Posts Tagged ‘Jedi Boogaloo’

Mon Calamari Monday

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Here’s a quick sketch of Admiral Ackbar, in honour of #MonCalamariMonday.  The Mon Calamari are, of course, the best “Mon” in the Star Wars Universe, closely followed by Mon Mothma, Ephant Mon, and Mon Julpa (I had to look that last one up on Wookieepedia).

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A Wretched Hive of Vapid Celebrities and Overpriced Drinks

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

OK the new entry in the Star Wars saga is pretty interesting, but I’m not sure where it fits in the timeline. For one thing The Mos Eisley Cantina has turned into one of those ghastly sports bars. It looks worse than The Outlander Club from Episode II. Daft Punk fit right in, of course, as they look exactly like those police robots from THX 1138 and Indie Godheads Ian Brown and Noel Gallagher are now so grizzled that they don’t exactly look out of place next to Hammerhead and Snaggletooth. I don’t know about Snoop Dogg awkwardly handling a lightsaber though. The Drop It Like It’s Hot hitmaker is about as convincing a Jedi as Don-Wan Kihotay. Walrus Man is clearly disappointed with the state of hip hop today and just wants to make his feelings known.

Girly voiced male model and occasional “Soccer” player David Beckhams makes an appearance, being hassled by Greedo… or at least some other rodian – they not only all look alike but they even dress the same. Jabba wants him to play for his team – at this point I could hear a million voices suddenly cry out in terror – or at least a bunch of fanboys bleating about their childhoods being raped. Look, if Adidas is going to sell overpriced sports gear with stormtroopers on or something, that’s fine, but all they need to do to get me to shell out is flog those casual jackets that Luke and Han wear in Empire. That’s what was wrong with the prequels, no casual jackets!

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Thought Bubble 2011

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

So we were at Leeds’ fantastic Thought Bubble Festival. Now twice as big and twice as long (snarf snarf), it continues to be the most fun event on the UK comic book calendar. Judging by everyone I spoke to and all the reports I’ve read, a brilliant time was had by all and I’m sure everyone who went is looking forward to the next one as much as I am. Would it be too much to ask for two Thoughtbubbles a year? Or three? Make it happen, Obama!

As I mentioned (moaned about) previously, my copies of Hope For The Future 14 had not arrived from the printers on time, but even with this potentially disastrous mistake, we still managed to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. I felt it was necessary to have something new  to flog, so I did a bunch of sketches of various comics characters (and not, as I had threatened while at my lowest ebb, a series of pics of cock and balls). People seemed to like them anyway, so much so that I struggled with the number of requests I got. The lesson we can take from this is clear: charge more money for them!

I accidentally got up an hour early due to drunk alarm setting and a poor grasp of the concept of time, but for once I was prepared and remembered to bring such essentials as a pen, some change and a bottle of vodka. I’m getting better at this conventions lark. What I haven’t mastered yet, clearly, is the art of going in for the kill, sales wise. Our fantastic brand new comic Pizza The Action, drawn by Award Winning Artist Andrew Livesey and written by me, was available for a reality shattering low price of 10p – officially the lowest priced comic at the convention (I decided). Look, I’m sure there was stuff being given out for free but this comic is actually good. I should have been screaming this at the top of my lungs every second of the weekend in order to publicise it. I would make a terrible prostitute.

The nearest I got to any cool creators was surreptitiously taking this photo of the top of Woodrow Phoenix’s head, and staring creepily at Peter Milligan from across the room. Never meet your heroes, kids. Especially if, like me, you are incapable of forming a comprehensible sentence at the best of times, let alone in front of someone whose work you admire.

There are always plenty of cosplayers at Thoughtbubble. I never tire of seeing stormtroopers. They look brilliant even if most of them are too short. At one point I passed The Joker at a urinal, which really isn’t something that happens enough in my life. Talking of which, this Harley Quinn was so perfect she could have sprung fully formed from the pencil of Bruce Timm. Mr J would be happy.

