Some TUESDAY Star Wars odds-n-ends
FIRST UP, SOME GROOVY TRIVIA/ARCANA ---
What does BBY and ABY mean?
ABY and BBY stand for "After the Battle of Yavin" and "Before the Battle of Yavin," and can be found in calendars that use the events of Star Wars: A New Hope as the starting point, or year 0, in the timeline.
Thus an event described as 4,000 BBY takes place 4,000 years before the destruction of the first Death Star, while an event 140 ABY takes place 140 years after that historic date.
When Jedi turn to Sith, do their lightsabers turn red, or do they throw their lightsabers away and make new ones? And do Sith have to have red lightsabers?
As someone on the Episode III crew recounted when asked a similar question, "They're lightsabers, not mood rings."
The internal crystal is what determines the color of the lightsaber, not the allegiance of the user.
When Anakin Skywalker succumbs to the dark side and still carries his Jedi blade, it still shines blue. Jedi who become Sith -- and it's not common, speaking on a galactic-scale -- traditionally take up a new lightsaber.
While Sith lightsabers don't necessarily have to be red, the artificial crystal lattice preferred by the Sith does produce a red blade.
Cinematically, George Lucas likes to keep his lightsaber colors clear, so you can count on any Sith lightsaber featured in the films being red. The Expanded Universe, though, has some leeway in depicting these colors, just as it does in the depiction of Jedi lightsaber hues.
In A New Hope, Princess Leia says, "General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars..." Now, noting the "s" in wars... does this indicate that there is more than one Clone War? It contradicts the end of Attack of the Clones, where Yoda states, "Begun the Clone War has." What's the deal?
The day Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, no one dreamed of calling the conflict World War I. It wasn't until time passed that the true scale of the conflict could be measured and a term could be coined that would accurately encompass the war. In this terrestrial example, what was once a strictly European war blossomed into the Great War, and when international turmoil delivered a sequel, it became World War I.
Likewise, the Clone Wars had different labels in the early days of the conflict. The Great Clone War didn't stand the test of time as far as naming went. It was the plural Clone Wars -- suggesting the breadth of galactic conflict and scattered fighting on multiple fronts -- that won out.
I've been an avid reader of Star Wars Dark Horse Comics for the last couple of years. I also really liked the Clone Wars micro-series cartoon. Now my question is which is more accurate? In the latest comic book Anakin just became a Knight and Asajj Ventress is after Obi-Wan. In the Clone Wars cartoon Anakin destroys Asajj Ventress while he is still an apprentice.
Firstly, we never see Anakin destroy Asajj in the micro-series. It was deliberately left vague, since it was known Asajj was to come back elsewhere in the expanded universe. As the old maxim says, unless you see a body, don't count on anyone being dead.
Secondly, all these disparate sources of Clone Wars stories are developed as a whole, and meant to fit together, but each depiction plays to the strengths of its medium, meaning that a comics author or illustrator, novelist, or animator may take certain artistic license to make it a more compelling or dynamic dramatization of events.
So what's the most accurate?
In a case-by-case basis, the comics take a grittier, more realistic approach, but their short page-length often results in rushed or attenuated dialogue or the compression of time.
The cartoons best capture the energy and kinetic spirit of Star Wars, but definitely favor cartoon physics and stylized representation.
Did Mace Windu really wipe out an entire droid army unarmed? Maybe, but we suspect exactly how he did that grew in the telling.
I've heard rumors that Yoda was a species called a Whill, and that his father's Name is Syville Demetris D'Kana. Can you please separate the facts from the fiction?
If you've read that much, you've also probably read that Yoda is from a planet called Grentarik, and that he was trained by the legendary Brontu Sitmus. Fascinating reading, but it's only fan speculation that has gotten some air of legitimacy by circulating around the Internet. Separating fact from fiction is easy in this case -- it's all fiction.
The only person who can definitively set down Yoda's vital statistics in stone is George Lucas, and he has been very consistent in keeping Yoda's backstory a mystery. He has not shared any information about Yoda's home planet or his species. The only nod he has given to the notion that there is a planet out there full of other Yoda-types is the inclusion of Yaddle in Episode I, but she too was never given any real background information. When pressed on the subject, George will say Yoda is a frog and leave it that. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH WHAT A WAG, OUR UNCLE G. (MAYBE THAT'S WHAT YODA IS...A WAG).
The Whills, on the other hand, are not a fan concoction. They too are nebulous and mysterious entities, but they've been found mentioned in the earliest Star Wars scripts. The whole saga is said to be taken from The Journal of the Whills. But ultimately, that strange attribution is just meant to suggest that the Star Wars saga has been around for eons and has been adapted and interpreted from earlier works. There is no "real" Journal of the Whills -- George Lucas just added that to spice things up a bit.
Just who or what the Whills really are, it's still too early to say, but we can say definitively that Yoda is not one of them.
Are the Yuzzum, such as Joh Yowza of the Max Rebo Band, from the planet Ragna III or the forest moon of Endor?
We've seen cases in science fiction where species have supposedly underwent parallel evolution, so that two distant planets astoundingly managed to produce similar natives. What we have with the here is a case of parallel evolution of spelling.
The forest moon of Endor is home to the Yuzzum. The planet Ragna III is home to the Yuzzem. That second vowel makes all the difference.
The forest-dwelling Yuzzum are essentially balls of fur with long, stick-like arms and legs and big, tooth-filled mouths.
The Yuzzem are huge hulking fur-covered humanoids with short trunk-like snouts, small eyes and mean tempers. Be sure to read your interstellar travel guide closely, because you don't want to confuse the two.
The bigger Yuzzem debuted in the very first Star Wars spin-off novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978) by Alan Dean Foster. The name, though, appears to be a Lucas original. If you own a copy of The Art of the Empire Strikes Back, turn to page 24 and look closely at the first architectural drawing of the Echo Base ice corridors. A callout points to a scored section of wall and says "Yuzzem to break through dotted area." The wampa ice creature was at one time called a Yuzzem.
