My Last Word On Expanded Universe Stuff

I don’t know what I was thinking by setting up that open thread on Friday just before leaving town for the weekend and being offline until this morning. It attracted a whopping 65 comments and with feelings running strong, it looks like some of the discussions got away pretty fast. At this point, it’s like herding a bunch of cats so I’ll address things here in this post.

First off, please go re-read The Rules of The House. If I’m to keep doing these open threads, commenters will have to start acting like grownups and not attack each other for differences in opinion. This is a prequel fan site first and beyond that, some of us love the expanded universe and some of us don’t.

But let me say this. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since 1977, so for me, the heart of the mythos are the six existing films, plus Clone Wars. They comprise the story George Lucas is telling. That’s what I care about and in many ways, last Friday’s announcement was Lucasfilm trying to get everyone on that same page.

Everything else spun off from those movies are tie-ins. Lucas was generous from the beginning about letting comic books, comic strips, and novels tell stories based on those films but he never felt any obligation to follow those stories in continuing his saga. “Heir To The Empire” wasn’t the first Star Wars novel; it was “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” back in 1978. Marvel started making its own stories long before Dark Horse got the license. The late ’70s and early ’80s brought Brian Daley’s trio of Han Solo books and L. Neil Smith wrote a few tomes about Lando Calrissian. Those books had no bearing on the movies, though a few tidbits here and there appeared in future novels, roleplaying games, and comics.

And yet, no one walked out of ROTJ ticked off because there was no Jessa, no Yuzzem, and no Jaxxon the green bunny. No one demanded that TESB and ROTJ follow Marvel’s comics or the daily strip. Strange as it is, Star Wars fans back then did not give a fig about continuity or how movies affected the expanded universe. A common complaint I saw on Friday was how these fans felt that they spent all of that money for nothing. Well, I bought a lot of comic books and spent a lot of time reading “Han Solo At Stars’ End” or “Splinter.” None of them counted toward the movies, but they were a fun way to pass the time.

No one complained either when the newer wave of expanded universe stuff that appeared in the early ’90s effectively overrode the older stuff. But what changed was the obsession with continuity. Lucasfilm didn’t care in the past that the expanded universe stuff contradicted each other but with “Dark Empire” and “Heir to the Empire,” that all changed. I think in the minds of many fans who got into the expanded universe that it all somehow counted on par with the films. And unlike in the past, there was far more volume of material.

Back in the ’90s I was a continuity hound and stressed out over whether my fan fic matched up everything. When I started my own fan fiction zine, I insisted submissions don’t contradict “Shadows of the Empire.” Really. I used to get into it with expanded universe-hating fans, who in my mind didn’t want to accept anything new in Star Wars (which might have been true in some cases). But then my perspective changed, largely after TPM came out. It was refresher on what truly was Star Wars and the books, even the better ones, just couldn’t touch the movies. No matter how epic they got, they just didn’t match the real thing. Then with some of the latter books, I started to get annoyed with the plot and what they did with the characters. By 2008, I had enough of the post-ROTJ books and quit reading them.

Folks, the expanded universe was originally meant to be hors d’oeurves leading up to new movies and between movies, not a substitute for those movies. The problem with the books is that they drew people who were more fans of Timothy Zahn and Co. than George Lucas and that’s just crazy. No problem with Zahn, but I’ve actually had people tell me that Star Wars to them is a publishing program, not so much a series of films. Once someone told me on my LiveJournal page that she hated the movies because she found the battle between good and evil too simplistic for her taste and she preferred the “gray areas” in the books. Which tells me how far afield the books went from their source material.

It didn’t help when Lucasfilm, Bantam, and Del Rey were coy for such a long time about the place of the expanded universe. When they tried to correct that, fans of the books resisted and so they had to come out and say, “Guys, no really, we’re not going to hold the movies to these books.” And thus the freakout began.

As much as I can understand why people who had invested a lot emotionally in those books would be upset, I’d also point out that among older Star Wars fans, we all still remember Bollux/Blue Max, Jaxxon, and Don-Wan Kihote or however the hell they spelled it.

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18 Responses to “My Last Word On Expanded Universe Stuff”

  1. Kenny Kraly Jr Says:

    Amen well said Lazy!!!

