by Vince Brusio
There are many comic fans out there who remember 1977 for a reason. It was the year that 20th Century Fox rolled out a movie called Star Wars, and popular culture was forever changed by aliens, lightsabers, and space ships. But George Lucas’ original vision was not what fans saw on the silver screen. It is, however, what comic fans got to see in Dark Horse’s The Star Wars series, which presented Lucas’ original script for his movie. Mike Mayhew, the artist attached to the project, weighed in on the project with us as a hardcover collected edition for the series is set to hit stores in July.
PREVIEWSworld: Mike, the collected hardcover for The Star Wars (MAR140020) hits the streets July 23rd. You’re now home free! Debts cancelled and dues paid. Tell us how you plan to celebrate. Is Lucas flying you out to Skywalker ranch for a big Ewok bonfire party?
Mike Mayhew: I’ve been cold chillin’ for the last three months. Took some time off, took the kids to Disneyland a few times since we have the SoCal Annual Pass. Did three trips to Arizona to see my parents and friends. Went to a couple cons. Stuff like that. Been doing commissions to keep the cash flowing in. Work-wise:0 getting serious about two creator-owned projects off the ground!
PREVIEWSworld: Now that the long strange trip to the galaxy far, far away is over, what would you say is the sound bite to best describe the hard work that went into this project? What’s the headline?
Mike Mayhew: Long Live Star Wars! That’s the headline. I was seven when the movie came out, and it just boggles my mind how powerfully Star Wars has embedded itself in world culture. I can’t think of any other film franchise that comes close. To be part of the history of that franchise is like being part of The Beatles. It was an honor to work from a full and complete script that George wrote in 1974, and I know that everyone that worked on this had that in their mind. We did this out of love, and loved every minute of it.
PREVIEWSworld: You’ve been a part of history, which is to tell the original Star Wars screenplay first penned by George Lucas. We’ve all digested the movie version of the story, and have now read yours and Jonathan Rinzler’s work. As Vader once said, “The circle is complete.” So where do we go from here? What’s been learned?
Mike Mayhew: I learned so much during this project on so many levels.
Lesson #1 is that here was George trying to buy the rights to Flash Gordon, but couldn’t. So he came up with something original. It became a phenomenon that has generated billions of dollars for 35 years. I think that situation really speaks to those of us working in comics. It’s easy to think, “If I was just working Avengers or Batman, I could get people to notice me, and become the creator I know I can be.” But, at the end of the day you’re just living off others ideas. Believe me, I’ve been doing that for 20 years. Being original is the real creative challenge.
Lesson #2 is the original draft vs. the final draft. I myself am reflecting on the changes George made, and how rewriting is so essential to the process of developing your story.
Lesson #3, the force is strong with Mike Mayhew’s comic storytelling abilities. This book was super challenging with tons of characters, content, and things to design and get approved. If I can toot my own horn, I kicked its ass. Not one panel of the entire eight issues is “phoned in” or compromised. I plan on making comics my number one priority, because I’m good at it. And, if opportunities don’t come my way to make more successes like The Star Wars has been, I’m going to make them for myself.
PREVIEWSworld: Can you tell us if anything was left out of this adaptation? Or are those things which ended up on the cutting room floor put into the Deluxe Hardcover edition?
I think there was one minor scene that dealt with Leia’s family’s royal bloodline and securing a vial of the blood. The Aquilaens where involved in some kind of genetic experimentation that the Empire wanted. That was omitted, and mainly because we barely had enough space to squeeze what we had into 8 issues.
Other than that very small scene, every single word of George’s original draft is intact and illuminated.
I believe the Deluxe Hardcover is slightly oversized and includes several “volumes” in a slipcase.
PREVIEWSworld: Mike, we’re very happy for you, as you were able to show this original screenplay as it was first envisioned. If any of the fans want to touch base with you for future questions about the book, how can they reach you?
My website is www.mikemayhewstudio.com. From there you can connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, where I post new art and thoughts daily. You can also follow a link to my Comic Art Fans gallery (a link is on my site’s homepage), which is the most comprehensive collection of my art. Thanks for looking! I look forward to hearing from you or meeting you at an upcoming con!