Star Wars storylines used to be kept tightly under wraps until opening night. Remember Blue Harvest, the movie that never was except as a smokescreen for Return of the Jedi?
The Lucas empire has loosened up a lot since then — even since the recent prequels. The Clone Wars hit theaters in August and just started raging across our TV screens this month, but many of its secrets have actually been our there since July with releases like the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: The Clone Wars Visual Guide.
This “essential companion to the movie and animated series” from DK Publishing uses striking images and quick-hit facts to guide fans of all ages through the familiar yet new universe of the CGI series. It teases episodes that haven’t aired yet without giving too many secrets away. The best action and scenery from the movie and the new series leap off the sweeping layout of its colorful coffee-table-book pages. For a full-color hardcover book, it’s a great value at $19.99.
Author and Star Wars expert Jason Fry took the time to answer a few of Nerdvana’s questions about the book and how it came to be.
How did you become involved with the Star Wars franchise?
I started writing for the Star Wars Insider, which is Lucasfilm’s official fan magazine, in the late 1990s, and have written for a variety of other Lucasfilm licensees since then. I also have a background as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist. For the Clone Wars Visual Guide, DK needed a writer who could turn around the project very quickly and wouldn’t have to come up to speed on Star Wars lore. They and Lucasfilm were kind enough to give me a shot.
Who is your favorite character in The Clone Wars? In the entire Saga?
For The Clone Wars I’d say Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ewan McGregor brought a sly sense of humor to the prequels that I thought was much-needed, given how dark the story is, and the creators of The Clone Wars have run with that characterization quite nicely. For the entire saga, it’s got to be Han Solo. I mean, he’s the outlaw gunslinger who drives a hot rod. How do you top that?
You seem to have had unlimited access to images, dialogue and storylines well before the series aired. How did the process work?
Lucasfilm gave me copies of the Clone Wars scripts, and the folks at DK had access to images from the animation. All the credit should go to DK for making such a beautiful book — I was excited to work with them because all their books, whether they’re about Star Wars or real-world things, have this very clean, striking style. For the most part DK came up with the topics and the illustrations, and then I’d write the descriptions based on a close reading of the scripts and my sense of what would keep kids entertained and intrigued. I could check how I was doing while we were working because DK would send me back PDFs of pages and I’d show them to my five-year-old son on the computer screen. If he got too fidgety or looked bored, I’d know I should rewrite something.
Did you work directly at all with either George Lucas or The Clone Wars director Dave Filoni?
No — they were pretty busy! But it’s been great fun to play in George’s universe, and see where Dave and writers such as Henry Gilroy and Steven Melching are taking the saga. Another thing that’s been fun is there’s a huge difference between reading the scripts and seeing stills and watching it all come together on-screen. Even though I’ve read the scripts, I’ve been really enjoying the TV show so far — knowing the story is no substitute for seeing how the visual style and pacing can bring that story to life.
My friend Dan Wallace, who’s written extensively for Lucasfilm, and I are writing Star Wars: The Essential Atlas. I’ve always been interested in the geography of the Star Wars galaxy — how did the Millennium Falcon get from Luke’s home planet of Tatooine to Alderaan, for instance, and how far was it from there to the rebel base on Yavin, and so on. Dan had the same admittedly odd interest, so we joined forces to propose a book that would answer all the questions we had that nobody could answer. It’s a tour of the Star Wars galaxy’s history, economics, government and societies, with lots and lots of beautiful maps. You can look for it in the spring from Del Rey.