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An open letter to J.J. Abrams about making Star Wars VII

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There’s nothing coming out of the London based Star Wars camp, as of late, that has me even remotely interested in how this will all turn out. No one really knows how or what, J.J. Abrams, will do with this beloved franchise. All we have to go on are his previous films, which aren’t bad, but they weren’t all that great either. This humorous open letter to the God of lens-flares, is the work of Prescott Harvey an employee at Sincerely Truman, a marketing company in Portland Oregon.

The short video talks about what every Star Wars fan has gone over and over in his or her head since the prequels “What made Star Wars great?”. I am posting this video because, for the most part, I totally agree with the films critiques. My only question is why didn’t someone do a video like this for George Lucas before he embarked upon raping our childhood with rusty tools?

Was it because we thought the film was in good hands, even though the introduction of the Ewok‘s foreshadowed the apocalypse? We should’ve been equally as hard on George, but we trusted him through three prequels, each time hoping it would eventually get better and it didn’t.

So now, in the year of our Lord 2013, we’ve decided to say something, well…for the sake of those that made this video and fans like me, I hope it gets heard. I especially hope J.J. Abrams pays particular attention to the part in the video about the mystery of the Jedi (an idea I proposed in a previous article on MITNG).

It’s important to keep in mind, for  those of us who grew up on A New Hope, The Empire… and Return.., that at the end of the day, it’s about money and no one has ever crossed the mouse and lived to talk about it.

J.J. Abrams, I give you all the respect in the world for taking on something like this. God Speed…you fool.

Dark Horse’s THE STAR WARS #1 brings to life George Lucas’s first draft

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The premise of George Lucas’sThe Star Wars“, written by J.W Rinzler and illustrated by Mike Mayhew, pretty much follows what we now know as Star Wars, but with a little something different…no force, or at least not in this first issue of the Dark Horse Comic’s release. The “Force”, however, is mentioned in a tongue and cheeky way, take for instance Princess Leia, whom in TSW, is on her way to study abroad on another planet, is told by her father (King Kayos) before she leaves “May the force of others be with you”. This isn’t nitpicking, just interesting.

In this precursor, a man/Jedi by the name Kane Starkiller along with his two sons, Annikan and Deak, have been hiding from the Empire on a distant planet when trouble arrives in the form a Sith (basically the Empires hired guns set upon the remaining Jedi). Kane’s youngest is lost in the scrimmage with the Sith which forces Kane to leave the planet to save his remaining son Annikan. His journey leads him back to his home planet Aquilea.

Meanwhile the Empire is growing in power and guess who’s their leader…Darth Vader. But not the masked Sith you and I have grown to love, but a hulking Ray Fiennes in Schindler’s List on steroids, looking cat. The Empire is nothing like the Nazi inspired group we saw in Star Wars, but more like a republic and less dictator-ish. Course we do get a glimpse of Storm Troopers, but this issue gives us no clue as to whether they are Mandalorian clones. It’s in a particular scene, where the Empire is addressing a crowd of people, that we meet Whitsun, a smuggler, for the first time. Whitesun is figuratively Luke in The New Hope, at least for a few pages…why? Cause in this scene the Empire has grounded all ships as part of their new agenda, all but those reckless pirate vessels that are his only means off the planet. Do the math.

Midway into the comic book we meet our hero, General Luke Skywalker (The Legend), who looks like a heroic cartoon version of George Lucas, I don’t know whether that was on purpose, but it’s definitely obvious. He, as well as other remaining Jedi, live on Aquilea with King Kayos his daughter Leia and wife.

I don’t want to give away everything, but what I’m gathering is that The Star Wars was clearly a more serious story than Star Wars. No Jawas, no Sand People, no crazy cantina scene, just pure politics and hint’s towards this mystical power. The force, in TSW, plays out more like Han Solo‘s “I Know” in Empire, just before being frozen in carbonite. It’s there, but it isn’t, at the same time. I must say, I kinda like it…it’s refreshing in a way that lends itself well to the underground mysticism, that pervaded The New Hope. It wasn’t until everybody and their brother had the force that things just got cheap and kitschy. Although I know it won’t happen, someone need to take this project under their wing and shoot it. Sure it might confuse the fuck out of you at first, but for those of us who can see beyond the Hollywood gloss, it’s worth a shot. The franchise couldn’t get any worse.

Has the Jedi mysticism in Star Wars been lost over the years

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The years have not been kind to the Jedi, a once benevolent group of mystics who occasionally had to do battle with the forces of evil to create balance in the universe. Remember when Star Wars was just about Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Darth Vader? It’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to say those names and actually feel that same level of honor, one might feel, being inducted into a secret society.

This was another one of my random thoughts, I had while slinging hash at my job and thought “hey…maybe there’s others out there who feel the same way”…so I decided to expound on it.

