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Tag Archive: Peter Mayhew


Peter Mayhew, the actor known best for playing Chewbacca in all three Star Wars trilogies, passed away Tuesday, April 30, 2019, according to a message distributed by his family yesterday.

I was lucky to have gotten involved in the past 20 years with the convention circuit.  It allowed me to meet some interesting people, including the gentle and soft-spoken actor.  I saw him at five conventions over this time, and he was always that friendly gentleman you’d expect the man behind the furry suit to be.  My first encounter was shaking his hand at the opening of an early Planet Comicon show.  Unless you’re also 7 foot 3 inches tall, your hand was immediately lost in his King Kong-sized hand.  When I met him he was either late or early to the show and had no helper so I offered to help him set up his table.  His conversation getting ready for a line of fans eager to meet him was generous and warm.

I next saw him in that lull between the prequels and the current trilogy at San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, when nothing much was going on in the Star Wars universe and for all intents and purposes the movies were done for good.  Folks wrongly accuse San Diego Comic-Con of being too busy to have meaningful experiences with others, but I always have found the opposite true.  I spun around in one of the wide floor walkways to see Mr. Mayhew alone, leaning back in his chair, nobody around at all, just watching the attendees walk around, walking past him and not even realizing they’d passed by one of film’s greatest icons.  It seemed sad that he didn’t have the longest lines of all, but I also felt lucky to get that much more time to chat and get his autograph.  He wasn’t bothered by not being swarmed, just an older gent enjoying a day of people walking about.  But the limelight would return only three years later after George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney and J.J. Abrams tapped Mr. Mayhew to return to the role literally billions have loved him for over the past 42 years.  And there he was again, back in the thick of it at the table read for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, only five years ago.  Over the past five years his health gradually left it more difficult for Mr. Mayhew to do appearances, but I would see him three more times, each time still showing up for fans with a smile, happy to take a photograph or sign whatever nostalgic keepsakes fans brought to share with him.

My favorite memory of Mr. Mayhew was asking him about his experience working with Jim Henson on The Muppet Show in the famous Star Wars episode that aired February 21, 1980.  He had been answering questions from the crowd at a Planet Comicon panel, questions he’d clearly answered hundreds of times before.  But he lit up when I mentioned the Muppets.  Watching the show as a nine-year-old, I found the episode to be the perfect, rare event (like the Holiday Special), with Mark Hamill being featured with R2-D2, C-3PO, and our favorite Wookiee, not just another guy in the suit but the real deal, Peter Mayhew, along with Kermit and friends.  When TV shows aired in 1980 you had your eyes glued to the screen, because the idea you’d ever be able to watch the episode again was still a pipe dream.  Mr. Mayhew said he hadn’t been asked about that episode before and it had been years since he even thought about it, but details all snapped back for him.  He remarked about the joy of working with Jim Henson and said he was amazed that the Muppets above the floor were real characters that could interact with him and Hamill as if they were as real, as if by magic, and yet he stepped back and looked down to see a dozen people underneath, intertwined and synchronized to make it all appear so seamless to the audience.  You can imagine what that giant, usually soft-spoken fellow looked like when he was excited about something.  And anyone who ever met him could attest to the twinkle in his eyes that was part of who he was, those same eyes that revealed plenty of the real Mr. Mayhew behind the Wookiee suit that made it onto film and became part of his famous character.

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Smuggler.  Gambler.  Rogue.  Pilot.

Han Solo.

The hero of the Rebellion and the Resistance and rescuer of the galaxy more than once, one of fandom’s favorites is featured in his own book in November.  Insight Editions announced Star Wars Icons: Han Solo will be a comprehensive look at the creation and legacy of one of Star Wars’ most beloved characters.  Covering the Han Solo’s journey from his genesis in George Lucas’s first Star Wars drafts to his portrayal by Harrison Ford in the original trilogy and The Force Awakens to his rebirth in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and beyond the films to his role in the Star Wars expanded universe: novels, comics, video games, and more–Insight promises this will be the definitive book for every Han Solo fan.

Illustrated with rare and previously unpublished images, including on-set photography and concept art, the deluxe 224-page volume will feature new interviews by author Gina McIntyre with Harrison Ford, Alden Ehrenreich, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Kasdan, and more.  This is especially noteworthy since Solo: A Star Wars Story director Ron Howard has not given many interviews about Solo: A Star Wars Story.

