Hasslein Blog: Star Wars: The Russ Manning and Russ Helm Newspaper Strips


Hasslein Blog

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Star Wars: The Russ Manning and Russ Helm Newspaper Strips

by Rich Handley

During the late 1970s and early '80s, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate published a daily newspaper strip based on Star Wars, and it was glorious. Written first by Russ Manning, and later by Archie Goodwin, the series was richly illustrated, hilariously written and eminently worthy of the Star Wars brand name.

C-3PO recording his adventures for the
Rebel super-computer, Mistress Mnemos

In 1991, Russ Cochran Publishing produced a beautiful three-book slipcase set reprinting the entire Archie Goodwin/Al Williamson run, while Dark Horse reprinted the majority of the series in edited format under its Classic Star Wars banner. However, two stories have thus far remained unpublished: an untitled Sunday-only tale (unofficially dubbed "The Kazhyyyk Depths" by fan-turned-author Jason Fry), and Russ Helm's (admittedly awful) "Planet of Kadril." (For some reason, the Star Wars strips had a lot of Russes.)

The Russ Cochran collection, reprinting every
wonderful Goodwin/Williamson strip

Classic Star Wars: The Early Adventures,
Dark Horse's foray into reprinting most of the Manning material

To date, no one has offered a complete collection of the Manning years, as Cochran did for Goodwin's tenure. Fan and librarian extraordinaire Matt Bracher, however, has done something wonderful for Star Wars fans: He has painstakingly collected every single strip from the eleven tales not collected in the Cochran box set, and has presented them in a beautiful and vibrant format.

A page from Manning's unpublished Chewbacca/Kashyyyk tale

It's all there, from "Gambler's World" to "Han Solo at Stars' End," as well as several extra unpublished Manning strips and a discussion of Dark Horse's edits to the series. If you're a Star Wars fan (or at least someone who was before the prequels), these PDFs are well worth downloading. Click here to check out what Matt has done.

In trouble again...

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