14: Seeing Star Wars in 1977 – Duringmath!
It’s the very day on which Jack’s world – and life – seismically shift! A case of: life before – life after… Continuing on from the previous strip, Jack finally experiences what almost everyone around him has been raving about for ages. Seeing Star Wars in 1977, for the first time!
The Lucky Ones: seeing Star Wars in 1977
Like me, many of you reading this will also have experienced Star Wars – that’s the original Star Wars mind you – when it came out in 1977. Could you imagine being a child of the seventies and not being in that special club?
But no doubt, many adults – and parents especially – will have rolled their eyes as they heard the hype about the new smash-hit. And all the more so, when their kids started going on at them about it; and the merchandise was appearing all around them, in greater intensity, in every Newsagent, clothes shop and Supermarket! Perhaps now, decades later they can understand what a profound impact it had – especially on the young.
‘Star Wars age 9’
I won’t blather on about what a life-changing experience it was for me; instead, I’ll let the strips do the talking. However, if you really need proof I’ll let you in on another project of mine which I started in late 1977 when I was 9 – and re-discovered and published for the first time (online) in 2009 – 32 years later. Without that comic, I never would have made the one that you’re reading right now. That’s it, below. Complete with a clipped out newspaper ad – for the aforementioned Dara Cinema!
That’s right, without my rediscovery of that comic, I wouldn’t have been reminded so forcefully of my childhood dreams of one day becoming a comics artist. In fact, I mightn’t have got back into drawing as much as I have. I barely drew for about 16 years! I wasn’t so into it after Art college. A couple of years ago, I was even interviewed, and SWa9 got a feature in Spain’s leading Cinema magazine! Quite something really, because I can assure you, it’s not the sort of thing I’m accustomed to.
So you see, we can learn a lot from our younger selves. If we only listen back to them!
But tell me, what was your first viewing of Star Wars like in 1977? And how has it influenced your life and work?
** Stay Groovy, all you 1970s kids! **
– John White
One fateful day...
A small hand pulled excitedly and insistently at the jumper of an adult. It was Jack. "Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad? - DAD!!" he called out.
Dad looked down to see his son Jack, kneeling as if in prayer, on the 1970s, round striped rug. Jack was begging, hands clasped together, eyes pleading. He gasped, and started again: "Can we go to that new 'Space Film' at the pictures?" He was referring to Star Wars, which had been causing quite a stir, lately in Ireland and Britain, although it had already been out in America and laid waste to audiences across the nation.
Dad paused for a moment, which only increased Jack's urgency. Jack gabbed dad's jumper in both fists now, knuckles whitening, and blurted a desperate babble of near-nonsense:
"It's supposed to be BRILL
an' Jim an' Neal have seen it
an' it's AMAZING
an' it's the BEST FILM EVER
an' - an' - an' -
if I don't see it I think I'll go BONKERS
an' start speaking in TONGUES
or become a DRUG ADDICT
an' you wouldn't want that on your CONSCIENCE -
so... can we?
And lo, at half-past-pester o'clock, they walked out into the rain, to the Ford Capri on the drive.
"OK - OK - I'll take you to the matineé" said dad, with a weary sigh of resignation. "Yay!" yelped Jack, "Yelp!" yayed Penny, the dog. Penny knew all too well, today's great significance: she was going for a ride in the car - and maybe a walk.
Presently, Jack and dad were waiting in line at the local Dara Cinema, in Naas town. The rain was still falling, but nothing could dampen Jack's excitement. Until... "What?!?" he yelled at dad, "You're going for a walk? But it's supposed to be amazing! Jim and Neal are obsessed with it!"
Dad thought, "Probably rubbish." Like all the other stuff that Jack had raved about... He said, "I'll save my money". Jack replied, "What - fifty pence?"
"Yes, Jack. I'll wait, and see it on telly - for free."
"In eight years?!?" pleaded Jack - incredulous now.
One eternity - or ten minutes later, Jack was taking his seat in the smoke - solo - in the cinema, as the Twentieth Century Fox logo came up onscreen accompanied by the loud drums and fanfare. "Oh well... first film on my own." Which in a way, was sort of exciting in itself. As was the Fox fanfare.
Becoming restless, as the film started, he thought, "At least that flippin' load of big yellow writing stuff has finished rolling up the screen." He stifled a yawn, and then suddenly... "Wait - what the..?"
A massive spaceship, which he'd later learn was an Imperial 'Star Destroyer' began to fill the cinema screen as it came in over the heads of the audience. It become more - and more - and more massive still. Its triangular wedge-shape widening out to the width of the theatre, as the ship which it pursued diminished - smaller and smaller - against the blackness of space; laser fire repeatedly and mercilessly blasting after it. A collective gasp was heard from the kids in the audience.
Jack's eyes were wide, his hands were clenched around his pop bottle, his jaw dropped lower and lower onto the zipper of his snorkel jacket.
"Oh - my..." he thought. "It's - better - than - than - than - something really great that I don't know about yet."
And it got better still, over the next mind-blasting two hours.