The Frazetta Buck Rogers Comic Book Covers that Influenced Star Wars

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Buck Rogers has been one of the most enduring science fiction classics in American history since its debut in Amazing Stories volume 3 number 5 in 1928. From those pulp origins, it spread to become a popular favorite across media including comic strips, film, television, and much more.  Legendary artist Frank Frazetta created eight Buck Rogers covers for the long-running comic book series Famous Funnies in 1953/54 (whose publisher infamously rejected a ninth cover for being too violent.  This became the cover of Weird Science-Fantasy #29 from EC Comics in 1955) which have become highly influential in their own right. Six of the Frazetta Buck Rogers cover issues are available in today's session of the Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction 122108 at Heritage Auctions.

Famous Funnies #214, Frank Frazetta cover, 1954.
Famous Funnies #214, Frank Frazetta cover, 1954.

As recently discussed, Buck Rogers was a formative influence on figures ranging from Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. But the combination of Frazetta and Buck Rogers had a special magic of its own, according to Star Wars creator  George Lucas:

"When George Lucas came out to visit he told me that my Famous Funnies covers had been one of his inspirations for Star Wars," Frazetta relates, "which I thought was a pretty sweet thing to say." Fans were disappointed when they learned Frank had turned down Lucas' offer to paint the cover for a Star Wars novelization and mystified when his advertisements for the derivative "Battlestar Galactica" began to appear weekly in the TV Guide. "The simple answer," Frazetta explains, "is that I got to paint what I wanted and I retained my originals and my copyrights. I wouldn't have been able to keep either if I had taken the Star Wars job and I would not have had much creative freedom. That would have been a step backward for me."

The new book Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta from J. David Spurlock's Vanguard elaborates significantly on the Frazetta/Star Wars connection, as well as the inspiration that a pair of these Famous Funnies covers in particular had on George Lucas.

George Lucas told me that my Famous Funnies covers were an influence on Star Wars. Specifically, #213 on Chewbacca and #214 on the Death Star.

The combination of a legendary creator working on an enduring property in Buck Rogers is as irresistible today as it was in 1953. Six of the Frazetta Buck Rogers issues are available in today's session of the Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction 122108 at Heritage Auctions.

Famous Funnies #214, Frank Frazetta cover, 1954.
Famous Funnies #214, Frank Frazetta cover, 1954.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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