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Arts & Culture

IDW Comic Art Gallery Highlights The Art of Marvel's 'Star Wars'

Howard Chaykin drew this poster art for "Star Wars." The posters were given away at Comic-Con International a year before the film was released and now are worth thousands of dollars.
Howard Chaykin/Lucasfilm
Howard Chaykin drew this poster art for "Star Wars." The posters were given away at Comic-Con International a year before the film was released and now are worth thousands of dollars.

Original comic book art on display through Jan. 31

The Art of Marvel's 'Star Wars'
The Art of Marvel's Star Wars At IDW's Comic Art Gallery
KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando previews The Art of Marvel's Star Wars at IDW Comic Art Gallery.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens Dec. 18 and tickets for opening weekend have been sold out for weeks. With fan excitement peaking, IDW Publishing thought it was a perfect opportunity to showcase The Art of Marvel’s Star Wars Comics at its new Comic Art Gallery in Liberty Station.

The first movie in the series opened in theaters on May 25, 1977. But what you might not remember is that more than a full month earlier, Marvel brought that galaxy far, far away to vivid life through a comic book adaptation of George Lucas’ film.

Original art from the Marvel Comics’ “Star Wars” is now on display at IDW’s Comic Art Gallery in Liberty Station in Point Loma. Scott Dunbier, director of Special Projects at IDW Publishing, said the gallery is devoted to showcasing original comic book art.


“Currently, we are showing a unique exhibit of ‘Star Wars’ original art from the very first comic series that Marvel Comics published in 1977. It was an adaptation of the first film by a gentleman named Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin. And we have about 30 pieces of art all from the original comics,” Dunbier said.

IDW, which runs the gallery, is the fourth largest comic book publisher in the country. One of its specialties is publishing a series of oversize books it calls artist editions. The one for “Star Wars” complements the exhibit by showcasing even more of the comic book artwork in a coffee table book format.

“The "Star Wars" one is 12 by 17 inches. They’re approximately 140 pages of original art that have been scanned for the ‘Star Wars’ book and since we have the art gallery it made perfect sense to have an art exhibit,” Dunbier said.

IDW founder and CEO Ted Addams created the Comic Art Gallery as a way to give back to the community.

“What we are trying to do is to educate people about the art of comic books, and how they are made,” Addams said. “To really let people engage with artists and really understand what the editorial process looks like the graphic design process, all those kinds of things.”


Treating comics like art is a relatively new phenomenon.

“Any art work, being able to see it in person,” Dunbier said. “It’s a completely different experience than it is to see it printed. Comic art is done in black and white, it’s done larger, so to actually be able to see what the artists did and not just the penciler and the inker but also the letterer and the production people. You know you can see, editorial notations, you can get a real feel for how something is done. You can see all the nuances that make original art unique.”

Everything, with a couple of minor exceptions in the exhibit, comes from issues one through six of the original Marvel comic.

“Howard Chaykin drew the first 10 issues of ‘Star Wars,’” Dunbier said. “He was hired when Lucasfilms and Marvel Comics got together and Howard was their choice to draw the book. He actually drew the very first piece of artwork that was ever done and released for ‘Star Wars’ for the 1976 San Diego Comic-Convention, the year before the film came out.”

That poster is one of the items on display at the gallery, which is drawing a diverse crowd and providing inspiration.

“We have a drawing table set up here that has a sketch book that kids can draw in them, and they do,” Dunbier said. “We have local schools here in Liberty Station that occasionally the kids come for lunch and they sit down and they draw and it’s really neat. It’s really nice to see kids involved and wanting to do something creative like that.”

In the 38 years since its release, “Star Wars” has expanded its appeal. That’s because it tells a classic tale of adventure.

“You have characters that are noble, that give their lives, that inspire,” Dunbier said. "It’s great tragedy, great romance, it’s a movie and series of hope. I think that resonates with people.”

For further proof just look to the interest the new sequel “The Force Awakens” is stirring with more than $50 million in ticket pre-sales with almost two weeks until the film’s Dec. 18 opening.

The Art of Marvel’s Star Wars runs through Jan. 31 . The Comic Art Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday. The gallery is at 2765 Truxton Road in San Diego.