Star Wars-ing: Exploring the Canon with DelRey Books and Marvel Comics

Of course, Star Wars is more than the movies. Since Disney purchased Star Wars, they created a new canon that includes the new Marvel Comics and DelRey Books. While invalidating the old canon angered some, it freed Disney to make the new films according to how they want to make them.  It was, truly, the only sensible business move.  That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the old canon (known as the expanded universe or Legends as Disney calls it).  I just read Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn from the Legends universe and loved it.

At Star Wars Celebration, I attended the authors’ panel and the Marvel panel.

Here are some tidbits from the authors’ panel:

  • Chuck Wendig didn’t really know where some characters would go in Aftermath.  He let some plot lines play out and became convinced as he wrote them.
  • Mr. Wendig definitely had some moments where he thought Lucasfilm would cut it, but they didn’t. One in particular involved Jar Jar.
  • Timothy Zahn usually just gets some “tweak” comments. In fact, the arguments he lost to the story group he is glad he lost.  He further states that if they were horrible to work with, he would have just made three novels (Legend’s Heir to the Empire series) instead of 11.
  • Mr. Zahn created one of the characters in Thrawn to serve as the intermediary between Thrawn and the audience.  (I haven’t read the book yet, so I didn’t catch the name)
  • To keep the tension in novels in which you know that the main characters survive, you have to put the audience on their toes by putting other characters in jeopardy, according to Mr. Zahn.
  • Delilah Dawson pointed out that the moderator alluded to Captain Phasma’s back story…Ms. Dawson’s Phasma book comes out later this year. Spoiler?
  • Christie Golden discussed how most villains have some good in them.  She advises young writers “to make sure their heroes have flaws, and their villains have virtues.” Now, sometimes a character is so evil, and you have to enjoy it.

Marvel

This panel was hosted by Amy Ratcliffe of StarWars.com and featured Jordan White (editor of all Star Wars comics at Marvel), Charles Soule (writer for Lando, the upcoming Darth Vader, Poe Dameron), Phil Noto (artist for Poe Dameron and Chewbacca), Heather Antos (assistant editor for the Star Wars line), Matt Martin (LucasFilm Story Group), and John Tyler Christoper (cover artists that does the action figure variants). The panel focused on previous releases and future ones.  Ms. Ratcliffe did a fantastic job of moderating making sure each person was given time to speak.  That is a hard thing to do with a group this big.

Some of the things I learned:

  • John Tyler Christopher designs his variants not like they looked, but as the 5-year-old he remembers them looking.
  • Captain Phasma, who was indeed over-hyped for the Force Awakens, will have her own comic book.  This, along with the upcoming novel by Ms. Dawson, will hopefully fulfill the promise of this character. And of course, The Last Jedi.
  • The next Darth Vader begins seconds after he screams “NOOOOOOO” in Revenge of the Sith.  He is now half man and half machine with lots of rage, and according to Mr. Soule, he will in indulge in his dark side.  Marvel is letting him make it as dark as he envisioned it.
  • Also, Mr. Soule says we will find out how a red lightsaber gets made.  Plus, not every Jedi was killed by Order 66.  We will meet some of them.
  • Poe Dameron deals with a funeral of a character.  Mr. Soule wrote it right before Carrie Fisher’s death and rewrote it as a tribute to her.
  • Mr. Soule writes out BB8’s words.  He is mostly positive with a few salty phrases.  Ms. Antos then translates it into droid speak and has gone so far as to make a notebook of translations.
  • Mr. Soule, a lawyer, actually enjoys writing Palpatine and uses that to help write him.
  • Mr. Soule and Mr. Noto got to read the Force Awakes script before it came out to help write Poe Dameron.

Really, if you haven’t read any Star Wars comics, you should.  They are well done.  They don’t have earth shattering revelations, the movies kind of prohibit that right now, but they do flesh out each character they touch.  In Leia, we got to see a strong leader allow a few cracks to show through.  In Lando, we saw that for a scoundrel, he actually love his friends.  Darth Vader reminds us that he is, for most of the saga, a villain.

I know the Extended Universe has its fans, but for me it became intimidating.  I didn’t really know where to start.  Having the books and comics come out at the same time as the movies allow for some depth to be allowed to the universe.  Again, because of the films, there will not be any earth-shattering developments, but enough to drive the story along and maybe fill in some blanks.  They also allow us to see Star Wars away from the Skywalker family.  I, personally, think this is a good thing.  To me, Star Wars is just that: tales of war a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away that is part of the living force.  The Skywalker story is the most important in this saga, but everyone’s life is affected in this universe, and their stories deserved to be told as well.

ComicCon-ing: Why We Go to Conventions

Doing all my post-Star Wars Celebration write-ups and the podcast, I took the time to think about why do we go to cons.  They can be expensive, frustrating, and exhausting experiences.  Yet, we keep going and going.

Yet, we keep going and going.

Yes, we are collectors.  We love collecting autographs.  I know collecting signatures doesn’t make sense to some people, but I usually counter that argument by asking the person what they collect and point out why THAT is absurd.  (When you really think about it, collecting is an absurd practice). We love meeting the celebrities and crew members of films.  We want to show our appreciation for them. Both of our collections are extensive.  But this isn’t the reason why we go to cons.

Yes, we like to fill our house with geek art and objects. I love our Batman in New Orleans prints.  I love all the Zelda pieces my wife buys because she loves them. Our goal is to make one of our rooms, the Nola Nerd Couple Lounge. But this isn’t the reason why we go to cons.

We love collecting comic books.  We collect all Star Wars comics.  We love going to panels at cons where comic book creators are speaking and then searching out their books for them to sign.  One of my most prized pieces is the issue of Iron Fist that marks the first appearance of Misty Knight.  Misty’s creator, Tony Isabella, signed our copy.  It is framed and hanging in our Nola Nerd Couple Lounge right next to our Stan Lee signed comic.  But this isn’t the reason why we go to cons.

When we drove back from the con we, along with Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s sister, debriefed each other on our day.  The part where we got the most excited was when we were talking about talking with people in lines.

The real reason we go to cons is that we love being around individuals who love the same things as us.  It’s the fandoms that make cons enjoyable.

I waited for two and half hours for Hayden Christensen. While meeting him was fantastic, it also was a blur.  However, the guy from the UK in front of me had, not surprisingly, the same interests as me.  We talked about cons.  We spoke about music. I didn’t feel like I waited for two hours. Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple had the same stories about people she met in line. She told me more about the guy she was in line with for Tiya Sircar, then she did about Mr. Sircar. Waiting for Phil Noto, the person in front of me chatted about comics books. Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple joined an online group of autograph collectors and did a meet up with them on Friday and had a great time.

If you check other write-ups and podcasts of Star Wars Celebration, you will notice that meeting other fans is the usually the number one reason why people do this.  Being with other fans is where the real lasting memories are made.

In my very first blog about a con, I entitled it Nerds of the World Unite. That was my first con. I was just glib with the title. Now, I understand how correct I was in my title. We go to cons to feel united with other people like us.  We do this the same way people go to football games, political rallies, or book clubs.

We go to be with our tribe.

 

Star Wars-ing: Ahsoka Lives!

I think a lot of Star Wars fans of the Clone Wars have the same response to Ahsoka Tano that I did. I hated her at first.  She was a typical teenager. Anakin gave her the perfect nickname in “Snips.”

Then I became invested in the show.  My feelings for Ahsoka changed.  First, it was “ok…I don’t mind an Ahsoka episode.”  Then I couldn’t wait for them. The way she exits the show makes her the Jedi (I know she left the Order but she never wavered; it was the Order that did) I admire the most.  In fact, when Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple asked who was my favorite character, I didn’t hesitate when I said Ahsoka. Unfortunately, she was asking what lanyard I wanted from Amazon, and she was unforgivably not an option. I went with Rey instead.

Meeting Ashley Eckstein was fantastic.  She is one of the last people we needed for our Clone Wars Poster.  Ms. Eckstein was even surprised we never met her before when she saw the names already on the poster.  She talked to each of us and even noticed that Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s sister was wearing one of her jumpers.

The next day at the Rebels Panel, showrunner Dave Filoni was wearing an Ahsoka Lives? shirt. Now, the Saturday of Celebration was the Ahsoka Lives Day!  He is completely aware of the fandom and realized that there was going to be a huge meetup that day.  In other words, he was basically trolling fans.

