I’ve long grown up and out of Record Store Day and ’FREE’ Comic Book Day - I’ve never liked queues, and there are very few things that make long-term queueing anyway worthwhile. When I used to indulge in Free Comic Book Day the whole thing was fraught with disappointments - you queue for an hour or more selecting 5 preferred free comic books from the longlist - but unless you were out queuing the night before - most or even all your first picks are gone by the time you get to the counter - there was a time I got to the counter and I really did not want a single issue of what was remaining.
So I long since ago decided to treat Free Comic Book day more as a ’Comic Book Store Day’ where I actively seek out titles I have overlooked previously - sort of introduce myself to something new! A frequent part of my Saturday in-town routine is to do a circuit of what I call the ’Golden Triangle of Comic Book Stores’ in central London - or Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue, Gosh! on Berwick Street, and Orbital on Great Newport Street. Usually in the order Orbital > Forbidden > Gosh which makes the best sense if you start off at one of the cinemas on Leicester Square.
As this particular (Free) Comic Book Day coincides with Star Wars Day - I have decided to keep things simple and combine the two themes. To which purpose I’ve come up with a very simple shortlist of favourite Star Wars Graphic Novels / Trade Paperbacks most of which I’ve read and loved for a variety of reasons - characters / plots / artwork. The couple here I haven’t read come very highly recommended - and I will do my best to seek out such or similar on my trails tomorrow.
The Star Wars catalogue is now so huge that whole sections of Comic Books Stores are dedicated to the theme - so you should not find it too hard to find something to take home with you - while some of the older / rarer ones may be a little harder to find - but then the hunt is often part of the fun - as long as you don’t have to queue! I also leave it til a little later in the day too - in order to avoid the hordes!
My Top Star Wars Trade Paperback Picks (alphabetical by main title, edited descriptions from Amazon):
Han Solo (Dragon Void Race) - "Everyone’s favourite scoundrel goes Solo! Han is given a top-secret undercover mission for the Rebellion : rescuing several informants and spies! His cover for the assignment? Only the biggest and most infamous starship race in the galaxy, the Dragon Void! A tournament he has dreamt of winning his entire life. With a chance of glory, can Han keep his mind on the mission? Or is failing Leia worse than losing? If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the small matter of finding a traitor within the Rebellion"
Heir to the Empire (The Thawn Trilogy) - "It’s five years after ’Return Of The Jedi’ : the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and driven out the remnants of the old Imperial Starlfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi Twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights. But thousand of light-years away, the last of the emperor’s warlords has taken command of the shattered Imperial Fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the new Republic."
Princess Leia (Age of Rebellion) - "When Princess Leia Organa was captured by the Empire, she never betrayed her convictions - even after the complete destruction of her home world, Alderaan. When her rescue came, Leia grabbed a blaster and joined the fight, escaping back to the Rebel Alliance and helping strike the biggest blow against the Empire - the destruction of the Death Star! But in the aftermath of that victory, the question remains... what is a princess without a world? As Leia comes to grips with her loss, a new mission leads her to the dangerous underground world of Sullust..."
The Screaming Citadel (Doctor Aphra) - "A rebel pilot and a rogue archaeologist delve into the darkest shadows of the galaxy side by side, as Luke Skywalker reluctantly teams up with Doctor Aphra! The not-so-good Doctor will make Luke an offer he can’t afford to pass up...one that leads him to a very rare gathering at the heart of the infamous Screaming Citadel! Will Luke find what he’s looking for? Can Aphra be trusted? Or will they both wind up victims of the Citadel’s queen? And as this unlikely duo steps right into the lair of one of the most powerful, reclusive and dangerous women in the galaxy, can Han and Leia be far behind them?"
Star Wars Tales Volume 2 - "Collecting issues #5 through #8 of the quarterly anthology smash sensation, Star Wars Tales Volume 2 includes thrilling stories featuring Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, the Jedi Council, Yoda, C-3PO, and a cast of thousands! Tales has explored every corner of the Star Wars galaxy - from the darkest depths, to the wackiest extremes - chronicled by the finest creators in comics. Star Wars Tales Volume 2 is sure to delight fans both young and old!"
Vader Down (Darth Vader) - "Two of the biggest titles in comics collide in the first crossover of the new Marvel age of Star Wars! When Darth Vader accidentally finds himself facing off against the Rebel Fleet on his own, he is sent crashing onto a nearby planet. Will the Rebels seize this opportunity to put an end to one of their greatest enemies - or will they be made to feel the full power of the Dark Side? The Sith Lord may be down, he isn’t out!"
The original Star Wars film - Episode IV : A New Hope - was one of the most formative events of my childhood - and really sparked a passion for all things Sci-fi which is still strong today. And while I accept that The Empire Strikes Back is still likely the best film of the whole series, it was the first one that was the most influential and is still probably the one I watch / have watched the most.
I eagerly anticipate every new Star Wars film release - I am rarely entirely disappointed - but often feel that the original derring-do spirit of Star Wars has been lost along the way. In fact the only film recently to recapture the earlier spark of the film series was the excellent 'Rogue One'.
When I went to see the most recent Han Solo movie - I was expecting more of the sort of things I read in the featured Dragon Void Race story (above) - in some ways a touch clichéd - but still exciting and properly gung-ho. I wanted Han Solo to be a rip-roaring roller coaster - fly by the seat of your pants type experience - but it turned out to be a lot more of a pedestrian and disjointed affair - admittedly with some great set pieces - but not really the sense of wild abandon I felt it needed to have - after all Han Solo was essentially a Smuggler / Pirate / Privateer!
My favourite collection of Star Wars characters all now occur within the Doctor Aphra universe - homicidal droids, bounty-hunter Wookies, and the most slippery, devious, self-motivated character ever to hit the world of Star Wars. Doctor Aphra contains that same spark of excitement that I first witnessed at the very first Star Wars - it's also one of the few titles here that isn't in part pandering to kids.
There is some great art to be found here - by Mark Brooks and Terry Dodson and many more besides. I've tried to throw a fairly wide net over what is out there - to find a little something that will appeal to each and everyone.
Finally, original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew passed away just recently at the age of 74 - our condolences go out to friends and family thank you for the grand service rendered.
I wish you all the best of luck on your quest ...