The smaller Yuzzum were developed for Return of the Jedi. Early in development, Endor was to be populated by two species, the furry Ewoks and the stick-legged Yuzzum. The Yuzzum puppets proved too costly to create in large numbers. Only one ever was built, dressed with a blaster rifle prop, and hidden in the backgrounds of Jabba's Palace. For the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, the Yuzzum design was revisited as a computer-generated creature, for the bellowing song-stylings of Joh Yowza.
EDITOR'S NOTE: THERE WILL BE A QUIZ, SO I HOPE YOU TOOK NOTES ON ALL THAT.
MORE ARCANA, OF A SORT ----
The Original Order of Order 66
April 13, 2006
By Pablo Hidalgo
It's one of the most haunting sequences in a movie that boasts several: the Order 66 montage that spans the galaxy and chronicles the ultimate betrayal. The clone soldiers, who were so seemingly loyal to their Jedi generals, show their true colors by responding coldly and efficiently to an executive decree broadcast from Coruscant: "Execute Order 66." EDITOR'S NOTE: DON'T GET ME STARTED AGAIN....SNIFFLE.....
In the span of a few minutes we travel from Utapau to Mygeeto, from Felucia to Cato Neimoidia, from Saleucami to Kashyyyk and finally to Coruscant, where we see Anakin Skywalker at his darkest. But the original incarnation of this scene, as it appeared on paper, had a very different pace and flow.
As testament to the power of the editorial process, George Lucas and Roger Barton crafted a masterpiece of tragedy, supplemented by Industrial Light & Magic's astounding visuals and John Williams' stirring score.
Very little of the Order 66 sequence was shot during principal photography in the summer months of 2003. George Lucas knew that this scene would truly be constructed in editing, so while the screenplay provided the bare bones of the scene, the order of events was always subject to change. This article will compare the shooting script version of Order 66 with the edited final.
In the shooting script, Order 66 begins with scene 100. Differences in this point of Episode III's evolution include the fact that Mace Windu preemptively went to arrest Chancellor Palpatine without solid word of General Grievous' demise. You'll note that in the script, Obi-Wan specifically tells Commander Cody to contact Coruscant with the news.
Another difference in the shooting script is that the camera does not cut back to Sidious on Coruscant when he gives the order; instead, the first Order 66 command is played entirely on Utapau.
Here's how it read:
100 EXT. UTAPAU - TENTH LEVEL - LANDING PLATFORM - DAY
The battle between the CLONES and the DROIDS rages throughout the sinkhole. OBI-WAN rides up to CLONE COMMANDER CODY.
OBI-WAN: Commander, contact Coruscant. Tell them General Grievous has been destroyed.
CLONE COMMANDER CODY: Very good, sir.
CLONE COMMANDER CODY starts to move away, then remembers something and returns to OBI-WAN.
Clone Commander Cody (Temuera Morrison) hands Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) his lightsaber in this image taken directly from the HD camera during the shooting of Episode III
CLONE COMMANDER CODY (continuing): I think you dropped this, sir.
He tosses OBI-WAN his lightsaber, and the LIZARD rears up.
OBI-WAN: Thanks, Cody. (smiling) Now snap to. We've still got a battle to win here.
CLONE COMMANDER CODY: Yes, sir!
OBI-WAN and the LIZARD ride off down the wall of the giant sinkhole.
The battle rages throughout the city. CLONE COMMANDER CODY (2224) takes out his comlink and listens to the HOLOGRAM OF DARTH SIDIOUS as, far below, OBI-WAN can been seen battling DROIDS on a landing platform.
DARTH SIDIOUS: Execute Order Sixty-Six.
CLONE COMMANDER CODY: It will be done, My Lord.
The HOLOGRAM disappears, and CLONE COMMANDER CODY jumps on a Speeder and heads toward OBI-WAN.
In the finished movie, Cody orders the attack on Kenobi right then and there, but in the shooting script, the action instead cuts to the crystalline world of Mygeeto.
In the final version, Ki-Adi-Mundi is valiantly leading his troops in attack. The shooting script instead has the Cerean Jedi Master arriving on the scene and establishing a command post.
Here, you'll see that Sidious was to have identified Commander Bacara by his designation number, which would have made the placement of the fan-cherished "1138" Easter Egg (a sly reference to George Lucas' first feature, THX 1138) very easy to spot. With the elimination of this dialogue, there is no overt 1138 reference in Episode III.
101 EXT. MYGEETO - DAWN
The sky slowly awakens on the crystal world of Mygeeto. A battle rages around one of the tall crystal skyscrapers on the otherwise flat planet. KI-ADI-MUNDI exits a Gunship.
Ki-Adi-Mundi CLONE COMMANDER BACARA (1138) exits a Gunship near the entrance to the city. He rallies his TROOPS to attack the city, then gets a message on his comlink. He stops and moves to one side as a HOLOGRAM OF DARTH SIDIOUS appears on the comlink in the palm of his hand. He moves further into the shadows.
DARTH SIDIOUS: Commander 1138...
BACARA: Yes, sir.
(Silas Carson) arrives on a gunship (or green painted apple box) with his clone troopers, as shot in Sydney during principal photography. (Photo by Pablo Hidalgo).
DARTH SIDIOUS: The time has come. Execute Order Sixty-Six.
BACARA: It will be done, My Lord.
DARTH SIDIOUS fades, and the CLONE COMMANDER snaps the comlink closed and looks to the main plaza of the city, where KI-ADI-MUNDI is setting up a command center.
The script then cuts to the Chancellor's office.
In the final edit, this scene was used to convey Sidious' order to Cody. As shot, though, it was supposed to be Sidious' command to Commander Gree on Kashyyyk.
