Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cover Artist: John Byrne on Star Wars #13

John Byrne is one of the most popular comic book artists in the 1980s and the early 1990s.  His first flirt with comic stardom came when he started drawing the Uncanny X-Men with issue #108.  It was his run on the Fantastic Four starting with issue #232 that cemented his status and many consider his run second to only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's on the title.  In 1986 his popularity prompted DC Comics to approach Byrne to relaunch Superman after the Crisis on Infinite Earth's 12-part mini-series rebooted the DC Universe.  In the early 1990s, his creator owned Next Men was published by Dark Horse under the Legend imprint.

John Byrne only worked on one Star Wars cover.  The cover to Marvel's Star Wars #13 was penciled by Byrne and inked by Terry Austin.

Star Wars #13a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July, 1978)
Chewbacca's visual in the Star Wars title are not good for the first 7 issues with issue #7 having the worst interior Chewbacca art in the original title.  With issue #8, Howard Chaykin is joined by inker Tom Palmer and Chewbacca's look improves tremendously.  Chaykin and Palmer leave the title with issue #10 and starting with issue #11, Carmine Infantino takes over as penciler with Terry Austin providing inks.  Infantino's Chewbacca is very stylized and Chewbacca would maintain that stylized look until issue #39 when The Empire Strikes Back adaptation begins with a few exceptions.  One of those exceptions is the cover to Star Wars #13.  On the cover, Chewbacca, as drawn by Byrne, is bulkier than his movie counterpart.  Infantino's Chewbacca has long straight hair whereas Byrne's Chewbacca has flowing hair more reminiscent of his look in the movie.  The cover to Star Wars #13 does a good job of showing the peril Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are in with the enraged Wookiee aboard Governor Quarg's water vessel.

It is unfortunate John Byrne only ever drew one cover for a Star Wars comic.  The pairing of arguably's the 1980s hottest artist with the hottest movie franchise of the era would have been exciting.

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