Growing up in the 1950s in the US, George loved going to the movie theaters to see films, but, more importantly, George loved the Flash Gordon series that theaters showed. For those who don’t know, the Flash Gordon character had started life as a comic strip and was adapted to a film series that was shown usually after the cartoon and before the feature. And George lived for Flash’s latest adventures. The theater became where George would go to spend his allowance every week just so he could see what Flash was up to.
As an adult and after college, George worked as a writer among other jobs. He wanted update the Flash Gordon stories into a more modern film version. So, he set about finding information on what it would take to purchase the rights to the character. Then, he could produce a screenplay based on Flash.
But this is where George became stymied. He found at first that the rights to Flash were way beyond his income level. Secondly he found that the rights were by then (the early 1970s) owned by a film studio already, that plans were already being made to turn the story into a film. Man, that really bummed out George. He loved Flash Gordon, and he felt that only a true fanboy like him could do the story justice. According to his friends, George became truly depressed over his inability to obtain the rights to the character.
He began researching the origins of the Flash story. He traced the creation of the original comic story to a man named Alex Raymond and found that Raymond had gotten his inspiration from Edgar Rice Burroughs of Tarzan fame and some of the other early science-fiction writers who wrote at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The more he researched, the more he became fascinated by the project exactly as a true fanboy would.
George reached out one more time to the film studio to see if they might reconsider and let him have the rights to the Flash story. No deal.
So, as George himself said, “I’ll just have to create my own story.” And so, he did. And we owe it to the owners of the Flash Gordon rights that George created an even bigger, much more popular story than Flash himself.
Yes, only a true fanboy like George Lucas could create Star Wars.