Rob Kelly Until I was eight, my parents and I lived in a suburb of Philadelphia. Most of our everyday shopping needs were met by the nearest mall(called the Nashaminy Mall) and all the myriad other local establishments.
The first time I can remember going to actual downtown Philadelphia was in 1977, when we went to shop at what was then a big-time mall called The Gallery.
The Gallery was(and still is) located over one city block in Philly, and you could park in a building across the street. There was a walkway crossing from building to another, and to a kid of seven walking through a brightly lit, glass and steel walkway, with the city streets dozens of feet below, made me feel like I was in some space-age futuristic mecca. Kids are like that.
Anyway, I followed along with my parents from store to store, and then at some point we must have hit a bookstore or department store, because my parents bought me this comic--Star Wars #7, written by Roy Thomas with art by Howard Chaykin.
For anyone who doesn't know, Star Wars #7 is the first non-movie-adaptation issue of the title, and to a Star Wars-obsessed kid, seeing any adventure set in that world outside of the (then)one lone film was simply The Most Exciting Thing Ever in History.
The story follows Han Solo and Chewbacca on a trip to pay off Jabba the Hutt, and on the way they meet all kinds of new characters, with names like Crimson Jack and Azoora.
I was so completely entranced by the book--and the newly-expanded world it was showing me in its twenty or so plus pages, that I can remember from tha trip afterwards was trying to follow along with parents, walking through the busy mall, never taking my eyes out of the book.
We followed my Mom some clothing store and my Dad and I waited in the outer lobby of the dressing rooms while she tried stuff on. Normally I would've been fidgeting and bored, but I just kept reading and studying the panels. I even remember some vague comment a store employee made to my Dad(or maybe it was to me, who knows?) about how wrapped up I was in the book.
The only other thing I remember is walking back through that walkway, this time not even noticing it--I was busy reading.
I don't keep up with much(read: any) Star Wars fandom nowadays--a combination of growing up and the second trilogy did a good job of watering down my passion for all things Star Wars--so I don't know how much credit the Marvel comics get for keeping the brand alive during those long, pre-internet three-year intervals between films.
But for this kid, they were an indispensible part of the magic that was Star Wars.