People sometimes look down on Marvel Comics' line of Star Wars comics from the late 1970s and early 1980s, because of the random green rabbit character and other stuff. But LucasFilm's Jennifer Heddle has a great article on the official Star Wars blog, explaining why they were essential.
In fact, not only were they the main source of Star Wars content between the movies of the original trilogy, but Heddle makes a great case that these comics did the most important thing media tie-ins can do: they fleshed out the characters and gave them a chance to react to the stuff that happened in the movies. Writes Heddle:
There was some meaty stuff in there, especially from a character perspective. As a Princess Leia fan, I loved that the comics actually took the time to explore her feelings about Alderaan being destroyed — I’ll never forget this one gorgeous full-page shot of her sitting in a chair, pensively thinking about her former planet. (I looked it up; it’s the first page of #53, “The Last Gift from Alderaan.”) Or the issue after Return of the Jedi (#81) where Han finds himself out of sorts and out of place and actually deals with the fact that he was frozen in carbonite for years, which was just what I wanted to read as a fan of that character.
The whole blog post is worth reading, for a much-deserved celebration of an underappreciated moment in Star Wars history. [Star Wars Blog]