Star Wars comics history-The Manga saga

In 1998, Dark Horse published English adaptations of four Star Wars ‘manga (Japanese comics, often featuring a ‘big eyes’ small ones cartooning style)-based on the original trilogy. Although the covers were by American manga artist Adam Warren, the interiors were all done by different artists.


The original one was by Hisao Tamaki. Although of course beholden to the source material (It’s special edition, for example) for it’s dialogue, the comics certainly used inventive layouts and some artistic licence. Leia for instance has a slightly different hairstyle with bangs and loose hair from the ‘buns’ and is seen crying when Alderaan is destroyed.



In some ways, they’re preferable to the regular adaptations, which often were done at the time of the movie’s release, somewhat rushed and using mostly just the scripts and publicity stills as their source, and hence we end up with stuff like this:



(Al Williamson of course is a good artist, but there is a heavy bit of photo sourcing and mistakes here-He accidentally swapped the looks of Piett and Ozzell, mainly)

And they certainly add a bit more fun to some of the film’s more comic moments too:


“Empire” followed, with a somewhat more ‘rough’ looking style, and a decidely human looking Chewbacca. The artist was Toshiki kudo.




It was “Return of the Jedi” however which had the most radical style change, with the characters sporting a more intense, exaggerated look by Shin-Ichi Morimoto.


The final adaptation of the films was “Phantom Menace”. TPM was done by Kia Asamiya, who is one of the manga artists who has sort of crossed over to some American projects, as he was the artist on Uncanny X-men for a while, and has also worked on Batman. He’s also well known for his own work such as Martian Sucessor Nadesico, Silent Mobius and Steam Detectives. He also did the cover work for Dark Horse’s reprint as well.


You might’ve noticed that several of the pages are flipped opposite to their angles in the films-this is in fact because Japanese is often read back to front, rather than front to back, and a lot of manga, when it’s adapted, is ‘flipped’ to better conform to Western reading styles (although ‘unflipped’ versions of manga are certainly available.)



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