It occurred to me while writing my text feature for our upcoming Star Hawks Volume 3 that 1979 was quite a watershed year for comic strip science fiction. Archie Goodwin and Gil Kane revamped the Star Hawks premise (we’ll zoom in on that topic in our coverage of the material collected in volume 3) — and the Star Wars and Star Trek comic features each debuted in ’79, as well.
I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the promotional coverage for those two big SF franchises as they took their respective newspaper bows. Though Star Trek launched last, in December, I’ll show you a sample of its promo ads first. Here’s something that ran in the December 1st Ontario (Canada, not California) Journal:
And few papers were as excited about Star Trek‘s debut as was the Binghamton Evening Press, as this trio of promos indicates:
What about Star Wars? The arrival of its comic strip was long, long ago — March, 1979, to be exact — and the breadth of coverage the strip received is an indication of the desire for new Star Wars material, since at the time of the strip’s debut A New Hope was the only film in the series (The Empire Strikes Back was still more than a year away from hitting cineplexes). The strip, and creator Russ Manning, were fodder for news stories like this one, from the Mattoon, Illinois Journal Gazette:
The Albuquerque Journal launched a promo campaign similar to the one the Evening Press would use for Star Trek …
… While the Anniston, Alabama Star opted for something somewhere in between the approaches used in Mattoon and Albuquerque:
Finally, as proof that you can’t please everyone — even with something as globally popular as Star Wars — here’s an amusing “Letters to the Editor” feature from the Dayton, Ohio Journal Herald debating the merits of adding Star Wars to that paper’s lineup while dropping one of my stated long-time favorites in order to make room for Luke Skywalker and friends. Also note the letter from Sarah Brower that suggests the unthinkable when it comes to one of Dayton’s cartooning native sons!
Despite creative peaks in each, neither Star Trek, Star Wars, nor Star Hawks became a comic strip mainstay. Still, their appeal stands the test of time, and LOAC is pleased to have captured this era of science fiction comics in our reprintings of all three series.