102 INT. CORUSCANT - CHANCELLOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT
DARTH SIDIOUS stands alone in his private office, illuminated only from a hologram projector beam from above. A small HOLOGRAM OF COMMANDER GREE stands in front of him.
GREE: Yes, My Lord.
DARTH SIDIOUS: The time has come. Execute Order Sixty-Six.
GREE: I understand, My Lord.
The action then cuts to Kashyyyk. In this version of the script, the battle on the beaches had not yet started. Instead, Yoda and the clones were only preparing to fight.
Keep in mind that in the shooting script version of events, the audience has already traveled to three planets without knowing what Order 66 is yet, and has to sit through a thrilling Wookiee war before that suspense is resolved. The shuffling around of the Kashyyyk battle greatly tightened the Order 66 montage, making it immediately clear what the ominous sounding command really means for our Jedi heroes.
103 EXT. KASHYYYK - MEETING HALL BALCONY - DAY
CLONE COMMANDER GREE snaps his comlink shut as he hears the sound of a cane echoing through the meeting hall. YODA appears from the shadows.
YODA: In place, your men are?
CLONE COMMANDER GREE: Yes, sir, we're ready.
YODA: Spring the trap then, Commander.
CLONE COMMANDER GREE: Yes, sir!
The CLONE COMMANDER rushes down to his troops. YODA watches from the balcony. The battle rages as CLONES and WOOKIEES attack DROIDS coming across the water on Watercraft. CHEWBACCA and TARFFUL stand on either side of the Jedi Master as he watches the battle below.
A vista of waterways, high green mesas, and giant tree cities serves as a backdrop for the fierce battle, CLONES AND WOOKIEES against TRADE FEDERATION DROID ARMIES, with treaded tank-like vehicles.
The action then cuts back to Utapau. In the finished edit, scenes 100 and 104 were combined into one scene, and the action was simplified and clarified by having Cody immediately order an attack and a single volley takes out Kenobi and Boga.
104 EXT. UTAPAU - MAIN CITY - SINKHOLE - DAY
The battle rages all around OBI-WAN. DROIDS and CLONES are everywhere. OBI-WAN is riding on a LIZARD, cutting down DROIDS as he races across the battlefield. Suddenly a volley of laser blasts from behind him knocks him and his LIZARD off the wall of the sinkhole. He looks around just in time to see his CLONE TROOPS are firing on him.
OBI-WAN: I have a bad feeling about this.
OBI-WAN falls hundreds of feet to the bottom of the water-filled sinkhole.
Again this was simplified so that we only see him hit the water.
105 EXT. UTAPAU - UNDERWATER SINKHOLE - DAY
The Jedi dives below the surface amid a barrage of laser fire. He dives deeper under the water, fumbling in his utility belt for a breathing device. He finds it and puts it in his mouth. He swims underwater until the CLONE TROOPS give up and stop firing.
Meanwhile on Mygeeto, Ki-Adi-Mundi faces his fate. Unlike the more dramatic betrayal seen in the finished movie, here Ki-Adi-Mundi is caught off-guard not in the thick of battle, but rather in the midst of planning. Commander Bacara is particularly cold, attracting Ki-Adi-Mundi's attention before murdering him.
Ki-Adi-Mundi (Silas Carson) is gunned down in his command center, as originally shot in Sydney during principal photography. (Image taken directly from HD camera).
The re-shoot of Ki-Adi-Mundi's reaction, gathered during additional photography in Shepperton. (Photo by Keith Hamshere).
This is how it was originally shot in Sydney during principal photography. When the evolving edit changed the scene so that Ki-Adi-Mundi is blasted while leading his troops into the fray, his death scene was re-shot in Shepperton during additional photography.
106 INT. MYGEETO - JEDI HEADQUARTERS - DAY
A large, modern plaza has become a makeshift control center for the Jedi. KI-ADI-MUNDI studies a holographic battlefield with his CLONE OFFICERS. CLONE COMMANDED BACARA approaches the group.
KI-ADI-MUNDI looks up. The CLONE COMMANDER and the OTHER OFFICERS reveal hidden laser pistols as they surround the Jedi and blast him before he can reach for his laser sword. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. THAT'S HORRIBLE. I MEAN, AS HORRIBLE AS THE WHOLE THING ALREADY IS, THIS IS MUCH WORSE.
In the movie, the action would then cut to Felucia, but in the shooting script, we're not done yet with Mygeeto.
Originally, Ki-Adi-Mundi was to have been joined by Plo Koon. The two Jedi Councilors who were established earlier in the movie as communicating with Coruscant via hologram were actually supposed to be on the same planet.
Since Plo Koon's death was shot only in the cockpit set against bluescreen, it was easy to transplant him anywhere, which in the final edit ended up being Cato Niemoidia.
Note that in the shooting script, Plo Koon actually had dialogue.
This animatic frame depicts Plo Koon being dogged by clone fighters. Note that here, Plo Koon is flying an Episode III-style Jedi fighter. (Animatic by Dorian Bustamente).
Plo Koon (Matt Sloan) is blasted, thanks to pyrotechnic effects rigged in the cockpit set. (Image taken directly from HD camera).
107 INT. MYGEETO - JEDI STARFIGHTER - DAY
PLO KOON heads his ship toward a battle on a landing platform.
PLO KOON: There they are. Land on the nearest platform.
108 EXT. MYGEETO - JEDI STARFIGHTER - DAY
The FOUR CLONE PILOTS with PLO KOON drop back and blast him out of the sky.
Now the action cuts to Felucia. The shooting script misspells the name AALA, but it's Aayla Secura leading her troops through the alien forest.
She was originally joined by two other Jedi, Adi Gallia and Barriss Offee. This is why the initial cover art for the Reversal of Fortune webstrip series featured these three Jedi characters. The earliest drafts of that story was based on the shooting script that had all three stationed on Felucia.
