Three weeks after “The Force Awakens” has hit cinemas, the Star Wars fans are coming out of the woodwork. It’s amazing how many there are. They’ve all lain dormant for the last 15+ years, apparently, including me. Teacher colleagues I’d put down as the most no-nonsense, non-SciFi, and certainly non-space-opera people on earth are discussing Rey’s parentage and Kylo Ren’s story arc with me during breaktime. The geeks awaken. In the least expected and most delightful places.
Just mid-December, I had found myself seriously considering all the steps I would have to take to get rid of the old “GoldSeven” tag and set myself up as Jenny Dolfen instead. And then The Force Awoke. And how it awoke.
Twenty years ago, I was a major Star Wars fan. Ah, the days of the Special Editions! Midnight premieres, binge-drawing Luke Skywalker (mainly 1997-1998), Star Wars role-playing for two days on end.
Landing on Dagobah, 1998
We played a pen and paper RPG campaign that ran for three years (1998-2001), centering on a female former TIE fighter pilot who fled the Star Destroyer she served on with a captured Rebel agent. (You can imagine how wildly I cheered during the escpae scene with Finn and Poe.) She found herself on a Rebel base in a place called Yavin – and then the Alliance needed every capable pilot. So she flew against the Death Star as Gold Seven – and was the lone Y-Wing you see returning to the base with Han and Luke.
Rhun and Sam, 1998
Comic page of their first meeting, 1999
(I wrote a long fanfic/novel about their story, which can still be found here. The link leads to parts of my old site.)
Then Episode 1 happened. And it all evaporated. All those characers I was prepared to love – Obi-Wan, Padme, Anakin – fell flat or were barely there, or just obnoxious.
While I was optimistic for Episode VII and the trailers made me giddy with excitement, I didn’t dare get my hopes up too far. I expected to like it, and move on. [Spoilers ahead – but if you’re still reading this, you’ve probably watched the movie a couple of times already!)
And now I’m fangirling over Kylo Ren. Sorry not sorry. What a compelling story, what a great reboot, what a wonderful feeling to be “home again, Chewie”. And that’s saying nothing about Ren’s hair, which is almost Fëanorean in its qualities. Along with his whole “tragic flaw” thing (okay, flaw sort of makes it sound manageable), this was the first Star Wars villain ever that really drew me in. Sure, Vader was formidable, the Emperor was sublime, and Anakin was… conflicted on the surface, but the writing and the actor never managed to make me care for his conflict. The Force Awakens, on the other hand, made me feel for a brattish, insecure kid while running a lightsabre through his own father. Well done, JJ Abrams. Well done!
Is it 2017 yet?
My first Kylo Ren, drawn as Patreon commission for Juhi. Still trying to pin down Adam Driver’s very un-Elven facial structure at that point.
“I Will Fulfil Our Destiny”
Even while I was planning this one, I was scared stiff of the composition and that lightsabre. I still can’t believe I managed to pull it off! *happy*
Process video (narrated, including ideas to paint lightsabres) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMwicEAFCnw
I sincerely thought Star Wars was one of the fandoms I had left behind for good, and it feels so good to be back. Chewie… we’re home.