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Star Comics was an imprint of Marvel Comics that began in 1984 and continued to publish comic books until 1991. Titles published by the imprint were aimed at child readers and were often adaptations of children's television series, animated series or toys. Several of the original titles consciously emulated the house writing and visual style of then recently defunct Harvey Comics titles such as Richie Rich.
For a number of years the industry had benefited from an "age stepladder" whereby comics readers could ascend naturally from children's titles by Gold Key Comics (Disney and Looney Tunes licensee) and Harvey, upward to the Archie Comics titles for preteens, and finally graduating to the Marvel and DC titles for teens and older readers or to independent comics. So when Gold Key and other children's comic publishers went out of business, both Marvel and DC began exploring ways to fill that missing step on the reading ladder.
By the early 1980s, Marvel Comics was in negotiations with Harvey Comics to assume publication of some of their characters. Harvey editor Sid Jacobson, along with the other Harvey staff, were interviewed by Mike Hobson, Marvel's group vice-president of publishing (de facto publisher). As part of the process, Jacobson created several new characters which were well received by Hobson and effectively sealed the deal. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter appointed editor Tom DeFalco as Executive Editor to coordinate with the Harvey staff, who were hired by Marvel. On the day Marvel was set to take over the Harvey publications, Harvey Comics pulled out of the deal due to an internal disagreement among the Harvey brothers. Harvey would cease publishing their comics in 1982.
In a one shot, Marvel Tails No. 1, published in 1983 under the Marvel imprint, Spider-Ham debuted.
With the loss of the Harvey characters, the Marvel staff reevaluated their publishing plan and decided that their new line of all-age comics would be published under a different imprint name. Previously Marvel Comics had never had a successful children's line, although prior to the existence of the Star imprint, they had released a few miniseries based on licensed toy and cartoon properties, such as Rom The Space Knight, The Smurfs, and Starriors. After the Star line was launched, several of their existing, ongoing titles which were based on licensed toylines, such as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers, remained under the Marvel banner.
Star Comics was the name selected early on in the revamp of the publishing plan. The first comic published was the first issue of a three issue movie adaptation, The Muppets Take Manhattan, in July 1984 with a stand date of November 1984.
The regular line did not appear on the stands until five months later and were launched over a two-month period. Fraggle Rock, Heathcliff, Planet Terry and Strawberry Shortcake were released in the first month while The Ewoks, Get Along Gang, Muppet Babies, Royal Roy and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham followed in the second month. Top Dog and Wally the Wizard were also early comic titles.
In late 1985 Harvey Comics sued Star Comics for copyright infringement, claiming that Royal Roy was a blatant copy of Richie Rich. Thus the title was canceled after six issues due to this similarity.
Marvel eventually dissolved the Star imprint but absorbed several Star titles under the main Marvel banner such as Care Bears and continued to license new properties, such as The Pirates of Dark Water.
- Air Raiders (1987–1988; #1-2 under Star imprint, continued under Marvel imprint)
- Animax (1986–1987)
- Bullwinkle and Rocky (1987–1989; #1-2 under Star imprint)
- Care Bears (1985–1989; #1-14 under Star imprint)
- Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos #1-4 (1987)
- Count Duckula (1988)
- Defenders of the Earth (1987)
- The Flintstone Kids (1987–1989; #1-4 under Star imprint)
- Foofur (1987–1988; #1-4 under Star imprint)
- Fraggle Rock (volume 1: 1985- 1986 under Star imprint; volume 2:1988 under Marvel)
- The Get-Along Gang (1985– 1986)
- Heathcliff (1984– 1991; #1-22 under Star imprint)
- Heathcliff's Funhouse (1987–1988; #1-5 under Star imprint)
- Hugga Bunch (1986–1987)
- Inhumanoids (1987)
- Madballs (1986–1988; #1-8 under Star imprint)
- Masters of the Universe (1986–1988)
- Masters of the Universe: The Motion Picture (1987)
- Misty (six-issue limited series 1985-1986)
- Muppet Babies (1985– 1989; #1-17 under Star imprint)
- The Muppets Take Manhattan 1-3 limited series (1984)
- Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham (1985– 1987)
- Planet Terry (1985– 1986)
- Popples (1986–1987)
- Royal Roy 1-6 (1985–1985)
- Silverhawks (1987–1988; #1-5 under Star imprint)
- Star Comics Digest a.k.a. Star Comics Magazine (1986–1988)
- Star Wars
- Strawberry Shortcake (1985–1986)
- ThunderCats (1985–1988; #1-24 under Star imprint)
- Top Dog (1985–1987)
- Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light (1987; #1-2 under Star imprint)
- Wally the Wizard (1985–1986)
Additionally, three Star Comics series were planned yet never published:
- "Commander USA"
- Little Wizards
- Young Astronauts
- McMillan, Graeme (January 10, 2013). "Leaving an Imprint: 10 Defunct MARVEL Publishing Lines: Star Comics". Newsarama (Purch Company). p. 10. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Ceimcioch, Marck (December 2014). "Marvel for Kids: Star Comics". Back Issue! (77). Retrieved November 20, 2014.
- Care Bears at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved April 16, 2006. Archived from the original on April 13, 2012.
- "Top 10 Oddest Marvel Characters". Time. 2009-09-03. Retrieved 2010-03-04.
- "Harvey Sues Marvel Star Comics, Charges Copyright Infringement," The Comics Journal #105 (Feb. 1986), pp. p. 23-24.
- "IDW GETS 'ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE'". ICv2. April 29, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2015.