The new Star Wars Insider is out on newsstands this week. As one of the folks who helps determine what’s inside each issue, I figured I’d best be blogging about issue #135. Figuring out where to start was easy – the cover – but I just realized this issue is more than just the videogame issue. Quite stealthily, it’s also the wedding issue. I’ll explain as I rattle off ten highlights of Star Wars Insider #135.
1. The Cover. Regular readers of Star Wars Insider know by now that each issue comes a different cover depending where you pick it up. The newsstand edition – the most common version – sports a commanding Darth Vader flanked by Darth Malgus from The Old Republic and a fun-in-the-sun Shaak Ti from The Force Unleashed. It’s an eye-catching trio well-suited to jump out from a busy newsstand. The subscriber version has the same art, but without any obtrusive text. The comic store exclusive, thought at one point to be the “niche” cover, is actually the real standout in my book – because I’m an old-timer who remembers vividly how mind-blowing vector graphic games were in their day. It’s not often that Star Wars Insider modifies their cover logo, but seeing the blocky purple lines behind Vader’s head makes me glad they did this issue.
2. Bantha Tracks: Wedding Edition. Mary Franklin jokingly calls her semi-regular nuptials spotlight in the fan newsletter Bantha Tracks the “Almost-Annual Wedding Edition,” because sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. This issue is filled with snapshots of fan weddings where Star Wars joins the happy couple in the spotlight.
3. Old School Videogame Secrets. In Tony A. Rowe’s “Game On” article that looks back at 30 years of Star Wars videogaming, there’s some great information about the earliest days of developing Star Wars Atari games, including the uncertainty as to whether or not Kenner sister company Parker Brothers actually had the rights to do so. There’s a jaw-dropping bit about how Parker Brothers tried to hoodwink Lucasfilm into thinking it had a robust videogame production engine in full swing with fake computer terminals and assembly line workers in lab coats pretending to be, what, videogame scientists?
Tony also wrote a feature article on Star Wars Kinect in this issue – and it’s remarkable he found time to do so since this issue went to press around the time he was getting married (you see a theme here start to develop…)
4. The Clone Wars Profile. This issue features an interview with Athena Portillo, line producer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She is integral to the show’s production process, managing the many tasks required to get this show that looks as good as it does on a weekly production cycle. And in another of those coincidences, Athena is getting married as well – and there were armored clone troopers from the 501st at a wedding shower to remember. I think it’s clear that we really do have fans working on the show.
So, on the subjects of weddings… no, I did not have a Star Wars wedding. Well, unless you count the fact that Steve Sansweet officiated it. And that there were astromech units on top of the cake.
5. X-Wing Interview. Expanded Universe fans are quite right to be excited about the forthcoming X-Wing: Mercy Kill novel that brings Aaron Allston back to the fighter squadron that launched his professional relationship with Star Wars. The Wraiths are older, wiser, and definitely sneakier. Interviewing Allston in this feature article is Trisha Barr, who many of you may know from her FANgirl blog. She’s well known for her analysis and opinion pieces on the Expanded Universe, and in her blog she’s asked some tough questions when it comes the EU. She’s well suited to interview so storied an author as Allston.
6. McQuarrie Retrospective. Star Wars Insider continues to celebrate the legacy of the late Ralph McQuarrie, this time uncovering a never-before-published interview done with the artist years ago. Back in 1984 when author Thomas G. Smith was writing Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects, he interviewed several key ILMers, McQuarrie included. Only a fraction of that material ever made it to print. Now, thanks to J.W. Rinzler working with Smith on another project, these interviews are coming to light.
7. Myri Antilles Undercover. This issue’s short fiction “Roll of the Dice” by Karen Miller stars the youngest daughter of Wedge Antilles on an undercover assignment that best showcases her gambling skills as well as her ability to think on her feet. It’s illustrated by David Rabbite. This is one of several “late breaking” stories I was happy to squeeze into The Essential Reader’s Companion.
8. The LEGO Malevolence. I’m not that big a collector, so each issue’s “Incoming” column is often the first time I hear about an upcoming product. This issue has a two-page spread can barely contain the massive LEGO Malevolence, that weighs in at over 1,100 LEGO bricks.
9. Identities Snapshots. There are some great photos from the Star Wars Identities exhibit that’s currently in Montreal. I helped a little bit in the development of the show’s content, and I was consistently amazed by style and detail put into the work by X3 Productions as well as the Montreal Science Center.
10. So. Many. Ewoks. Leland Chee’s Rogue Gallery lines up 16 background Ewoks from Return of the Jedi and gives them names. Some (like Romba, Lumat and Warok – the vintage figures everyone forgets) were already named, while most are newly identified. In a weird coincidence, the week Leland was putting this together I was eyeballs-deep on an unrelated Ewok project in which I was amused to discover that “yub yub” and “yubnub” mean two different things.
And of course, there’s plenty more in this issue as well. Check out Titan Magazine’s official site here for more about Star Wars Insider and like them on Facebook. And I’ll be back soon to talk about….
I don’t know. Whatever. You tell me!
Pablo Hidalgo is paid to know the difference between Romba and Lumat and dies a little bit inside when you misspell Wookiee or Lucasfilm. He lives in San Francisco.