Wednesday 29 February 2012


Another one of those It sounded like a good idea at the time! kind of moments for the STAR WARS on-set stills/studio photographers, as C-3PO poses alongside some kind of futuristic vacuum cleaner and against a fearsome Stormtrooper for a 1979 publicity image for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Tuesday 28 February 2012


As the Imperial Death Fleet comes out of hyperspace "too close to the Hoth system", Darth Vader confers with General Veers (Julian Glover) regarding Admiral Ozzel's incompetence, in this behind the scenes filming image, watched by a capped Irvin Kershner, at Elstree for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1979.

Monday 27 February 2012


James Earl Jones with his OSCAR. Image: A.M.P.A.S.

Despite the always hilarious presence of Billy Crystal, this year's 84th Academy Awards presentation was a pretty pedestrian and predictable affair, though it was livened up by the occasional STAR WARS related mention or two, and the Academy finally giving an Oscar to the well deserved James Earl Jones for his outstanding contributions to the movies, especially for his iconic work as the voice of Darth Vader in the classic STAR WARS Trilogy, as well as other timeless hits like Disney's THE LION KING. Congratulations, Mister Jones!

Doug Trumbull with his OSCAR. Image: Richard Harbaugh/copyright A.M.P.A.S.

Also, a special mention of the achievement award that went to special effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, a much liked and admired figure for his revolutionary work on landmark films like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, SILENT RUNNING, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE and BRAINSTORM. Trumbull continues to be a true magician who has made the impossible possible, much to the delight of millions of movie-goers around the world.

One annoying thing to say to the Academy, though: why was the legendary Swordsman/artist Bob Anderson not listed in the memoriam?


Jay Laga'aia makes an imposing presence as Senator Amidala's dedicated protector Captain Typho, in this publicity image for EPISODE II. Beyond the actual STAR WARS films, the Australian actor and singer is, of course, well known in his dedicated position of Master of Ceremonies presenter/host for the last three STAR WARS: CELEBRATION conventions, enjoying meeting cast, crew and fans alike.

2011 interview: Into the unknown with starship Jay | CityNews

The animated version of Typho, as seen in THE CLONE WARS.

Sunday 26 February 2012


The first commercial poster art for the original STAR WARS from 1976. Image and art: Howard Chaykin (via the SPACE: 1970 website).

Today I attended London's first Super Comic Convention event at the EXCEL CENTRE in the heart of Docklands, where, amongst the masses of comic book aficionados and costumed characters waiting for the chance to witness Stan Lee for the first time, I got to meet and talk with the legendary artist Howard Chaykin, a true icon of the American comic book industry whose early work would include the sci-fi epic CODY STARBUCK (which was an early inspiration for George Lucas when devising STAR WARS in the early seventies), AMERICAN FLAGG! and lots of work for the MARVEL and DC comics universe. Of course, to STAR WARS fans he is remembered for his brilliant work in adapting the original first film as part of a six-issue comic series for MARVEL in late 1976 and 1977, and his legendary advance art poster for the film that was sold at the San Diego Comic Con in 1976 that promoted the film to an audience then not yet used to Darth Vader, Chewbacca or Princess Leia.

Artist Howard Chaykin.
STAR WARS comic writer/adaptor Roy Thomas and Chaykin at the San Diego COMIC CON promoting the then upcoming STAR WARS comic series.

Funny, frank, opinionated and self-deprecating- a kind of love-him or hate-him personality akin to Harlan Ellison of the SF book world, with a love of Ravioli (since his days as a starving artist), but not of the kind served in Italian restaurants!- Chaykin was great to meet, and the other fans clearly enjoyed his talking about his work and career, and doing art for them, as much as I did. Of STAR WARS, he recalled he never saw any footage from the film when doing the 1976 adaptation, though he had 400 stills from the film as reference but he didn't like the images, which he felt were too inert, nor the sets, which he felt looked like something from an IKEA Catalogue. He visited the ILM model shop and saw a huge room full of model kits and rows of tank models kits in particular, in an area with a constant smell of glue in the air. Amongst the film models built or being built, he saw work being done to the underside of Darth Vader's Star Destroyer from the beginning of the movie (which he said was the length of a canoe), saw the surface of the Death Star and four varying sized Millennium Falcon models. He was impressed with the model work and the detail involved but didn't think the original film was going to be a success. "If I had known, I'd have worked harder," he told me, humorously.