Gaffer Michael Olague helps prepare Nina Fallon for her role as Stass Allie on the ILM stage. (Photo by Pablo Hidalgo). EDITOR'S NOTE: HEY LOOK! IT'S A GAFFER! (DON'T YOU LOVE THOSE GUYS?!)
Again, this version of events has dialogue, which was shot but ultimately never kept. Barriss Offee's death was never shot. Adi Gallia's was transformed into her look-alike character, Stass Allie, and transplanted to Saleucami, and shot much later on the ILM stage.
109 EXT. FELUCIA - FOREST - DAY
The STRANGE CALLS of the alien forest creatures of FELUCIA suddenly stop. The Jedi AALA and her CLONE TROOPS brace for an ambush.
They all look around for signs of the enemy. CLONE COMMANDER BLY moves up behind the Jedi.
AALA (continuing): Bly, do you think they're Droids?
BLY blasts AALA in the back. The OTHER CLONES fire on her as she hits the ground.
Another Jedi, BARRISS OFFEE, is cutting down a patrol of DROIDS when a CLONE WALKING TANK and SEVEN CLONE TROOPERS round a corner and blast the Jedi away.
Three Clone Barc Speeder Bikes race through the forest. A Jedi, ADI GALLIA, is in the lead. The TWO CLONES following her drop back and blast her, causing her to crash in a huge EXPLOSION.
The finished movie cuts to Kashyyyk at this point to show Yoda's reaction, which is much more dramatic than anything specified in the shooting script. The script instead shows other Jedi on the Wookiee world first, none of which was shot, before cutting to Yoda.
In this sequence of events, there is no cut away to Cato Neimoidia or Saleucami, which at this point in Episode III's development were not in the movie at all, aside from passing references in dialogue.
It's interesting to note that Clone Commander Neyo appears on Kashyyyk here. He was originally to be in charge of a clone turbo tank, and his digital model was fully designed. When this scene was edited out, the design was instead transplanted to Saleucami.
110 EXT. KASHYYYK - EDGE OF VILLAGE - DAY
The battle appears to be over. WOOKIEES stack destroyed Droids while CLONES assess the damage to their equipment. A Jedi, LUMINARA UNDULI, talks with EIGHT CLONE OFFICERS standing in a circle around her. Suddenly they reveal their hidden pistols and blast her before she can react.
The Jedi QUINLAN VOS is riding on top of a CLONE TURBO TANK. The main cannon of a second tank slowly swings to point right at him and a COUPLE OF CLONES.
An animatic frame depicting Quinlan Vos atop a turbo tank. (Animatic by Joshua Wassung)
The cannon fires, and QUINLAN VOS and the CLONES disappear in a huge EXPLOSION.
111 INT. KASHYYYK - MEETING HALL - DAY 111
YODA is meditating. His eyes pop open. There are TWO WOOKIEES in the room.
YODA: Something is wrong. Stay alert.
The WOOKIEES check their weapons as CLONE COMMANDER GREE and EIGHT OFFICERS enter the hall. YODA stands and hobbles on his cane toward the CLONES. When they are close enough, the CLONES reveal their weapons and fire.
But faster than the CLONES can reveal their weapons, YODA ignites his lightsaber and deflects the bolts back at the officers. YODA then attacks the CLONES with surprising agility and power, quickly cutting down the remaining TROOPS.
CHEWBACCA and TARFFUL fire their weapons as more CLONES enter the hall. The Wookiees call out to YODA to follow them. Outside the hall CLONE TROOPS amass to get inside. A COMMANDER some distance away on a large tank, CLONE COMMANDER NEYO, watches with binoculars. He turns to his AIDE.
CLONE COMMANDER NEYO: Enough of this. Tell them to back away.
A turbo tank blasts the Wookiee meeting hall in this animatic. (Animatic by Eric Carney).
The giant tank fires at the Meeting Hall, and it disappears in a huge ball of fire.
The movie cuts to the Jedi Temple, where Anakin encounters the cowering Younglings, and then cuts to Padmé Amidala's apartment. Both of these scenes were added months after principal photography and shot in Shepperton during pick ups, and are thus completely absent from the shooting script.
Instead, the shooting script cuts to Bail Organa's arrival.
112 EXT. CORUSCANT - CITYSCAPE - PRE-DAWN
The city planet is covered in a hazy glow. A column of black smoke can be seen rising in the distance. BAIL ORGANA's Speeder flies overhead, straight toward the smoke.
113 EXT. CORUSCANT - JEDI TEMPLE - LANDING PLATFORM - PRE-DAWN
The Jedi Temple is on fire. Large plumes of smoke billow toward the sky as BAIL ORGANA lands his Speeder on a Jedi Temple platform. FOUR CLONE TROOPERS stand guard at the entrance to the Temple. They lower their guns as BAIL gets out of his Speeder and walks toward them.
CLONE SERGEANT: Don't worry, sir, the situation is under control.
BAIL ORGANA: What's going on?!?
CLONE SERGEANT: There has been a rebellion, sir.
What?? That's impossible!
CLONE SERGEANT: Don't worry, sir, the situation is under control...
The CLONES bar the Senator from entering the temple.
CLONE SERGEANT (continuing): I'm sorry, sir. No one is allowed entry.
The CLONES point their guns at BAIL and cock them.
CLONE SERGEANT (continuing): It's time for you to leave, sir.
BAIL reluctantly heads back toward his Speeder.
Suddenly, several SHOTS RING OUT. BAIL turns and sees a ten-year-old Jedi, TITI JUKASSA, fighting the CLONES. Several more CLONES join in the fight, followed by CLONE COMMANDER APPO (1119), who points at BAIL.
APPO: Take care of him.
SEVERAL CLONES start firing at BAIL. The Senator jumps for cover behind his Speeder, starting the engines and pulling out his laser pistol.
The YOUNG JEDI cuts down several CLONES, including APPO, before he is overrun and shot.
BAIL blasts the Clones. The Speeder takes off with BAIL clinging to the side. The CLONES fire at it as it disappears into the cityscape.
CLONE TROOPER FOX 1010: Don't bother...he's not a Jedi.
In this version of events, the young Padawan is named Titi Jukassa, a name that would eventually change toTado before finally settling at Zett Jukassa.
As you can see, the claim that a film is made in the editing room is definitely true, and in the case of Star Wars the script is really only a starting point rather than a true representation of the finished picture. By comparing the two, you can get a glimpse as to how much changes in the long months that a movie works its way through an editor's workstation to arrive in theaters as a fully realized experience. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK, NOW I NEED TO GO RE-WATCH THIS SEQUENCE IN ROTS. (ALTHOUGH, IT IS ALMOST TOO PAINFUL TO BEAR REPEATED VIEWINGS).
SEGUEING TO A LITTLE BIT OF COMICS NEWS (BOY, I BET I HAVE QUITE A STASH WAITING FOR ME AT THIRD PLANET. GUESS I NEED TO GET OVER THERE)
New Force Rising: Expanded Edition
April 13, 2006
By Frank Parisi
Having made his indelible mark on the comic book industry as the co-creator and writer of Grimjack for First Comics, John Ostrander helped kick start the 80's independent comics boom.
The series, set in a bombed out post-apocalyptic American dystopia, blended hard-boiled detective fiction and high adventure with sci-fi., which -- combined with the fierce artwork of co-creator Timothy Truman -- heralded the age of the "grim and gritty" hero which would become an industry subgenre unto itself.
Over the years Ostrander wrote extensively for Marvel and DC and explored the concepts of good and evil in such titles as The Spectre, Justice League, Wasteland, Suicide Squad, X-Men, and Punisher. Ostrander regularly penned Star Wars Republic since 2000, and now he and frequent collaborator, artist Jan Duursema, are about to release their most ambitious project yet: Star Wars Legacy.
Taking place decades after the events of the upcoming Legacy of the Force series of novels, Legacy ushers in a brand new continuity -- one that until now has been completely untouched and uncharted. Though all of the familiar archetypes and accoutrements fans have come to expect from Star Wars -- Jedi, Sith, Imperials, underworld rogues, Skywalkers -- will be present and accounted for, all will be re-examined and reinterpreted in ways fans have never seen. We had a chance to talk to John about the upcoming series, working with Jan Duursema, the power of myth and storytelling, and making a certain galaxy far, far away dangerous once again.
What can you tell us about Star Wars Legacy?
We're basically kicking everything about a hundred years down the timeline past the events of Legacy of the Force. It's a new Empire, new Sith, new Skywalker. It's taking us into turf that fans haven't seen before.
How did the idea come about?
As we were winding up Republic, Randy [Stradley] was interested in our doing something else and we got to talking as to where it would be. I know a lot of fans want to see things between Episodes III and IV, but I wanted to avoid that because, first of all, I think that there's going to be a lot of things that you aren't allowed to do there, and we've just been coping with that for a couple of years with Clone Wars. I wanted to have a little more freedom.
Also, with all the prequels, we've been caught in a cycle where you know the outcome of the story. It really hasn't been since the original series that you didn't really know what was going to happen next. You didn't know in Episode IV that Vader was Luke's father. You didn't know at the end of Episode V whether or not Han was going to come back alive or not. That was the big debate of the time. How was thing going to work out? We were interested in recapturing some of that initial excitement. The idea that you didn't know what was going to be happening next, that was new and fresh and alive and we wanted to get some of that back into Star Wars, get some of that excitement back in there. And we felt that the the best way to do that is to go out beyond any time frame that we've been in and deal with characters that we haven't seen before.
Is that a risk? Sure is. And isn't that interesting? Isn't it more interesting that Star Wars at this stage after all these years can be risky again? Dangerous? Will it work? Who knows? To me that's part of the interest of it.
How driven is this story by the events of the films?
Not a whole lot. Certainly none of this exists without the films, and certainly there's no Skywalker Legacy unless there were Skywalkers to begin with. But that said, we also draw upon the expanded universe continuity as well as including stuff that will be happening in Legacy of the Force.
Can you talk a bit about the new Sith Lords?
What we're saying is that the rule of two is no more. It's now the rule of one, and the one is the Sith Order itself. Which means that there are a lot of Sith in it, but all are responsible to, and obey, the top Sith Lord who has founded the group, who has brought it together, and who's going under the name Darth Krayt.
This is a whole new Sith Order. It's not tied to the other Sith. Basically according to Krayt's view, the galaxy is in chaos, as has been shown by the Vong war. If it had been unified, if it had been strong, the Vong wouldn't have been as successful as they were. As a result, it needs a single mind, a single force, a single will which is the Sith -- they are going to bring order to it.
They see the Jedi as agents of chaos. While they're founded upon Sith principles -- he grew his new Sith Order on the planet Korriban -- they are not in fact the same as the other Sith. They have a slightly different reason for what they want to do which is the old Pinky and the Brain thing -- today we take over the world, tomorrow we take over the galaxy. EDITOR'S NOTE: ANYONE WHO USES "PINKY AND THE BRAIN" AS A (RIGHTFULLY) CLASSICAL REFERENCE IS MY NEW BEST FRIEND!
Is Cade Skywalker aware of his family's history, especially Anakin's atrocities?
He sure is. He knows Anakin, he knows Luke, and on down. Cade himself was trained as a Jedi. We'll show in the first issue the incidents that caused him to walk away. In addition to the Jedi background he was also apprenticed to a pirate, [though] he's not a pirate. As an adult, he'll actually be a bounty hunter. He's alienated. He's a tough fighter. He's got a real rough side to him.
