- EU News & Updates
Consistant Plan to be Consistent
By Tim @Open Airlock Policy
The other day, I received a text while working outside. It was my wife and daughter at a resale shop. Anytime they come across stuff they know I enjoy, they let me know. They said there were Star Wars toys. I told them to send me some photos. Right off the bat, they made a quick score on a Shadows of the Empire swoop in the box and in great condition…for less than fifteen bucks. Later, I looked at the profile cutout on the back and was amazed at something, which I will get into later in this article. That amazement got me thinking and prompted me to write this piece.
In addition to spending our time enjoying Star Wars and promoting the excellence of the Expanded Universe, we must sometimes debunk common misconceptions and fight logical fallacies perpetrated by certain individuals and groups. “The EU was a mess” is a common theme among these types. From the beginning, it was clear George Lucas wanted his universe to be consistent and one continuity. Read the snippets from the letters section of the early Marvel run from 1977 below. It is clear George was the arbiter of publication-ready material. The editors even point out that the post-movie run in the comic title would be in stark contrast to other properties.
In this interview with Brian Daley conducted by Alex Newborn in 1995, the author makes it clear that maintaining continuity was a focus of licensed products. L. Neil Smith had a similar response in his January 2020 interview with StarWarsInterivews.com. George knew that licensed material, in the absence of further films for the time being, would set the tone for fans and the way they perceived the new universe. This is why George regrets and hates the Holiday Special. And no, I don’t think hate is too strong a word.
The 80s was a crazy time for Star Wars material: the continuing Marvel run, Ewok made-for-television movies, Droids and Ewoks cartoons, the West End Games roleplaying game, and more. Going into the Timothy Zahn novels, at a nearly equitemporal point between big-screen productions, there was still a concern around continuity. Read the snippet below from Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine #14, published in 1991.
Even so, some will point to the decision in A Guide to the Star Wars Universe—2nd Edition, Revised and Expanded to separate films, radio, and novelization sources from the rest of Star Wars media as proof that they are not of the same continuity. For one, the author of the reference work, one Bill Slavicsek, pointed out in Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine #21 that the separation was included so that fans could see what directly came from George. As well, the separation was gone in the third edition of the book.
Around the time of the publication of the second edition, an interview was conducted and published in Star Wars Insider #23. That interview was with Allan Kausch and Sue Rostoni of Lucas Licensing. Here they explain some of the finer points of contradictions and maintaining continuity. By 1994, the tiered system had been established.
Others will point to this message in the opening pages of the Heir to the Empire Sourcebook. Note that the message is not inconsistent with the tiered system.
At the end of the day, there was a longtime strategy by George and Lucasfilm to maintain consistency and continuity in published works, as evidenced above with historical documentation. When that was not possible, there was a system to address it. An improbable achievement would have been perfection. So they strove for a plan for consistency. Star Wars was not a multiverse. This means I get to delight in relatively obscure swooper gangs like the Dark Star Hellions and Nova Demons getting mentions in the swoop toy file card. They did it back then not for memberberries or as a way to legitimize a product; they did it because they took the time to thoroughly research the subject of the product in order to give fans a full experience.