Star Wars comics did not always have the large draw they have today. In the beginning, the marketing really took a while to rev up. Then, after Return of the Jedi, a great lull set in. All of this combined to lead to some truly strange ventures into children’s cartoons and other licensed media. The result was Star Wars comics finding themselves printed and licensed into some strange and obscure places. Keep reading to learn about some real oddities in Star Wars collecting! This list isn’t so much based on raw data and prices (mostly because those are so hard to come by), but my own personal experience in collecting Star Wars comics since 1995. So, if anybody gives any credence to my heuristics and anecdotal evidence, I submit to you some of the rarest and hardest to come by Star Wars comics in collecting history (so far)!
Honorable Mention: Galaxy’s Edge Imagineer Variant
Once believed to be an incredibly rare comic, recent information has revealed that there are more copies of this book out there than previously though. The Galaxy’s Edge comic ties in to the Disney Parks Galaxy’s Edge attraction. Following a band of characters who are adventuring through Batuu, this comic features flashbacks of fan favorite characters and their own time on that same planet. The special variant of the Galaxy’s Edge #1 was produced for Disney Parks staff and employees, including the “Imagineers” who designed it. Recently, the card which came with the comic came to light disclosing that 6,800 copies of the comic were produced.
We don’t know how many were actually handed out, or how many are sitting in a box in some Disney office, but 6,800 is actually a fairly large amount of comics in the modern era. When you consider that store exclusive variants have a minimum print purchase from Marvel of 3,000 copies for the first cover and 1,000 copies for the second, 6,800 copies almost doubles this figure. Having said that, there still are relatively few in circulation on online secondary markets, leading us to believe that most of these are held personally by Disney staff as keepsakes and mementos. As of the date of this article, 30 copies of this variant are CGC graded in the census.
10. The Clone Wars #1 Dark Horse Special Edition
It’s hard to imagine when 1,000 copies of a book was considered a limited amount. It seems every online retailer nowadays has an exclusive cover to every other comic coming out with a 1,000 copy variant. However, this book was actually particularly hard to get from the word go.
In 2006, Dark Horse announced the “Dark Horse 100” promotion. It was a free contest where local comic shops would enter and 10 shops were randomly selected to receive 100 alternative covers of a particular issue. There are 16 of these running the range of Buffy, Predator, Conan, and Serenity. From the Star Wars line, it included Dark Times #1, Clone Wars #1, and Invasions Rescue #1. So, these books started out distributed to only 10 comic shops each. Distribution then trickled out from there. (source: DarkHorse.com)
The fact that Clone Wars #1 is Ahsoka Tano’s first appearance is certainly helpful for this book, but back in 2008, when the issue was released, would you believe that buzz around the character was pretty low? Only diehard Star Wars fans, and among those only the ones tuning in to this supposedly “kids'” cartoon were aware or fans of her. So, it wasn’t that long ago that you could buy a raw copy of this book for $200 or less. With Ahsoka’s appearance in live action in the Mandalorian, the whole collecting and reselling world is aware of this book’s importance and has snapped all copies up. You’ll be hard pressed to find a copy in the wild and the ones you’ll find online are “slabbed” in CGC cases, often signed by some combination of Rosario Dawson (live action Ahsoka), or Ashley Eckstein (animated Ahsoka), and asking a premium. Good luck finding that one final mom running a garage sale of her college son’s old comics. If you find her, tell her I’ll buy her Clone Wars #1 for $10!
9. Star Wars #1 (2015) C2E2 Sketch Action Figure Variant
From the first time that Marvel published that a series of “action figure” variants would be printed upon their return to the Star Wars property in 2015, the variant covers by John Tyler Christopher have been wildly popular with an avid subset of collectors and fans. Tapping into that nostalgia of collecting the old 5 point of articulation Kenner action figures from the late 70s, they were bound to be a hit and remain so to this day. Hell, even collectors who don’t habitually follow the comics and are more focused on action figures are fans of them:
The black and white sketch variant of the first Star Wars action figure comic cover was given out at C2E2 in Chicago in 2015.
“This was a limited retailer variant with a rumoured distribution of only a few hundred (some believe this was less than 500 and could be as low as 200 copies) and was apparently given out by Marvel to select dealers in Chicago at C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo).” –RecalledComics
The cover is a black and white “sketch” version of the readily available color variant of Star Wars #1 (Marvel 2015). As of the date of this article, 69 copies of the sketch version are CGC graded in the census.