You can pre-order what we expect to be the first of several Star Wars Icons books, Star Wars Icons: Han Solo now here at Amazon (at a discount off the cover price).  And don’t forget to lock-in the pre-order price for Solo: A Star Wars Story on DVD, Digital HD, and Blu-ray here.

This is the smuggler you’re looking for.  Check out this preview of Star Wars Icons: Han Solo:

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Wil Wheaton standing room only crowd at Planet Comicon 2013

In addition to great creators from outside the Midwest, like legendary writer/artist Howard Chaykin, artist Bill Sienkiewicz, and of course, Stan “The Man” Lee, the great thing about returning to a Con year after year is running into all our friends who write, sketch, or paint incredible works for a living.  Planet Comicon 2016 is no different.

Area creators at Planet Comicon this weekend with national success included Jason Aaron, who will have his own lines of fans getting his Star Wars series autographed, as well as artist Freddie Williams II, drawing sketches for fans and signing copies of his Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, and Disney artist Bryan Fyffe, selling his hand-framed, incredibly vibrant and diverse collection of prints.  Bryan also has a Con exclusive–his variant cover edition of the latest Lady Death series.

Make sure you get a copy of Issue #1 of the awesome new series Barrens from writer C.W. Cooke and artist Bryan Timmins–the debut of the series is this weekend.

Planet Comicon 2014

Authors Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore are scheduled to attend, along with trading card artists Nathen and Keven Reinke, and comic book creators Jai Nitz, Seth Peck, Phil Hester, and Greg Smallwood.

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han-solo-passes-the-torch-in-new-star-wars-the-force-awakens

Review by C.J. Bunce

Did J.J. Abrams earn or reject his Jar Jar badge?  Did we drown in re-hashed lines from the original trilogy?  Did Disney make the same mistakes as George Lucas made with his prequels?

When you get right down to it, we all had a pretty low threshold by which we were going to judge the success of the highly anticipated, overly over-marketed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  We knew it couldn’t match the original Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back, but it was Abrams’s challenge to see how high he could position the result of his efforts among the other four films.

So how did he fare?

Is the movie better than the prequels?

Is the dialogue better than George Lucas’s in the past films?

Did he hand off the story from the old guard to the new guard successfully?

Is The Force Awakens a modern sci-fi fantasy classic, or among the best films ever made?

Boyega and Isaac

After the jump, I’ll walk though my spoiler-light reaction to what is going to go down as the biggest money-making film of all time.

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StarWarsEpisodeVII copyright lucasfilm 2014

Does a picture tell a thousand words?

Lucasfilm released today the slate of the main cast for Star Wars: Episode VII and the above photo.  Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and writer Lawrence Kasdan.  Defying the convention of not wearing the band shirt to the concert is our favorite gentle giant Peter Mayhew sporting a rebel-logo golf shirt.

The studio previously revealed the new film would take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, but considering nearly the entire main cast for the original trilogy is in England’s Pinewood Studios for this cast read-through, the idea that they will be trivial to the story seems to be out the window.  And after a lot of eyeball-rolling from fans across the globe, this is starting to get a bit exciting.

Maybe we were looking at this wrong.  Disney let Marvel Studios make some good movies with The Avengers, Iron Man, and Captain America, right?  And J.J. Abrams made two Star Trek movies that could easily fit in the Star Wars universe.  Heck–they could have served as auditions for getting this directorial gig.  Lawrence Kasdan is one of the best moviemakers ever, with Silverado and The Empire Strikes Back in his portfolio.  You cannot say enough about John Williams, back yet again for another score.  And George Lucas was solely responsible for the prequel trilogy. ‘Nuff said there.  But we won’t let Disney off the hook until they prove that they won’t ruin the greatest franchise of all time.

Ming the Merciless Von Sydow

But more details were released.  Max Von Sydow, Emperor Ming from the 1980s Flash Gordon, will have a key role in the film.  Recall the original Flash Gordon serials inspired Lucas’s original vision.  Von Sydow is perfect for a role here–right up there with classic Star Wars veterans Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, and Christopher Lee.  The original R2-D2 actor will be back, too: Kenny Baker will return as the guy in the droid suit, joining Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.

