After promising to write about the First Printing history of Star Wars: A New Hope in the last blog, I came to the realization that I might have bitten off more than I could chew. You see, Star Wars is a Galaxy amongst itself for collectors… Having been born just before the original film was released, I experienced Mos Eisley and Alderaan through Empire Strikes Back, Return (Revenge) of the Jedi and K-Mart. In the 80’s, toy departments were slammed up with Star Wars everything. I guess they still are for that matter… I used to wonder how so many action figures survived in their original packages. I used to wonder how so many Pez dispensers, toothbrush holders, nightlights and erasers could outlive the fall of the Death Star. It wasn’t until much later that I learned a bit more about this collecting phenomenon.
A few years back, I found an original August of ’77 copy of Rolling Stone magazine. The Celestial Fab Four (Peter Mayhew, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher) were on the cover, so I snagged it. The article inside opened my eyes a bit about why and how Star Wars had both benefited from and changed the face of collecting of all kinds. It turns out that George Lucas was really the world’s greatest marketer. Easy to believe now, but look at this through your 1977 eyes if you can. This guy put all of his heart, soul, passion, reputation and American Graffiti money on the line for his little space project. Not only did he plan for and produce the films, but he planned for and produced a material product bonanza the likes of which the world had never seen. He has the actors even talking about collecting their own merchandise in the interview! He cut deals with Judy Del Rey and Stan Lee for the book and comic book serializations (novelization) before the film even hit Grauman’s Theatre. He envisioned Star Wars stores at every suburban shopping mall! He wanted to create a legion of collectors, as well as fans. This sort of thinking was revolutionary. He was cementing the future legacy of his art through the licensing of products based on it. In the world of film, nothing had ever come close to this sort of outside the box merchandising.
All of this said, I am back to the books… While there are literally hundreds and hundreds of books in the Star Wars Canon, WE ARE GOING TO TALK ONLY ABOUT THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE. The basis for the first film in the series. Written by my friend, Alan Dean Foster. Alan based the novelization on the screenplay, concepts and work done by George Lucas of course…
I want you to be familiar with THE BIG THREE (for now at least)!
The First Printing of the “Trade Hardcover” Edition by Ballantine (October, 1977):
“Hardbound Ballantine Books Edition: October, 1977” printing on the copyright page.
Original price of $6.95 on the inside front flap.
The Actual True First Appearance of the book in a hardcover format (July, 1977):
Del Rey Book Club Edition
Cover painting by John Berkey
States “Copyright 1976 by the Star Wars Corporation” on the copyright page.
States “Now a spectacular motion-picture from 20th Century Fox”
KEY ISSUE POINT – The printing code in the gutter on page 183 must be “S27”
The TRUE First Appearance of Star Wars in print (December, 1976):
Ballantine Books Paperback Original
Cover painting by Ralph McQuarrie
States “First Edition: December, 1976” on the copyright page
Mike Cotter, Back in Time Rare Books