This is not your typical character analysis article that I usually write. Other contributors have shared their “EU origin story”, and I wanted to share my own story of not only how I got into the Expanded Universe but also what it has done for me and what it has inspired me to create.
So what is my story? And how has it changed me?
The year was 1998, and it was a year that would shape my entire life from that point on. My family, when we were kids, would let my sister and I occasionally pick out a video tape from the video store to watch and then we would come home, set a sheet on the living floor, pop popcorn, make pizza rolls and some other fun foods and watch a movie. The movie was usually a Disney film, something we had seen dozens of times before, but this night was different. Mom and Dad wanted to show us one of their favorite movies. It was a film called Star Wars.
After it was over, I was blown away by it. The story, the characters, the technology, and the aliens, it all stuck with me. From that point on, I not only loved Star Wars, but it almost became an addiction. It was like a cup of coffee that you must have in the early morning to function in your everyday, regular life. That was Star Wars. Every day, (and even now) was Star Wars Day for me.
Soon, we watched The Empire Strikes Back and then finished the trilogy with Return of the Jedi. My dad gave me his old Kenner action figures and I played with them all the time. Soon, the prequels were brought to my attention and going to see the Phantom Menace in theaters was one of the most important days of my life. It was a not only a new Star Wars film, but even at that young age of 5, I knew that this was MY generation’s Star Wars film trilogy. I just couldn’t describe it at that time.
However, while I felt as though I knew the Original Trilogy well, I had so many questions about the universe of Star Wars. I understood that we would have to wait for the next two prequels to explain how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, how the Republic became the Empire, and the Jedi were near extinction, but my questions were mainly about what happened before, between, and after the movies with the focus on after Jedi.
I can remember constantly asking my father about Luke Skywalker’s further adventures, but he just couldn’t answer them. “I guess he trained Jedi,” He would say, but that wasn’t enough, I needed to know more.
On a Friday morning in October 2002, my classroom went to the school library to checkout books. When we walked in I casually turned to my head to the right and saw a on a spinning rack on top of one of the shelves, Star Wars books. My eyes opened as wide as a human could possibly do. I immediately nudged my best friends, Josh and Landon, who loved Star Wars as well. They too were surprised and enamored with the books. We desperately wanted to grab them, but we had to sit through our librarians “lesson” about how great reading was. All I wanted to say to her was “Yeah, I know it’s fun! That’s why you need to let me go get my Star Wars books!”
At long last, the 10 minutes were over, and I was able to dash back there with my friends. I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast. “Walk!” the librarian called to us. We didn’t walk, we wanted, no, we NEEDED a copy.
The book I got was the novel, The Lost Ones, that was a part of the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta.
Since we were third graders, we had to get a chapter book and a picture book, so we could only check out one Star Wars novel. I didn’t care, I just wanted to read the novel. I checked out the book and had the opportunity when we got back to class to read for 20 mins before lunch in the classroom.
I read the back of the book that explained who Jacen and Jaina Solo were, and I was blown away by the fact that this was after Return of the Jedi, but also the adventures of Han Solo, and Princess Leia’s kids. Not only that, they were 14 years old. 4 years older than what I was at that time. I immediately identified with them just as I had previously with 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker in the Phantom Menace. It also revealed that Luke Skywalker had not only trained new Jedi and had his own academy but was teaching his niece and nephew as well.
My friends and I loved these books and we couldn’t wait until next Friday to get new ones, so we traded them on Monday morning and by that next Friday, they were back to their correct owners. I read the series out of order but would end up reading the entire series by the time the year was over.
When Christmas rolled around, I was given Attack of the Clones on DVD but also one of my presents was a Star Wars video game. That was Dark Forces II Jedi Knight.
This game introduced me to one of my favorite characters in the Expanded Universe, Kyle Katarn. I had not played the first game, but the opening crawl and game manual filled me in. And playing this first-person game, wielding a lightsaber, fighting for the fledgling New Republic made me feel as though I was engrossed in the universe. Like Jacen, Jaina, Lowbacca, and Tenel Ka, before, Kyle who became one of my favorite characters whom I loved just as much as I did the movie characters.
As the years went on, I began to discover more and more. I played more games such as Rebel Assault 2, Bounty Hunter, and Republic Commando. In 5th grade and began to read more adult novels like the Clone Wars novels: Jedi Trial, Shatterpoint, the Cestus Deception, etc.
When I discovered that the comics connected to the novels I ended up buying everything. Anytime there was a way to earn money to buy a Star Wars comic, book, or game, I would do what I needed to do to get it. In fact, I truly believe I built a good work ethic by wanting to work for what I wanted. I knew that if a new book was coming, I knew I had to save up and earn it. When I got my first job in high school, I learned to budget money and created a fun area of my budget, so I could buy more expanded universe books. However, the Expanded Universe not only taught me money management, but also pushed me to be creative and to express myself.
By middle school and throughout high school the expanded universe even began to inspire to write my own stories. I created my own universe of superheroes and make sure that all the stories I told were connected and mattered in the grand scheme of things. I even created my own bible of how my universe looked and worked. It was based heavily on Leland Chee’s Holocron. I wrote stories about these heroes and in a cartooning class in high school, I drew those characters and had them represented visually. It was exciting to create and to tell stories for grades and that was solely based on the Expanded Universe and the Star Wars franchise.
From there, I even dipped my toe into writing Star Wars fiction myself. I have written a story based on the Rebel Assault 2 video game and had great fun doing it, maybe I’ll release it one day.
The Expanded Universe has always been important to me and as time went on of getting and reading, and playing new material, I ultimately loved it more than the films. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those movies; but to me, the movies are like you are looking out a window. What see out the window is beautiful and eye catching, but when I delved into the EU I felt as though I walked through the door into this larger world. This universe that happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
“You’ve taken your first steps into a larger world…” Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope.
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