It’s fanboy speculation time…

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Wil Wheaton standing room only crowd at Planet Comicon 2013

The biggest and best pop culture and comic book convention in Kansas City’s history was held this weekend as Planet Comicon 2013 filled the Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center with thousands and maybe even tens of thousands of fans of everything from Doctor Who to superheroes, Star Trek and Star Wars, to video games and anime.  It’s first day downtown was a big success with lots of happy fans talking with their favorite comic book and fantasy writers and artists and TV and movie actors.

Here’s a photo gallery of what we saw from Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Booth on Artist’s Row and walking around today.

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Meeting Firefly’s Hero of Canton and Chuck’s John Casey–Adam Baldwin.

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Our favorite comic book legend, Howard Chaykin, at his first Planet Comicon appearance and first Kansas City show in eight years.

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With borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce at Booth 545 in Artist’s Alley.

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With comics legend Neal Adams, artist on the best Silver Age comic book series ever–Green Lantern/Green Arrow 76-89.

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Planet Comicon logo

Planet Comicon announced this weekend that advance tickets for Planet Comicon 2013 are now available for sale.  This year Planet Comicon is Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM – 7 PM and Sunday, April 7, 2013 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM at downtown Kansas City’s giant Bartle Hall, a switch from the show’s home at Overland Park International Trade Center from past years.  The relocation was the result of the growing numbers at the event in the past two years requiring an expansion to this larger venue.

Use the below link to purchase a single day or weekend pass.  There is no limit to the quantities you may order.

ADVANCE TICKET PURCHASE

Advance tickets will be sold until midnight on Sunday, March 17, 2013.  After that time, they will only be available for sale at the event.

Weekend passes for adults are being sold at a discounted rate of $35.00.  All other prices will be identical to on-site pricing.

Advance tickets are available for sale only through Paypal, which accepts all major credit cards and bank debits.

Advance tickets will also be made available soon through the event facility and certain area retailers, including Elite Comics, located at 11842 Quivira in Overland Park, KS.

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The last day at Comic-Con!  What’s that mean?  Making sure you get to every last booth and panel you want to see, buying that last comic book or art page, getting that last autograph, and more great costumes.

I collect comic book sketches and it wouldn’t be a con without adding a new one.  This year Patrick Scullin sketched me this great classic Green Arrow.  Thanks, Patrick!

 

Donato Giancola, fantasy artist extraordinaire, was selling limited edition compilations of his work and beautiful prints.  You probably know him best from his painting that was used as the cover of The Hobbit graphic novel–the only Tolkien illustrated adaptation out there.  Great stuff and a great guy!

Everyone’s favorite wookiee attended the convention this year again–Peter Mayhew was signing autographs at his booth.

Superb comic artist Frank Cho (University squared, Liberty Meadows, Marvel, etc.) and Joe Keatinge (background) unveiled their new series coming in 2012–Brutal

Check out that punch, and that’s no guy’s arm!  They actually showed me the details Friday but I swore not to post until the public unveiling.  Promise kept!  Cho walked me through some original pages and cover art going to France for a gallery sale.  Stunning pieces.  But no Brandy art for sale–he’s keeping those (wouldn’t you?).  The REALLY big news?  Frank said the rights to Liberty Meadows reverted to him!  So if he can just get through all his other projects we may see Liberty Meadows start up again someday.

Note to self:  When I get older and gray(er), keep coming to Comic-Con!  Check out this great Ben Kenobi:

And Comic-Con is not just for adults.  These kids at the DC Comics booth had great outfits.  That Speedy outfit looks like he came out of the classic Neal Adams series.

And you might be saying “enough Green Arrow already” but here’s a great Smallville Green Arrow costume.  This guy made it by hand in three weeks.  Nice work!

Here, Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG’s Counselor Deanna Troi) appears to be sizing up Rod Roddenberry at the Lightspeed booth.

And one last pilgramage to flip through the stunning original art of the late, great Michael Turner at the Aspen booth:

I also got to meet comic book writer Jai Nitz, who has written for Marvel, DC Comics, Image, Disney and Dynamite, including Kato Origins, Green Hornet:  Parallel Lives, and Tron: The Betrayal.  With all the comic book artists at Comic-Con, you don’t see all that many writers at this venue.  So great to meet up with Jai!

More news from Comic-Con coming this week.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com