One of the perks for being a higher level supporter of the Billboard project was the opportunity to have half a page on which to tell Lucasfilm your personal message. Andrew and Christopher both chose this perk. Below are their messages.
- Andrew White
- Chris Ankrum
The Expanded Universe of Star Wars has been a vital piece in the franchise since virtually its inception. During the sixteen years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace it was the EU that maintained interest in SW; ensuring its stability and undoubtedly attributed positively to the prequel trilogy's box office returns. The EU also took on the daunting task of filling in the gaps and answering many of the questions left by the movies, as well as asking new questions and creating characters as intriguing, or arguably more so, as those presented in the films. Due to its flexibility and the distinguished professionals who worked on it, the EU was able to adapt, as seamlessly as possible, when changes from the highest level called for it.
There's little doubt that all, or at least most, of that information is common knowledge by this point, so providing a little bit more shouldn't be too shocking. The EU may have effectively seceded from the mainstream universe, but that doesn't mean its usefulness, financially or otherwise, and its creativity has to cease. Whether it's the novels, comics, or video games, the EU has a built-in fan base of over thirty years and plays a significant role in Star Wars merchandising, which easily earns triple what the movies bring in. While it's understood that the publishing process for novels and comics is not free, continuing the storylines that were left unfinished under the Legends banner can be expected to not only more than make up for that cost, but also reconnect fans and authors who have felt disenfranchised with SW over the past few years.
This is an opportunity for Lucasarts and Disney to have its cake and eat it too. The Force Awakens is a resounding success, the anticipation for more movies and television is stronger than it's ever been, sales and stocks are up… why not complete this circle by allowing Legends to exist separately in a similar manner to how other long-standing franchises have done; like Star Trek for example. The marketing for such products would be relatively simple; using the term 'Legends' should be enough for most interested parties, and it will in no way interfere with the continuity that is currently being developed by the new story group. Ultimately, resuming the EU/Legends would not only be good for business, but it would frankly be the right thing to do as well.Andrew White A Star Wars fan
Greetings, my name is Chris Ankrum. I've been a fan of the Star Wars franchise my whole life. More than anything I've always held the Expanded Universe to heart. In the past year or so I've joined up with several groups on Facebook such as the New Alliance to Preserve the EU, EU Fans Unite, and Galactic Remnant of the EU. These are but a few of many groups who are dedicated to keeping the memory of the Star Wars Expanded Universe from dying out. Like many fans I was most saddened to hear that Disney/Lucasfilm declared the whole EU irrelevant. My personal life aside it was one of the hardest things I've had to deal with, and it remains so to this day. Though having been skeptical since Lucasfilm was first purchased by Disney I had no doubt that the company had great things in store for the franchise.
However, I must respectfully protest. Although it's been almost two years since Disney/Lucasfilm decided the EU would no longer be canon. Does it really have to end? Must it truly be discarded? We are talking more than thirty years of stories and characters that many came to love, cherish, and accept as major pillars in the Star Wars universe. A lot of money, work, and countless hours were contributed not only by the authors and media but the fans as well. This has all been due to their undying love for the franchise. For if not for this it may have all ended with the first trilogy. I respect George Lucas's work and owe him my thanks for Star Wars. After years of collecting everything related to Star Wars and the EU I even have my own library.
Now it's as if none of it had ever been written. I hate to even think of the memory of the Expanded Universe being obliterated in the years to come. That is a major concern.
Why do I love the Expanded Universe? It started about ten years ago. Before that I had only known the movies. During then I had noticed and read about the additional books beginning with Shadows of the Empire. At the time I really didn't take interest in them. When I saw Revenge of the Sith I thought I had seen the whole story. Then, that following January of 2006 was when the hardcover Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno caught my eye. You could say my curiosity got the better of me. I was psyched as I read it. I realized the whole time I'd been missing out. The movies were only a fraction of the story. I started developing an appetite for the EU books/comics ranging from Tales of the Jedi to The New Jedi Order. Later it would continue with Legacy and The Fate of the Jedi. I even made a hobby of putting together my own timeline. Now we all know about epic stories like The Thrawn Trilogy and Dark Empire. The X-Wing series is another favorite of mine. The most memorable element of these stories are star EU characters like Mara Jade; the Solo twins Jaina and Jacen; their brother Anakin; Ben Skywalker; Kyle Katarn; Corran Horn; and lot's more. Some of the most touching moments were romances developed in the stories. Some of these included Revan and Bastilla Shan from the Old Republic, the clone commando Darman and Jedi Etain Tur-Mukan from the Republic Commando series, and Jaina Solo and Jagged Fel. I believe the most romantic was the love that spawned between Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. Here were two individuals who started out as adversaries. Then their newfound alliance transformed into friendship. It was in Vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn where Mara was referred to as Luke's beloved. Near the end of the book they finally realize their love for each other after Luke proposes to Mara.
It was stories like this that really touched my heart. Other stories like the New Jedi Order series built real excitement in me. As I would continue reading my anxiety would increase while wondering OMG what's going to happen next. It just seemed I couldn't get to the end fast enough. I would visualize all the space battles, chases, gunfights, rescues, and lightsaber duels with much delight.
Unfortunately, it also had its share of tragedies. The deaths of Chewbacca, Anakin Solo, and Mara Jade really stung. Even Jacen's decent into the dark side and his eventual death was hard to swallow. I'll tell you what really hurts to this day, and that's the tragic ending of the romance between Ben Skywalker and Vestara Khai due to her betrayal. It certainly hit me like a blaster in my heart. Though it may have been due to Ves being in a tough spot, but Ben would continue to believe she had intended a stab in the back the whole time. It's even worse since we may never know what happens next due to Disney/Lucasfilm pulling the plug. Again, I've spent years building up on all media related to Star Wars from movies, books, comics, videogames, even short stories. It's more than just a story. To me it's been an adventure. This is why I love the Expanded Universe.