This may be an overgeneralization, part of the thing we considered when we first talked about Cade, is "What if Han Solo had a lightsaber?" EDITOR'S NOTE: BELISS HARRANI! (INSIDE RPG JOKE) But he isn't Han, and is a rogue as we would define it by today's standards. Han was a rogue by 1970s standards. These are different times, and some of the things he does, particular in the early issues, readers are not going to like. There's some places where I don't like him, but that's because we're starting him off somewhere. He's not the character that he will eventually become. But I think he will be a compelling character. You won't always like him but I think you'll find him compelling.
Some of your most popular heroes, like Quinlan Vos, tend to dwell in the gray areas and harbor both conflicting and yet complimentary characteristics. Is this conscious way of approaching characters?
Not always. There are other characters, like Tholme, like Aayla, who very much are not like that and I'm just as fond of them as I was of Quin.
Some people may say Cade is like Quin, and I suppose in some aspects maybe that is true, but in very specifics, no he's not. If anything I think Cade is a darker character than Quin is. He never completed his training, he doesn't have the same abilities or the same background as Quin does. If anything he has this burden of a legacy, which is the legacy of the Skywalker name.
What do you look forward to exploring the most in this series?
Oh lord...when I say the fans only have the barest glimmering of the tip of the iceberg, I am not making that up. We have so many characters in this that we are working with in all areas, from Jedi to Sith to Imperials, to underworld characters, all of whom are really interesting and have their own stories to tell. Boy it's going to be hard. We're really going to work hard to keep ourselves focused, but there's so many interesting characters here to play with and to throw curve balls with who's going to be what, and who's gonna be this, and who's gonna wind up with who.
What are some of the cinematic and literary influences on Legacy?
Certainly the Star Wars films themselves are the principal thing we're drawing from. We're trying to get both the feel particularly of the original trilogy. We want to throw you into the middle of things with a whole bunch of characters that you find out about as you go. We're going to take situations that are not dissimilar to the original trilogy in terms of the basic situation -- there's a large war, there's been a war -- but at the same time the Jedi are not together at this point. They're scattered, but they're not unknown, and that's different, so there's a touch of the prequels as well.
Narratively I've read widely in a number of different places. I like particularly genre fiction which ranges from pulp fiction through histories, I've read a lot of history and I use a lot of history in terms of real world situations, analogs and stuff like that. There's also writers like Robert E. Howard who knew how to tell a kick-ass story and I like that. There's a touch of Stan Lee. Stan was great at starting a story and throwing you into the middle of it and then telling you "don't worry, we'll catch you up as we go." And he always did.
It is designed to be accessible to those who have been into, say the New Jedi Order. You don't have to have read the NJO to get into Legacy. I have this technique which I call "layering" and the basic way I approach it is: everything that you should need to enjoy the story should be there in the story, in the plot. The more you know about Star Wars the more that you'll find touches and bits and pieces in there that will connect up for you, and so your pleasure will be deepened, but if you don't know them you won't miss them. So the goal here is to be a terrific place for people to come in. And if you already know this stuff it will fit into existing Star Wars continuity, guaranteed. We won't step on other people's toes. We don't interfere with anything that is being done in the Legacy of the Force novels, but we are aiming to make this as accessible as we can.
Can you talk about some of these real world analogs?
Certainly in terms of the politics I draw on everything from local politics. I was raised in Chicago during the time of Mayor Daley (Chicago's longest-running mayor) so I know something about how down and dirty politics can work.
We'll be drawing on different wars, different battles, and what happens after wars. How things fall apart. What has the galaxy been like in past hundred years? How well has it pulled together? From the time of the Clone Wars up to Legacy of the Force there's rarely been more than a few years of peace in the galaxy. So what has this done to the galaxy? And that too leaves a legacy. The title refers not just to Cade but legacy is a theme as well as the title and we're looking at a lot of different legacies -- the legacy of the Empire, the legacy of the Sith, the legacy of the Jedi, the legacies left by all this war. EDITOR'S NOTE: MAN, I LOVE THIS STUFF!
To me a way of understanding Cade is to look at veterans of wars who come back who are disaffected. I know a number of them. Certainly not all of them are disaffected the same way Cade is. A lot of it depends on their experience in the war. But as often is the case they don't like to talk about it. And in some cases their experiences were so bitter that is puts them in a very strange place. Cade has witnessed a number of things that puts him in the place that he is. There's always the question of what are you willing to trade for a sense of security? How important is freedom to you?
What is it about Star Wars that is so compelling to you as a writer?
It's a myth. I love myths. It's not science fiction. Star Trek is science fiction, and good at what it does, but this is myth and myth to me is fascinating. The power of myth as Joseph Campbell talked and wrote about resonates and continues to resonate through us and I think that's the real secret of Star Wars. I think George Lucas knew exactly what he was doing with it because he made use of mythic elements as he was creating the characters.
I want to explore some of those mythic aspects as well, [such as] the hero who carries around a wound. Originally we thought the story was about Luke, and it turned out to be about Anakin/Vader. While the three original movies seemed to turn around Luke and his efforts to define himself as a hero, the addition of the prequels then defines all six movies as really about questions of good and evil and redemption -- can you come back? And what choices do you make and what are the ramifications of those choices? So much of what I've written has revolved over the years around those very questions.
Why is myth relevant now?
Myth is relevant in every era. It reminds us of things that are enduring and yet at the same times it helps embody whole questions it's a great place for exploring issues and questions. It doesn't necessarily have to give us a special answer but it does offer viewpoints.
In what ways did the prequels enhance your views of the Star Wars universe?
They certainly expanded the notion of the Jedi for good and bad, I think. It expanded the notion of the Republic itself. We thought the Republic fell. Well, the Republic didn't fall. It was transformed because people chose it. That was chilling, That's something that remains a threat.
