IT’S the multi-billion dollar franchise that’s conquered the universe.
Now Star Wars fever is set to sweep the Capital as rare artworks go on sale at a city gallery for the first time ever – in a move art bosses hope will bring the fight against the evil Empire to the high street.
The limited edition prints – based on six iconic Star Wars Marvel comic book covers – will be available at Castle Fine Art in Multrees Walk from today, giving fans a rare chance to get their hands on a piece of popular culture history ahead of the release of the new film next month.
Marvel’s Star Wars series was published between 1977 and 1986, and was the first official comic book adaptation of the cinematic phenomenon.
Translated into limited edition art for the first time, the new works are produced in collaboration with Marvel’s fine art publisher, Choice Fine Art and Acme Archives, and released by leading UK publisher Washington Green.
And every piece is hand-signed by artist and comic book legend Stan Lee – the 92-year-old writer, editor and former chairman of Marvel comics.
Lee led the expansion of Marvel’s comic division as it flourished to become one of the world’s leading media companies, which is now best known as the force behind box office hits such as Iron Man and The Avengers.
Adele Cross, gallery manager at Castle Fine Art, said she expected the new prints to “fly off the shelves” as Star Wars mania sweeps the country ahead of the new film’s release.
She said: “Our Marvel artwork releases continue to be bestsellers for Castle Galleries, and with the much anticipated launch of The Force Awakens we expect this series of signed limited edition works to fly off the shelves.
“Marvel and Star Wars are two iconic brands which have individually had a huge impact on today’s popular culture.
“This collection of iconic comic book covers celebrates one of the most famous film franchises of all time and encapsulates the battle between good and evil which both Star Wars and Marvel are recognised for.
“It will appeal to both art collectors and fans of Star Wars alike – giving people a chance to own their own piece of comic book history.”
It is rumoured Star Wars creator George Lucas initially approached Lee to turn the franchise into a comic series in the mid-1970s, when the first film, A New Hope, was still in production.
After recognising something special in the story, Lee charged some of Marvel’s greatest comic book illustrators to work on the saga, including Carmine Infantino, Walt Simonson and Al Williamson.
Infantino was a comic book artist and editor who illustrated a number of issues in the Marvel Star Wars comic series, later working for DC Comics on such titles as Green Lantern and The Flash.
Simonson, meanwhile, was a comic book creator and regular penciller, writer and cover artist for the Marvel Star Wars series. His early professional work was for DC Comics, illustrating war stories in the early 1970s.
Williamson worked on the Star Wars daily comic strips, as well as the comic book adaptations for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, also published by Marvel Comics.
The new artworks pay tribute to some of the series’ best-loved characters, from Han Solo to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, the Stormtroopers and Darth Vader – with prices starting from £695.
The Force Awakens, the latest movie in the franchise, opens on December 18 and is expected to smash box office records.
The seventh instalment in the main Star Wars film series, it will see Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher all reprising their famous roles.