Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Han Solo Movie Variants

Comics with photo covers have been around for a long time.  There are probably earlier examples, but the long defunct Dell Comics, publisher from 1929 to 1974, is known for licensing television and movie properties, which were ideal for these covers.  A photo cover is an effective way to connect a potential buyer with a property they enjoy.  As an example, the first nine issues of another beloved sci-fi property, Star Trek, have photo covers.  Despite their prevalence on licensed properties, Marvel did not produce any photo covers for the original U.S. Star Wars title.

On the other hand, the U.K. publishing arm of Marvel did publish several photo covers for the Star Wars Weekly title.  Because a U.S. issue was commonly spread over two or even three issues of a U.K. comic, the U.K. had to commission new cover artwork for their Star Wars title.  These cover could be used in a pinch to ensure the comic shipped on time and also saved money.  The first photo cover, featuring the Millennium Falcon, is on Star Wars Weekly #50.  More photo covers appear on Star Wars Weekly #51 - 53, 57, 58, and 100 - 102.  The next issues are The Empire Strikes Back Monthly #156 and 158; issue #156 has the infamous upside down Star Destroyer.  The third renaming of the title, Star Wars Monthly, uses photo covers for issues #159, 160, 163, 164, 169, and 171.  The majority of the covers for Return of the Jedi Monthly from issue #1 through 79 use photos.  Photo covers were not strictly confined to the U.K. although the U.K. covers are probably the earliest.  There are several examples of Indonesian comics that also use them.

Dark Horse used photo covers sporadically during the time they had the Star Wars comic license.  They were used as variant covers for The Phantom Menace 4-issue adaptation as well as the variant covers for the four Episode I character one-shots and the Darth Maul mini-series.  There are other examples of photo covers during Dark Horse's reign and all of them are used on variant or exclusive covers.  Every issue for Star Wars Tales from #5 on used photos for the alternate cover which was also the cover used on all the newsstand copies of this title.

It only makes sense that with the huge number of variant covers that Marvel publishes, there would be photo covers too.  As an example, every issue in the 5-issue Han Solo mini-series uses a photo cover which are dubbed movie variants.

Star Wars: Han Solo #1e - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2016)
movie variant
Star Wars: Han Solo #2c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2016)
movie variant
Star Wars: Han Solo #3c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2016)
movie variant
Star Wars: Han Solo #4c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2016)
movie variant
Star Wars: Han Solo #5c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2016)
movie variant
All of these covers use well known publicity photos for the first movie.  Notice on the first four covers, Harrison Ford has longer hair than he has on the final cover.  The final cover is actually the earliest of these photos; it was taken as a costume test.

These variant covers were initially distributed in a ratio of 1 for every 15 copies ordered.

No comments:

Post a Comment