And we’re off! The panel takes the stage. Michael Siglain, Lucasfilm publishing creative director, Jennifer Heddle, senior editor,
from Lucasfilm and Disney publishing; editor-at-large Shelly Shapiro
from Del Rey; managing editor Sadie Smith from DK; and Leland
Chee from the Lucasfilm Story Group; C.B.
Cebulski from Marve; and editor Jordan D. White, VP International Development.
Pablo Hidalgo explains that the shift in Star Wars storytelling came from Kathleen Kennedy.
In the past, there were two camps developing story — cinematic and published entertainment. But they weren’t as in sync as should be. Kennedy wanted them aligned, created the Story Group. They have much more “of a long-term gameplan than ever before.”
Chee says they also have much more content than ever before — one movie a year. So they need to plan.
Hidalgo says there are about to be a lot more Star Wars fans in the world. So it’s important that all stories align, which is part of the reason why the Expanded Universe became Legends.
Jen Heddle discussing her role: works directly with outside publishers on stories, develops it, and shares it with Story Group. The Story Group is involved in every stage of development.
Shelly Shapiro also works to develop stories with authors, occasionally visiting Lucasfilm. They all work together to make sure “everything falls into place in the right places.”
Sadie Smith shows off DK’s new Ultimate Star Wars – their first book that adheres to the new canon. It’s the “most definitive encyclopedia” that they’ve done. An illustrated guide to all the canonical characters, planets, ships, etc.
Coming this May!
Hidalgo says that some facts have been hard to settle on — for example, Death Star sizes. But with the new canon, and a clean slate, it’s easier. Also, Hutts now have single sexes. (Jabba is definitely a dude.)
Jordan White is now discussing Marvel’s role.
Marvel has met with the Story Group a couple of times — Marvel has several series running right now.
The new Kanan comic is a good example of the new alignment — a definite backstory told by Star Wars Rebels creators.
C.B. Cebulski adds that Marvel has experience dealing with their own characters being licensed, and needing to collaborate to keep stories authentic.
Hidalgo adds that new directors and writers are excited that their characters can appear in comics and novels.
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a big initiative across all publishers…it will be filled with hints that fans will have to figure out.
Just announced this morning, Greg Rucka is writing Shattered Empire in the Journey series.
And there will be a Battlefront tie-in novel!
Shapiro: “The books…are a level above. Something is working with this Story Group approach.”
Heddle: “It’s opening doors more easily than in the past…Now we have people in the Story Group handling the overall look [for stories].” Collaboration is much easier.
Hidalgo notes that he and Chee work down the hall from Dave Filoni. It allows for much better communication and exchange of ideas.
Now onto fan questions!
Now that there’s the Story Group, is there a plan to revisit the continuity problems of the original trilogy novelizations?
There are a lot of new stories to tell, so that’s the current focus, says Shapiro. There are upcoming novels, however, that will retell the original trilogy from new points of view.
Heddle is working with a Korean creator, Writer Hong, who is retelling the original trilogy in an artful new way. It adds in bits about Luke’s childhood, Uncle Owen struggling, and deleted scenes.
Since Star Tours was kind of referenced in Star Wars Rebels, is it canon?
Hidalgo: “We talk about canon and we talk about authenticity…there are certain experiences that are tailor made to exist in our world. But does Vader look right?” Star Tours is more an authentic experience.
Are The Old Republic expansions canon?
No — BioWare “has created their own universe that is so fantastic,” we’re not going to change it, says Hidalgo.
Is it possible that we may see unfinished EU stories completed?
“Anything is possible.”
Right now the focus is on the new canon, “but who’s to say what comes after that?” says Hidalgo.
Shapiro: “This is an ongoing history, whichever version [you like]. Who’s to say when it’s finished?”
When are you going to explore the Old Republic part of the timeline?
“It’s definitely not off the table.” — Chee
Will there be an outward facing list of canon materials?
DK’s Ultimate Star Wars is one! But all new material going forward will be canon.
Marvel is going to be working on a timeline for their books.
With Legends, will any of the more popular characters be reintroduced into canon?
“Yes.” — Hidalgo
Can you initiate large changes in the galaxy?
The films will not always get first dibs at the biggest stories. Sometimes, a story is a better fit for a novel.
“We are totally against the idea that novels just fill gaps.” – Hidalgo
What is the new line of defense against continuity errors?
“The honest answer to your question is case by case…We would talk it through.” – Hidalgo
Does the Story Group have the authority to correct a film director who wants to do something that conflicts with a story plan?
The Story Group is in constant conversation. Has not been a problem.
How much has the slate been wiped clean for on-screen characters? For example, is it Ponda Baba or Walrus Man?
According to the DK Ultimate Star Wars — it’s Ponda Baba.
Will we see more series of novels by multiple authors?
Nothing currently planned. “I think as we go along…that might be something that we would look into doing.”
Last question! How can one get a job on the Story Group?
No set path — Chee started as a game tester, Hidalgo in online.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading!