Believe it or not, there’s been a lot of buzz about BB-8’s gender recently. And that raises a question: Why does it matter?
I had a lot of mixed feelings the other day watching the new video on Ahsoka Tano.
I’m not in The Clone Wars generation by any means – I’d been active in fandom for more than a decade when Ahsoka came around – hell, this blog was four years old in 2008.
But what Ahsoka is to that generation, Mara Jade was to mine. She was, back in the day – or at least to some of us – just as big a Star Wars figure as Leia. In fact, she was only the second female in the whole franchise to get anywhere near that much development. For nearly a decade – before the prequels – Mara Jade was the second-most important woman in Star Wars. But she’s not canon any more. And though I don’t really care about that, I have to admit it hurts to see her effect ignored. Oh, I know that to mention her in that video would just muddy the waters, but so much of what you see with Ahsoka and fandom right now mirrors what was happening with Mara and fandom back in the day.
I’ve avoided saying much about my spoiler policy here on Club Jade, mainly because I firmly believe in taking these things on a case-by-case basis. But there is one hard fact here: I will not treat officially released material as spoilers.
That doesn’t mean I’ll spoil something that’s in The Force Awakens novelization or art book, on the chance they come out before the film does. But any officially released publicity material is fair game. That means trailers, commercials, press releases and anything else that Lucasfilm very clearly wants people to know.
First it was ‘why aren’t stormtroopers clones?,’ now it’s ‘Luke Skywalker’s Jedi should be carbon copy of the Old Republic Jedi, right?’
Over at /Film, and in light of the latest rumor regarding possible Skywalker offspring, Germain Lussier gives his view on the rumors, and Jason at Making Star Wars has a response as well. (Possible spoilers at all those links, though I’m trying my best to avoid them here.)
I don’t agree with ether of them entirely (okay, I really don’t agree with Lussier and, full disclosure, went a-ranting on Twitter this morning over it) but there’s something kind of funny about all this: The old arguments never die, do they?
If you’re a digital comics fan, the news of the day is pretty big: Star Wars comics became available on comiXology today under new licensee Marvel. Most of the big publishers use comiXology for digital these days, but Dark Horse has stayed an outlier, maintaining their own app, so this is the first time these works have been available through the more popular service.
That’s all well and good – or at least, inevitable. This is the way the comics license works: All or nothing, no matter who actually produced the work.
But one thing: Everything you see in ‘Marvel’s’ Star Wars store is reusing old Dark Horse covers, sans Dark Horse logo. The only changes on any of them are a Marvel logo and the Legends banner. Other than those three things, they are using the Dark Horse covers verbatim.
And, honestly? It looks a bit crass.
It’s not the biggest issue in the fandom, and it’s certainly not without precedent – Dark Horse reprinted all the old Marvel stuff, probably several dozen times a piece. But they also started long before digital comics and the ability to publish several dozen collected editions at the drop of a hat. By the time digital came along, all the old Marvel stuff had Dark Horse covers ready to go.
I don’t expect Marvel to have artists whip up completely (mostly?) new covers for digital, the way they’re doing for print. But surely a quick general ‘Archive’ template and text treatment (Well, maybe two, given the omnibus layouts) would make this look a little less skeevy.
There’s nothing wrong with the Dark Horse covers, and certainly Lucasfilm owns the typography just as much as they do the art. I’m sure there are a lot of factors I’m unaware of here. I don’t even know if they have access to the original art (surely Lucasfilm does?) I don’t know Marvel’s staffing situation or the amount of time they had to throw this all together. And I certainly have no objections to Dark Horse’s big last minute sale: They produced most of it and lost the license to the biggest fish in the pond through no fault of their own – why not get in those last few sales?
But I know, as a fan – and not even a fan who Dark Horse showed much interest in catering to outside of a brief period in the ’90s – this just doesn’t look right to me. And for that matter, why is Marvel is putting up some of Dark Horse’s most popular Star Wars comics – Dark Empire, Legacy, etc. – it only a week before their first new comic even hits? An attempt to reach out to the rabid Dark Horse fans? Will it over-saturate the audience? Can you over-saturate the market for comics fans?
It all comes down to money, yes. Of course it does. And I’m sure Marvel and Lucasfilm made a nice chunk of cash today off all this, to go with their brand new 1 million record. I just wish they’d been a touch classier about it.
Eric Geller at TheForce.net posted a lengthy piece today looking at the ‘movement’ to ‘save’ the Expanded Universe.