A fun interpretation of our characters by Chaykin for MARVEL from the late seventies.

It was great to meet Mister Chaykin and STAR WARS AFICIONADO continues to wish him the very best of success with all his future illustrative endeavours.

Howard Chaykin profile/interview: Graphic Novel and Comic Book Creators in New York City - Graphic NYC and How Star Wars Saved the Comic Book Industry

Saturday 25 February 2012


On the main deck of the Super Star Destroyer Executor, the nefarious bounty hunter Dengar is ready to receive his next assignment from Darth Vader: to find the Millennium Falcon.

Played in EMPIRE (and possibly for a brief visual cameo in JEDI, too) by the late British actor/stand-in Moray Bush (who also occasionally doubled/stood-in for Dave Prowse and was Darth Vader's feet trampling the cloak of the 'dead' Obi-Wan during the original filming of STAR WARS), the character has made lots of appearances in the Expanded Universe of comics, but now, finally, makes an animated appearance in next week's THE CLONE WARS episode Bounty, alongside the return of a shaven headed Boba Fett and the Trandoshan Bossk, alongside Asajj Ventress. Oh, and Dengar's got a British accent! Who knew?!

CLONE WARS clip: The Clone Wars Ep. 4.20 "Bounty" Preview - YouTube

UPDATE/OPINION: In a piece of pure stunt casting, Simon Pegg will be providing the voice of Dengar in the episode cameo. In my book it's an incredible piece of hypocrisy, especially from the actor, considering how vocal he's been in his hatred for the Prequel Trilogy: now he's appearing in a Prequel Era set animated series! Is this some kind of alternate universe work ethic? Perhaps if I burn all my STAR WARS collection I'll be able to work for LUCASFILM!

Friday 24 February 2012


On the Forest Moon of Endor (not yet added onto Blue Screen in this ILM behind the scenes shot), an Imperial Scout Trooper (possibly played by Peter Diamond) looks back from his speeder bike controls to see the once pursuant Princess Leia crash into the trees. But lack of concentration can be equally he'll soon find out!

Thursday 23 February 2012


On Geonosis, with the Clone War now begun, a desperate Padme Amidala, with Clone Trooper support, takes aim at Count Dooku's departing Solar Sail vessel. Her blaster fire sadly proves too little too late, however, as the ex-Jedi, now Sith, escapes to wage further conflict against the Republic.

Wednesday 22 February 2012


Iconic Rebel Alliance hero Admiral Ackbar of the Mon Calamari has had a very good 12 months, what with his appearance in the epic four-part story arc that was the CLONE WARS adventure Water War, and as a comedian in fun spoofs like ROBOT CHICKEN. His classic line, "It's a Trap!", has now become legendary, too.

Operated as a puppet by Tim Rose on the Elstree sets of England during February 1982, the final voice of the character in 1982/83 post-producion was ultimately provided by actor/academic Erik Bauersfeld. Check out this recent interview that he did for the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Being Admiral Ackbar: Berkeley man reflects on brush with “Star Wars” | The Big Event | an blog, in which he talks about how he got the role of Ackbar and the legacy of playing the part (as well as voicing Bob Fortuna and being a voice test candidate for ESB's Yoda when it wasn't confirmed that Frank Oz would be doing the final voice).

With thanks to the OFFICIAL STARWARS.COM site for the heads-up...


On the grimy swamp set of Dagobah at London's Elstree Studios in the summer of 1979, near Luke Skywalker's buried X-wing fighter, a wet-suit clad technician (Digby Milner - SFX asst) tends to the prop of the underwater based Dragonsnake creature that promptly devours Artoo Detoo. The original UK filmed effect shot of the beast's first appearance, which looks like it had big scales, was ultimately deemed unusable and a replacement shot was filmed in the US months later-within George Lucas's house pool no less!