Call me crazy, but when you watch Star Wars: A New Hope, didn’t you get the sense that the Jedi’s were still a bit aloof, even when they were accepted by the Republic. They still seemed nomadic in their ways and very hard to understand at times and like searching for a new Dalai Lama, a Jedi seemed to me to be very…very hard to come by even before the slaughter, but not anymore.

How many Jedi’s does this Star Wars really need?

For me, the answers simple, but for those hellbent on making JEDI-star-wars-jedi-23833947-1024-768money off this franchise, the answers “there can never be too many”. Now with the Star Wars :The Old Republic MMORPG, everyone and their uncle can be a  Jedi, as if in Ben’s time, they were just handing out lightsaber’s  like government cheese.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t read any of the spin off novels and comic books, except Timothy Zahn’s “Heir To The Empire”, but hasn’t this always been about the movies and not the books?

Sure, I too envision a world of yet unheard of Jedi, all with new and fascinating force skills, and belonging to interesting new races, but one must draw a line between recklessness and tangibility…yes, even in fantasy, this is what makes fantasy great. Isn’t it?

I didn’t need to see the Jedi Council in “The Phantom Menace”. Why couldn’t it have been just another level of the myth, one that we all subscribed to, but didn’t literally have to see? I mean can anyone, outside of the hardcore, name the members of the council or the race they belonged too? I know I can’t.

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This wasn’t the only thing that bothered me, assuming the Jedi were the Templar’s of their time, there was nothing to suggest a monk lifestyle other than the robes they wore, which brings me back to Ben, in the first film. He was unlike any of the so-called Jedi we saw in Episodes I, II and III. He was like the “Oracle” in The Matrix. Simple, careful, always aware of his emotions and above all…humble. Certainly not the order we saw in the prequels with their spacious penthouse view of Coruscant. There’s nothing about the Jedi’s in the new movies that says ancient or mystic. In that way, I could see why something like the Sith would want to destroy them, but I highly doubt George was thinking about this when he embarked upon creating that reheated piece of fodder known as ‘the prequels”. He was just going for flash, forgoing any of the mysticism we became fond of in “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” and replacing it with smoke and mirrors. Now everyone has the force, Leia, Han Solo, their kids and all the while, the ones who’ve remained more benevolent, clandestine, and shrouded in secrecy is the Sith.

I will even go as far as saying that “the “Sith” is the last bit of true Star Wars left, ironically enough”.

They are the one’s Hollywood unknowingly have made an “anomaly” in all this mess. We got bit’s and pieces of who they are in every film, but no visit to their planet or meeting with the council or glimpses into what it takes to become one. Again, if you’ve read any of the Dark Horse comics you already know a lot about the Sith, but for the majority of moviegoers, there’s nothing. This is the model the Jedi’s/George Lucas, should’ve followed before he decided to blanket the screen with so many meaningless characters and colorful light sabers. This over saturation made the loss of their kind even more unceremonious than it already was. Not only were thousands of Jedi slain, we only knew the names of only a handful of them.

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What’s real important to understand is that when George Lucas wrote A New Hope, back in the seventies he, as a film student, was deeply into Akira Kurosawa films like “Rashomon”, “Seven Samurai” and “Ran”. He peppered “A New Hope” with all sorts of Japanese inspired aesthetics like Luke and Ben’s Hakama garb and even replaced Samurai katanas with light sabers. The colors white and black, used in the Tao symbol for balance, are also represented throughout the film, demonstrating duality and then there’s Yoda, who was essentially a small green version of Pat Morita from The Karate Kid. Course there’s the blatant Nazi symbolism embraced by the Empire, but I  want to get into that.

What I’m saying is it took Luke Skywalker three films to become a full fledged Jedi. He had to learn how to control his emotions and discipline himself, a fact that was done away with with the introduction of Medichlorian’s in the prequels. The images of Luke doing the handstand in the swamps with Yoda and him taking the shots from his impromptu blast-shield training on the Falcon, are still etched in my mind. Now, no longer is this rigorous training necessary when your born with this ability. Really? Could they have made the Jedi anymore elitists?

Look, for every short coming the Star Wars franchise has faced in the last decade, there are a million more yet to come, but can we at least agree that the franchise has lost that bit (I use that term lightly) of magic that made the original great? No artist, I know, has ever finished a song, painting or script without stepping back several times to look at what he or she has done and asking themselves “It this still me?”, “Is this still inspired?” These are questions, I’m afraid, George never asked himself, instead, as if he had no idea what he’d created two decades ago, he proceeded to go more west with the storyline than east, like he originally intended.

I won’t even ask you if whether approaching Star Wars from A New Hope point of view, is even worth it anymore, but it would be nice if the reigning science fiction/fantasy mutilator J.J. Abrams, would take this into consideration as he begins work on Star Wars Episode VII, but given his track record with Star Trek, I ‘d say don’t count on it and with that I leave you with the immortal words of C3PO…”We’re doomed.”

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Some highlights from the Phoenix Comic Con 2013

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The annual pop culture event of the southwest, The Phoenix Comic Con, just wrapped up over memorial day weekend and man was it filled with a shit ton of craziness. Let’s begin with my day one. The showroom floor was set up slightly different than last year, but the exhibitors were in the same hall. Artists, comic book vendors and fanboy/girl merchants abounded.

There was ,however, one booth that caught my eye the moment I walked in. It was the Anomaly booth. Anomaly is an augmented reality graphic novel about greedy corporations and our role as interstellar ambassadors, none of which are doing too well when the story starts. The intense art is only half the fun with this book. The book is equipped with augmented reality technology. You download an app and point your ipad or smart phone at the pages and voila, the Anomaly world pops out at you in 3D. We are currently working on the full review of this amazing novel…stay tuned!!

EARTH 2717: THE 3RD GOLDEN AGE BUILDING A BETTER TOMORROW TODAYThe planet we call home slowly dies beneath us.Most humans now live in teeming surface “Terrarium Cities”, off world colonies or orbiting space stations. All of earth’s resources have been depleted.All corporations, nations and technologies have merged into THE CONGLOMERATE whose Enforcer Battalions now conquer whole planets to feed Earthlings insatiable appetites.THE CONGLOMERATE which began with the spirit of the best mankind had to offer, saved humanity from itself by taking us to the stars has become the most ruthless profit machine to ever exist.

ANOMALY OFFICIAL WEBSITE

While there I also got a chance to checkout a few panel discussions with some amazing people like Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) from the original Star Trek series. Timothy Zahn author of Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising and J. Micheal Straczynski, screenwriter for Babylon 5 and the soon to be released, Wachowski television series, Sense 8. The discussions were surprisingly well organized and highly informative.  On the down side, some panels promised exclusive images from upcoming films that they weren’t able to deliver on, instead giving us footage from previous Blu-Ray releases that had special behind the scenes footage.  Most of which, the guest in attendance had already owned and had watched.

There were also a number of very talented artist and writers in attendance such as Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Eric Esquivel (The Blackest Terror), Radi Lewis (Tech Watch) and uber artist Geof Darrow (The Shaolin Cowboy) and they were all gracious enough to spend time talking to their fans and taking pictures, evidenced by some of the ones I took of them below.

The event went off without any hitches and we were able to make a few contacts and take pictures of some amazing cosplayers. The event seems to be gaining steam and having spoken to a few writers/artists, they seem to be all in agreement that a more toned down con that focuses more on the craft is in order and the PHX CC is among one of the best in that capacity. Can’t wait til next year!

COPLAYERS of the Phoenix Comic Con 2013

 

Dark Horse set to release George Lucas’s original-draft screenplay for The Star Wars to be adapted by J. W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew!

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The details regarding this latest adaptation are still rolling in, but the announcement was made at Wondercon that Lucas is allowing Dark Horse Comic’s to adapt his original screenplay The Star Wars, into a comic book series with J.W Rinzler adapting and Mike Mayhew (The Avenger’s) set to pencil. This is a story, mind you, that apparently had Han Solo originally set to be a 6 foot tall lizard and Luke as an older Jedi General. Read on.

From the Dark Horse Press release

Three years before his 1977 film, George Lucas put down on paper his first story set in a galaxy far, far away—a tale of fantastic adventures, daring escapes, “lazer swords,” romance, and monsters. A story of Jedi Annikin Starkiller and General Luke Skywalker, an alien named Han Solo, and evil Sith Knights. The screenplay was titled The Star Wars!

“I’m not sure where I first read about The Star Wars—it was years and years ago—but the idea of Luke Skywalker being an older Jedi General, and Han Solo being a six-foot-tall lizard, turned my Star Wars fan brain on its side,” said longtime Star Wars editor Randy Stradley. “I always assumed this would be one of those stories that would be ‘lost to history,’ so getting to work on bringing it to life is kinda like a dream come true.”

“While researching in the Lucasfilm Archives I’ve found many treasures—but one which truly astounded me was George’s rough draft for The Star Wars. His first complete imaginings were hallucinating to read—mind blowing,” said writer J.W. Rinzler. “While working with George on another book project, I once asked if we could adapt his rough draft. He was hesitant. Years later, with Dark Horse’s invaluable help, we showed him a few drawn and colored pages of what it might look like. He gave us the okay.”

Originally conceived in 1974, The Star Wars has been the subject of rumor and legend in the fan community throughout the history of the galaxy far, far away. Now, Lucas has seen fit to grant Dark Horse the right to adapt this fabled story into an eight-issue comic series launching in September!

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Disney confirms there will be standalone Star Wars films

Wow! J.J. Abrams is set to direct Star Wars Episode VII!

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