We've seen it through history and it can be true at any time, in any era, that people choose something that seems right to them and is so hideously wrong.
It deepens and enhances our understanding of Anakin. I don't know if it excuses him. In some ways it makes him a worse monster than we had originally thought. But in terms of giving the backdrop for how the Republic became the Empire, then that becomes the fitting counterpoint to how the Empire is later thrown down.
Do you feel creatively liberated now that the prequels are done?
There were things we certainly could not do while the movies were being planned. But even afterwards there's some questions about what freedom that you have to play with. It's George Lucas' sandbox. If we do something with this era that proves to be popular I'm sure others will come in and play with it as well and that's fine, but for right now, we have a tremendous amount of freedom. But that also has a lot of responsibility with it as well.
There are people who claim because the galaxy is not at peace that it makes everything Luke did meaningless, which I don't subscribe to at all.
Luke and company did what they did at their time. It never means that the galaxy or our world is going to stay static or at peace, it means that they do what they have to do at that time. New times bring new challenges. This is a new era we get to usher it in, we get to play with it, but there is a responsibility to make sure that it is Star Wars that has links to the past and then we keep it in tone and feel Star Wars. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT DOES MAKE IT VERY POIGNANT (AND A LOT MORE REAL, I GUESS) THAT ALL THAT GENUINE HEROISM....DURING THE CLONE WARS, DURING THE REBELLION, ALL THAT HAN AND LEIA ET AL FOUGHT THRU AND FOR IN THE YEARS AFTER THE REBELLION...ALL OF THAT IS JUST ONE MORE PART OF A VIOLENT, SCARY CYCLE. WAS IT FOR NAUGHT?
It's like when a painter decides to use a limited palate, sometimes that can be very freeing. So when you decide what the parameters are and choose to see it not as something that is inhibiting but as something that is freeing, so long as you know where the parameters are, there's a lot you can do. Star Wars itself has a lot of parameters but if you know what you're doing, you can play with them. I think William Goldman said something along the lines of "give the readers what they want in a way they didn't expect it."
What makes a Star Wars comic Star Wars?
The fact that it is myth. There's a certain amount of good vs. evil but we also get to play around and look at the definitions of those. On a sheer pragmatic level, you need Jedi, you need lightsabers, you need blasters, you need the grungy underdogs, you need Imperials, you need Sith. The Vong were okay, but we need Sith!
Is continuity hard to deal with?
It's not that hard in Legacy as it was in Clone Wars. In fact one of the reasons we invented Quinlan is so we wouldn't keep tripping over the continuity, until the continuity caught up with us and all of the sudden Aayla was in the movies and Quin was too, in the early draft of the script, and we were not entirely free anymore either. So we got caught into continuity.
But at the start the reason was to have characters whose stories you could only find in the comics, whose ending you did not know, and who we weren't constantly having to refer to continuity with. The same thing basically applies to Legacy. It will tie-in, and there will be tie-ins to past things. I can't tell you how and why yet, but you'll see them.
Speaking of Aayla Secura, how did it feel watching her shot from behind in Revenge of the Sith? EDITOR'S NOTE: SNIFFLE.....
That was nasty! Okay, they shot her, but then they kept on shooting her. Jeez! On the one hand it was sort of like "Ooh..." but on the other hand she's a part of it. To realize that a character that you had created actually went into the movies, particularly when I saw her for the first time in Attack of the Clones -- that's amazing!
I'm sorry that she died like that, but on the other hand, it's cool to see her up there. So yeah, it was real mixed. On one hand you're a papa who goes "My baby!" On the other hand you're a creator who goes "How much more could I have done? How much more successful could I be?"
The one thing I'm proud of is that Aayla was the first character who, instead of coming from the movie into the comics, reversed it. George saw her, liked her. I'm really honored by how much the fans took to Quinlan and Aayla and Tholme and Villie.
Have you ever had story ideas rejected by Lucasfilm?
Oh, sure. We had a whole cycles of stories that just didn't work for them so we wound up canning it. By and large our stories go through. Our track record and the fact we tend to write Star Wars stories that get okayed fairly quickly and on a regular basis has created a good working relationship that permitted Legacy to go forward.
If we didn't have that already in place would they have let us do something like Legacy?
I don't know. I tend to think not. I think we've earned their trust and I think Legacy is going to continue that. As proud as I am of everything I've done in Republic I think just with what's coming out on Legacy so far, you're gonna go "Quin-who?"
Can you talk a bit about your working relationship with Jan Duursema?
First of all, I sit down with Jan and we talk everything through from the start. From the story idea on out through the characters through the plot overview, to the script, Jan wants a lot of input and I give it to her. I run everything past her first. First of all, she knows whether this is going to work visually or not, and secondly she has a great sense of Star Wars and she knows details better than I do.
We'll talk and we'll spend time and she'll run the sketches past me and ask me what I think and we'll look at pages. After the script is written she may show me something and say "Well, I felt I needed an extra panel here or I felt I could drop that panel," and basically I understand it's a visual medium and so the collaboration is the most key point. The stuff I'm seeing now is making my jaw drop. She's talented, dedicated, ferociously dedicated, committed, she loves Star Wars.
There isn't a fan out there who loves Star Wars more than Jan.
How do you develop characters together?
We'll talk about the characters. The amount of hours of development we've spent on Legacy alone is staggering. She might say "That dialogue doesn't strike me as right for that character," and I'll take another look for it. She'll offer me suggestions, and sometimes I'll have suggestions for her. Sometimes she says "That's easy for you to suggest, you only have to write three words and I have to draw it." By and large we have a very good working relationship.
How did you become a Star Wars fan?
I was a fan since before the first movie came out. I read the novel. I thought "It's pretty good and if they put maybe 50% of it on film it might wind up okay." Well then they put up like 150 to 200% of what was in the novel and I was blown away. Brilliant shooting, brilliant editing, brilliant music. They all have something in them.