  2. Bob Clark Says:

    I only ever tip-toed into the EU, myself. I read “Dark Empire” and enjoyed it well enough, but when I found out that its conclusion was drawn by an artist other than Cam Kennedy, I didn’t bother to finish it. I mostly just perused “Shadows of the Empire”, some Boba Fett comics and played some video games. Like you said, they were really just time killers until the PT came out.

    Really, what I liked best about the idea of the EU was the idea that the writers and artists could explore all the little nooks and crannies of “Star Wars” that any given two hour film didn’t have time to flesh out. For a while, that’s all well and good, but when it gets to the point that the nooks and crannies begin to overtake fans’ attention and drown out the significance of the dominant texts, the films themselves, then you have an instance of the tail wagging the dog.

  3. jarjarbacktattooguy Says:

    Yeah, but if Disney retcons out the Hoojibs then I will burn my life size Watto in protest!

    No compromise! Fight the power!!!

    Oh wait, the Hoojibs were retconned out twenty years ago. Well, that sucks.

  4. peacetrainjedi Says:

    The films will always be the core saga. Always. That much is beyond dispute. I’d also add that even the television shows, including The Clone Wars, Rebels, and any future shows, impressive as they may be, are relatively little compared to the magnitude of the films.

    The same goes for the EU (novels, comics, games, etc.) But there is something to love in it all. As you said, it’s easy to get lost in a good book or comic or game story-line to pass the time (KotOR comes to mind) set in the Star Wars universe. It’s up to each fan how much they choose to invest in one story over another, or with continuity in general. But even in some of the lesser works there is still that spark of Star Wars there…somewhere…elusive perhaps, and some fan will defend whatever parts they love. That explosive comments section in the past thread was evident enough of this. (Mara Jade – I’m lookin’ at you…)

    And I agree with Bob, that delving into the “nooks and crannies” was exactly the point of the EU. Only one section of the EU (the controversial post-Return of the Jedi part) had a tendency to perhaps “drown out” at times the larger films. That’s simply because it focused on the same characters for perhaps too long of a time. That being said, I feel the EU was at its best when it introduced the more obscure characters – or dwelt in time periods farther removed from the core films. (I’m thinking older stories like Tales of the Jedi, KotOR, Darth Bane, or if you prefer…fast-forwarding more than a hundred years past the films a la Legacy). It was in those stories that I got the most genuine “Star Wars” vibe. I still enjoyed reading about what our “Big Three” were up to, but for me at least, that was just one part of the vast Expanded Universe.

    And even though I love several of the adult EU books (and some of those young readers by Jude Watson were stellar prequel material too!), I felt most at home in the EU reading a Dark Horse comic. To me, Star Wars is, has been, and always will be, a visual medium. Dark Horse balanced several vivid visual styles with (for the most part) strong scripts. Out of all the EU producers, I feel that Dark Horse was the most consistent in quality. We’ll see what Disney’s new “Canon Universe” will produce, but I have no regrets in investing into the Expanded Universe over the years. “It was… fun.”

    • Andromakhe (@KentressCrazy) Says:

      Oh, I wouldn’t say that about Clone Wars. Not at all. If anything, Clone Wars fleshed out the prequels and gave those characters more depth. Sure, I don’t agree with all the story elements. I don’t think zombies have a place in Star Wars, for example. But I could pity villains and hate heroes in Clone Wars, and to me, that’s a sign of good storytelling. Clone Wars, for the most part, respected Star Wars as one saga. Now if only Disney and LF would do so as well and actually market new EU books for the prequel era.

      I never gave a bleep about Legends. I don’t really care about the new EU, either. Eps I-VI and Clone Wars will always be immovable fixtures of canon. Everything else, I have a take or leave policy. Eps VII-IX and Rebels are on a wait-and-see list. They may be official canon, but as far as my own personal fanon goes, I do not feel obligated to accept them if I don’t think they respect what came before. And right now, it doesn’t seem like they do. Not the saga as a whole.

      Read the first ten or so Jedi Apprentice books and then just quit. I didn’t like what was done there. Only good thing was the Force-sensitive river stone. OCs annoyed me, blah blah blah. Too much romance. Not my thing. I’m just glad I didn’t pay for any of those books.

