Lightspeed (zine)

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Title: Lightspeed
Publisher: Gweetna Press
Editor(s): Tim Eldred
Date(s): 1984-1985
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
Language: English
External Links:
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a 1982 flyer (#2) printed in 'Noids n 'Droids #3

Lightspeed is a Star Wars zine of fully-scripted stories in a comic format by Tim Eldred.

There were two issues, plus one mini-issue.

Name Change

When the zine was first proposed in late 1981, it had the title "Hyperdrive". A few months later, that had to change. In the 1982 Prologue Issue, Eldred wrote:
I ran into another STAR WARS fanzine out in California, entitled (you guessed it) HYPERDRIVE. [1] mentions After a bit of correspondence, the editor requested (and very nicely, I might add) that I change the name of my 'zine so as not to confuse poor fandom into a premature grave. After scrapping the potential title SAGA as insufficient representation, I chose LIGHTSPEED, partly to retain the same meaning, but mostly for better impact.
front cover of Prologue Issue
back cover of Prologue Issue

Prologue Issue

Lightspeed - Prologue was published in May 1984 and contains 100 pages. From the title page, "Lightspeed: The Prologue is a one-shot Star Wars fanzine meant to preclude subsequent issues that will be published at three or four month intervals."

The summaries below are from the title page.

  • To Hunt a Jedi by Tim Eldred (Luke Skywalker must help a group of underground freedom fighters to overthrow a massive Imperial mining colony. One one thing stands in his way: a Jedi Knight.) (7)
  • The Last Moon by Dave Gifford (Darth Vader is confronted with the demons of his past while escaping the destruction of Tarkin's Death Star.) (22)
  • You Can't Go Home Agan by Andrew Pepoy (A Stormtropper with second thoughts finds this out too late.) (43)
  • Knight to the King by Time Eldred and Jim Emelande (Luke Skywalker is on another mission to bring a new planet into the the Alliance. To do it, he must free their ruler from Imperial custody... but how do you rescue someone who doesn't want to be rescued?) (65)
  • Navicomputer (notes on stories and contributors) (5)
  • A Tale of Four Flyers (The making of Lightspeed, part one) (20)
  • Mechanical Section (blueprings and schematics) (37)
  • Humorbank (cartoons and other abuse) (85)
  • On the Horizon (a look ahead) (100)

Reactions and Reviews: Prologue Issue

"And now for something completely different!" I think I first saw Tim Eldred's work in a copy of Noids & Droids. I had been a comics fan most of my life, and it was a pleasant surprise to find a SW fan who was also a comic artist. Star Wars is primarily a visual story, and comics are a visual media. Comics fandom and media fandom sometimes seem to have different esthetics, if for no other reason than one is populated by men, and the other by women, but Tim Eldred's style and editorial influence seem to hit a perfect medium. Hybrid vigor, I suppose. The first story is Eldred's "To Hunt a Jedi". Bib Fortuna has taken over Jabba's organization (an organization somewhat vaster than we expected) and has sent out a bounty hunter to capture Luke Skywalker. The bounty hunter Fortuna sends is: (a) a cyborg; (b) a former Jedi Knight and (c) apparently insane. His name is Scarab, and Eldred apparently has plans for this character, so we'll be seeing him again. "The Last Moon" by Dave Gifford is a dark tale that explains how Darth Vader escaped from the Yavin System at the end of ANH. Darth must come to face the people whom he marooned on the last moon of Yavin, one of them being Balen Lars, the man who helped his wife escape to Alderaan. "You Can't Go Home Again" by Andrew Pepoy is the story of a Stormtrooper who attempts to desert. The title is self-explanatory. Jim Emelander and Tim Eldred collaborated on story and art for "Knight to the King". Luke Skywalker allows himself to be taken aboard a prison ship so he can rescue a king. But the king doesn't want to be rescued. Luke picks up an ally along the way, one by the name of Harok, a man who suspiciously resembles Zaphod Beeblebrox's left head.

One of the few nonstory features, and my favorite, is the "Mechanical Section; Blueprints and Schematics". There may already be plenty of information on the subjects included, but you probably won't find a more concise and consolidated rendering anywhere, including the pro sources.