Do you have a favorite film in the series?
If you put a gun to my head, probably what is now known as A New Hope simply because it was that first experience that just blows you out. But if you ask which one probably influences my writing the most, I'd have to point towards The Empire Strikes Back -- there's a darkness in it that certainly shows in terms of my work.
Who have been some of your favorite characters to write?
I've enjoyed playing with Obi-Wan a lot. There's something about him, particularly the younger years, the Clone Wars time, which is very interesting to me. I also really enjoyed writing Vader when I wrote Purge. He's still in that transition period between Anakin and Vader. There's still a lot of Anakin still in him. A lot of the Jedi could have beat up on him.
What makes a good story?
Characters that involve you, something clear that is at stake, good dialogue, a clean clear plot, and a theme that involves you.
What is your dream project?
I'm really doing the one right now with Legacy -- that's what I want to do the most. I can't imagine doing something else right now.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This one is from Roger…he works with OddBob, so it’s not his fault that he is a sick puppy. (GO TO THE LINK AT YOUR OWN RISK; CONSIDER THE SOURCE, CONSIDER THE SOURCE) ---
AND LASTLY, A SLIGHTLY DELAYED HOLIDAY (EASTER) MOMENT ---
A BELATED HAPPY EASTER!
Power to the Peep-leEntries in our annual marshmallows-as-medium contest topped 400BY RICHARD CHIN
We'd like to say to those who entered the third annual Pioneer Press Marshmallow Peeps Diorama contest that you're all winners.
We'd like to, but we can't.
We don't know if it's the toothbrushes and Pioneer Press swag awarded to the winners or the offer from the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum to display the winning entries, but competition grew to dizzying heights this year, with more than 400 submissions. That's about a tenfold increase from the first year the contest was held.
Entries came from coast to coast, with submissions from New York City, San Francisco, Missouri and Arkansas. There was even an overseas entry from Paris.
As in past years, the competitors included crafty retirees, bored office workers and kids in classes where teachers offered extra credit to students who made curriculum-inspired dioramas.
Once again, we were impressed by the creativity and profound weirdness of those who use squishy Easter candy as an artistic medium.
Contestants expressed pathetic thanks to the Pioneer Press for enabling their Peeps obsession and begged us to continue the contest under future new ownership.
Some created blogs devoted to documenting diorama construction and held in-house diorama competitions in their workplaces.
And they confessed their membership to the cult of Peeps without shame.
"As nearly any schoolchild can tell you, a diorama is generally manufactured in a shoe box. This being a major event in Brian's short life, he opted for a Xerox box," said one parent of a diorama artist.
"We'd like to quit our day jobs and devote all our time to being Peep artists. We know future generations will look back on this time as the golden age of Peep creativity," said another team of diorama creators.
Themes for the Peeps diorama are a sort of candy-coated lens of the cultural zeitgeist. EDITOR'S NOTE: ONE OF THE RARE TIMES WHEN THE USE OF THE WORD 'ZEITGIEST' DOESN'T MAKE ME BREAK OUT IN HIVES. IF YOU'RE TALKIN PEEPS, YOU'RE TALKIN CULTURAL Z-GEIST, YES?!
Plenty of contemporary controversies were represented, including the Vikings' sex boat scandal, the vice president's shooting accident, the Enron trial, the fate of the Ford plant in St. Paul, smoking bans and the French face transplant operation.
Peeps both supported the war in Iraq and engaged in peace protests. Dioramas bashed President Bush and mocked Dave Thune. There were apocalyptic visions of a bird-flu epidemic and woeful depictions of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.
Historical themes included Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, hangings at the Salem witch trials, Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Washington, the Kennedy assassination, George Washington crossing the Delaware, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the moon landing, the life of J.S. Bach and famous deaf people.
Literature-inspired dioramas included "Life of Pi," "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet," "The Grapes of Wrath," "The Da Vinci Code" and Dante's "Inferno." Lots of entries had children's story themes, like Paul Bunyan, Rapunzel and Alice in Wonderland.
Ever wonder what Salvador Dali or Leonardo da Vinci or Andy Warhol would do with Peeps? We now know.
We also got a lot of health care scenes enacted by Peeps — often submitted by health care workers — including maternity wards, dentists' offices and breast-enlargement surgeries.
BIG SCREEN, LITTLE SCREEN
As always, movies were especially well represented, with multiple versions of "Brokeback Mountain," "King Kong," "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "War of the Worlds," to name a few.
Classics like "Wizard of Oz," "Rear Window," "Ben Hur" and "Night of the Living Dead" also showed up.
We also got "American Idol," "Deal or No Deal" and "Desperate Housewives," along with versions of a public television pledge drive and a "Prairie Home Companion" show.
Lots of musical acts were transformed into marshmallows: Peter, Paul and Mary; *NSYNC; Gladys Knight and the Pips; Green Day; Cheap Trick; and Village People.
Sports is a perpetual Peeps diorama favorite, with several Winter Olympics entries this year, plus baseball, rowing, auto racing, swimming and soccer.
Maybe it's because it's spring-break time, but we get a lot of scenes of Peeps at the beach. We also got parades, picnics, weddings, birthday parties, proms, zoos, peeping Toms and the Winter Carnival bouncing girl.
It wouldn't be Easter without some religious Peeps. This year, we got a Nativity scene, a Last Supper, Moses parting the Red Sea and the selection of a new pope.
And possibly the ultimate weirdness, dioramas showing Peeps as food: pizza topping, in toasters and cooked on the stovetop.
Which brings us to this year's winners, soon to be viewable at a museum near you.
Slide show:Take a peep at the peeps
EDITOR'S NOTE: AND HERE'S THE STAR WARS ENTRY....THE MAIN REASON FOR POSTING THIS WHOLE WEIRD ARTICLE ---