A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND!


Eventual Mrs Spielberg Kate Capshaw rehearses the classic comedy moment where Willie tries to recover a unique diamond, only to lose it, firstly kicked around, then buried within a floored pile of ice, during the film's incident-packed opening sequence.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

SPECIAL EDITION CLASSIC IMAGE: OUT OF THE TREETOPS!


The brief new sequence may not quite match with the existing John Williams 1977 music, but I nonetheless love this evocative shot from the EPISODE IV SPECIAL EDITION, where a Rebel sentry witnesses X-wing fighters lifting off from the Yavin IV jungle and heading towards the Death Star. It exemplifies the satisfying mixing of beauty, nature and technology often seen in the Classic Trilogy.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

CLASSIC IMAGE: FURRY FIREPOWER!


Yoda's finest Wookiee protectors on Kashyyyk - leader Tarfful and technician Chewbacca- pose for a great publicity image in 2003, for EPISODE III.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

REMEMBERING THE IMPACT OF 'DARK EMPIRE'

Classic cover art by Dave Dorman for the DARK EMPIRE comic series. 

1991 was an incredible year for STAR WARS fans. Timothy Zahn had unleashed the first in the Thrawn Trilogy of books giving us a potent mixture of story, characters and action continuing the saga after Return of the Jedi which pretty much remains unequalled and unparallelled in its success in the franchise's Expanded Universe literary history. Then, by the end of the year, came an assault on our visual senses via the relaunch of the saga's comics dominion, via Dark Horse, picking up the rights to do a new series of adventures after MARVEL had given up the ghost and the unique opportunity at resurrecting its popular title (which had been axed before its time) - of course now, as of 2015, its a whole different story! Arriving to satiate fevered fan demand in comic stores worldwide, bouyed by atmospheric cover art by Dave Dorman (long before unfairly being left out of creating official sell-out CELEBRATION convention artwork), the unleashed Dark Side focused six-part epic that was Dark Empire.

Six years after the big Ewok party bash of Jedi, and the Empire returning events of the Thrawn Trilogy, things look gloomier than ever for the Rebel Alliance now that they've been pushed back from the main core by an enemy that's now at civil war with itself. Luke Skywalker remains the beacon of light and hope, but when he's captured by a clone copy of the resurrected Emperor Palpatine - whose life force transferred after his "demise" on the second Death Star -  it now looks as if our former farmboy, possessing growing powers in the Force than ever before, has now seemingly swayed his allegiance towards the dark side of his family lineage (a scenario that Mark Hamill had ultimately wished had happened to his character in Jedi), with only Princess Leia, now a Jedi herself and capably using the Force and handling a lightsaber, heading into the deepest regions of the galactic core, on a rescue mission, alongside familiar support from Han Solo, Chewbacca and the other icons. Can Luke be rescued before The Emperor unleashes a devastating Dark Force wave against the last vestiges of the Rebellion?

Tom Veitch's script is a worthy continuance of the saga (especially with its major action sequences) and its epic scope, giving us new backstory and concepts still being used today (including some teases about the Clone Wars (which had still yet to be defined-Lucas at that time not yet focused on coming back to do the Prequels) and solidifying the use of Jedi Holocrons), whilst nicely developing Luke's character arc and bringing back The Emperor- an enemy too worthy to be left rotting at the bottom of the Death Star's reactor core. Here we get him not just in his decayed form but also as a new, more youthful and powerful opponent, culminating in his clashing sabers with Luke in an exciting finale sequence. The mixing of old and new characters (we even get to see one of Han Solo's former girlfriends!) is confidently handled, as is the further ease of bringing additional baddies back from the grave (like Boba Fett- and yes, I can hear all those fans cheering out there!). Scots artist Cam Kennedy's exhilarating and highly detailed art would be a genuine thrill to behold (I remember being in awe of the the first issue, in particular with its showing of the Imperial City ground civil war and Luke singularly taking on an Imperial Walker!), investing the saga with all-new kinds of weapons and technology - some of which would debut in of their time officially sanctioned role playing games - mostly on the Empire's side (immense world devastators, probots big enough to devour spaceships and remote controlled TIE fighters being just some of the stand-out examples), plus new worlds to discover (like the immense and treacherous purple rock formations of the fifth moon of Da Soocha, the Imperial power enclave of Byss, and the exploration of key worlds linked to the Classic Trilogy, like the moon of Nar Shaddaa or the water planet of Mon Calamari (brutally attacked by The Emperor's new forces). Special kudos to Kennedy for his distinct and atmospheric use of colour to heighten the drama in a way that I hadn't really seen done before in previous STAR WARS MARVEL comics - making the adventure feel more like a part of the filmic universe and its continuity than ever before.

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan may never have seen this comic book series, but I can't help feeling that, like some of the early EU books, a lot of the upcoming EPISODE VII will inherit a similar spirit in dark storytelling (especially linked to the Skywalker lineage and the rumoured idea of their having the Empire and Rebels apparently in an uneasy alliance against a new civil war fraction), featuring likely character clashes between friends now distanced from each other, alongside a visual style and similar upgraded continuity to the visual motifs, spaceships, weaponry and armies previously seen during IV to VI.

Still one of Dark Horse's finest entries, and the first and best of the Veitch/Kennedy sagas, continuing to build on the returning heavy fan demand for new STAR WARS adventures, if you haven't read the original Dark Empire previously, it's well worth your time discovering.



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