Jim Lee's Rejected Star Wars Project Will Change Comics History Forever

When the Star Wars license was up for grabs, legendary cartoonist Jim Lee made his bid, changing comic book history almost forever.

The Star Wars franchise has a long history in the comics world, but a proposal rejected by Jim Lee's Wildstorm imprint could change comic history forever.

Since Star Wars' debut in 1977, George Lucas' space saga has gained a firm foothold in the comics world. Marvel Comics publishes 107 monthly series. Marvel let the copyright lapse in the late 1980s, allowing Dark Horse Comics to acquire the Star Wars license, and continued to produce comics for more than 20 years. After Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, fans wondered if it was only a matter of time before sister company Marvel got another license to make Star Wars comics, which they finally did in 2015. ^This may not always be the case, however. According to an article by Matthew Senreich in Wizard: The Guide to Comics #72, the license for Dark Horse expired at the end of 1998. Lucasfilm accepted proposals from four different companies seeking to license Star Wars: Dark Horse, Marvel, DC and Jim Lee's Image Comics, an imprint of Wildstorm Productions. while the other three companies are Keeping tight-lipped about their plans, Lee was pretty open about his company's proposals, which sounded pretty broad: "Wildstorm showcased brand new artwork, some of which was from Wildstorm publisher Jim Lee himself, the proposed miniseries Star Wars: Blue Color Harvest." Lee himself elaborates further in the article:

If Lee and the Wild Storm manage to get a Star Wars license, the consequences will be enormous. Acquiring the rights to this evergreen, successful property would put Wildstorm in the public eye in a way that hadn't been done before; With such a successful property, it's easy to speculate on what kind of success Wildstorm might find after that. Exclusive distribution rights to the Star Wars comics may have saved Jim Lee from having to sell his imprint to DC in late 1998, which would have huge ramifications for the entire industry. If Lee never ended up in DC, his groundbreaking storylines in Batman, Superman, and Justice League might never have happened. Considering that Jim Lee is currently DC Comics, a company that would look very different today if Lee hadn't sold Wildstorm in the first place.

“Basically, I gave a detailed, six-year publishing plan for what I would do with the license. I showed the kind of talent that would work on them if we got the license. I already know that I would draw something, J. Scott Campbell would draw something, and Peter David and James Robinson have expressed interest in writing.”

Would Jim Lee’s Star Wars Have Changed Comics History?

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Ultimately, Dark Horse made a successful bid to keep the Star Wars license through 1999 and beyond, but it’s interesting to speculate what would have happened had Jim Lee’s Wildstorm secured the rights instead.

Source: "Battle Rages for Star Wars License" by Matthew Senreich, Wizard: The Guide to Comics #72

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