Tuesday 21 February 2012


A savage encounter with General Grievous awaits...

Not content with the recent turmoil he caused on Naboo (and which saw the brave death of the Gungan warrior General Tarpals in combat against him), that nasty General Grievous is on the warpath once again in the upcoming CLONE WARS episode Massacre, starting a four part season finale story arc on CARTOON NETWORK US, written by Katie Lucas, that also sees in the rise and fall once again of Asajj Ventress and the return of the brothers Maul: Darth and Savage Opress.

Darth Maul is back, but not quite as we remember him...

Our favourite Sith wannabe/harpy Ventress has had a pretty rough time of it recently, first as a discarded target/pariah for Count Dooku and then losing her fearsome tool for revenge against him: the  Zabrakian/Dathomir male Savage Opress. Now, with her fellow Nightsisters, she takes on the duplicitous General and his battle droid cronies in combat. But could this be her last hurrah?

UPDATE 24/2/12: USA TODAY has a new feature and trailer for the upcoming Maul return: Darth Maul makes a 'Star Wars' comeback in 'Clone Wars' animated show –


As STAR WARS fever hits America, its three young stars- Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford- take to the promotional road for the film, mostly enjoying its sudden and stratospheric success. If anyone has any info on this particular press event (what it was for and when - I think it may be a FOX press conference of some kind?), please get in touch...

And speaking of press conferences, check out this interview that Harrison Ford and a sleepy looking Carrie Fisher (who also looks like she's wearing her pyjamas!) did for French television in late 1977 or early 1978 when the film first began its theatrical run there. Producer Gary Kurtz is also present but the clip sadly doesn't include his part of the talk: Harrison Ford - - archives - télévision - divers - archives

Monday 20 February 2012


At Leavesden Studios in Summer 1997, the EPISODE ONE crew film the landing of the Royal Cruiser carrying the fugitive Naboo Queen and her Jedi protectors to Coruscant, watched by Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and the arriving Supreme Chancellor's blue costumed Royal Guards: one of the earliest scenes to be filmed for the movie involving the entire main cast.

Sunday 19 February 2012


On the wet and wild world of Kamino, a determined Obi-Wan Kenobi charges to one of the Tipocca City outdoor landing platforms to detain the mysterious Bounty Hunter, Jango Fett. But it isn't going to be easy, as Fett quickly dispatches a volley of laser blasts at Obi-Wan, which the Jedi deflects with his lightsaber in a series of swirling moves, which we only see the briefest of in the finished film-a longer part of the sequence can be seen in one of the EPISODE II trailers in 2002. That whole action scene between Fett and Kenobi, which changed considerably from script to practical shooting to CGI effects add-ons, was way too short in the finished film in my book...


Determined to rescue his captured father, Indiana Jones won't let anything stop him from his goal, not even one of the German's dreaded tanks, in this terrific adrenaline charged action scene from INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.

Saturday 18 February 2012


Win STAR WARS: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 3D Graphic Novels!

To celebrate the release of STAR WARS: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 3D on 9th February, we have some awesome graphic novels to give away.

Whether you're an old fan or new, there's no denying that seeing Star Wars on the big screen is an event not to be missed -- especially when it's the first Star Wars movie to ever be presented in spectacular 3D! The duel with Darth Maul, the harrowing Tatooine Podrace, the first meeting of Artoo and Threepio, and the introduction of the Star Wars Saga's tragic hero, Anakin Skywalker, are all back in an all-new 3D presentation of Episode I, an experience that promises to truly surround you with the Force!

From Titan Books, the perfect companion to the release of Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace in 3D, this graphic novel adaptation, by popular THE CLONE WARS writer Henry Gilroy, with inks by the legendary artist Al Williamson- and including scenes and dialogue that didn't make the finished movie- is a must read for any Star Wars follower. 

To be in with a chance of winning, just answer the below question:

Who is Luke Skywalker’s father?

