Jul 27, 2011

Retro Star Wars Wednesday - The Big Bad Theory

Not to sound too much like an old man, but it may be hard to imagine for younger people that in the pre-Internet days, information was more than just a Google search away. There were basically three ways to get information about your favorite movies: entertainment programs on TV, fan club newsletters and/or magazines like Starlog and Famous Monsters of Filmland, and word of mouth (ie: the playground).

Back in the day (the time between the releases of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back) there was a lot that was unknown about this new galaxy and the only EU was the Marvel Comics series. Were the Stormtroopers people or robots? What were the Clone Wars? (I always pictured a huge war with identical looking people fighting on each side.) What was the deal with Darth Vader?

All we really knew at the time was that he was trained by Ben, killed Luke's dad and despite a breathing problem, was a galactic badass. I remember reading some place that Vader and Ben had dueled near a volcano and Vader had fallen in, which horribly scarred him and necessitated the need for his armor. If you ask anyone else that grew up a this time, they will probably remember hearing this as well. It was something that would remain speculation for another 28 years.

Below is a fan letter sent into Famous Monsters of Filmland that was published in the 1978 January issue. This person is obviously a bit older than I was when Star Wars came out, but this gives you an idea of the speculation that went on before we knew anything beyond the original Star Wars.

I really enjoy seeing things like this because everything was so open to possibility then. There were barely any spin-off materials, no back stories for the minor characters (or names for that matter!), no continuity threatening to implode on itself. Ah, the good ol days!

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