      As for Lucas’ stance on the EU, good on him. The EU is and always has been fanfic to some extent because it’s not Lucas approving the content. I butt heads with EU fans, and one particularly nasty one on Twitter who resorted to personal attacks. Anyone who thinks the EU supersedes the LucasFilm era of Star Wars material doesn’t have a clear idea of what “canon” means, or cannot separate their own personal fanon from official canon.

      • peacetrainjedi Says:

        I wasn’t commenting on the merits of The Clone Wars (I love the show) I was just pointing out its relative place in the Star Wars mythos. The fact that George Lucas was involved and that it remains part of the current canon elevates it over the now “Legends” EU material. So The Clone Wars is special in that regard, but it’s still relatively little (in terms of importance, plot-progression, and outside awareness) when compared to the films. In other words, we as fans might love it, but it will never, can never reach the level of the films. That is all.

        Fans of anything, particularly Star Wars, can be belligerent, so its best to have a patient, calm mindset and not try to fuel an argument. That’s why the SWPAS exists after all, as a reaction to that hater mentality.

        And you are right, we can only wait and see what eps VII and beyond do to add to the “Saga.” I will not condemn them until I see them, and until then i can only hope for the best.

      • Andromakhe (@KentressCrazy) Says:

        Well, I was trying to be civil to that one person on Twitter, but when they started trolling, it really got me down. I suppose I should have just blocked them, but I made the mistake of thinking they were reasonable and could be reasoned with. Ah well. Learning experience. I’ll know what to do if someone similar comes along.

        Sorry about the misinterpretation there. I’m rather trigger-happy where Clone Wars is concerned. I was and am still angry it was cancelled. Sure, it’s less intense than when it first happened, but it meant so much to us die-hards. But you’re right that it’s a small portion of the Star Wars audience, most of whom are probably casual fans who don’t deeply analyze characters and plotting and whatnot.

  5. Stefan Kraft Says:

    I have never been much into the EU. The only SW novel I own is “Darth Plagueis”. However, I know a fan for whom the movies were only the starting point to get to know a larger universe presented in the EU, i.e. the movies are not necessarily the core of SW for him. Is he wrong? Certainly not from his point of view. Since fandom is huge, he probably is not the only one thinking like that.

    The point is: how civilized will such fans react to the announcement? “Lucasfilm stole all my money” or “Well, continuity has always been important to me, and I think it is a bad idea not to use at least some ideas from the EU… I really do not like the development… But at least no one can erase my personal canon.” ( Don’t worry, the fan I know is one of the civilized ones.)

  6. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    I didn’t need “The Clone Wars” to flesh out the Prequel movies. Which is probably why I never became a true fan of the series. But if “The Clone Wars” is to be considered canon, I don’t see why all of those books and comics – especially for the post-ROTJ era – should not be considered canon.

  7. lovelucas Says:

    “……TPM came out. It was refresher on what truly was Star Wars and the books, even the better ones, just couldn’t touch the movies. No matter how epic they got, they just didn’t match the real thing.” Read my mind and exactly how I feel. For me, it’s the films. I did enjoy reading “Kenobi” and “Darth Plagueis” and even though they went through the approval route, they’re still what is imagined by a different author than George. George is the true canon. But Filoni is his shadow mate.

  8. lovelucas Says:

    Adding and echoing this from (and some of those young readers by Jude Watson were stellar prequel material too!) peacetrainjedi. I loved the Last of the Jedi series by Jude Watson.

  9. Obi-Rob Says:

    This whole announcement was really, REALLY good news for Saga fans (true, actual fans) like us here on this site.

    This will (Hopefully) finally GET RID OF THE BANDWAGON HATEBOYS WHO AREN’T ACTUAL FANS. The ones who bash Lucas, his official Saga and his actual fans (US!).

    This is what we always wanted…for George Lucas to finally STRIKE BACK against the hateboys who always only ever wanted to steal SW from him. The ones who want THEIR personal mythology held up as more “cannon” than the actual Films themselves and the artist who spent his life making them.

    Well LFL finally squashed them!!! Excellent!!!

    This proves that Kathleen Kennedy and LFL’s loyalty’s lye with George Lucas. Period. They even used one of his favorite sayings in the official announcement! Im surprised no one here caught on to it! I also dont know why anyone is even acting surprised anyways seeming as Kathleen Kennedy is and has always been George’s friend and business partner and either under him or in his inner circle for over 25 YEARS! Shes going to defend and serve and be loyal to George Lucas just as much as Steven Spielberg would/has. Its kind of a no brainier and obviously one of the larger reasons why she was put in charge of LFL and maybe soon…even Disney! Yea they all own a LOT of stock shares in Disney. SW and LFL is still very much in their control.

