When we last left our heroes, Disney Imagineers Tom Fitzgerald, Tony Baxter, and their project team had collaborated with George Lucas to develop a concept for their flight simulator attraction Star Tours. In their story, the interstellar spaceline offers flights throughout a galaxy recently made safe by the Rebel victory over the evil Galactic Empire…but, of course, the proverbial “something horrible” would inevitably go wrong. For the ride-film itself, George unleashed the same visual effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic that had transported audiences to a galaxy far, far away in the Star Wars trilogy.
Star Wars has spawned a universe of incredible artwork, both licensed and fan-created. Since 2006 when R2-KT became a reality thanks to the hard work of the R2 Builders organization, the pink droid has become something of her own celebrity. The fan community has embraced a cute pink droid that carries on in the memory of her namesake — my daughter, Katie — and crusades for awareness of pediatric illnesses and fund-raising for worthy charities.
I thought it would be cool to showcase the art of R2-KT’s fans. Some incredible stuff has been done in the pink palette, and ties in nicely with other “think pink” campaigns that all have one thing in common: hope. What better notion than hope from a saga that started with A New Hope?
Star Wars artist Tsuneo Sanda has been a big supporter of my family since Katie was diagnosed with cancer. Her story touched his heart and he has created a number of works in her memory. He wrote on his own web site the following thoughts: “It’s been almost a year since lovely Katie-chan passed away. I do not have actual feeling that she died because, we can see photographs of her shining face on the net in the world…Please see the paintings of Katie-chan I imagined. I expressed her loveliness in three paintings in my own way. May her soul rest in peace.” Sanda-san sent us three custom pieces featuring Katie with her droid and one rare copy of his enormous tableau of Star Wars characters where he repainted R2-D2 pink! Truly magical, just like everything Mr. Sanda does. You can see the incredible work of Sanda on his site, www.sandaworld.com.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is an Emmy Award-winning series that pushed the boundaries of animation and storytelling, while exploring the events that followed Attack of the Clones and preceded Revenge of the Sith. Executive producer George Lucas was directly involved in every episode of the show, which makes it essential viewing for Star Wars fans. Now thatthe entire series and feature film have arrived on Netflix, a whole new audience can experience The Clone Wars — but is it for all ages?
Despite it being an animated series that aired on networks geared towards children, it would be a mistake to dismiss The Clone Wars as “just for kids.” Teen and adult viewers may be surprised by the maturity and complexity of the characters and stories presented. Many adult fans have stated that the storylines made them see the prequel films in a whole new light, adding layers of depth to the saga. For the grown-ups in the audience, do not miss out on this wonderful show!
It is because of that maturity and intensity of situations, however, that The Clone Wars cannot be called a “children’s show” without some qualification. As Obi-Wan would say, it depends greatly on your personal point of view. It is family entertainment akin to the Star Wars films, but some episodes may be a better introduction point for kids than others.
When Star Wars came along, it captivated the imagination of countless moviegoers. Every facet from the technology to the effects to the characters came together to create something new and fresh. It wasn’t quite like anything people had seen before, and over the years it’s gained a massive following and made an impression upon thousands of people. Star Wars has even inspired others to pursue certain careers. Just think of how many hundreds of fans entered the film industry because of the adventures of Luke Skywalker and his friends.
The saga didn’t only inspire filmmakers. It also spurred people to chase positions in robotics, entrepreneurial roles, fight choreography, and writing. I spoke with fans in those areas about how Star Wars helped shape who they’ve become.
The power of Ian Doescher’s contribution to the zeitgeist of Star Wars culture is a marvelous thing to behold, particularly when it accomplishes something many educators spend a lifetime trying to accomplish: getting students to invest in the power of Shakespeare’s figurative language. This was on display in my classroom recently, as Ian visited my freshmen students via Skype to discuss his contributions to Star Wars literature, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and The Empire Striketh Back.
I recently shared with you a first look at new merchandise coming to Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios beginning May 16. Today, I’m thrilled to announce that the Star Wars – D-Tech Me experience will return this year with a few new options for guests. This year, the experience will be located inside Darth’s Mall, located in Soundstage 1 between Studio Backlot Tour and Toy Story Midway Mania.
One of the last conversations I have at the March 2014 Lexington Comic & Toy Convention is with a miner from Eastern Kentucky. He comes to my table with his teenage daughter, a pretty cosplayer all decked out in pink, heels a tad too high for her rail-thin legs. A rugged, handsome man, he says proudly he’s a fracker who has coal-mined all his life — except during the years when he had an unhappy experience out West working in oil and gas. “It was crazy out there,” he says. He’s glad to be back in Kentucky, in coal.
“Which Side Are You On?” is a protest song from the late 1930s famously covered by Pete Seeger. The legendary folksinger/activist left us this winter at the age of 94. As one who began his entertainment career in the early Sixties as a Greenwich Village-inspired folkie, I regard Seeger, along with Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, as one of my pre-Bob Dylan Yodas. The song is about a 1931 miners’ strike in Harlan, Kentucky. It was in fact written by a coal miner’s daughter, Florence Reece, who was also the wife of one of the strike organizers. The Eastern Kentucky Coalfield also spawned another folkie, Jean Ritchie — and well-known country music artists like coal miner-daughter Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoaka, and Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley’s dad.
So, which side are you on? Well, Dak’s a Rebel. Those of you familiar with his backstory know he was raised in captivity in the Kalist VI labor colony. As a teenager, he worked in a mine as a laser drill operator blasting away one of the ores that is a constituent of transparisteel.
Recently I have been asking fans at conventions that very question. In February, Peter Mayhew, Daniel Logan, and I were in Pensacola, Florida, at Pensacon. The first day, we three were on a Star Wars panel before a packed house of fans, and I put it to them. The show of hands indicated: 30 percent Imperials, 30 percent Rebels and 30 percent Underground, consistent with what I have found in my previous surveys.