Unlike the deluge of Star Trek fanzines in the 1960s and 1970s, which we looked at last time, there don’t seem to be quite as many Star Wars fanzines. There are still plenty, but not quite as much of a slew as there had been for Trek. Part of this, I suspect, is because the largely adult / female fan base for Trek was a bit more industrious than the teenage / male base for Wars. I’m aware that I’m speaking in generalizations, and of course the fandoms span generations and genders, and I don’t want to ruffle any male feathers, but the earliest Trek fans and zinesters were women, plus the majority of the ‘zines we’ll look at below were edited by women – a fact that was not lost on some of the male readers at the time. The merchandise-and-marketing train was also already barreling forward by the time the movie came out, so there just wasn’t as much of a niche for ‘zines to fill, and Lucasfilm’s open disapproval didn’t help. But they were made all the same, so let’s enjoy some of the best art from ’em!
Once again, these come from the great Fanlore wiki, are in rough chronological order, and I’m going to focus on ‘zines that came early into the original trilogy, because they’re the oldest and you kids need to get off my lawn. I’m also going to stick to what’s called “gen” material, non-sexual in nature. Han’s Wookiee wife is a whole ‘nother article.
1 – 2. The Fanzines Blast Their Way Out.
Hyper Space #1, June 1977
Artist: Kevin Baxter
By all accounts, Hyper Space ties with The Force as the first Star Wars zine, coming out in June 1977. That cover illustration is based on the picture that appeared on the cover of Starlog #007, and while I have no evidence that they used the particular issue as the model – it stands to reason that a lot of media outlets were using this image – I choose to believe Starlog was the source until proven otherwise.
As it’s somewhat reminiscent of the style Nelvana used in the at-the-time-unaired Star Wars Holiday Special, I adore this illustration from the back cover of Hyper Space #4, Spring 1978, by Teanna L. Byerts. My theory is that Han’s been smuggling Robitussin, and everyone decided to help themselves. Chewbacca in particular looks like he just got a joke he originally heard years before.
Hyper Space lasted through 1979, and it’s strongly implied that the ‘zine folded partially because of legal issues and general hassling from Lucasfilm. For as much as Roddenberry and the cast and crew of Star Trek supported the ‘zines, probably because they knew the show needed as much support as it could get, Lucas was not a fan. He didn’t make them go away, but he never quite felt comfortable with them, either.
3 – 4. Mark Hamill and his Original Face.
Skywalker #1, April 1978
Artist: Carol Walske
For as much as the Trek ‘zines were about Spock pictures, the Star Wars ‘zines spread the love around a bit more, and it stands to reason that a ‘zine called Skywalker would start off with Luke.
The same issue also included this illustration by Randy Ash. (“Intersection” is the name of the drawing, not a ‘zine title.)
Something else I’ve noticed about the ‘zines is that there aren’t all that many drawings of ships – certainly not as many as in the Trek ‘zines. This is probably because the Enterprise is easier to draw than the Falcon, and more interesting to look at it. (Yeah, yeah, I know, she may not look like much…)
5. When in Doubt, Use Photographs.
Lasergram #8, April 1978
Also, LASERS! Sorta.
6. Against the What Now?
Against the Sith #1, April 1978.
One of my favorite historical obsessions: uses of the word “Sith” before it was ever uttered onscreen, and this one comes less than a year after the movie was released. That ice cream cone looks delicious, too.
7 – 8. A Wretched Hive of Scum and Pencil Shadings.
Mos Eisley Tribune #1, October 1978.
Artist: Teanna L. Byerts
Among the other things going on this fantastic work by my new favorite illustrator, Teanna L. Byerts, is the earliest Star Trek crossover I’ve found. (Look closely.)
The party continues on the back cover. While I can’t confirm this, I think Ms. Bearts may well have snuck herself into the crowd, and good on her if she did.
9 – 12. Robert Alan Fett, Reporting for Duty.
Falcon’s Flight #1, October 1978.
