Fan Art Friday: The Mighty Jabba

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri at Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.  You can check out her version here.

I’m not sure why Jabba was juxtaposed with pansies here, but sure, we’ll go with it.

The flowers in the top part reminded me of the wisps of smoke coming from Jabba’s water pipe, so I colored them very lightly like smoke.  But maybe too lightly, because you can’t really tell I did it at all here!  Haha here are some close-ups so you can better appreciate my intention.

Next time we are returning to mandalas with this one that appears on the back cover:

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The best things from The Phantom Menace, 20 years on

This month marks 20 years since the release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.  We’ve had ample time to analyze its flaws and weaknesses (which are many), but most fans can still appreciate it for bringing Star Wars movies back to the big screen and introducing the series to a whole new generation.

Even aside from its great technical achievements, the movie does have bright spots, which Germain Lussier tallied in an article for io9.  I think it’s a great list, and I want to expand on a few of my personal favorites from it.  (The images below–screenshots of TPM–were taken from the io9 article.)

Amidala’s Wardrobe

How to top Leia’s space buns in terms of fashion?  Her mom Padmé Amidala managed to do it in TPM with a whole wardrobe of amazing dresses and fabulous hairpieces that indicated ceremony and tradition while still looking forward–a wonderful way to represent her role as queen of Naboo. Her clothing has been an inspiration to a generation of cosplayers, as well as to me, a budding fan artist at the time.  I had so much fun designing and drawing new outfits for her; you can see one here that was a bit inspired by the image above.

Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber

I still remember the excitement of seeing Darth Maul extend the second blade on his lightsaber in TPM’s trailer.  It is rather impractical as a weapon, but wow, does it look cool.  It certainly allowed for some amazing choreography in the climactic fight scene with the Jedi.  I often give my video game characters double-bladed lightsabers, even though it is usually not as good as dual-wielding two separate sabers.

Bringing the EU into canon with Coruscant

Coruscant, the city planet and Republic/Imperial capital, was first named by Timothy Zahn in his Thrawn trilogy, though Lucas had developed the concept from the time of the OT.  It was shown briefly in the special edition of Return of the Jedi, but appeared properly for the first time in TPM.  The pronunciation was also cemented, with the “c” being silent.  It is just an interesting note in the world building of the SW universe, as well as gratifying for us EU fans.  There are a few other instances of this happening, but not really any as significant.

“Duel of the Fates”

John Williams’ music is essential to Star Wars, and he really brought his A-game to the prequels.  TPM has a nice soundtrack that is anchored by one of the most iconic pieces of Star Wars music ever: “Duel of the Fates” from the climatic battle scene.  It brings such energy while giving a sense of “other”ness with the chanting in Sanskrit, perfect for a fight between disciples of two sci-fi religions, like a ritual combat.  It was the first full choral piece in Star Wars, which was a great choice for impact.  And it fit so well with the on-screen action.

I’ve played a version of this piece before and boy, does that ostinato make you tired!

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor had a tough job, playing the younger version of a character already established in the OT by esteemed thespian Alec Guinness.  But he really stepped up with one of the best performances of the prequel trilogy.  Obi-Wan seems like the same character, down to the accent and mannerisms.  He brings a great dry humor to the role as well, much needed in a trilogy that could be overblown at times.  Plus, this role made him my first celebrity crush!  I really used to have a life-size cardboard cutout of TPM Obi-Wan in my room (a birthday gift from my fellow Star Wars-fan friends in high school).

Obi-Wan’s emotional journey during final lightsaber battle is really excellent.  His anguish as he watches helplessly as his mentor is killed in front of him; his struggle to control his emotions instead of letting them control him; his quick thinking and fortitude that eventually help him to overcome a superior foe: it’s all there on his face and in his actions.  There’s nothing better than a fight scene that provides character development.

Do you agree with the list?  What do you think has held up from TPM?

A selection of canon Star Wars books that you should read

I have read the vast majority of the Star Wars books published up until 2014, which were previously called Expanded Universe (EU) and are now called Legends.  I even slogged all the way through to the end of the Fate of the Jedi series. For evidence, please see my bookshelves.

For some reason, I have not read nearly as many Star Wars books since they became canon.  Probably a couple of things are contributing: less time for reading, less patience for bad books, moving on to other series like The Expanse.  Plus I’m just not as invested in new characters as I was in EU mainstays like Mara Jade.

But I’m slowly starting to get into more and more of the canon books.  Here are some I’ve read that I thought were worthwhile.

25067046Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

This was the first new canon book that got a lot of buzz.  It was published as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” initiative in 2015 leading up to TFA.  Technically it is classified as Young Adult (Gray is a YA author, and the characters are young) but don’t let that deter you.  (Luke is only 19 in A New Hope after all, and no one worries about that being YA.)

It tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, one belonging to the Empire and one to the Rebellion.  I liked seeing the perspective of everyday Imperial citizens, and it helps the reader understand why young people might join the Empire even though it’s evil.  The story takes place mostly during the Original Trilogy but also goes all the way up through the Battle of Jakku (so that we can find out why there is a Star Destroyer crashed on the planet in TFA).

