Before the Empire, There Was Something Else

This wasn’t a planned post of mine, but it’s amazing how Star Wars makes me do that. Not too long ago, I heard that Disney is shutting LucasArts down. I did grow up with the games that this company made tangentially and it does make me wonder exactly what it is that Disney is planning to do with the Star Wars franchise.

But I don’t really feel like I have much to say on this matter. Yet while LucasArts is currently being dissolved, there is another–perhaps more understated–Star Wars event happening as well. I’m talking about the comics adaptation of George Lucas’ Star Wars film script.

The original draft.

If we go by the theory that the original that a character is based off of has a considerable amount of resonance and power, then these figures will definitely stick to whomever will read this limited edition series.

I won’t go too much into the details of the thing. In fact, if you’d like, you can read some news accounts here or here on the matter. This is not the first time I have heard about or read anything about Lucas’ original script draft. In fact, I’ve seen one or two fanfics take these Star Wars proto-characters and their prototypical universe and make some really interesting things out of them.

But they are, however the writing may be, the root of many of the elements of Star Wars that we recognize today: in the Old Trilogy, in the New, and in a lot of the Expanded Universe.

What we are seeing, in comics form, is an alternate universe in a galaxy far, far away and what was once the providence of fanfiction is now–to some degree–being created and sanctioned by LucasBooks such as it is. It is like finding out that the new J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek alternate universe films were being created in a smaller comics form: save that his alternate universes are his own and not Gene Roddenbery’s.

But what really gets me is looking back on two posts I made on Mythic Bios about Star Wars. I wasn’t really satisfied with Star Wars: Back to the Basics, to be honest, though I do think that my post When You Wish Upon a Star, Far, Far Away does have some merit apart from its rather witty title. I think my issues with the first post were that I had a lot of supposition and hearsay, but not a lot of proof. I wanted to compare Star Wars to Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon: to show that the latter really affected the former from Lucas’ own formative years and that the Prequels were a hearkening back to that original source material. I even had trouble trying to find pictures to make nice parallels: save that at least the “opening crawl” receding into the distance in both the Old and New Trilogies had a parallel with the old Buck Rogers serial introductions.

File:Flash Gordon (1940) - Opening Crawl.jpg

But if you look at the links to the news pages that I attached above with regards to the comics being made from the old script draft, just read how the characters are described and look at the accompanying art work that is being made currently. In my second article, I went into some brief speculation about a Star Wars reboot: much in the way of Star Trek. I doubt this is going to be wide spread and I certainly don’t think the next Episodes will be reboots, but it is worth looking at the fact that in some medium this creator-made “pre-boot?” is being made.

The way this script is described, it not only seems to be closer to the film materials that Lucas was inspired by and are mentioned in the linked articles, but there is something very … Princess of Mars about their aesthetics and attitudes.

If you want to talk about prototypes or preceding archetypes, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ world of Barsoom really influenced a lot of science-fiction: with almost archaic looking costumes, vintage laser weapons, and a lot of emphasis on royalty and nobility even beyond the usual Star Wars: or at least the Star Wars of the Old Trilogy. You can also argue that some of the images in the articles I linked to also look a lot like Buck Rogers aesthetics as well. And Star Wars, while it is epic fantasy, borrows and wears enough of the science-fiction aesthetic to be examined in this manner. I would say that this is an attempt to hearken readers back to a retro-Star Wars, but this “predates” and pre-exists that vintage. A Pre-Boot Pre-Retro? Now, that just sounds bulky to say and I am sure there is a better way to say it.

I think that, in the end, what I find really fascinating about this–in this really simple overview of the matter on my part–is that we are in a time now which is really interested in the retroactive: in Retro itself. For many of us born and grown up in the 70s and 80s, perhaps even the 90s, the present has become the past. I go into it a lot here, but this decision on LucasBooks’ part seems to really feed into that growing niche in popular and geek culture now.

Or this is just a very strange and fascinating look into an experiment that could have been and admittedly has a very limited lifespan: an oddity that has existed for years collecting dust on the shelf and in the recesses of Internet chatrooms and forums which is now really getting acknowledged.

I would never have known about any of this as a child and–indeed–if I had known about either LucasArts’ end and the Original Draft comic coming out a few days ago–on April 1–I would not have believed it. As it was, I read about the Original Draft being adapted to a comic during April Fool’s and didn’t know what to even think about that!

But I like oddities and strange things. I make them all the time. I am making them right now. I thought that the Star Wars Prequels were a hearkening to older space opera shows of the 50s or so, but maybe they were also referencing this older, weirder, prototypical universe: an elder reality. I want to see what will come of this. They would at least make for some interesting toys.

And I don’t know about you, but I want to know if the reptilian Han Solo still shoots first. I’m messed up like that. 😉

5 thoughts on “Before the Empire, There Was Something Else

  1. Sort of makes me sad because Lucas started it all here in Northern California not too far from where I live. It is local history. Great post – you gotta love Buck Rogers (the early illustrations are awesome) and everything by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    1. Yeah, I am still really surprised–yet not surprised–about what happened. LucasArts made a lot of really interesting things. And thank you about the post. After seeing a synopsis of the rough draft that started all of this–the Ur-Text of Star Wars (or The Star Wars)–along with the art really made me think of the roots of this space opera and science-fiction. And you made a great post yourself today, by the way. 🙂

  2. I’m scared to death Disney is gonna make Star Wars more “fun” then exciting and more “kid” friendly then Star Wars. *sigh* I guess will see. I wonder who’s doing Jarrassic Park 4?

    1. If it was Old Walt, I would say that there was more of a danger of them becoming darker. As for the present Disney, they do have a sense of adventure. As for that last movie, I haven’t even been paying attention.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s