Although Tim Eldred's work isn't the only stuff in Lightspeed, his takes up 3/4 of the zine. His style has steadily improved, as well as his technical skill. I do have a problem with one thing, however; there is too much similarity in his faces. Some characters can be more easily identified by their clothing. Nevertheless, Eldred is, undoubtedly, destined to go pro someday. I suppose I should restrain my praise of Lightspeed in order to avoid the 'Greatest Joke in the World' Syndrome. But the fact is that this zine is perhaps the most innovative, refreshing thing to hit SW fandom since its inception. It is cleanly printed, intelligently layed out, and the stories are damned good to boot! If it isn't at least nominated in the Fan Q Awards next year, I'm going to be mighty disappointed. Final Analysis: This should be the next zine you buy! [2]

Prevue Issue

Prevue Issue was published in May 1985 and contains 8 pages. It has, according to comments in the August 1985 issue, the first part of a story by Scott Rosema called "Blasphemy Among the Stars."

Issue 1

Lightspeed 1 was published in August 1985 and contains 96 pages.

cover of issue #1

From the editor: "It is with deep regret that Scott Rosema fell under time-constraining circumstances beyond his control and was unable to finish "Blasphemy Among the Stars" in time for this issue's release. Thus, contradictory to the material that appeared in the eight-page LIGHTSPEED PREVUE (May, 1985), "Blasphemy" will be printed in LIGHTSPEED 2 in early 1986. We apologize to those anticipating its appearance here, but "Blasphemy" is well worth the wait."

The editorial:

Ifs been just over a year (as of this writing) since the premiere of the UGHTSPEED PROLOGUE issue, and with this, the first "official" issue, the series is off and running. And it's going to be something special.

For not only will LIGHTSPEED continue to offer exciting stories, outstanding artwork and features you just won't find elsewhere, it will feature a continuing serial I like to call THE NEW EMPIRE SAGA. This saga began in the PROLOGUE with TO HUNT A JEDI, which took place soon after George Lucas' RETURN OF THE JEDI. The NEW EMPIRE SAGA will run in ten main installments (of which this issue's story is number 2) and will in-coorporate supplemental stories that are scheduled to appear here in the future. The supplements will remain as separate stories, but will feed new elements into the main ten and serve to round out the entire saga. In the interest of chronology, these are the stories that have appeared in either the PROLOGUE or this issue and have something to do with the NEW EMPIRE SAGA:

1. The Littlest Bounty Hunter (supplement)

2. To Hunt a Jedi (installment 1)

3. Before the Storm (installment 2)

4. Knight to the King (supplement)

Don't get upset if this list confuses you or if it doesn't seem like all the plot details are accounted for-rhis is still the very beginning of the saga, and everything will come together in due time. In order to make things simpler at this point, just remember that the ten main installments are written and drawn by Tim Eldred and the supplemental tales may involve other artists/writers.

Some stories that I have written in the past for other fanzines will also be incorporated into THE NEW EMPIRE SAGA but will not be considered any of the main ten. These stories will be reprinted in LIGHTSPEED as becomes necessary to preserve continuity. (Example LITTLEST BOUNTY HUNTER).

Stories that do not fit into the NEW EMPIRE SAGA will appear here on occasion, as well. These include YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN (from the PROLOGUE issue) and SHADOWS OF THE PAST (from this issue). Continuity notations will be made whenever these "sundry" stories come up. Everything make sense? Read it over again-I'm sure it will eventually.

A few thoughts on the idea of a continu-ing series and erratic publishing schedules: while it is true that it can become a royal pain to follow a series that only appears two or three times a year, it is also true that the advantage of continuity makes a story much more enjoyable. American television is a prime example. For although most TV programs run on a weekly basis, the "formula show" has become a consistent problem with almost every series, and programs that concentrate on constantly moving a story forward are always the most popular. Think about it-everyone's favorite episodes of a series involve important changes or plot introductions. This is true for such shows as M*A*S*H, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, HILL STREET BLUES, STAR TREK, and even V. The "formula" episodes come and go, but the "change" episodes endure forever.

This was a primary motivation in beginning THE NEW EMPIRE SAGA The idea of a series with as much to tell as the STAR WARS movies, and LIGHTSPEED as a vessel for continuous outlet formed a perfect match. Nothing has ever been attempted on this scale in a fanzine, but it can work if the demand is there. Feel entirely free to send in your comments on what has been presented thus far, and your thoughts on the subject of a continuing serial. Both are valuable to me as creator of THE NEW EMPIRE SAGA.
  • From the Helm, editorial (3)
  • Navicomputer (notes on stories and contributors) (4)
  • The Littlest Bounty Hunter by Tim Eldred (A two-foot bounty hunter? That's what Han, Luke, and Chewbacca run into during a rebel mission. And he might be more dangerous than he looks!) (5)
  • Mechanical Section (blueprints and schematics) (35)
  • Shadows of the Past by Aaron Wirrick (There once lived a bounty hunter called Zarba Fett. Now he has decided to live again.) (40)
  • Humorbank (cartoons and other abuse) (53)
  • Before the Storm by Tim Eldred (A daring rebel agent, a mysterious message, a new Emperor, and a doomed mission all add up to uncertain futures for the Rebel Alliance.) (55)
  • Interface (letters and comments) (95)
  • On the Horizon (a look ahead) (6)

