Welcome to the fifth of 12 articles revealing – for the first time ever — material cut from The Essential Guide to Warfare before its April 2012 publication. Each section will be preceded by brief comments discussing why the material wound up on the cutting-room floor.
Archive for ‘Books and Comics’
I’ve never had a job that involves quite so much secrecy before. There’s a certain element of surprise when working as a conventional book editor — you want to reveal a cover at just the right time, or you can’t announce a new deal with an author until the contract is signed — but as you might imagine, working at Lucasfilm adds a whole other dimension to the need to keep things under wraps. There are projects we can’t talk about yet, which may or may not be related to entertainment we can’t talk about yet, as well as other things that we just can’t talk about yet.
Unfortunately, all this can make coming up with blog post topics frustrating.
Few sights strike as much fear and awe in the Star Wars universe as the sight of a Mandalorian warrior clad in traditional armor. Star Wars fans were first introduced to it with Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back, with its iconic helmet, sleek weaponry, and very cool jetpack helping to make the bounty hunter a fan favorite. Since then it has made appearances in subsequent Star Wars movies, television shows, books, comics, and games. The armor is, without a doubt, the most iconic symbol of Mandalorian culture.
Mandalorian armor is known as beskar’gam (iron skin) in the Mandalorian language, and is worn exclusively by warriors. It is worn by both men and women, and while it gives excellent protection, it also creates a common appearance regardless of species or gender. The highest quality sets are made by lightsaber-resistant beskar (Mandalorian Iron), but the exceptionally high cost and rarity of beskar has led to the use of durasteel, alum, and duraplast in armor production. Mandalorian metalsmiths have traditionally kepth the methods for working beskar into an alloy a highly guarded secret, but the element could be mixed with other metals such as ciridium to create a highly dense and almost indestructible set of armor. (a)
The galaxy is vast and filled with wonders. There are ancient wonders, like Belgoth’s Beacon, which predates the Republic. There are massive wonders, like the Shawken Spire, which stood freely on the ground and reached low orbit. There are mysterious wonders, like the 35,000 Brass Soldiers of Axum. However, there are very few wonders in the galaxy that are ancient, massive, and mysterious all at once, like Centerpoint Station.
Throughout galactic history, Centerpoint Station has been many things to many beings. For the Killik hives, it was a religious duty. To cosmic threats, it was a prison. Colonists called it home, while criminals called it good for business. Governments have viewed it as a doomsday device, while Jedi thought it as a threat to galactic peace. For the Corellians, its power represented true independence. Centerpoint has been all of these things and more.
The establishment of the Galactic Empire following the end of the Clone Wars brought with it an age of draconian censure to the music of the galaxy. The Imperial Board of Culture was founded, whose purpose was to foment pro-Imperial thought and limit or outright ban any message contrary to the New Order in popular entertainment. The board reviewed all holo-films, novels, and sound slugs prior to their uploading to the galactic distribution nets, and issued them one of three ratings. Pro-Imperial or totally innocuous works, such as “The Mantooine Minuet” (a personal favorite of Emperor Palpatine), the Navy’s imposing parade anthem, “Imperial March,” the neo-waltzes and ganther dances of Nabicci Futana, and the ballads of the Ho’Din diva Annadayle Fayde were passed outright. Works deemed worthless or mildly offensive received a scarlet rating, such as mainstream Core World band Starburst, the track listing of whose second release Only In Your Dreams was deemed offensive and possibly political in nature. Scarlet releases were issued with a warning message, but more significantly, possession of scarlet material could be considered a misdemeanor offense at the discretion of Imperial officials, leading to artists and consumers being conveniently arrested or penalized as subversives (like the Alderaanian band Red Line who disappeared entirely after their vocal condemnation of the Ghorman Massacre at a live performance). The third action of the Imperial Board of Culture was to outright ban politically charged, anti-Imperial works, fining artists and consumers alike up to 1000 credits and imprisoning them. The rowdy scrak band Billi B And The Paradise Gang were early victims. Anti-Imperial group Deeply Religious dutifully submitted all three of their albums, Deeply Religious, The Emperor Of Air And Darkness, and Advanced Explosive Handbook, to the IBoC. All three were banned and subsequently released and distributed on the black market.
When Star Wars fandom was preparing itself for the start of the long awaited Clone Wars in the upcoming movie Attack of the Clones, publisher DeAgostini released its very first issue of The Official Star Wars Fact File on December 27, 2001. Fact File would eventually run for 140 issues, filled with Star Wars lore about characters, ships, locations, technology, and much more. Now, Fact File has returned for another series of 120 issues!
For those of us who were there in the beginning (myself being a member of the “age seven in ’77″ club), Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars Portfolio holds a very special place in our hearts. And yet as familiar as Star Wars fans have become with the 21 paintings within the portfolio, few know that many of them had gone through numerous revisions during the film’s production. In the 16 years I knew Ralph, and particularly during the period when we were working on The Art of Ralph McQuarrie (Dreams and Visions Press, 2007), we had several opportunities to speak at length about those original paintings, and the Ballantine portfolio that introduced so many of us to Ralph and his work.
As beautiful as Ralph’s paintings are, he was always quick to point out they were never intended to be seen by anyone beyond those involved in bringing the film to life. He often said that had he known, he would have tried to put more of a polish on them (as if they needed it). But the success of Star Wars, and the resulting clamoring from the fans for any and all Star Wars merchandise they could get their hands on, would ultimately change Ralph’s life.
Judy Lynn Del Rey, who had been with Ballantine since 1973, saw Ralph’s art early in the negotiations to acquire the film’s publishing license, and recognized its potential as commercial art. She hired Ralph to paint the cover of the Star Wars novelization released in fall 1976, launching a relationship that would result in Ralph’s providing 22 additional cover paintings for Del Rey books from 1978-1987.
The first printing of the Star Wars novelization sold out its entire run prior to the film’s release (one can safely assume in some part thanks to Ralph’s amazing, evocative cover illustration). Once the film was released and an unparalleled success, Del Rey had further plans as how to capitalize on Ralph’s art.