Star Wars: The Littlest Bounty Hunter, 1982

I’ve got two stories to tell about this one, so settle in.

First, its production period began in June 1982, but stalled out after page 1 when I diverted to other comics (specifically Mammoth Alpha Part 1 and The Hunter and the Holocaust). For some reason, I only drew page 2 in July. But when I came back to it about a month later, I pushed all the way through to the end, finishing in early September.

Of all the Star Wars comics I created back in the fanzine days, this one is my absolute favorite. It was effortless to write, as if it came together all by itself, and had just the right balance of light and heavy moments. Rough edges notwithstanding, it seemed as solid to me as anything Marvel was doing. Plus, it featured a bounty hunter. I loved those guys.

Story #1: Who’s Who

When the bounty hunters were introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, no names were given on screen, even for Boba Fett. It may have been the first case where you HAD to pick up support media to find out character names. As it turned out, a mistake was made somewhere at the top of the media chain and two of their names got switched.

I was collecting the Kenner action figures back then, and if you saved up enough proof-of-purchase tags, you could send them in for an as-yet-unreleased bounty hunter named 4-LOM. He was a short, brown, bug-eyed guy with an unusual blaster. I sent for him, and one day he showed up in my mailbox. When I opened that package, a story popped out: The Littlest Bounty Hunter.

What none of us knew at the time (1981) was that the name 4-LOM belonged to a different bounty hunter, who was mistakenly called Zuckuss. Both figures were released with their erroneous names and stayed that way until 1989 when the error was finally corrected. And it made sense. “4-LOM” is a droid name.

Anyway, at the time I created this story, Zuckuss was named 4-LOM and we all accepted it. That’s why he’s not called Zuckuss in the comic.

Story #2: Leveling Up

From the very beginning of my “kid comics” career, my weapon of choice was the one most commonly available: the trusty ball point pen. I must have emptied dozens of them, but it was easy to get new ones. The thing is, they weren’t all that trusty. Sometimes they would suddenly “blob up” on you by expunging a lot of ink all at once. Other times, they would give you a broken line if the little ball didn’t deliver a consistent flow of ink (most obvious when drawing a curve). But, as I say, they were easy to get.

When one of my “ballpoint” comics was accepted for a fanzine titled Warped Space, the co-editor Gordon Carlton suggested that my art would be improved by better drawing tools. His recommendation was something called a Rapidograph pen. When I started a commercial art course at our school district’s vocational center in fall ’91, I got my first experience using one, and it was definitely a step up.

Also called “technical pens,” they were standard equipment in the graphic arts world. Each one came in a different size and would draw a precise, solid line that didn’t have any of the drawbacks of a ballpoint. As you can imagine, they weren’t cheap. But my mom, who was an artist herself in college, insisted on getting me a set after I’d learned how to use them. The Littlest Bounty Hunter was the first comic I applied them to.

Other than price, the drawback of a Rapidograph was maintenance. You had to periodically take them apart to clean them, or the ink would clog up in the threads and kill the pen dead. The smaller pen tips (called “nibs”) were extremely fragile. If one slipped out of your hand, it could easily bend or break and kill the pen dead. And if you were in the middle of a project – unable to afford a quick replacement – you were stuck without a drawing tool.

Oh, the hours I lost dismantling and cleaning those damn things. The money I spent (over many years) on replacement nibs. The nerve endings I burned from the aggravation. But this was the tool of choice, and I was committed to it. I used them for the next 20 years until finally switching over to Microns in the mid-00s. Then I never touched one again.

Anyway, all of the above resulted in The Littlest Bounty Hunter. It first appeared in a ‘zine titled Passage to Arms in 1982, and then I reprinted it in my own ‘zine Lightspeed No. 1 in 1985.

What’s that? My own ‘zine? You betcha. I’ll get to it in due time. For now, here’s my favorite Star Wars fanzine comic. Maybe it will be yours, too.

Easter Egg: that’s a cameo from Sting in panel 1 below. I was really into The Police in 1982. Kinda still am.

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