It's been difficult watching Disney/Lucasfilm reshape the saga into a story different from the one I remember. You can say I even became pretty anxious when I saw "The Force Awakens". The EU came first. It's the story I came to cherish, and it's hard to accept anything else as true canon. When Disney first took over it had originally been one of my hopes they might make most if not all material written the last thirty or so years official someday. For example, they could have adapted all the books into movies or television programs. Instead, they chose to make it all irrelevant. I agree there were some material the EU could have done without. There were questions about continuity issues due to stories seriously contradicting one another. Either some people didn't do their homework or they simply didn't care about continuity. Despite this I have come to realize a necessity for sagas to adjust from generation to generation. Star Wars is phenomenal afterall, and I certainly can't imagine it fading away like ever. Still, I believe it fair to say that I'm willing to compromise if Disney/Lucasfilm is willing as well.
As Darth Bane stated in his book trilogy, "Two there shall be, no more, no less". Why shouldn't the same thing apply to the Star Wars Universe? Why shouldn't the Expanded Universe continue as an official story line parallel to the new canon? There are many franchises that have adapted multiple canons throughout the years. Good examples are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and both the DC and Marvel stories. As new generations of fans have come and gone story writers have felt the necessity to reboot franchises. I understand that Disney/Lucasfilm has seen the need to do the same. However, while rewriting franchises in a new format they also continue to write the older format without discontinuing anything. One other franchise I've always been into is Stargate. Stargate SG-1 was a TV program on Showtime that took place after the 90's motion picture "Stargate". One of its key features has been its use of alternate universes. I don't see why Lucasfilm can't do the same for the Star Wars franchise. They could easily make the Expanded Universe/Legends storyline a universe parallel to the Disney canon.
There's another justification for the continuation of the Expanded Universe, it's incomplete. There are still many unanswered questions/missing pieces. We never did get to see Karen Traviss write her second Imperial Commando book to wrap up the Republic/Imperial Commando book series. At the time that was due to the continuity issues presented by the Clone Wars series. The ending of the second Force Unleashed certainly left us in limbo with the realization that we won't see a third. I'm sure Star Wars 1313 would have made a great game as well as a fine addition to the EU storyline. Here's probably the most important part. A major gap exists during the time period between the latest EU book Crucible and the Dark Horse Comic Legacy series. There are questions like how did the Imperial Knights come to be? What became of the Lost Tribe of the Sith? Do the quest knights locate the Mortis Blade to destroy Abeloth? Does Boba Fett find the cure for his aging? There are other topics like the rise of the One Sith and the secret Jedi temple. As stated earlier the issue that ate me up the most is Ben Skywalker and Vestara Khai, and it still does.
I know that no matter how you look at it it's all a fantasy. Regardless, there are just some stories that really touch us, and there are some that depress us depending on the result. I wonder if Troy Denning would have given his last two books Apocalypse and Crucible a better outcome had he known about the upcoming decision to discontinue the EU. Again, so many unanswered questions. One of the worst things in life is never knowing. As I've mentioned before I see no harm in a compromise that would make everybody happy on both sides. They could write stories for the canon, and continue writing new stories for the Legends storyline. Plus, I read that at the last Star Wars Celebration many fans brought up questions in regards to the continuation of the EU/Legends storyline. It was mentioned that it may be a possibility. I pray that day comes.
I've sent posts online and several letters to Disney/Lucasfilm over the past year stating my concerns and wishes for a continuation of the EU. This is a response I received from a letter they sent back:
"I know that you may not have necessarily meant for your suggestions to be considered as such, but the suggestion outlined in your letter could be considered a creative idea or suggestion. Unfortunately, I must explain that our company's long-established policy does not allow us to review ideas, suggestions or creative materials not specifically solicited by us or our subsidiaries. The reason for this policy is because many ideas submitted to us could already be conceived or considered by our staff and we do not want any possible misunderstandings or confusion regarding projects or products created from inside the company. For this reason, we will not retain any copies of your letter. This is not meant to offend you in anyway; it is simply our policy not to retain copies of correspondence or creative materials that could be considered unsolicited ideas."
Now, here's my problem with this. I know I'm not a part of the story group, and I'm not an employee of Lucasfilm. I'm just one of millions if not billions of fans. However, it's my belief that one of Lucasfilm's most important assets is its fans. Without us, there would be no need for Star Wars. In a way we are the driving force that keeps the saga going. I hold upmost respect for the person who sent me this response, but in a way it sounds as if our opinion doesn't matter, or we have no say at all. Why read our fan mail if they're just going to toss it away without passing it along to staff or the story group. Whether you're pro Disney canon or pro EU I believe every fan has the right to have their ideas and opinions heard not by just a few but by the many. If I do present suggestions or ideas in my letters it's not to interfere with the work presented by the story group and all other parties involved. I do not look to obtain the rights, nor do I seek money or credit for any ideas. There is only one thing I hope to gain, and that is the continuation of the EU. So, should I send similar letters in the near future it's my hope that whoever picks them up will take the time to pass them along for fair consideration.
I would like to conclude that I write this not only for myself but for all the fans who have come to develop a special place in their hearts for the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I also have no doubt there are those at Disney who have the same love for this part of the Star Wars franchise. Please, I ask Disney/Lucasfilm not to let the last thirty years be in vain. Whatever happens the EU will always be the true canon to me. In time I hope to develop the same love for the Disney canon. Long live the Expanded Universe, and "May the Force Be with Us All."