It’s pretty ugly, this movement, so much so that even someone with a cast-iron case of trainwreck syndrome (hi) will want to look away. Yes, Eric quotes me, but I haven’t made a study of these people: What I’ve already run across in my regular travels on Facebook and Tumblr is more than enough. I love getting silly and (yes) occasionally childish with fandom (ahem, Tumblr) but the hatred and negativity of all this is just above and beyond. And I cut my fandom teeth flaming Star Wars authors for ‘bad’ books. I used to read Fandom Wank regularly, for fun. I moderated message boards during the prequel era. I can handle more than your standard amount of fannish negativity.
There’s nothing wrong with being sad, or even a little angry, about the Legends announcement. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that timeline to continue. But there is something wrong with letting things get quite this toxic over a bunch of novels, no matter how beloved they may be. It poisons the well.
I hope these folks are channeling something like the snotty, flaming 17-year-old I was once, and they’ll grow up and move on, with or without Star Wars. There’s little doubt in my mind that this will die down, regardless. But it’s beyond sad to see EU fandom, even if it’s just the fringes, reduced to such a sad state. We’re better than this. I hope.
I was lucky enough to see the preview screening of Star Wars Rebels in San Diego, and to sum it up: Rebels is awesome. We were asked not to spoil the premiere episode, so I’ll give my general impression and touch on a few things we already know to be in the show.
We may not have gotten any Episode VII news out of San Diego Comic-Con, but we did get a fair share of book and comic news: An Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos novel based on scripts from The Clone Wars, and three new comics all set just after A New Hope.
Let’s start with the book: I think it does three very smart things that were missing from the first round of canon novels.
One thing that’s curious, though – what about the Del Rey contract? Between Sword of the Jedi and Kemp’s duology we know they had at least 5 books left, maybe 6 if you count that rumor about Matt Stover finishing Imperial Commando – and this would be #5. But then, there’s this tweet: “We gave away 4,500 free books at #SDCC Just you wait for @SW_Celebration next year! To say we’re excited is an understatement.” I doubt Del Rey would be at Celebration if they were on the verge of losing their license…
But, speaking of new contracts… Marvel. Yes, old EU fans are less than thrilled with ‘another’ set of just after A New Hope stuff, but please remember: We are not the only audience here. And the old stuff, including Marvel’s old stuff, is Legends. The slate is clean, and Marvel has to build up a new audience for Star Wars comics. This is only the beginning – we’ll likely see them range further as things are established.
In particular, I like the direction the Leia comic is going, which is most certainly not something we saw done in the old EU. I hope it’s followed by another female-centric mini – though they’ll doubtless have to create one. A female smuggler, maybe? Or what about a new spin on one of their own less-goofy Legends characters like Shira Brie/Lumiya, Story Group permitting? Hell, how about a pre-Bespin Lando?
There’s still a lot that Marvel can do here, and I firmly believe that the era matters far less than the execution. Let’s give them a shot before writing this off as same-old, same-old.
Alas, I’m not all that familiar with the Marvel folks to speculate much on what these specific creators will bring to Star Wars, but reaction from those who are familiar with them seemed fairly positive.
And for the love of Stan Lee: Marvel, you better get Phil Noto to do at LEAST the covers of an Episode VII comic. Did you see his Luke Skywalker portrait? If you can make Leia look like she’s 6 feet tall, you can give us Noto’s Luke, okay? Good. I’m glad we had this talk.
I never, ever, ever wanted to be a social justice blogger. I still don’t. But apparently it’s happened, so let’s talk a bit about Star Wars, diversity and feminism, shall we?I have been very lucky in that I did most of my fandom growing up in spaces that were heavily female, from the early ship-war days to Club Jade to the fanfic community. That’s not to say jerks don’t happen in such spaces – the Star Ladies invented Attack Pattern Clinique back in the days of AOL chat rooms for a reason – but for the most part I ‘grew up’ in fandom areas where women and their contributions were unquestioned, where the idea that Star Wars needs more women was simply a given.
When I came back into general fandom via the StarWars.com forums, it was from a position of authority. Not big authority – moderator of a message board – but there was still a certain amount of respect expected and received. I’m sure having nicknames that tend to read masculine doesn’t hurt, either.
Still, in general fandom I have, for the most part, had a good experience in dealing with male fans. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t see a lot of random outright hostility due to my gender, either. Until I, oddly enough, started writing more extensively about feminist concepts. Curious, no? (Not at all, actually.) But I personally haven’t received any rape threats for criticizing Star Wars, as recently happened in comic fandom, so we have that going for us, I guess.
A few days late on this, perhaps, but this has been quite a slog, hasn’t it? In any case, we have our cast – or at least the better part of it.
In short, there are a lot of interesting possibilities here for everyone, and while many of us may have qualms about the gender diversity of the overall group, you certainly can’t say any of them are boring.
Let’s see what we can unpack here.
And yes, of course I’m guessing. Aren’t we all?