If you don’t want to cosplay yourself, you can always dress up your kids. I saw a mini Jedi and a mini Han Solo. Why doesn’t anyone dress their kid up as an ewok? Or Grievous?

Far too late on the second day I realised that we were opposite the bar prompting me to tell people Come over, buy some comics and get pissed! By this time, everyone (including us) was recovering from a hangover, but I reckon if that had occurred to me on the first day we would have sold ten times as many comics. Other ruses that we missed were procuring an endorsement from someone famous, and getting hot girls to pose for photos with our merchandise.

Contrary to my carefully constructed image of a socially inept curmudgeon, I did actually speak to some folks over the weekend. Apart from everyone who came to our table (hello), I had a chance to catch up with some old friends. Lee Carter’s a brilliant illustrator who’s currently doing some truly jaw dropping stuff for 2000AD. I knew him when he had long hair and listened to Steve Forbert. John Welding‘s a good pal and is currently doing some wonderful artwork for a new comic for kids called The Phoenix (incidentally, if you’re a fan of his work, he once drew a story I wrote in Hope For The Future issue 4). I hadn’t spoken to Terry Wiley for a while so it was good to bump into him. I say it all the time but his Sleaze Castle was a massive influence on my stuff and his new comic Verity Fair looks total aces. Also big ups to my convention chums and Twitter pals Jason Cobley (whose Frontier: The Weird Wild West collection is soon to be published in hardback) and Richard J Smith (who gave me a copy of his new opus Dino-Might, the everyday tale of a luchador who may or may not be a dinosaur). I hope I didn’t forget anyone. If I did, tell me off in the comments!

I dunno what my highlight was, but being mistaken for a student was up there. Or maybe when my new comic arrived THE VERY NEXT DAY! Argh! Ah well, there’s always next year.

More pictures over at Flickr – get taggin’!

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Quixotic Jedi #1

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Don Wan Kihotay was another of Han Solo’s “Space Freaks” in the “Eight For Aduba 3” storyline, in the first post movie issues of Marvel’s Star Wars series. As the name (and the triple pun, which went straight over my head) would suggest, he was a Jedi Knight. Or, more accurately, he was a crazy old man who thought he was a Jedi.

He has two looks, which is pretty exciting. Firstly he appears as a mad eyed bedraggled cross between Catweazle and a thin Michael Bentine. Those are some pretty archaic references right there, but I’m talking about thirty four year old comics, so fuck you. The second look is straight up Don Quixote, in full plate mail armour. I think he even had a lance at one point. Obviously they really wanted you to get that “clever” parallel, but as a six year old I wasn’t too familiar with seventeenth century Spanish literature. Kihotay seemingly gave his life fighting the Behemoth From The World Below, except it was revealed that he didn’t, he was just injured. He may not have gone off to have an auspicious career in the expanded universe, but Marvel would later introduce a very similar character.

Their joint legacy continued in the Star Wars role playing game from West End Games, which had a set of character templates that included “Quixotic Jedi”. I don’t know anyone who wanted to play as a crazy old coot but it was one of the only ways to get your hands on a lightsaber.

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Great Googly Moogly, It’s Another ThoughtBubble

Friday, November 9th, 2012

How quickly time flies. It only seems like five minutes ago that I was fretting about getting my new issue printed in time for last year’s Thought Bubble comics convention in Leeds. Long time readers will know that I got the issue the very next day, which means Hope For The Future #14 is making its TB debut. This bumper issue features all sorts of crazy shit and whimsical shenanigans. And some hidden messages that didn’t really work, but you’re welcome to look for and try to decipher them. If you are able to do this, you’re a lot bloody cleverer than I am, and I definitely owe you a special prize.

In addition I have a brand new printing of the previous issue, with some crucial, special edition style changes. While I’d like to say I was waiting two years for “technology to catch up with my original vision”, the truth of the matter is I changed some dialogue in order to make it somewhat easier to understand what’s going on. This is what you have to deal with when you work without an editor, kids. Never work without an editor.

