There used to be a predictable pattern to Star Wars publishing and Star Wars Celebration. Big announcements and other book news would invariably occur at the Del Rey panel for books, and the Dark Horse or Marvel panel for comics. I’ve been to five Celebrations, and the pattern always held. I always attended the book panels as a matter of principle, but they were also where the big publishing announcements were made. Even before I wrote for this site and officially covered Celebration, I’d always “cover” the panels and give the news to whatever fandom spaces I was occupying at the time (from message boards to social media). Things are a little different now.
Some people have observed — and some with dissatisfaction — that we’re getting book announcements outside of Celebration (such as how the Certain Point of View/”Operation Blue Milk” project was announced prior to Celebration), or that the Del Rey panel didn’t have the slew of new book announcements that it would traditionally end with. There has certainly been a change, and I’m not qualified to render any judgment about marketing or publishing, but I do have to say that change isn’t necessarily bad. It’s perhaps harder to cover these events, and there’s certainly no longer a one-stop-shop for announcements, but I came out of this Celebration thinking that the future was brighter for Star Wars publishing, and I don’t just mean in terms of the great titles that were announced by Del Rey and Disney-Lucasfilm Press.
There’s also Battlefront, a panel I attended with no expectations of anything other than good-looking pew pew. But I came out of it marveling at the payoff of almost two years of cross-medium storytelling between Del Rey, Disney-Lucasfilm, and Marvel. I’m hoping that this is just the tip of the iceberg and we have more such partnerships to come, but even if it ends up being a one-time thing, it was still a pretty great moment. So I’m going to talk about the panels I attended and what impressions I got for Star Wars publishing going forward. Sadly, this year I didn’t get the chance to attend the Marvel panel nor did I get a chance to attend the Hasbro panel, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss them too.
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Ben: Welcome to the Eleven-ThirtyEight roundtable/Not a Committee/podcast thing, whatever you want to call it. It’s myself, Ben Wahrman, along with David, Sarah, and Jay. We’re gonna be talking about our experiences here at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017, different panels, and just general experiences with the con. To start with I just want to ask everybody real quick, how has the experience been for everybody? Above expectations, below expectations?
Jay: Our intrepid editor has informed us that we’re calling these Aggressive Negotiations, so here we are, aggressively negotiating the convention. This Star Wars Celebration has been sort of interesting; this is my fifth Celebration, and it’s the third one I’ve been to that’s been operated by ReedPOP, and it seemed to be the most disorganized of all the conventions I’ve been to, with maybe the exception of Celebration IV. But I think a lot of that is due to factors that could have been predicted, such as better signage, organization, better estimates of crowd sizes, crowd flow.
The problem with these little difficulties is they had a lot of knock-on effects on people’s enjoyment of Celebration. It really changed the nature of Celebration itself; instead of people going to the show floor at the time the convention opened and going through the list of activities, people had to pre-plan, get their selected wristbands in advance, and start lining up at pretty much 4am every morning regardless of whether or not there was an official line-up or not. And that’s what changed the whole nature of the convention, at least for me. » Read more..
Jay: Last time we had a Star Wars Celebration, I was the only member of Eleven-ThirtyEight there. The site was a couple years old, the new Star Wars around the same age, and we were all eagerly awaiting the new movie. Now, we have four staff writers attending — Sarah (who hadn’t joined ETE by the time of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim), David, Ben (who I believe is attending his first Celebration?), and I. I’m officially covering the event as press for ETE, but really, all of us will be covering panels and writing about the events. I thought we’d discuss what we plan to cover, what we hope to see, and what we think of Star Wars Celebration in general. In other words, how does Eleven-ThirtyEight approach Star Wars Celebration?
