Big View – Star Wars and the Comics

The BigView
By Chris Murphy

The Roots of Star Wars, American Graffiti, and the influence of Comic Books.

On May 14, 1944, George Lucas was born in Modesto, USA.
On May 25, 1977, Star Wars took over the big screen and immediately changed film forever.

The Star Wars
Adventures of Luke Starkiller
Yes friends, this was the original working title from Draft 3 of “The Star Wars” in 1975. Star Wars was a work and an idea of George Lucas’ for quite sometime. An idea that began with Lucas’ imagination, making home made roller coasters in his back yard on Ramona Avenue, publishing a neighborhood newsletter, buying records at Harley’s on J Street, buying comic books at Readmore Books on 11th Street, just down the block from his fathers stationary store, reading and watching Flash Gordon and building sets at Downey High School and racing fast foreign cars in parking lots and tracks throughout the central valley. The inspiration of the Disney swashbuckling sword play, the car racing and the childhood dream to tell a great story has made George Lucas one of the film making greats of all time, creativity born in Modesto USA. We are truly the Home of Star Wars.

I was one of those kids standing in line at the Briggsmore in 1977, waiting for a movie that had heard about for a long time. My friend Terry Allen’s family had Bonanza Books and Comics, then located at the corner of College and Bowen. After school we would sort used books, unwrap the new comic books, and have a ringside seat to the comic imagination that inspired Lucas, who at that time was making Star Wars in Tunisia. Terry knew George’s parents and we would go to their home in Del Rio and see photos from the production of Star Wars. Terry, Dave Ackerman and I waited at the front of the line as science fiction fans, excited kids, and artists that loved the creativity. As the theatre darkened, we cheered as “A long time ago, in a galaxy far away” appeared and the opening theme blasted and the intro story rolled across the screen. We cheered Luke, Leia and Han and hissed Darth Vader. The rest is history and George Lucas became a global household name.

To learn more about George Lucas’ early years, check out the kiosks on 11th St between I and J Streets.

Comic Escape
Comic books have inspired so many, all over the world, taking kids to places you can only imagine and creating a world of escape and excitement. Today there are multi-billion dollar franchises based on the DC and Marvel Comics, Comic-Cons, Cos Play, new characters created daily and so many more are bought to life by creative artists. Some of the most iconic illustrations have been drawn and created by local talented creatives. Here are a few of them that have really broken through and are stars in the comic world. Our first one here is the talented Allen Passelaqua. Way back in 2008, he created a comic illustration of me I still treasure and created our first comic cover on our March 2008 issue.

Allen Passelaqua
ModestoView: What did comic books mean to you when you were growing up?
Allen: Comics were my gateway to reading books when I was really young. I started with compilations of Peanuts, Garfield and others I checked out from the Hart-Ransom school and Modesto downtown library. The simple art and what I thought was hilarious humor got me hooked. When I finally found real comic books later that art blew my mind and the stories were above me. But I wanted to understand and it got me interested in things like science and history.

MV: When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
AP: I always loved to draw. The art in comics was amazing and a lot more interesting to me then drawing cows or trucks. The idea of telling a story with art really appealed to me as well. Dynamic caped figures and dark cityscapes were so far removed from my fields and orchards. It was an escape I could not only imagine, but create for myself. After spending all day on a tractor and creating entire worlds in my mind I would draw them when I was finally done working.

MV: How do you think Star Wars changed comics, art and science fiction culture?

AP: Star Wars was a huge influence to my young mind. I remember renting A New Hope on VHS and re-watching the trench scene on the Death Star until the tape almost wore out. Looking back, I understand what a paradigm shift it was in Sci-fi up to that point, but I got in at the ground level and expected all my sci-fi to be as good. I was pretty disappointed until I found books from Heinlien, Herbert, Tolkien, and others.

MV: What is your favorite character to illustrate?
AP: I’m all over the place now. Recently I have drawn a lot of Mandalorians, but I really like a lot of anime like Sword Art Online, Bofuri, and Demon Slayer, to name a few.

MV: Anything else you want to share Star Wars related, or otherwise?
AP: I still love Star Wars and will watch anything that comes out related to it. Star Wars isn’t perfect and it doesn’t have to be. It’s an escape and when it’s about people coming together to overcome incredible odds and stop injustice, and make the universe a better place, it’s at it’s best.

Find more of Allen’s work at:

Terry Allen
Bonanza Book Store

Ethan Beavers
By Middagh Goodwin

Turlock Toon Squad
By Middagh Goodwin

May the 4th Day
May the 4th Be With You.
In 2016 Modesto USA became one of the first cities to have an official designated May the 4th. The Mayor of Modesto and the City Council presented the official proclamation to the May the 4th Committee and the annual celebrations would continue with a special commendation. This day will live on in Modesto history as May the Force Be With you is known around the world as a form of greeting, parting and a wish for peace and balance in the universe. Modestans can all walk proud and know that in every galaxy, the Force is with us, especially on May the 4th. The celebration in 10th St Plaza will return in 2022 and we hope that you will join us.
To learn more, please check out

New Galaxy of Characters Coming?
The comic and film world of George Lucas could soon come to life on a big wall in downtown Modesto. David Boring, founder of Never Boring Designs began as an illustrator and some of the people that have worked for his firm have gone on to do amazing things. Ethan Beavers, profiled here in this issue was one of those artists. He has created an outsized design using characters he has illustrated and created. This would be an amazing tribute to Modesto’s comic culture as well as a nod to one of the world’s greatest filmmakers and Modesto native sons. It would truly be something worthy of a galaxy far, far away.

If you would like to help make this design a reality, contact me at<>

Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.