8. Halcyon Legacy 1 Exclusive Press Copy
On March 1, 2022, Disney Parks invited members of the Press and other invitees to take part in the Galactic Starcruiser’s Maiden Voyage. In other words, the free Press Event. As a part of this event, tons of exclusive swag, freebies, and memorabilia available for purchase was taken home by members of the press. And some of it started to appear on secondary markets like ebay.
One particular item caught the eye of the Star Wars Comic collecting community- An exclusive variant of the Halcyon Legacy #1 cover by E.M. Gist. This comic seemingly has the exact same cover as Halcyon Legacy #1 cover A by E.M. Gist, just without the barcode and featuring a black band stating “Exclusive Press Copy” on it.
The back cover features art from Galactic Starcruiser unique to this edition:
We know from press images that the rooms were made up with a copy laying on the pillow greeting guests.
There are 100 rooms in the Galactic Starcruiser, so at least 100 exist. Beyond that, we don’t actually know how many exist. There are a measly 6 copies graded in the CGC census as of the writing of this article.
(Source: DrunkWooky.com, Comparison Post)
7. The Old Republic Threat of Peace SDCC Ashcan
“The first Dark Horse 6-part mini-series is comprised entirely of formerly published web comics released on StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com from February 27th, 2009 through September 24, 2010. An “ashcan” was given away for free at the Dark Horse booth at the 2009 San Diego ComicCon. It has a chromium cover and measures 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″.“
As of the writing of this article, there were 12 copies graded in the CGC census.
6. The Force Unleashed Mini Comic
This tiny little comic was shipped with orders of the first Force Unleashed video game from the now defunct Star Wars Shop online store. TheForce.net had the news in 2008:
“StarWarsShop.com has an exclusive Star Wars: The Force Unleashed mini comic not available for sale at retail or anywhere else! The comic features an exclusive concept art cover, an excerpt from Dark Horse Comics’ The Force Unleashed adaptation, and an EXCLUSIVE CHEAT CODE!“
The cover depicts Starkiller from the concept art for the game:
For one reason or another, there simply aren’t that many of these going around the market. There are one or two as of today listed on ebay for absolutely silly prices (think Amazing Fantasy 15 prices), but not much else available. I wouldn’t endorse anybody paying the amounts being asked on ebay today, but this is certainly an incredibly difficult book to find. You may try your luck opening copies of the game at your local thrift store to see if a copy is slotted in behind the user manual.
5. High Republic Promotional Galley
In late 2020, around September, the results of what was code-named “Project Luminous” were about to be released. The new High Republic era of publishing was a complete multimedia push involving Marvel Comics, IDW Comics, young reader books, middle grade books, YA Novels, and Novels. This promotional box was given to a select few of the creative team, mostly the authors (Charles Soule, Cavan Scott, Justina Ireland, Claudia Gray, and Daniel Jose Older). In particular, artists Ario Anindito and Harvey Talibao did not receive the box. A select few members of the media had the box sent to them, and some retailers were sent the box to promote the upcoming offerings in the publishing initiative.
It’s unknown how many of these were produced and sent out, but very few have come to market. In my own personal search for one, I ran into retailers who informed me that it was their practice to throw away or destroy these types of promotional materials as they were usually not permitted to sell them. Many didn’t remember receiving it either.
The box contains uncorrected proof copies of the books Light of the Jedi, Into the Dark, and Test of Courage. It also includes a preview version of Marvel’s High Republic 1 and IDW’s High Republic Adventures 1. You can check out the full contents of those comics here!
MyComyc was a 16-issue anthology comic series released in 1986–1988 by the Spanish publisher Editorial Gepsa. The first eight issues included exclusive short comics based on the Star Wars Droids and Ewoks animated TV series. (Source: Wookieepedia)
You can actually read the English translations over here at starwarstimeline.net: Ewoks, Droids.
These comics, only distributed in Spain, were only brought to light for the larger world to know about because of the efforts of Spanish collector, Adolfo Rodriguez.
“Rodriguez posted a note at Dark Horse Comics’ forum, letting English-speaking fans know of the strips’ existence. He and fellow fan Eddie van der Heijden then provided Dark Horse’s VP of publishing, Randy Stradley, with scans so the publisher could consider having them translated for reprint purposes, while Echoes of the Jedi co-author Jean-François Boivin procured the actual comics.” (Source: richhandley.com)
The issue with these comics is that it’s ambiguous whether or not they were ever officially licensed. Lucasfilm appears to have no record of the license being granted to the Spanish publisher, yet the comic features the proper copyright language in its pages.
