When Russ Manning Drew Boba Fett For Star Wars in June 1980
Comic Connect is currently running an auction for the original artwork to the Star Wars Sunday Strip #68, featuring Boba Fett by Russ Manning.
The first comic book appearance of Boba Fett is not as quickly determined as one might think. It all depends on your definitions of "first," "comic book," "appearance," and even "Boba Fett." Settle down as we get sucked into a Sarlaac Pit of controversy over this one. Boba Fett first appeared in the movie The Empire Strikes Back, as one of several bounty hunters, the one who took the carbonised body of Han Solo with him, to crime boss Jabba The Hutt. But in comics? Well, the comic book adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back appeared in a number of publications from May 1980 onwards. Written by Archie Goodwin, drawn by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon, coloured by Glynis Wein, lettered by Rick Veitch of all people, with Jim Shooter as EIC. The serialisation ran in Marvel Comics' Star Wars #39 to #44, with Boba Fett appearing in Star Wars #42 – and on the cover as well. Then there was that story formatted into a magazine size, called Marvel Super Special #16, a treasury-sized Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back, and the paperback Marvel Comics Illustrated version. And that's just the ones published in the USA.
Star Wars #42 was published by Marvel in the US in September 1980, with Boba Fett on the cover, reflecting his popularity in the already-released movie. But the other three previous versions were published in the Spring of 1980 alongside the release of the movie. With the Marvel Illustrated paperback version of the Empire Strikes Back published first in May 1980, with artwork that would later be changed, showing a more gnome-like Yoda closer to the character's sketches than the muppet used in the movie.
Also worth noting is the UK weekly comic book Star Wars Weekly published by Marvel UK, which had changed its name to The Empire Strikes Back. The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #129 contained the last third of the what would later appear in the American Star Wars #42, which featured Boba Fett, with a Boba Fett cover, but came out in August 1980, a month before it would be published in the US. While the first appearance of Boba Fett in the UK comic came in the opening splash page of The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #127 from July 1980.
But in June 1980, Boba Fett made his first comic book appearance outside of a graphic novel movie adaptation, in the Star Wars newspaper strip drawn by Russ Manning. And Comic Connect is currently running an auction for the original artwork to that piece, along with a number of others. The Star Wars Sunday Strip #68, published on the 2nd of June, 1980. Better known for his work on Tarzan, this Star Wars story was the last thing Russ Manning drew, and he passed away halfway through the run. Currently, with bids at $16,500, it will go under the hammer tomorrow. and you can see the scale of the strip in this video below.
Manning, Russ – STAR WARS SUNDAY #68 Sunday Strip
Russ Manning pencils and inks; Sunday strip #68; 6-2-1980; image size 22.5" x 15" 1st Sunday strip appearance of Boba Fett! pre-dates Star Wars #42! This 68th Sunday strip from the Star Wars newspaper comic presents one of the earliest sightings of Boba Fett anywhere. This page was printed not long after "The Empire Strikes Back" was released, and before Fett's first appearance in Marvel's Star Wars comic book. On this page, Luke Skywalker and his X-Wing pursue a damaged Tie Fighter piloted by everyone's favorite bounty hunter, as Luke and Boba are trapped by an alien force on the Frozen World of Ota. An important piece of Star Wars memorabilia for those hardcore collectors of the famed film franchise. Pen and ink. Art is in excellent condition. Signed by Manning.