Hello! It is my pleasure to write a piece for the official Star Wars blog about myself, Hans Jenssen, and my good friend and very talented colleague Richard Chasemore. I’m proud to say we illustrated almost the entire series of DK’s Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections and Locations books.
Archive for ‘Events’
Fans are the foundation of any convention. Without excited ticket-purchasing attendees who want to see their favorite celebrities or comic creators or authors, conventions wouldn’t exist. But Dragon Con takes fandom to the next level: it’s run by the fans for the fans. So, while companies like Lucasfilm or Dark Horse or the typical convention staples didn’t have official presences in Atlanta, you could still attend fun and interesting panels focusing on Star Wars all weekend long. And since panelists were mostly fellow fans, it was often like one big roundtable. It’s unlike any convention I’ve ever attended.
Ask anyone who went to Dragon Con this year, and they will tell you: The crowds were insane. Last year, Atlanta police estimated that 80,000 people turned up to watch the parade (show attendance was around 52,000), and this year, it certainly felt like an even bigger spectator turnout. While that makes for a tighter situation on the sidewalks (and makes jostling for a good view more complicated), it also adds to the excitement and energy — something everyone can use after a late night of socializing.
I never quite get over the dedication of the fans who walk in the parade. Getting up early during a con to put on a costume — often heavy with multiple layers — and walk through Atlanta’s humid streets just to share your love of your fandom? That’s commitment.
As always, the Star Wars group wrapped up the parade in style. We’re at an interesting time in Star Wars fandom. The announcement of more movies on the horizon has rekindled enthusiasm for the franchise, but since we don’t know much about the upcoming films yet, costuming fans who want to do something new are turning to really creative interpretations of existing characters. So as faction after faction came through the course, we were treated to quite a few surprises.
Every summer, tens of thousands of people flock to Atlanta to attend one of the largest pop culture conventions in the nation: Dragon Con. As always there was a considerable Star Wars presence at the convention this year, with celebrities like Billy Dee Williams, Daniel Logan, and Matt Wood in attendance.
I had the chance to sit in on the panel featuring young Boba Fett himself, Daniel Logan, and the voice of General Grievous, Matt Wood. The panel was moderated by author (and writer for this blog) Bryan Young.
Bryan started out the panel by asking the guests to describe their personal Star Wars fandom before they worked on the films. Daniel Logan said that he had never heard of Star Wars; he was very young when he was cast to play the part of Boba Fett in Attack of the Clones. He said that his aunt told him his life would change. “And now I am here in Atlanta telling stories about my life as Boba Fett.”
Matt said he was a fan from the age of five, and that he would take the cardboard tubes from the Christmas wrapping paper and run around the house with his friends playing Star Wars. He started working for Lucasfilm when he was only 17, testing video games. “It was a complete dream come true and I never left.”
Some weeks after returning to Tierfon from Essen and Celebration Europe in Germany, I found myself one Sunday morning surfing onto the YouTube post of the “Words with Warwick” interview with Anthony Daniels. After a couple of minutes of requisite entertainment banter, Warwick Davis draws some excellent and thoughtful insights from Anthony on Star Wars as popular culture which I plan to reference in a future post or two. C-3PO expresses to his talented and ever-engaging host excited surprise over the number of Russian fans he encountered at CE to reinforce his point on how Star Wars has become a part of worldwide popular culture where fans and entertainers share a “joyous familiarity.”
Star Wars Celebrations are by far my most favorite, and all-consuming, work that I do as head of events for Lucasfilm. During the shows I’m usually running around from point A to point B to get something done, but sometimes I just must stop and take a picture of what’s going on at the show.
Celebration Europe was a joyful event. So many fans and families and people from all over Germany and beyond were smiling and having a wonderful time. I am very lucky to be a part of making the show happen. There were thousands of memories I wish I had captured, but of the photographs I did take, these are some of my favorites.
Each Star Wars Celebration is different for a variety of reasons. This rings true in everything from the guests and panels to the exclusives and special events. These differences are why fans keep coming back again and again, to experience a new and exciting time every few years all while celebrating something we all hold so dear to our hearts…Star Wars.
At Official Pix, we have the unique and challenging task of bringing cast and crew from the live-action films and The Clone Wars animated series to each Celebration. It’s a job, yes, but one that has some very rewarding moments mixed throughout the weekend. For example: Escorting Ian McDiarmid across the Exhibit Hall floor to browse the vendors, Artists’ Alley, and the Rancho Obi-Wan Experience, or spending 45 minutes to an hour with each autograph guest to do massive signings for our customers on a variety of items. Though in Germany, there was one instance that stood out above the rest and it has everything to do with a princess from Alderaan.
Star Wars Celebration Europe was over before it began and Sunday at 5:00 p.m. came far too quickly. We said our goodbyes to all the friends we only see at Celebrations around the world, knowing that the next fan gathering would take place in Anaheim in April 2015. We loaded Slave-2 and squeezed the vehicle out from the stand, made arrangements to pick up Maureen and Jeremy at 09:30 the following morning, and headed back to our hotel to rest our weary heads before the next day’s long drive back to the UK.
Saturday was certainly the busiest day at Celebration Europe if you were intending to visit different panels. I’ve known Gerald Home (Tessek, a Mon Calamari Officer) for many years and he said that Return of the Jedi Creature History was going to be a panel that I would enjoy — knowing I’m a fan of trivia and uncovering the smallest details from the movies. I had been able to speak to Leland Chee and Pablo Hidalgo after the Holocron panel, and Pablo also said I was really going to enjoy it. So I couldn’t wait.