My first real contact with Star Wars was the Marvel comic book. It was 1976 and there were so many comics to choose from, I thought I’ll just stick to Science Fiction comics, that should be manageable. I was buying stuff like The Eternals by Jack Kirby. Then one day I saw Star Wars #1. I wasn’t thinking, Oh it’s an adaptation of the movie that will change my life. I was thinking, Oh look, it’s a #1 of a new Science Fiction comic.
In the meantime I was an avid reader of Starlin magazine. Starlog was the place to get your SF movie and TV news in the dark ages before the internet. Starlog wasn’t always easy to find, and was a little expensive at $1.00 an issue. I remember having to explain spending a dollar on a magazine at the drug store when the first issue came out. Starlog #1 had a painting of Kirk and Spock on the cover and proclaimed itself as being a Star Trek special edition. There was no way I was not buying this thing of beauty.
This magazine told me about Space:1999, the Six Million Dollar Man and even had some snippets about a project called The Star Wars. I will never forget seeing issue #7 on the newsstand beckoning to me with a dynamic photo of a TIE fighter firing at an X Wing fighter. This must be something amazing. I gobbled the information contained within and then did again for weeks and weeks.
May 1977 rolled around and I was trying to figure out a way to see this movie. I knew all the new movies came to the Ridge Cinema, which was in west Richmond. This was past the due of the earth according to the maps and was not anywhere my Mom or grandparents were likely to take me. I ended up going to see it with my friends who had more adventurous parents than I did. I don’t remember too many details of that screening, but it was love at first sight. I had seen movies more than once before, because SF movies were rare and so I would sit through them for two showings if I could get away with it; movies like Logan’s Run and Damnation Alley. Over the course of 1977, I saw that movie as many times as I could arrange. I remember talking my Dad into seeing it with me even though he said, Haven’t you already seen that?
Over the past 40 years, I’ve lost track of exactly how many times I watched Star Wars. Not Episode 4, not A New Hope. I watched it in the theater, I watched with a fox. I watched them on a box. I saw a private showing at my Uncle Luis’ club in São Paulo Brazil. I rented it on VHS. I owned it on VHS. I owned the special editions on VHS. I owned it on DVD. I own it on Laserdisk. I now own them on Blu Ray. And my favorite lately is the digital copy that nerds with more patience than me edited to look like it did in 1977, but in better quality than we could have dreamed of 40 years ago.
It’s hard to believe that at age 13 I found my favorite movie of all time. I keep watching and waiting for something to knock it of its perch. It may never happen, because frankly it would take a lot for a movie to overwhelm me as an adult the way it did to 13 year old Mike Fonseca.