As with every successful film, everyone knew there would be a sequel to Star Wars (ANH), but it was announced–not sure when–that the further adventures of Luke and Co. would be released in 1980.
To a kid, three years was a looooong time. Especially since in that three year period between ANH and TESB, I ended up moving from one coast to the other, changed schools, and hit what we now call the tween years.
Star Wars mania stretched into 1978, with toys and other tie-in merchandise finally becoming widely available. I remember getting the Story of Star Wars 8-track, a narrated rundown of the film by actor Roscoe Lee Browne. It was very helpful to have in a time before DVDs, Blu-Rays, and streaming video. (ANH wasn’t released on Betamax/VHS until 1982.) We all loved the music from the movie, but we never had the full original soundtrack. Instead, my mom bought on vinyl an album covering Star Wars’ themes on one side, with a couple of tracks from 2001: A Space Odyssey on the other side. I’d always stop the record after the last Star Wars track, so I never really listened to the 2001 stuff. I remember drooling over a book of Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art at a Waldenbooks, but since I was with friends for a birthday party, I had no money and couldn’t ask anyone to buy it for me. Before going back to school for fourth grade, I wanted to get the Star Wars lunch box. This was the metal one that became really valuable years later. But my mom thought it was a “boy’s” lunch box so my brother got it :P. Yet for some reason my mom was fine with buying my second choice, a lunch box with a haunted house and ghosts called “Ghostland.” I’ve always had goth tendencies.
While on a trip up to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, I spotted a paperback and it featured Luke and Leia in different (tighter) clothes and Darth Vader. My little heart stopped beating. What was this? Called “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye,” it actually continued the story of Star Wars! Oh my gosh, here it was, that fabled sequel everybody talked about! Surely, they were putting the book out now and making the movie based on it later, right?
Why I didn’t pester my mom into buying the book I’ll never know. Maybe I was afraid she’d say, “No.” But I was so excited about this discovery, I even told the girl who doled out the milk at school the following Monday. She probably didn’t care in the least. Anyway, I wouldn’t read “Splinter” until 1988. I don’t know when I figured out that it was simply expanded universe–the first of many, many books of that kind–not really THE sequel.
ANH was re-released over the summer of 1978, so on my ninth birthday my mom took me, my brother, and a hyper neighborhood kid named Anthony who played with my brother to a shoebox multiplex to see it. Obviously, it wasn’t as impressive on that screen as it was at the Valley Circle’s, but it was good enough for me. The funny part was when the Death Star blew up, Anthony literally jumped up on the chair and cheered. My mom was embarrassed, but I thought it was hilarious.
That Halloween, I donned a Star Wars costume for the first time, but that’s a story for another time.
As Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” blared away on everyone’s FM, I’d pondered what would happen next to our heroes and villains. I was pretty sure people like Tarkin were toast and not likely to return, but Darth Vader’s comeback was as certain as death and taxes. Like the misspelled t-shirt said, “Darth Vadar Lives.” By the way, I remember seeing those shirts at Sears and thinking, “They spelled it wrong!”
Whenever somebody, child or adult, wanted to talk Star Wars, I couldn’t stop yapping about it. Bear in mind that as a kid, I was extremely shy. Even now I’m regarded as a quiet person. But bring up Star Wars and I can’t shut up. I remember one time when we were eating at a restaurant in Mexico City that summer and I kept asking my dad what he would do if this or that Star Wars-related would happen, like “What if some stormtroopers had Princess Leia as their prisoner and they walked in here right now?” As if that was going to happen! Sometimes my dad would tell my brother and I bizarre bedtime stories about Vader and this fearsome entity known as the “hoosegow.” We had no idea what that word meant. I didn’t know what fan fiction was for another several years but I might have scribbled a couple of dumb stories about our heroes in totally out-of-character experiences.
On t.v. I was watching “Battlestar Galactica” along with common favorites from that era like “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Charlie’s Angels,” etc.. I had no idea until several years later there had been a lawsuit between Lucasfilm and Universal over the show!
To be continued…