During the Dark Horse days of Star Wars comic publication, circa 2012, Randy Stradley, checked into the availability of these Spanish strips to collect into an omnibus:
“[D]espite the comics bearing copyright information, Lucasfilm could not verify that Editorial Gepsa had actually licensed the titles, preventing their being reprinted. That’s a shame, as the strips had an air of authenticity that is uncommon among foreign-language bootlegs. If you’ve ever read an Indonesian Star Trek or Planet of the Apes comic, then you’ve seen just how off the mark such bootlegs can be.
For MyComyc, that was certainly not the case. Its Droids and Ewoks line incorporated many secondary characters from the TV shows, including Jord Dusat, Jann Tosh, the Fromm Gang, Kea Moll, Vlix, Princess Kneesaa, Latara, Chief Chirpa, Teebo, Paploo, Logray, King Gorneesh, and Morag, among others. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the Quorks, from Marvel’s third Ewoks issue, even made an appearance. Clearly, the writers had done their homework, which is not something unlicensed publishers tend to do.” (Source: richhandley.com)
Due to the limited distribution in the 80s in Spain, these comics are incredibly hard to come about. They rarely come to market. There is a collected edition that collects the full issues 1-8, binding the actual original printed individual issues together. Ironically enough, Mickey Mouse is there at the table with Wicket and C-3PO; a portend of things to come.
“It is a standard practice in many foreign countries to rebind individual issues for a title into collections for resale. There is a collection that includes the first 8 issues, complete with covers, bound inside an outer cover with new artwork. Whether the issues are remainders or printed just for the collection is unknown.” (Source: Swcomiccollector)
We discuss this comic and its place in Star Wars publishing history more over here: Droids Animated Characters Get Their First Comic Cover Appearance
3. Contemporary Motivators: Star Wars (1978 Pendulum Press)
In the late 70s, Pendulum Press was producing a series of teaching materials called “Contemporary Motivators.” The set included multiple copies of a black and white comic roughly retelling the story from A New Hope. The box also contained casette tapes, workbooks, schematics of objects from the film, a poster, “Goal Achieved” stickers, and a film strip, all designed to make learning fun and “motivate” remedial readers to improve their reading skills. These comics come up on the market with sparse regularity, but it does happen. I’ve seen them sell recently for $100, but some people are asking many multiples of that more. The real challenge in this book is not necessarily obtaining the comic, but getting the complete boxed set.
Finally, for your viewing pleasure, the film strip!
2. 1976 SDCC Chaykin Poster
This one isn’t so much a comic itself as it is a “comic-adjacent” collectible.
In 1976, Howard Chaykin was approached by Lucasfilm and commissioned to design this advance poster. There were reportedly 1,000 copies of the poster printed and it was distributed at the San Diego Comic Con in an attempt to create interest in the film. No film footage had been released, and the posters didn’t sell well a measly $1. The poster then began finding its way to comic shops where it was given away, thrown away, or maybe taped to the wall. Chaykin would go on to work on the first six comics produced in the initial 1977-1986 series.
At this time, the poster is known to sell for $9,000.00+ when it does find its way to market.
1. Star Wars #1 (1977 Marvel) 35¢ Variant
This issue has to in the top spot, simply because it was one of the first comic rarities to arrive on the scene in 1977. At the time, Marvel was experimenting with a 5 cent price increase from the normal 30 cent price tag. It is believed, based on distribution markings on some 35 cent copies, that these variants were distributed to only 4 cities (Memphis, Toledo, Tuscaloosa and Wilmington). Overstreet Price guide speculates that around 1,500 were printed. Additionally, it’s believed that less a third (or less than 500) have survived to this day. As of February 3, 2023, there are only 270 copies graded in the CGC census. (Source: Recalled Comics)
This variant is not to be confused with the 35 cent diamond reprint that was available through Whitman and other outlets:
There are also a number of forgeries out there that could throw collectors for a loop. At least one was caught where a forger doctored an original 30 cent edition to change the “0” to a “5”. Below is an image of a forged 35 cent variant. Notice how the “5” is level with the “3”.
The authentic variant features a “5” that sits just below the “3”.
Beyond the rarity as a hurdle to collectors who seek this grail, there is also the whopping prices the book demands. An 8.5 sold in January 2023 for almost $11,000 and a low-grade 3.5 sold in December 2022 for almost $4,000!