Artist: Ellen Blair
Displaying a commendable fidelity to its title, Falcon’s Flight always featured the Millennium Falcon on its cover. But, again, the ship just doesn’t have that many interesting angles, so the neatest cover didn’t appear until the fourth issue in October 1979, again by Ellen Blair. Vroom!
The effects of the previous year’s Holiday Special are still being felt, and they’re not all negative; whatever we think about it now, and feelings were certainly mixed about it then, the fact is that before The Empire Strikes Back came out, the Special extended the canon. A woman by the name of Lisa Adolf wrote a story based on the Special, and also drew this picture, surely one of the earliest fandom representations of your favorite bounty hunter, several months prior to Empire.
Though it’s kinda hard to imagine Boba Fett giving a flying frak about Tarkin, isn’t it? And speaking of things that can go frak thenselves, Alma Hedrick makes her feelings known about Battlestar Galactica:
13. He’s Probably Bogarting the Wi-Fi, Too.
Scum & Villainy, 1979.
Artist: Connie Faddis.
Even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, hipsters on laptops in cafes are just the worst. (Especially when they’re working on their movie scripts!)
14 – 16. Proto-Photoshop.
Galactic Flight #1, 1979.
Artist: Andre Henley.
While the work on the individual elements is swell, the refrigerator-magnet layout reminds quite a lot of the (awful, awful, awful) photo-based montage covers used on the Star Wars DVD releases. I’m not saying anything bad about Mr. Henley’s work, mind you, and I actually quite like his Darth Vader profile – it’s not an angle you see very often.
It continues on the back cover of the same issue, in which the heads get even more disembodied and floaty.
On the back cover of Issue #2, the great Teanna L. Byerts does a Galactica crossover. Jeez, Han ‘n Chewie, could ya look a little more smug?
17. An Elegant Way of Settling Disputes, for a More Civilized Age.
Alderaan #10, October 1980.
Artist: Cathy Farci.
Flippin’ for it! If Obi-Wan lost the coin toss, I bet he’d still disappear just like when Vader lightsabered him. He’s a man of integrity, after all.
Notably, in the letters section, a male fan writes in to ask: “Can someone please tell me why almost all the SW zine eds and writers are women? You can’t tell me that only women read fanzines, edit them, or write for them. But just from reading the contents page of any zine seems to prove otherwise.” Son, you’re askin’ the wrong question. (The right question, to my way of thinking, is “Why aren’t more men writing and editing SW ‘zines?” Followed by, “Hey, why don’tI start my own ‘zine?”)
18. Hey, She Did Take on the Doomsday Machine.
Fanfare #3, October 1982.
Finally! The most photogenic ship ever makes a long-overdue appearance. Some excellent cross-hatching on the Death Star, though.
19. Chewbacca Likes ‘Em a Bit More Hirsute, I Think.
Jedi Riddle: Tale 10 of the MacShannon Chronicles, January 1983.
Artist: Melody Rondeau
Not pictured on the cover of this one-off is Galactica’s Starbuck, who also figures into the story of the lead character attempting to rescue Spock from Darth Vader. And why not?
20. 0.5 Past Lightspeed? Yeah, Good Luck With That.
Enterprising Falcon, January 1983.
Artist: J.J. Adamson (read that last name again)
There are many more jokes I want to make about the Enterprise being faster than the Falcon, but I won’t. Peace out!
Previously by Sherilyn Connelly:
The 5 Coolest Things About the Navajo Translation of Star Warss
The Nineteen Coolest Illustrations from Star Trek Fanzines
The 9 Coolest Sci-Fi Read-Along Records from the 70s and 80s
15 Awesomely Nerdy Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries You Can Watch for Free Right Now
The Eight Funniest Recurring Themes in the Original Star Wars Trading Cards
The Six Coolest Things In Starlog #001: The Voyage in Retro-Nerdery Begins
Ten Amazingly Strange Celebrity Hotlines of the 1980s