One of the best web artists working takes on the ultimate fan project: reimagining the Star Wars prequels.
Acclaimed webcomic artist Aaron Diaz, creator of Dresden Codak and the Zelda Project, is taking on a new long-term graphic novel project that seeks to redress one of the great human injustices of our generation: Star Wars episodes I-III.
As of this writing, the only post up at Star Wars: 1999 is his initial intro piece, “The Star Wars Prequels: Some Things are Better Left Unsaid“, but the groundwork he lays there, along with his existing body of work, is reason enough to get excited. Diaz’s art is gorgeous, and his analysis of the storytelling principles that made the Original Trilogy brilliant is very sound.
In A New Hope, we’re thrown into a fantastic universe with little explanation beyond what is relevant to the plot. We don’t need to know what Jawas are, how hyperspace works, or even what the Empire is up to beyond the perspective of the main characters. Knowledge of the setting flows organically through character interactions, which contributes to the believability and immersive quality of the fantasy. The OT Star Wars world is very “lived in,” with its characters already familiar with the details of the setting. Even Luke Skywalker, who takes the role of “fish out of water” early on, is still mostly familiar with what’s been going on in the galaxy.
Diaz is dead right. The beauty of Lucas’s original films is in all the things we don’t see, all the references to stuff that was offscreen or long ago. The preexisting reputation of the Millennium Falcon, Han’s rocky history with Lando Calrissian, even Luke griping that he can’t get a good price for his used speeder: “Since the XP-38 came out, they’re just not in demand.” We don’t know what the XP-38 is, who makes it, or why it matters, because it doesn’t matter. It’s just some new model speeder that’s better than Luke’s old piece of crap, and that’s the last we’ll ever hear of it.
Diaz’s agenda is to avoid the sins of Lucas’s prequels, including the sense that the entire history of the galaxy was condensing down to about ten people who all knew each other. The plan he outlines:
Star Wars ‘99 begins over 100 years before A New Hope, and does not cover the rise of the Galactic Empire or the Clone Wars. I believe that detailing these events lessens their significance in the OT.
There will be essentially no main characters from the OT, though some ancestors or minor characters may appear.
There’s more details at the site, and frankly, to this old Star Wars fan (I saw the original in theaters as an infant, until my mom had to take me out because I was crying too loud at the explosions) it sounds like a very exciting project. Here’s hoping that the comic, as it comes out, lives up to the potential Diaz outlines.