There’s also a new printing of (the long out of print) Hope For The Future Book 2 – now with a slightly better cover, and the usual back issues and junk. In addition I’ve had a limited number of A3 prints of various illustrations, both HFTF related and general comic book and film characters. And by “film” I mean Star Wars. And by “characters” I mean mostly weird old obscure guys that you’ve probably never heard of. I definitely haven’t yet got the hang of this “shameless ransacking of popular culture for massive commercial gain” thing yet.

Something that always goes down well (snarf snarf), and by “well” I mean “miles better than any of my comics” is bespoke sketches. So if you have any requests, let me know via e-mail or Twitter and you can pick them up on the day, or you can take your chances in the massive queues that are sure to form as soon as the doors open. For some examples, check out last year’s report. Three quid will get you something decent – anything less will probably just be a cock and balls or something. A tasteful cock and balls, mind, but a cock and balls none the less.

 

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Jedi Kidz

Friday, December 7th, 2012

So when I heard that The Clone Wars was going to feature a group of Jedi younglings, well, I can’t say my heart sank, exactly, but I certainly didn’t think it would be essential viewing. At its introduction, the series was always supposed to be for a younger audience, but gradually it has developed into a much more interesting and (to employ a cliched and overused word) “dark” show, to the point we now have people getting tortured to death, clones murdering their commanding officer, and General Grievous dismembering zombies. At its finest, Clone Wars evokes the spirit of the movies (see The Citadel, Wookiee Hunt, A Friend In Need and so on) and even when it veers away into other genres (The Mortis Trilogy, The Box, Brain Invaders et al) it’s still enjoyable stuff, and occasionally recalls some of Marvel Comics’ more idiosyncratic spin off tales. Incidentally, the only EU I care about is The Clone Wars, the Marvel comics, and this.

Fair enough that the series is being taken, if only temporarily, back to its original conception, but it turns out that these episodes were great – funny, exciting, and including some great stuff from mercurial weequay pirate Hondo (a real breakout character on the show). Most of all, the kids weren’t annoying. Wonders will never cease right? I was expecting Cindel Towani, but the younglings are pretty good characters, and two of them are downright adorable. Gungi the smiley wookiee seems to be the popular choice. Everyone loves wookiees, I guess. Not even The Holiday Special can change that. But it’s Byph the Hammerhead (oh, all right then, “Ithorian“) that gets my vote. Lanky, awkward, chittering away in his alien language, I find it impossible not to love this guy. The “Young Jedi” arc is clearly a tryout for a future kid based spin off show, but all it needs is Gungi and Byph in an Odd Couple style setup, and I am totally sold.

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May The d4s Be With You

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

My journey back through the mystical labyrinths of Role Playing Games led me to the most predictable point possible – The Star Wars RPG. We played quite a lot of this as teenagers  and my memory is that the books published by West End Games were always really well produced and entertaining. This game actually created a lot of what was later to become known as The Expanded Universe. Prior to this, we only had those jokey nicknames like Hammerhead, Squidhead and Motorhead (One of these may be falsified). I still love the fact that there was a character whose given name (or the name of his race) was Snaggletooth. Actually maybe it was both: Snaggletooth The Snaggletooth. Who has a snaggle tooth.

Other stuff from that original RPG that was ace:

  • Anyone can fly any ship – this is quite an important distinction from things like the Star Trek game in which you could only do something if you’d spent a couple of years at the Academy taking exams – here, like in the movies you can just just leap into some bucket of bolts, start flipping switches and be doing The Kessel Run in an unspecified amount of time and/or distance
  • One of the starting “character templates” was called “Quixotic Jedi
  • It taught me the meaning of the phrase “In Media Res” – According to the rulebook, all Star Wars movies start in the middle of the action. Except they don’t – only Star Wars (and, later Revenge Of The Sith)  actually do.
  • It was more about heroically doing faintly ridiculous things, rather than collecting gold pieces and +2 Vorpal Swords
I guess if I’m going to run any RPGs, that’s the one, right? I mean I’ve spent the last 36 years filling my head with made up space nonsense, I may as well put it to some use. So, after a quick trip to eBay I bought up a bunch of the more recent (but now over a decade old) Wizards Of The Coast published RPG books. I think the edition I have is officially called “The One with Episode 2 Shit In It”. Since then my internet research has told me that the later “Saga Edition” (aka “The One With Episode 3 Shit In It”) is better, but even that’s been replaced by Edge Of The Empire published by Fantasy Flight. Even though this brings out a primal urge in me to get back on eBay and spend a ton more money, I suspect it doesn’t matter what system you use. With the old West End Games version, after a while you used to have to throw a bucketfull of d6 dice to do anything at all and I don’t recall anyone complaining.
For a scenario I bashed together a bunch of bits of the movies, along with references to some of my favourite stuff from the Expanded Universe (Purely for my own amusement, there is a casino on Nar Shaddaa called The Kopa Khan). I had a out-of-time Jedi that had been frozen in carbonite since The Clone Wars, a starship chase through the aforementioned cityplanet, Trandoshan Bounty Hunters and a sneaky doublecrossing Duro. Everything came to a head on the Moon of Sulon, purely because I liked the old Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games. No “Grave Tuskens” though – that’s the beauty of this shit – you can ignore anything you don’t like. Now, roll for your Midichlorian count…
Seeing as the game was relatively well received (ie. no one fell asleep, set fire to their character sheet or punched me in the face) now I’m continuing a campaign for these characters – luckily, there are a ton of published adventures out there on the web. Next up is Dawn Of Defiance, a ten part adventure, that I’m not sure we’ll get all the way through, but I’m going to have fun redrawing all the characters from it. And also my own. I guess doodling the most obscure characters I could find from the Star Wars Universe wasn’t quite niche enough – I eventually had to start making them up.
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Speed, Noise and Cool Looking Shit

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

I had a bit of a surprise when I saw this article on Topless Robot. The slightly hipsterish sounding “Star Wars Holiday Special Life Day Celebration” included a shrine to the end of the Expanded Universe (because why not?), and there was, seemingly, my Jaxxon picture adorning a candle. In order to tell my wife about this I had to explain what the Holiday Special was, explain what The Expanded Universe was, (and how that particular universe had come to an end, even though it never actually existed), and explain that Han Solo once hung around with a six foot green humanoid gunslinging rabbit. When you talk about this sort of stuff to non nerds, it sounds really fucking goofy.

Even as a massive Star Wars obsessive I was never that bothered about the Expanded Universe. Well apart from The Marvel Comics. And The Clone Wars, obviously. And the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games were pretty dope. And the NPR radio drama. And Knights of The Old Republic. And X-Wing. And TIE Fighter. And West End Games’ Star Wars Role Playing Game. Actually, as an EU refusenik, I’m like one of those “vegetarians” who eat fish.

We pick the stuff we like and and happily disregard the rest. Well, some of us do. Some fans will wallow in everything. each individual fiction as “real” as the next, while others will be militant “movies only” fans (and often, “Original Trilogy only”, but let’s not go there).

The repository of all this gloriously sprawling hot mess of story/history/made up space nonsense is Wookieepedia, which chronicles everything from The Darker to Luke Skywalker’s Dog. No detail is too obscure or too stupid although not every fiction was deemed to have the same reality, however, and entries were segregated into levels of canon, a scale of importance from the movies at the top (G-Level, for George, obv) to forgotten ephemera like Yoda Stories at the bottom.

Ackbar - for no reason whatsoever

That’s changed now, of course. Since Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced that they would be making more movies, they’ve had to take the necessary step of getting rid of the existing Expanded Universe. It makes sense, if you’re making films that you want to be huge, big budget mainstream successes, the last thing you want to be telling people before they walk into the cinema is that they need to read four million spin off novels in order to get caught up.

Much of the architecture of the Galaxy Far Far Away has persisted, of course. Names of planets, alien races and corporations that never appeared in the films, many created for West End Games’ RPG, have been happily used as a resource by writers on The Clone Wars, Rebels and the first novels and comics under the new regime. Even though Trioculus isn’t there any more, don’t look for him, Twi’leks are still called Twi’leks, even though nobody can decide on the correct pronunciation.