A.      Yoda
B.     Darth Vader
C.      Obi-Wan Kenobi

Send your answer to: by Wednesday 22nd February, with email subtitle GRAPHIC NOVEL and your postal address. Winning names will be drawn from our Don Post Darth Vader mask once again!

Please note: this competition is only available to UK readers.

Star Wars® and all characters, names and related indicia are trademark of & © 2012 Lucasfilm Ltd.

With thanks to our friends at TITAN BOOKS and SUBSTANCE.

Good luck, and May the Force be With you!

EPISODE I: back on the big screen, and now in 3D.


He may have only done a few creature conceptual drawings for the alien Cantina creatures seen in the original STAR WARS, but this memorable alien from acclaimed artist Ron Cobb-best known for his spaceship/technological design work on equally classic films like Ridley Scott's ALIEN and BLADERUNNER- always stuck in my mind as one of those great if only aliens that I would have loved to have seen made into movie magic reality propping up the bar alongside his originally named Hammerhead and High Tundra monsters, but just couldn't have been achieved practically in 1976/77 through budget, special effects and costume design limitations of the period. Thankfully, none of these pesky problems exist in the world of STAR WARS animation, especially as THE CLONE WARS likes to revisit concepts old and new for its series, so it was terrific and nostalgic to finally see one of these species-a Parwan bounty hunter-appearing in all its spindly tentacled glory, and taking on Anakin Skyalker no less!, in the recent, excellent episodes The Box and Crisis on Naboo.

A Parwan creature, now seen in THE CLONE WARS.
Some more of Ron Cobb's 1976/77 creature creations, including a Durosian and Hammerhead/Ithorian.

Friday 17 February 2012


On a blue screen stage at ILM, producer Gary Kurtz tends to the headgear of special effects designer/conceptualist Joe Johnston, whilst director Irvin Kershner confers with matte painter/supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw, both playing Rebel soldiers, for the filming of a last minute insert sequence needed for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, so as to bridge scenes on Hoth leading to the evacuation of our heroes away from Imperial Forces (according to The Making of The Empire Strikes Back book by J. W. Rinzler, a similar moment had previously been shot at Elstree in summer 1979 but was deemed unsuccessful). One of the other lost scenes linked to this sequence, also shot at Elstree, was where Han and Leia trade banter by the Millennium Falcon after its unsuccessful lift-off (a scene where the prop Falcon's landing struts, specially made in Wales, actually moved for their one and only time). The sequence, which ends with Leia giving Han a sarcastic told you so look, ultimately didn't work when seen in either the dailies or in raw edited form, though one still photo of the deleted scene does exist.

This newly filmed sequence with Johnston as the Rebel solider would also feature cameos from matte painter/conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie, as General McQuarrie, and Michael Pangrazio as an X-wing pilot.

McQuarrie's matte painting background of the transport ships used for the new scene.

With thanks to Chris Baker for the image.

Thursday 16 February 2012


Happy Birthday to Jeremy Bulloch: an all-round nice guy and the one true actor within the enigmatic and deadly bounty hunter costumed character of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Boba Fett: a villain who continues to gain well-deserved popularity with every year, and generations of fans young and old.

Jeremy Bulloch interviewed after getting Boba Fett Suit - YouTube
Star Wars Celebration V Jeremy Bulloch Interview - YouTube


Here's three images of a prototype Stuart Freeborn Ewok costume circa late 1981/early 82 for REVENGE OF THE JEDI, sent to KENNER TOYS in the US for reference in top secret action figure building. Note the blacked in portions of the images showing the costume gaps later covered over with hoods and other garment accessories.

Wednesday 15 February 2012


Its not just the brave Rebel fighter pilots going into battle against an armoured Imperial space station with enough firepower to destroy a planet, it's their loyal and efficient Astro Droids, too- all berthed in the various ships utility areas behind the cockpits, including a ready to help Artoo Detoo!

A classic moment from the 1997 SPECIAL EDITION of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE.

