This is a blog post I’ve wanted to write ever since I started my first blog in 2011. After the news got out about Luc Besson releasing a movie in 2017 based on the comic, I thought it would be a good idea to get it done some time in advance. Similar blog posts have since been published by others especially in 2015, but I’m still going to release my version as I have new comparisons I believe no one else have had, and I’m also using original material from both the graphic novels and the movies that I have acquired myself.
I’ve always loved the original Star Wars trilogy and thought these movies have really earned the status as some of the finest science fiction of all time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rewatched the trilogy. The first time I saw the first movie, I got minor Flash Gordon comic book vibes, especially as our heroes discovered the Death Star for the very first time.
But after a closer inspection, it turns out that the movies actually owes a French science fiction comic series a whole lot more than Flash Gordon, a series called Valérian and Laureline that originated in 1967. And I’m not talking about just mere fleeting similarities or obvious coincidences. In this blog post, I will show you various comic pane extracts from the series and compare them to photos of the Star Wars movies. I think you will be quite surprised how much some of them match each other.
Now, I’m not saying that the creative people behind Star Wars downright stole from Valérian and Laureline and I certainly can’t prove anything anyway. But I hope you will agree that a lot of these comparisons are conspicuous indeed. Always remember that more than half a dozen novels in the series were published before the first Star Wars movie was even shown in 1977. I will note the year of the comics and movies in the captions of the picture comparisons.
I recommend you also read my Introduction to European Graphic Novels and my portrayal of the Valérian and Laureline series itself, especially if this is the first time you hear about it.
There are spoilers for the first six Star Wars movies only.
The analogous styles
Even without making comparisons as such, it’s really amazing how much the styles from the comic series and the movie franchise effortlessly match each other. Most telling are probably the aliens. A lot of them look like they could easily be dispersed randomly across the two media, and if you disregard that one of course has a drawn pen style, they would probably look completely normal in both places.
Valérian and Laureline pilots a saucer-shaped Astroship in most of the novels. The first comic book to show it was the Empire of a Thousand Planets from 1969, but it also appeared in an earlier short story. The Millennium Falcon in Star Wars keeps its bridge window in one side while the Astroship has one big front window as well as three fins on top, but other than that, the resemblance is still quite striking. They look like the same size, mostly the same shape, the same color, the same level of technological detail, and they both sometimes land on platforms that look awfully similar.
In the end of the comic book Birds of the Master, the Astroship is pulled out of a swamp with seaweed attached to it. Does that remind you of something?
Continued on page 2.
4 comments on “How a French Comic Series Inspired Star Wars”
You might want to add Jack Kirby’s New Gods to this. There’s been various comparisons between the DC comic book series and Star Wars.
Another comparison I have made for years…E.E. ‘Doc’ Smiths Lensman series (which he started writing in the 1930s through the following couple decades) was I am sure foundational material for both Star Wars, Star Trek, and many other galaxy spanning stories. As you mention in your article I would not say that people deliberately have stolen stuff, but just like music, everything builds on everything else.