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Comic Legends: The Bizarre 1980 Chinese Comic Star Wars Adaptation

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and eighty-first week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's Star Wars-themed legends.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I'll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

COMIC LEGEND:

Star Wars got a Chinese comic book adaptation despite the film not being released there until 2015.

STATUS:

True

When Star Wars was released in 1977, China was still running a system where their government did not like having outside cultural sources affecting their country. So foreign films would not be released in the country. Therefore, Star Wars was not aired in China. It would not be until 1994 that China cut a deal where 10 foreign films would be allowed into the country every year (the first foreign film allowed was The Fugitive). The Star Wars prequels were all released in China under that old system, but they did not exactly do all that well over there. Which is probably why they didn't rush to release the original trilogy.

Over time, the quota was expanded and expanded and now most major American films are released in China, including all of the Star Wars films. In addition, in 2015, the original trilogy was finally screened in China.

Okay, so that's fair enough, but then how, exactly, was there a Chinese adaptation of Star Wars in 1980?

Well, the movie was released in Hong Kong in 1978, so publishers of Chinese lianhuanhua (essentially comic books or picture books) would have had access to stills from the film that they could work with if need be.

And so that's precisely what happened, as first discovered by Chinese scholar Maggie Greene.

Basically speaking, the comic book adapts the story fairly well, honestly. Nick Semper translated the whole thing here.

The comic book opened with Darth Vader capturing Princess Leia's ship and Leia realizing that she was bound to be taken captive...

She valiantly spits in Darth Vader's face when he captures her...

Her droids escape to get help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. They meet a young teen named Luke Skywalker, who takes them to old man Kenobi, who admits that yes, he used to be a Jedi Knight and he had a bitchin' bike in those days, I suppose...

They meet up with Han Solo and Chewbacca, who take them to space. Note that this page was almost definitely just drawn from a still, as everyone is drawn on point...

While the Millennium Falcon sure isn't...

And nor is Chewbacca throughout the rest of the book...

In the end, after they escape from the Death Star with the princess and then return to attack it, Luke remembers all who he lost as he destroys the Death Star...

Seriously, while there are some amusing changes in the book (including one page I didn't include that has Darth Vader somehow having, like, tentacles and giant female breasts), the book was able to adapt the story fairly well. Luckily, Hong Kong having the film made it a lot easier to do so at the time.

Either way, it's interesting stuff. Thanks to Maggie Greene and Nick Semper for this great piece of comic book history!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Did Darth Maul originally have feathers on his head instead of horns?

Check back later tonight for the final part of this week's all-Star Wars Comic Book Legends Revealed!

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