A Tale of Four Flyers

From the Prologue Issue:

It matters not how good the artist. Work, he must. Revisions must he go through. Then, only then, a professional will he be. Don't let appearances fool you - LIGHTSPEED didn't just happen. It has been a long, rocky road since Its first inception bock in October of 1981. Since that time, the book has gone through three different titles and four (count 'em) four different 'promo flyers'. Featured [below] are all four flyers and an analysis of why each was good or bad. I only hope this gives you, the reader, some Inkling as to what an interesting experience this has all been.

The First Flyer

early 1981 flyer (#1), as printed in "Lightspeed Prologue"

LATE 1981: The first flyer and the first title. Note the original concept for LIGHTSPEED - that of adopting fully-scripted stories into a comic format. At this time, I was planning for the fanzine to only pursue the STAR WARS fandom market. It wasn't until late 1983 that I hooked into the local talent network, but that is a story for another time.

Looking bock on this flyer, which is now over three years old, I can say it still looks somewhat intriguing, but also somewhat stiff. The MILLENNIUM FALCON flying over the HYPERDRIVE Logo holds promise for excitement, but Luke Skywalker (yes, that is supposed to be Luke Skywalker) brings it to a standstill. He looks impressive, barring the proportional inaccuracies, but his stiff vertical position is a bit tame. I won't even go into the inaccuracies of the Vader head, since it's one of those embarrassing things I like to keep in the post.

The Second Flyer

an early-1982 flyer (#2) printed in 'Noids n 'Droids #3

EARLY 1982: Between the time of the first and second flyers, I ran into another STAR WARS fanzine out in California, entitled (you guessed it) HYPERDRIVE. After a bit of correspondence, the editor requested (and very nicely, I might add) that I change the name of my 'zine so as not to confuse poor fandom into a premature grave. After scrapping the potential title SAGA as insufficient representation, I chose LIGHTSPEED, partly to retain the same meaning, but mostly for better impact.

As for the art, I can truthfully say it's better than the first, and Vader looks more like he should, but Luke's side-position takes away some of the impact and he is still a little stiff. But, it was beginning to take shape. This flyer was designed with single-page ad format in mind.

The Third Flyer

mid-1982 flyer (#3), printed in Imperium #1

MID-1982: Now this is more like it! To date, this remains my favorite because of the better structuring and riveting action. Vader still looks okay even though, looking bock, I can see a few inaccuracies. Luke looks much better here, all in proportion this time, and ready to strike. Were I to redraw him today, though, he would be posed even further, as if leaping into a fray. But this one is still nice.

Two problems, though. First, the FALCON'S streamers should hove been slicker to imply added motion, (as in the first two flyers) and second, the format was too large to be considered for single-page ads in other fanzines, so I was faced with the problem of designing a new flyer for that.

The Fourth Flyer

late 1983 flyer (#4), as printed in "Lightspeed Prologue"

EARLY 1983: By this time, after more and more of my work hod appeared In other fanzines, I had decided to cram bits and pieces of it into the new flyer to give the people a more solid idea of how the finished product would look. The logo hod reached its final form and now stood proudly at the top, complete with FALCON and slicker-looking hyperspace streamers. I had also drawn a new Vader, this time a full-figure, more esoteric and mysterious, strategically over-shadowed by the more straightforward and charismatic Luke Skywalker. The rest of the panels were chosen for their variety, some featuring other characters, some spaceships and machinery. But all cried out with more finalization and intrigue than the one-off Skywalker pose.

Overall impact had to be sacrificed, but the volume of Information more than compensated. Were there any doubt at all in a reader's mind about the final 'look' of the project, this one would remove it.


  1. ^ "Hyperdrive," the California Star Wars zine Eldred mentions is a mystery. The zine it is NOT is Hyper Space, as that zine, despite similar dates, was published in Indianapolis.
  2. ^ from Scoundrel #5