Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars (2013) #1 (2nd print) and Star Wars (2013) #1 Retailer Sketch Variant

The first Star Wars poster, distributed at the 1976 San Diego Comic Con, uses an art technique called a montage.  Many other Star Wars posters use the same technique, juxtaposing people, aliens, space ships, and locations usually with a focus on the main characters.  These posters have been used to convey action, adventure, and even romance.  Montage movie posters are ideal for a property like Star Wars which is steeped with imaginative imagery, because they cram a large number of images that otherwise wouldn't co-exist into one appealing piece of art.

The first Marvel Star Wars comic book cover is also a montage.  Not every comic cover from the original series uses the technique however; many covers simply depict a scene from the story inside, even if the action on the cover is misleading.  Over the years, comic book art has progressed and so has the montage artwork produced for covers.  In fact, since Marvel has mostly moved away from covers based on the content to more generic images, several montages have been created for Star Wars comics.  Assuredly, some artists who produce these covers are fans and are nostalgic for those classic movie posters.  In my opinion, many of these covers are just as gorgeous and could be posters themselves.

Alex Ross is known for his painted artwork.  His realistic, detailed style on comics like Astro City, Marvels, and Kingdom Come elevated him above his peers in the 1990s.  While his superstar status has faded in recent years, his artwork has not.  He provided cover art for the first four issues of the 2013 relaunch of the Star Wars title.  Naturally, the cover for Star Wars (2013) #1 is a montage of original trilogy characters.  This comic went back to print four times and Dark Horse wisely released a virgin cover for the 2nd print.  (While the Star Wars logo was restored to the cover for the 3rd and 4th prints, the text boxes were not, allow much of the cover art to remain unobscured.)

Star Wars #1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 2013)
2nd print
As a thank you for the success of this comic, Dark Horse sent retailers a sketch variant cover.

Star Wars #1g - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 2013)
Retailer sketch variant
The piece is an inversion of the famous Tom Jung/Hildebrandt Brothers posters.  Instead of Luke Skywalker holding the lightsaber high above his head, Darth Vader is now in that pose.  Additionally, Luke and Princess Leia provide the ghostly visage instead of Vader.  Another brilliant touch is the swarm of TIE Fighters replacing the X-Wing Fighters seen on the poster.

The sketch variant shows a step in the process Ross used to create the montage and there are some interesting modifications between the sketch and the final cover.  C-3PO and R2-D2 are switched on the final cover, with R2-D2 under Luke's visage and C-3PO under Leia's.  I believe this was done because the placement of C-3PO on the original cover makes it look like he is holding the blaster in Han Solo's hand.  Another, more subtle change is with Chewbacca's bowcaster.  In the sketch, the end of the bowcaster is uncomfortably close to Leia's nose and in the final piece, it has been lowered.  The end result is an extraordinarily beautiful cover that alone is worth owning this comic.

Side-by-side comparison

No comments:

Post a Comment