Tuesday 14 February 2012


In the idyllic surroundings of the Bespin Cloud City, that rogue Han Solo and his "Worshipfulness" Princess Leia are about to share a tender moment, in a deleted scene from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK finally revealed to fans in 2004 within the EMPIRE OF DREAMS DVD documentary.

Natalie Portman's personal declaration of love towards me hasn't turned up in the post yet, but to everyone else: Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday 13 February 2012


Within the densely layered observation deck of General Grievous's Separatist flagship, The Invisible Hand, Anakin Skywalker continues his intense battle against the Dark Side strength of the taunting and deadly Count Dooku. Outside the mighty vessel, the Republic forces of ships and fighters continue their bold efforts to stop their enemies leaving Coruscant with the captured Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

Linked to the Jedi lightsaber fighting of the Prequels, don't forget that Stunt Coordinator Supreme Nick Gillard is doing a further masterclass on the iconic subject at COMBATCON in the US later in the year. Here are the details:

Nick (assisted by Kyle Rowling) will teach a lightsaber master class at Combat Con in Las Vegas July 6th, 2012. After the great success of this class last year you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn lightsaber fighting from the man who created it for Star Wars I, II and III.  Learn more about Nick at

In this master class Nick will teach a complicated run from Revenge Of The Sith which covers all of the Jedi moves while explaining the rules involved in Jedi fighting. He will also teach how to write it yourself. This World Premiere master class lets you learn it the same way Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen learned it!

This special master class will be a separate charge, but only participants registered for Combat Con will be able to attend. You can register for Combat Con at any level (General, Premium or VIP) to be eligible.  In fact, there is only 6 days left of the January only discount of 1/3 off, so register soon! -

The Jedi Fighting master class will be $150 above the cost of Combat Con registration. It will be two hours and there are three sessions to choose from (9-11am, 12-2pm or 3-5pm).  Special registration for it will open in Feb/March and currently registered CombatCon participants will have first chance to register.


During 2008, in its continued celebrations co-inciding with the then upcoming CELEBRATION JAPAN convention in 2008, STARWARS.COM had a super new section, sadly long since deleted with its 2011 revised "new-look"!, on Japanese book cover art on the Original Trilogy and the Exanded Universe. The artwork on display there would prove superb. Obviously in a different style to the US book compositions, so many of the Japanese art pieces have proved so much better, fully capturing what the Saga means to this particular author (and let's not forget those wonderful Manga STAR WARS comics, either!). I think that this particular image, from VISION OF THE FUTURE, is absolutely magnificent-capturing the likenesses of the cast post RETURN OF THE JEDI extremely well (though the Leia image is obviously from EMPIRE). It's a shame that some of the books can't have the option for you to pick your favourite cover when you buy them-this would be my choice.

The beauty of the ever evolving STAR WARS SAGA art will never diminish whilst continually talented new artists join the ranks, bringing welcome new eyes and perspectives to our favourite scenes from the films and series, not only in contributions from Europe and the US, but Japan as well-I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing future covers from that territory (so much of Japanese STAR WARS fandom, and the history of it's popularity there, seems a mystery that I'm aching to see it explored further in sources not only like STARWARS.COM but beyond), especially with the new CLONE WARS series, and when the new live action series eventually debuts.


Sunday 12 February 2012


Dare you discover the secrets of the Sith? Images: DK BOOKS/LUCASFILM


Written by David West Reynolds and Jason Fry


Reviewed by Scott Weller

Since the dawn of time, mankind has always been good at telling stories, either via artful and evocative cave man drawings of epic journeys and hunts to captures animals for food and sport, to the written and visual realisations of our modern worlds of mystery, action, drama and love seen either in multiplexes or our TV screens on a daily basis. Basically, we love storytelling, and we love heroes and villains in all shapes and forms. Especially when its all part of the STAR WARS Saga, created by that bearded wonder, George Lucas. Remaining as exciting and relevant to audiences hearts as ever, it has comfortably found its place in our interpretations and viewpoints towards modern day myth with its tales of Sith and Jedi, of peace and war, of love and hate in a galaxy a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It continues to resonate and keep us spellbound with every new visitation to its universe.