The Second Best Character From The Clone Wars

Many fans predictably lost their minds about the announcement*, and it’s easy to see why. In reading a novel you become much more invested in the characters, especially if those characters have been created specifically for those books. I checked out of the post Jedi books round about the time when Han and Leia’s kids were babies and were getting stolen as often as The Death Star plans**, but I understand those characters grew up and were given greater leeway and room for development than their seniors, who would be required to remain as close as possible to the way they appeared onscreen all those years ago.

The novels never did it for me, though. They didn’t capture the feel of the movies, which were always about speed, noise and cool looking shit (naturally I gravitated to video games and The Clone Wars). So, not being invested in those particular stories, I didn’t care too much that they were no longer canon (at any level).  The idea that some stories are more “real” than others, whilst they all remain fictional, is ridiculous, of course, but it’s brilliantly ridiculous.

As a child of the 70s, having grown up with the Marvel Comics series, I was used to the idea of stories being disregarded. When I saw The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, I may have genuinely wondered why Darth Vader and Luke never referenced the fact that they had already run into each other on the planet Monastery. I was dismayed that Kenner never produced action figures of Baron Tagge,  Dani or Valance. But it soon became apparent that these stories weren’t quite happening in the same universe. One of the greatest moments in that series is the two parter Resurrection of Evil/To Take The Tarkin. Luke and Leia are searching for a location for the new rebel base, while Lando and Chewie are looking for Boba Fett and the frozen Han Solo, and they are all recalled back to the fleet to deal with a new threat from the Empire – a newly constructed, sort of but not quite Death Star. The doomy mood of the story completely fits into the atmosphere of the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi, and it features a brilliant solution to the problem of Luke and Vader encountering each other without actually being able to come face to face.

However, this story can’t happen within continuity. Not because it contradicts anything in the films, but because, by taking away the novelty (such as it was) of resurrecting The Death Star, it muddies the clear, direct storyline we see in the trilogy. That also goes for Luke and Vader’s “showdown” prior to Empire, and the ridiculous back and forth of Han’s debt to Jabba The Hut(t). Ultimately the spin offs never affected the films*** and I can’t see that situation changing, although with the creation of the “Story Group” there may be fewer contradictions from now on.

Lucasfilm’s announcement also suggested they wanted to discourage the use of the term Expanded Universe. Everything going forward is either “Legends” (the  mountains of old stories in books, comics and games) or Canon, (the original films, and everything to be produced from now on, whether it be the new films, TV series and forthcoming spin offs).

Real

Even though there were a few things that were rumoured to have had George Lucas glance in their direction (Shadows Of The Empire, The Force UnleashedCaravan of Courage etc), the Expanded Universe literally meant everything Star Wars that wasn’t the movies. So, essentially, everything that Lucas hadn’t had a direct hand in creating. That trend was bucked when The Clone Wars TV Series was created, and between 2008 and 2014, Lucas would drive story development and produce the whole thing. Clone Wars, while being a spin off, was generally considered to be canon rather than EU.

So, stop me if you can see where I’m going with this, going forward into an era where the creator of the Star Wars Saga is no longer involved in any stories, surely everything we’ll see from now on can be considered Expanded Universe. That includes Rebels, the new books and comics and, yes, The Force Awakens. I’m fine with that, really, as even when Lucas was talking about the notional episodes 7, 8 and 9, he was extremely vague and non committal. For the past decade or so, he’s been denying they were ever even on the cards so it’s clear his heart was never in it. He completed the story he set out to tell and now he’s left his universe to be expanded ad infinitum.

7w

 

* Ziro The Hutt is canon but Grand Admiral Thrawn isn’t? Travesty! Actually Ziro is way better than Thrawn. He’s a giant purple slug with a ridiculous voice and mother issues, who pretended to be in love with a… well, whatever Sy Snootles is.
**This is an EU joke
*** Beyond a handful of names (Coruscant), background characters (Aayla Secura) and this awesome illustration
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