That first poster was strangely static. A bare-chested male hero, holding some kind of shining light or torch above his head; a woman, with one leg provocatively unclothed, below him. She has a ray gun, but it is hanging flaccidly at her side; the hero is holding his weapon or wand or magic lamp aloft, dividing the frame into quarters.
They aren't identifiable as the film characters: either Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher hadn't been cast when it was painted, or else the artist (one Tom Jung) didn't have reference material to hand.
They are standing on a sandbank. It could be Tatooine, but Leia doesn't go to Tatooine in the film. And apart from a brief training sequence on the Falcon, Luke never actually wields his lightsaber. (And anyway a lightsaber is a short coloured beam, not a silvery beacon that reaches up to the sky.) The droids and the cloud of X-Wing fighters -- far more than appear in the film -- are small and indistinct.
Behind everything an imposing, ethereal face. It could be a man in a helmet; it could be a robot. His blackness merges with the blackness of the stars. There is no clue as to who he is; but he dominates the frame: at some level, he is what this movie is about.
The poster is selling us a film which is alien and Other; wistful and slightly exotic. It's a science fiction film -- there are robots and spaceships and ray guns and some kind of space station -- but they are part of the background; not the selling point. We are focussed on a hero and a heroine who look as if they came off a Frank Frazetta sword-and-sorcery paperback cover.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. We are intrigued, rather than thrilled. If the poster had a soundtrack, it would be Leia's theme or the Stravinsky-inspired Tusken music.
Luke is still facing the reader, but he now has a lightsaber, not a gun. Ben is now behind him, and it's his lightsaber beam which shoots out of the right of the fame. Han is still on Luke's left, firing his blaster. Leia is behind them, weirdly aloof. Two X-Wings are flying towards us; they could even be threatening the group.
And behind it all, a dark lord.
It was very, very clear what was on offer.
I have been saying for some time that I would talk about Bill Mantlo and the Micronauts.
So this is Andrew Rilstone, talking about Bill Mantlo and the Micronauts.
The Micronauts: best and most blatant and shameless of all Star Wars rip-offs.
The Micronauts: the best bad comic book I have ever read.
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