After that panel, almost everyone that cosplayed as Ahsoka or who wore any clothing with her on it, gathered at the main steps to the second floor of the convention center to take a group picture.  Ashley was there, and so was Dave with a new shirt that changed the “?” to a “!”  (Click on the pictures to make them larger).

Later in the day, I attended the Marvel panel.  There was an extremely unscientific poll about who should their next comic focus on. Of course, it was Ahsoka.

BECAUSE AHSOKA LIVES!

Star Wars-ing: Amazing Cosplay at Star Wars Celebration

One of our favorite pastimes at Star Wars Celebration is seeing people cosplay.  From the thrown together ones to the extremely detailed, they are all done with love of a true fan at heart.  We love the mash-ups and the by the book accurate.

Here are the pictures we took at Celebration of people dressed up as some incarnation of a Star Wars character or idea.  If any of these cosplayers are you, shoot us an email at nolanerdcouple@gmail.com, and we will send you the unedited picture! Click on the image to make them larger.

The Nola Nerd Couple Podcast Episode 12: Star Wars Celebration Review

Star Wars Celebration Orlando has come and gone.  We had some amazing experiences and frustrating ones as well.  We talk about all the things we love and the things we didn’t like at Celebration.  Luckily, the bad things didn’t ruin it for us (even though I’m not sure that was the case for everyone).  We also do a lengthy preview of Comicpalooza, talk about a May the Fourth event at Dat Dog, and give our take on how to tackle Jazz Fest.

Of course, we took tons of photos at Celebration, plus we still have some blogs to write about Celebration.  These pics will mostly be of the exhibition and autograph halls in addition to other sights that we saw in our four days at Star Wars Celebration Orlando.  Click pictures to make them larger adn to read captions.  If any of the photos are of you, let us know and we can send you an unedited copy.

Star Wars-ing: The Rebels Panel at Star Wars Celebration

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The Star Wars Rebels Cast and Dave Filoni

We didn’t do many large panels at Star Wars Celebration, opting to do autographs and other events instead.  One panel we did not want to miss was the Rebels panel. Creator Dave Filoni has constructed a great story around a great set of characters.  The show can be both big and exciting (such as the season three finale) or small and quiet (such as Dueling Suns).  It has its own timeline to work with one that is separate from Princess Leia’s rebellion.  It serves as a reminder that the rebellion is a larger entity than we often give it credit for in the saga.

Here is what we learned at the Rebels panel:

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Star Wars-ing: Picking Up STEAM at Star Wars Celebration

I only got to attend one Star Wars Universe panel during Celebration. I regret not making more time to go to more but the one I attended was one of the best education-based panels I have ever attended at any con.

 

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The STEAM Panel at Star Wars Celebration

 

The focus on this panel was STEAM and how it influences Star Wars and vice versa. The panel was made up of an engineer, another engineer who works for NASA, a droid builder, a doctor, and a computer scientist that works for ILM. Imagine a panel where a guy designs and builds R2D2 is admittedly not the smartest person on the panel.

Let’s face it, Star Wars is light on the science part of sci-fi.  It’s more about the hero’s journey.  However, I didn’t realize how many of those characters are engineers on some level.  R2 and Chewbacca are always tinkering and finding new ways to solve problems.  Leia is not afraid to get grease on her elbows.  The ships themselves, especially for the rebellion, look like parts thrown together to make it work.  All of these things inspired our panelists.

In fact, one of the panelists, Holly Griffith of NASA, became a scientist because of Princess Leia.  It was Leia’s fearlessness in dealing with people and machines that made her want to help people to achieve space travel.

The A in steam stands for Art.  The panelists discussed how a lot of what they build not only has to be functional but aesthetically pleasing. Not only that, but the art department at Star Wars uses science to make sure their works work properly according to the rules of science.  Sometimes, this can be a simple thing like making a droid look dirty.

 

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Notice how the dirty R2 looks more believable as a functioning object.

 

Four of the five panelists were women.  Every question and comment from the audience came from women. It’s great that Star Wars helps inspires people to choose careers in the STEAM field especially groups that have been underrepresented in those fields — especially before Star Wars came around.  I’m not going to give Star Wars all the credit, but great sci-fi, like Star Wars, has helped inspired positive change in the world.