Welcome to the seventh of 12 articles revealing — for the first time ever — material cut from Star Wars: 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.
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.
As we move into the next era of Star Wars, easing from the end of The Clone Wars toward Star Wars Rebels and Episode VII, it’s an opportune time to take a look back over two decades to a landmark 1991 release that led us out of The Dark Times. Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn brought us into a decade that produced Star Wars Galaxy Magazine, Star Wars Insider, Shadows of the Empire, the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition, and The Phantom Menace. It jumpstarted a publishing program that endures to this day and formalized the Expanded Universe — stories set outside of the canon established by the films and TV shows of George Lucas that make the galaxy deeper and richer.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the set of General Hospital, a show that I’ve been watching (with the occasional break here and there) for over 30 years. One of the most exciting parts of the visit was getting to watch scenes being filmed. As you can imagine, filming for a soap opera is different than filming for a television show that only airs 22 episodes a year. There’s no time to dwell. The actors say their lines, do a couple takes, and as long as everything looks and sounds good, it’s on to the next scene. And General Hospital has been doing this consistently for over 50 years. It’s just mind-blowing.
It got me thinking about serialized storytelling, and the fact that it’s not easy. And that led to me reflecting on what an accomplishment the Star Wars Expanded Universe is. Publishing has been telling Star Wars stories without a break for 23 years. That’s only two years less than The Simpsons. That’s soap opera territory.
“I believe this tree is talking to us.” — C-3PO
Sentient life comes in many different forms, shapes, and classifications. Although rarer than animals, plant life has also developed sentience across the Star Wars galaxy. Roughly one-and-a-half percent of known sentient life has a botanical origin. And like animals, plants exhibit a range of sentience, from very crude to highly intelligent. At the bottom of the classification system is the plant analog of what anthropologists such as Mammon Hoole would consider a “non-sentient.” While most plants will not respond to external stimuli like animals would (don’t argue about that with a Reeksa survivor), those attuned to a plant’s Force presence will confirm that quite a few of them do have a mind of their own. Jedi describe the life force from plants as an internal hum, each “vibrating according to its own particular emotion, some low and oscillating, others pulsing high and bright to match the explosions of flowers that spring from their stems”.
Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in a committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today we’re looking at the top installments of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Note: In the case of story arcs with multiple strong episodes, we opted to select one installment from each.
When I was approached to write a blog for StarWars.com, I was a bit scared. Terrified actually.
I am not a writer at all. To be honest, I am grammatically challenged.
Working for Lucasfilm was a dream come true. I have been a Star Wars fan since my parents took me to see A New Hope in 1978 at the Van Buren drive-in. Little me would be peeing his pants if he knew then that he would work for Star Wars. I have done four art pieces for Lucasfilm. All of them were extremely fun and exciting to make.
I was approached to write this at one of the busiest times I’ve ever had, and I wanted to put it off…BUT…I was working on a new piece for Lucasfilm and Acme Archives, so I thought this would be a perfect chance for me to write a little bit about my process.
Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO aired on ABC in the US in 1985 and 1986. The cartoon was developed by Nelvana, but it only lasted one season (13 episodes) and one special (“The Great Heep”). The episodes aired during the Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour, which also showed an episode of Nelvana’s other Star Wars cartoon: Ewoks. Droids was a typical US cartoon (though Nelvana itself was Canadian) from the mid-eighties, so it couldn’t show physical violence. Droids also aired in other countries, such as Spain and France, where it was very popular.
Droids takes place 15 years before the Battle of Yavin. Our beloved droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, hook up with three different masters and they meet a lot of new friends and enemies during these adventures. There is no sign of any of the other heroes from the movies. Still, the series looks like it’s a part of the Star Wars galaxy and from time to time it shows ships and vehicles from the movies (Lambda-class shuttle, Bantha II Cargo Skiff, and TIE fighters) and even from Kenner’s vintage line of toys (probably to promote toys that didn’t sell very well).
Something you might not immediately realize is the fact that the show features several elements or designs which have also appeared in the prequels. Some have been used almost literally, others have been used as a concept or are similar in design. One of the people at Lucasfilm who worked regularly on Droids was sound designer Ben Burtt. Burtt wrote the last story arc about the droids’ encounter with adventurer Mungo Baobab. Art director and conceptual designer from the original trilogy, Joe Johnston, co-wrote the elusive episode “Cody and the Starhunters.” It is not exactly known how and why several elements of Droids ended up appearing in the prequels, but it could have been Ben Burtt who offered George Lucas or the conceptual team some ideas for a particular name or design.
Let’s have a look at how Droids influenced the prequels!
During the time of the first three films, there were significant barriers standing between kids and the Star Wars stuff they craved. The drive to Children’s Palace or Kiddie City or Gold Circle was, for most of us, insurmountable. The only way we could get to one of those places, with all their light and treasure, was usually at the tail-end of a larger negotiation of good behavior. Or a birthday. Or straight-up blackmail. As it has been for every generation, going to the toy store was never a frequent enough visit. And since there was no Internet or rec.star.wars.fanz.hanshotfirst.woot, the only place kids could interact with the Star Wars universe was in their front driveways, bashing their little brothers with a piece of plastic pipe stuck into an old bike grip.
There had to be a better way.
Luckily, there was. The best place where young fans of the film could interact with the toys, and thus the movie, was in the paper-thin pages of a Christmas catalog: the Sears Holiday Wish Book. And the best part? It was already being delivered to their homes for free.