    They said: “in order to preserve the creative freedom of the artists” (!!!) Creative freedom. One of Lucas’s big things! Freedom from OTHER PEOPLE telling the artist what to do with his own art!!!

    (I hope any lurking, anonymous hateboys out there are reading this!!!) πŸ˜€

    And George did it so slick and perfect too! This way the hateboys dont even get to blame him for it (at least not any more than they would have already) Its excellent guys.

    let me just say something for myself now. This is sweet. This is totally worth FINALLY getting rid of that stupid clone palpatine and that ridiculous and painfully obvious and contrived resurrection of the Empire and the stupid contrived character Admiral Thrawn (which I always hated) ALL of which were only created in order to give Luke Han and Leia something to fight against…ya know…endlessly. ALL of which have always COMPLETELY undermined the PT and the Official Completed Star Wars Saga!

    It was all contrived garbage that gave PT and SAGA fans a headache! Its what gave fule to all the hateboys and Lucas haters guys you know it to be true. And As far as im concerned it should have been done in 1999! Seriously I mean that. Would have saved us all a lot of online fighting and time wasting. Would have allowed us to enjoy watching George Lucas’s Saga unfold more without all the ignorant people who got in our faces with their “Lucas is ruining everything!” bulls**t.

    And listen…for any PT/Saga fans on here that cant help but feel upset because they honestly liked the EU…I would say this:

    You really think they aren’t going to keep a few little things and basic (BASIC) concepts? You really think we aren’t going to see Boba Fett in at least a cameo appearance in the ST? You really think KOTOR is in any real danger? Dont worry. They already hinted (I think it was our boy Dave Filoni) that they are going to farm ideas and concepts from the Legions EU (btw I LOVE that title “Legions” I LOVE that the old EU is going to be under that banner). So dont worry and be happy that the source of all this (George Lucas and LFL) finally struck back at the hateboys and cleared the air about what is official SW and what is not.

    TL;DR: Lucas loyalists/actual fans/whatever you want to call us…we won! And the hateboys were finally taught a lesson. This whole Disney move was more of a merger than a buyout by far and George Lucas finally………….STRIKES BACK!!!

    ;D

    • It's a me-a. Says:

      Not all eu fans were OT-Only fans. You shouldn’t turn everything into an ‘us vs them’ scenario. ‘We’ didn’t win because I’m a big fan of the EU (Or SW Legends as it’s being referred to now) AND the PT. I’m pretty bummed about the decision, but if it gives more freedom to the Episode VII writers, then all the better I suppose.

      TL:DR, don’t be so black and white about the fandom. Only a Sith deals in absolutes. πŸ™‚

      • Tarrlok Says:

        Indeed. This is just anecdotal, but I’ve encountered just as many PT-bashers who hate the EU as PT-bashers who like the EU. Many of them loathe anything with the slightest whiff of the prequels about them, including much of the EU material released since 1999. The people who I’ve encountered may not be a representative sample, of course.

        And I have absolutely no desire to praise Disney for this. Should I praise them for being so merciful to us PT/TCW fans that they didn’t declare them non-canon? Like hell I should.

      • It's a me-a. Says:

        I guess I’m just tired of fans being shoehorned into this category or that.I’m willing to bet that if you put ten fans in a room, no two of them will have the same likes and dislikes when it comes to the saga as a whole. Let people like what they like and dislike what they dislike. Until it directly hurts somebody, then I say it’s not an issue.

      • Tarrlok Says:

        I should also add that I’ve encountered many an EU fan who loves the PT. There will be tendencies and correlations of likes and dislikes, but I draw the line at attempts to polarise and split people into mutually exclusive groups.

        It’s fair enough to like that Disney is wiping the slate clean for the sequels. I myself didn’t care to look into the post-ROTJ EU material because it didn’t appeal to me. However, I have no interest in rubbing it in to fans who did like those stories. I bear them no ill will.

  10. DarthBreezy Says:

    The 7SA forum is going crazy with the casting, saying so and so is playing Jaina, the red head is Luke’s son by the Red Plague, So and so is playing Artsy Smurf – GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

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