I’ll get us started with my initial thoughts on Celebration. This is my fifth Star Wars Celebration — I’ve attended all of the domestic Celebrations since Celebration III with the exception of Celebration V. Primarily, I attended them as social events: as a central meetup for all of my friends and fellow Star Wars fans, with the whole convention as sort of a convenient backdrop. The only panels I made an effort to attend were the books and comics panels. Aside from that? It was cool seeing costumes and stuff, but eh. But since Anaheim, Star Wars news has been huge — overnight lines, trailers dropping, wall-to-wall coverage. Being in the room for the <i>Force Awakens</i> trailer was an experience that I’ll never forget, and I’m eager enough to relive it that I’m going to be doing two overnight lines now for the 40th Anniversary and The Last Jedi panels.
For me, the social aspect of Celebration hasn’t changed — if anything, there are even more people I’ve gotten to know since Star Wars was revived and I want to spend time with all of them. But somehow I have to manage to see all the movie, book, television, and even toy news.
What about the rest of you? What were previous Celebrations like for you? What do you expect from Orlando, generally? » Read more..
Mike: When it comes to home video, Star Wars fans have never been starved for options. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find a fan over a certain age who hasn’t at least bought the original trilogy multiple times just to keep up with modern formats—on top of which you’ve got Special Editions, box sets, new individual releases with the original cuts included, etc. And that’s just the old movies; now that we’ve got a new Star Wars film every year for the time being it looks like there are several options to consider with each: DVD, Blu-Ray, 3D Blu-ray, digital download, and if The Force Awakens is any indication, another fancy deluxe set at the end of the year with all the special features they didn’t include the first time.
With the digital Rogue One having been out for a couple weeks now and the hard copies showing up tomorrow, what calls have you guys been making amidst all these options? As if the different formats weren’t enough to keep track of, TFA and Rogue One both come in a few different slipcovers exclusive to different retailers, and wouldn’t you know it, I happened to fall in love with the neat-o BB-8 cover at the top of this article, which meant dragging myself to Walmart of all places, for the first time in several years. While it’s a bit more of a trek for me than Target (or Amazon, obviously), now that it looks like that character-focused style is going to be a recurring design thing I guess I’ll be going back to Walmart this week to pick up Rogue One. What about the rest of you? Do any of you actually buy multiple copies, to take advantage of the earlier digital release, or the better bonus features later on?
Jay: I always go for the Blu-ray, and it’s for the simple reason that I want to see Star Wars films in the best way that I possibly can. Right now, that’s Blu-ray on an HDTV. Of course, sometimes I just want to watch the movie and I can’t be bothered so I’ll watch it on the computer or phone or whatever else but that’s the trick: the Blu-ray already comes with a free digital copy, which is redeemable at the distributor of my choice (and through Disney’s rewards thing, through multiple distributors). I’ll also watch the digital version when I want to take screenshots, because while I own a BD-ROM drive as well, PC BD-player software annoyingly doesn’t let you take screenshots (and moreover, PC BD-player software is largely garbage). » Read more..
David: What makes a good villain? Is it an easy-to-understand motivation? Is it a certain degree of likability? Is it intelligence, perhaps, or the ability to command respect? Or maybe a personal connection to the heroes? Or is it that hard-to-define but easy-to-recognize factor that we often call coolness? Darth Vader has all of these, and that’s the reason he is one of the best villains in modern culture. His screen time in Star Wars Rebels season two was short but definitely memorable, going from a really strong first appearance where he basically made our heroes run for their lives to one final showing where he (maybe) killed one of the most loved characters in the franchise and left the rest of the crew reeling from the impact. But how have the other Rebels villains lived up to this example? Especially: how good of a villain has Grand Admiral Thrawn been?
When the trailer showing the animated Thrawn was first shown at Star Wars Celebration London, the room went completely wild. There you had what was probably the most popular villain from Legends jumping to the small screen and becoming the main opponent for the season, a successor to the Grand Inquisitor and Darth Vader. There he was, looking at art (omigosh at Sabine’s graffiti) and talking cryptically about the imminent destruction of the Rebellion. But once the initial excitement wore off there was one question hanging in the air: would the series do justice to the Grand Admiral? Timothy Zahn seemed to think so, but how would Thrawn work through the whole season? Was this the same old Thrawn from 1991?
No, he definitely wasn’t the Thrawn we were used to. » Read more..