Marvel began in 1939 as Timely Comics, publishing popular superhero titles. In the 1950s, as Atlas Comics they published mainly other genres such as romance, crime, western, and war stories. By the 1960s, the superhero genre was becoming popular again, and the newly named Marvel Comics started creating a number of new superhero titles written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby. During the 1970s Marvel's sales were declining and the company was in trouble caused, in part, by poor distribution.
In the late 1970s the company's fortunes turned around with the smash success of the Star Wars film adaptation, which it began publishing in 1977 after prodding by Roy Thomas, as well as burgeoning successes like The Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil. Jim Shooter, editor-in-chief of Marvel from 1978 to 1987, would later say in an interview regarding the importance of Star Wars to the plight of the company, "Star Wars single-handedly saved Marvel... And that kept us alive." 
Marvel also published stories in Britain under the imprint Marvel UK. In addition to reprinting the American Star Wars comics, the UK series produced a number of original stories.
Marvel continued to publish Star Wars comics until 1986, and the Droids and Ewoks series until 1987. The comic-book license for Star Wars was later picked up by Dark Horse Comics, which began producing Star Wars comics in 1991 with the publication of Dark Empire. Dark Horse would later reprint much of the Marvel-produced Star Wars material under the title Classic Star Wars.