Thrawn and Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

31140332I remember how excited I was when they announced at Celebration 2016 that not only would Grand Admiral Thrawn, the best antagonist of the entire EU, be appearing in Star Wars Rebels, but also that Timothy Zahn, his creator and one of the best EU authors, would be writing new novels about him.  The result is two solid new canon books that will appeal to new readers and EU fans as well (and particularly those who have enjoyed The Clone Wars and Rebels).

Thrawn serves as a kind of origin story for the future Imperial officer, showing how he initially came to serve the Empire.  I was disappointed that Pellaeon does not appear; instead his role is essentially filled by a new character, Eli Vanto.  There is also an interesting side plot regarding Governor Pryce of Lothal and Colonel Yularen, and a cameo from EU character H’sishi, a Togorian.

36385830Thrawn: Alliances also has some good payoffs for EU fans, including a joke about Force-sensitive animals (but no actual ysalamiri or vornskrs).  The flashbacks where Thrawn teams up with Anakin and Padmé to take out a Separatist operation feel like a good episode of TCW. It also provides an interesting contrast to the tentative partnership of Thrawn and Vader much later as they follow the Emperor’s orders to investigate a disturbance in the Force. (Plus we get a Noghri assassin!) Both storylines take place on/around Batuu, and specifically Black Spire Outpost, which will be featured in the upcoming Disney Star Wars theme park area, Galaxy’s Edge.

My only complaint about T:A is that it was difficult to read casually.  Because the story jumps between two time periods, and also occasionally between characters, it was sometimes hard to pick up the thread of the story when I was only reading a chapter at a time.

The conclusion of Zahn’s new Thrawn trilogy will be out later this year.

Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra by Gillen, et al.

Disney launched a bunch of new lines of comics with the new canon, and these two series feature the first breakout non-movie character of this era: Doctor Aphra, a mercenary archaeologist with two homicidal droids in tow.

Aphra seems like a new take on Indiana Jones, except as a queer woman whose illustration implies a mixed race heritage.  She ends up working for Vader and forming an interesting quasi-partnership with him, which is the most interesting part of the Vader story line.  (The less interesting part involves some Force-based science experiment characters that seem like they came from the bad part of the EU.)

Plus, did I mention the homicidal droids? BT-1 (“Bee Tee”) and 0-0-0 (“Triple-Zero”) may seem like an astromech and a protocol droid, but they actually are programmed for assassination and torture.  For me, they recall HK-47 from KOTOR, which is always welcome.  Plus it’s just nice to see snarky droids, whatever their allegiance or alignment.

Aphra eventually got spun out into her own series, plus a short story in the From a Certain Point of View anthology.  I look forward to seeing where she goes from here!

Star Wars Block Book

sw block book

This is the Star Wars book I currently read the most.  Every day, in fact. Sometimes multiple times.  My 1.5 yr old loves this book and can recognize Darth Maul (“Maul Maul”), the Death Star, Darth Vader, and R2-D2.  I am a proud mama!

But seriously, this book is beautiful with lovely cutouts and illustrations.  Plus it’s sturdy enough for toddler fingers.  It covers the prequels, OT, Rogue One, and TFA.

Have you guys read any of the new canon books?  What would you recommend?

Star Wars every day

When people at work ask where my desk is, I usually just tell them to look for the Star Wars stuff.  I typically pull off pages that I particularly like from my Star Wars desk calendar and tape them up.  This gives me lots of pretty pictures that I can change frequently.  Here are some I’ve had up in previous years.  For Star Wars Day I thought I’d share my current decorations.

Last year’s calendar had images from all the SW movies up to and including Rogue One, so I tried to get at least one from each.

Some of them are original artwork that I found pretty.

Vader and the bounty hunters, one of my favorite parts of ESB

Others are stills from the movies that make me laugh in some way.

“This deal is very fair and I’m happy to be a part of it!” from the Robot Chicken sketch.

Others are shots from the movies that I simply find beautiful.

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There are also movie poster images.  This TPM poster with Vader as Anakin’s shadow is probably my favorite SW movie poster of all time.

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And of course, some have a more personal meaning.  This image of Luke on Ahch-To reminds me of the trip I took to its filming location, the island of Skellig Michael in Ireland.

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Happy Star Wars Day everyone!  May the Fourth be with you!  How do you guys celebrate Star Wars in your daily lives?

Fan Art Friday: Ephant Mon

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri at Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.  You can check out her version here.

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This one is nothing spectacular, but I kind of liked that it is simple.  Ephant Mon is a very colorless character, both literally and metaphorically.  He has grey skin (like an elephant) and a very neutral robe, so I put in some happy, spring-like colors to liven up the picture.

Ephant Mon is a very overlooked character from Return of the Jedi; he is one of Jabba’s cronies and appears in one scene in the palace.  His name is literally a corruption of Elephant Man; as a kid I got him confused with Max Rebo, because I thought he looked like an elephant, too.  In Legends stories, Ephant Mon was the head of Jabba’s security force and got his own short story as part of Tales from Jabba’s Palace, called “Old Friends: Ephant Mon’s Tale.”

I have no idea why they felt the need to include him in this coloring book, but I like it!  I had a good time coloring this one because I am watching the end of The Clone Wars before it leaves Netflix.  I had never gotten to see the Lost Episodes.  And there will be more new episodes when TCW moves to the new Disney streaming service!