It’s Wednesday, which means one thing: new comic books! Check out a preview of new Star Wars comics available today after the jump!
The influence of Star Wars on a generation of filmmakers is well-documented. But George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away has also inspired creators in other arts, including music. In Guitars and Lightsabers, a new series on the Star Wars Blog, musicians discuss the impact that Star Wars has had on their lives and their work. In today’s installment, Jason Shaw and Garrett Leister of HRVRD discuss what Star Wars means to them.
Jason Shaw: Few words have lasted as long in my life as “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” The first time I ever saw The Empire Strikes Back I couldn’t have been more than four or five years old and to this day, at the age of 29, I think I can close my eyes and recount every minute of that movie. As a child it impacted me with immense enchantment, yet as I carried that enchantment through my adolescence and teenage years I began to evaluate the huge weight that this movie carried with me. That one simple line of dialogue, “There is no try,” spoken by a small green “alien” with pointy ears probably rings in my ears every day of my life. I could literally apply those words to every worry, frustration, anxiety, or challenge I’ve ever had in my life. I’m actually certain that with every challenge I’ve had, the first image that popped into my head was Yoda looking at me with a blank gaze just waiting for me to do something productive and positive to better my situation.
The Dark Times of the mid to late ’80s had passed and as we entered the 1990s brighter times lay ahead for Star Wars fans — but at the turn of the decade, that was yet to become evident to the wider Star Wars public. While rumors continued to float around about the prequel trilogy there was little movement from Lucasfilm on the Star Wars front. Indeded, Lucasfilm had recently completed their Indiana Jones trilogy and were in a busy period, releasing Willow, Howard the Duck, and Tucker: The Man and His Dream. ILM had worked on a number of special effects smashes in the late ’80s including Star Trek IV, Ghostbusters 2, The Witches of Eastwick, and Back to the Future II and III, and LucasArts was fast building a solid reputation in the computer gaming industry via such smashes as Labyrinth, Maniac Mansion, and Secret of Monkey Island. It would appear that Lucasfilm had outgrown its reliance on the galaxy far, far away and developed an identity free of Jedi, Wookiees, and Wampas.
However, in the late ’80s artist Cam Kennedy and writer Tom Veitch pitched an idea to Lucasfilm, who in turn was offered it to Marvel Comics, the longtime publishers of Star Wars comics who had let the license lapse in 1987. Marvel turned it down, despite going so far as to releasing a print ad for the series and the project – Dark Empire – found its way into the hands of Milwaukee comics publishers Dark Horse, a relatively new face on the comics scene who had proven to be adept at handling movie licenses. The title would go on to be a smash hit for Dark Horse, coming out in late 1991 after another dipping of the toes into the Star Wars pool proved to be equally as successful.
During its five seasons, The Clone Wars jumped around both the regions of the galaxy and the timeline of the galactic conflict it chronicled, taking us from Anakin and Obi-Wan’s adventures on the front lines to Padmé Amidala’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the war in the Senate. We saw clone troopers and battle droids in combat, but we also learned about the ambitions of Mandalorians and Sith and were brought into the plots and schemes of pirates and bounty hunters.
For DK’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode Guide, released earlier this month, Lucasfilm wanted to present the episodes in chronological order for the first time, starting with “Cat and Mouse,” Anakin’s duel with Admiral Trench, and ending with “The Wrong Jedi,” in which Ahsoka Tano leaves the Jedi Order, seeking her own path. In all, we chronicled 108 episodes and the 2008 theatrical release, which was originally four standalone episodes.
When Episode I came out a few people were upset by the role midi-chlorians played in the Force — particularly when a drop of Anakin’s blood revealed an unusually high number of them in his system. As Lucas explained in a talk with author Terry Brooks, who was about to start writing the novelization of the film, “In Anakin’s case, there are, instead of one or two or three midi-chlorians in each cell, there’s like a thousand. It’s unbelievable how many midi-chlorians are in there.”
So…what are they? Lucas expounded: “I’m assuming that the midi-chlorians are a race that everybody knows about [in the world of Star Wars]. The way you interact and interface with this larger energy field [the Force] is through the midi-chlorians, which are sensitive to the energy. They are at the core of your life, which is the cell, the living cell. They are in a symbiotic relationship with the cell. And then, because they’re all interconnected as one, they can communicate with the larger Force field. That’s how you deal with the Force.”
We’ve talked in the past the influence of Akira Kurosawa’s films on Star Wars, but I think the one that’s had the most consistent influence has been Seven Samurai. Seven Samurai, released in 1954, tells the story of a group of peasant rice farmers terrorized by bandits. When the bandits come too early in the season, they inform the impoverished farmers of their plans to return soon to loot their food. Instead of yielding, as they had every time in the past, they decide to hire samurai to protect them and find a misfit band of masterless samurai to defend them.
In the middle of 1997 the 501st Squad was born. It was to no great fanfare. And it happened in no more glamorous a place than a flimsy little website hosted by Geocities called “Detention Block 2551.” Tom and I had made a good run of trooping in our Stormtrooper armor all over our hometown, from movie theaters to comic shops to daycare centers to state fairs. But while those events were fun, it was quickly becoming obvious that the concept of the 501st could only take root on the new frontier emerging in the nineties: the Internet.
One of the high points in my career must have been last summer at Gen Con 2012, when two of our big releases were not only games I designed, but Star Wars games. There are two things that have been constants in my life: gaming and Star Wars. To be able to design games using a license that has been so influential to me is a dream come true. I think what I am most proud of with both games are the stories I hear about how they’ve gotten people into gaming that normally don’t play, or have been used to introduce a whole new generation of gamers to a hobby and setting their parents have loved for decades.
I’ve seen a number of posts and have received letters and e-mails from people telling me that both the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG and X-wing Miniatures Game helped them get their old college gaming group back together, or got a reluctant spouse to play for the first time. It is especially rewarding to hear someone say that the Edge of the Empire Beginner Game was their children’s introduction to role-playing or X-wing their introduction to miniatures gaming.
The journey to Gen Con 2012 was paved with design challenges, however. Fortunately, one of my favorite parts of game design is coming up with creative ways to face those challenges.
Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has come to a close. With so many great things to do and see, even attending two of the weekends I still needed the internet to keep up. On Sunday of week three, for example, Tom Wilson, best known to many as Biff from Back to the Future, joined the Behind the Force stage show. During week four, James Arnold Taylor helped the audience wish Star Wars Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni a happy birthday. The list of the spontaneous moments from the event goes on and on. Sometimes they involve big surprises, but for me the most impactful memory this year came during a conversation I had while standing in an autograph line.