Audiences young, old and worldwide flocked to, and were thrilled and impressed by, the incredible new universe of the ground-breaking EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE: its talented creators chance to see and show us the turmoil, and final end, of the Galactic Republic and its noble Jedi Knight protectorates, in a manner that had long existed unfettered in his mind, and now finally realised through the birth of CGI, without the kind of effects limitations he felt had previously hampered his work on the earlier, though no less beloved, Classic Trilogy of seventeen years prior. And the end cinematic result was a new stage of the phenomenon, the Prequel universe, which continues to tap into the imaginations and collective awe of a new generation. Now, with the passing of a further thirteen years from that first jaw-dropping effects and design bonanza, we all get to see these then new creatures once again, back on the big screen, after a long absence, and better than ever within its new existence and reality within stereoscopic 3D: an epic experience of which STAR WARS was made for, and for fans and families to enjoy anew or all over again as it enters the lives and custodianship of a third generation…

As these iconic friends and foes begin their mighty return, several previous equally ambitious and important book titles released in 1999 that rode the crest of the merchandise wave have now been re-released or expanded upon to co-incide with the 3D extravaganza, the most important of which has to be DORLING KINDERSLEY’s meticulously updated and revised in every department THE PHANTOM MENACE: THE EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY, out now in all good books shops and online stores worldwide. And it’s a wonderful nostalgic treat back to that bright new universe, which, alongside the Classic Trilogy of Luke, Han, Leia and Vader, etc., has now firmly become a part of our modern film world lexicon, with the likes of the heroic Anakin Skywalker, gangly Gungan comic figure Jar Jar Binks, and the feral evil that is Darth Maul.

A selection of villains, heroes and technology: part of the great new and revised spreads within the book.

Originally written by David West Reynolds- the 90’s Indiana Jones of his time, who did much fine work for LUCASFILM, and now expanded by Jason Fry, the new Keeper of the DORLING KINDERSLEY Jedi information Holocron, the title has an incredible 40 pages of new and revised content, attentively well-written and deeply informative, which puts EPISODE I into context with regards to the continued Prequels and the rest of the Expanded Universe of fiction and spin-offs that has since followed its original tornado like debut from May 1999. A rich universe has become even richer, alongside an enhanced and pleasing to the eye interior design that’s handled with great care and unparallelled detail on all our favourite characters, planets, environments, aliens and technology leaping out of George Lucas’s imagination, that STAR WARS fans expect and relish.

Superb annotated photography packs the pages, with lots of never-before-seen imagery including an exclusive cross-section view of Darth Maul’s lightsaber, whose original activation of it’s double ended red blade, seen way back in that first sneak-peek trailer for EPISODE I in 1998, sent fans into the stratosphere with overload anticipatory excitement.

THE EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY is also a fine tribute to the many hundreds of talented and dedicated craftsmen and women behind the scenes that worked on the Prequel films in the respective lands of practical and electronic creation. Their Five Minutes of Fame predicted by Andy Warhol has incredibly and deservedly stretched into thirteen years and looks likely to continue further whilst there are people that love and zeitgeist into STAR WARS. 13 for EPISODE I and 35 years on for the entire saga, there’s no sense that such adoration and appreciation is going to die out anytime soon. And the world is a much richer place for its existence if you ask me…

Back to its original publication size of the 1999 edition, with a cover that firmly puts everyone’s favourite Sith assassin Darth Maul firmly in the spotlight, the new EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY is a winner- the equivalent of the Boonta Eve Classic victory of new Prequel Books- for fans young and old to enjoy and immerse themselves in.

Well worth adding to your bookshelf, it remains the definitive guide for the first movie, and we look forward to future revised volumes accompanying the hopefully yearly 3D releases.


Check out the available range of DK STAR WARS books here: Star Wars - search results - Dorling Kindersley


He may not be able to "shoot the bastard" this time, but Indiana Jones certainly has his trusty bull whip on hand to take on two bloodthirsty Thuggee warriors, in this terrific action scene from INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM filmed in Sri Lanka.