Day 4: Bread and Butter Best of: Star Wars.
Star Wars has been a sacred mythology for me my whole life. It’s my basis for comparison for pretty much all storytelling. Which I imagine has gotten pretty tired for most of the people who know me. “See, this guy is the supernatural guide, the mentor, the Obi-Wan. Here to shape the hero, and give him exactly the lessons he needs to eventually face Vader. Or Voldemort or Cthulu or whatever it was we were talking about. Star Wars!”
Tangentially: While Star Wars is a solid model for the Hero’s Journey, for bad guys, I defer to the supreme example of the Villain’s Journey: Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. I’m totally serious.
Though, Star Wars was almost there, and very few people know it. So very, very close to telling another great story. I’ve done just enough Star Wars stuff to have heard of the original premise for the Phantom Menace. In rumory whispers at least. And it was actually really, really good.
Forget all the cameos. Forget the politics. Forget all that extra stuff, all the expansive CG worlds, vehicles, battles. Forget what you learned about all the characters from the prequels.
The premise was simple, and it went back to Star Wars real roots. A samurai’s tale.
Obi-wan, an aging, venerable master, is the script keeper for the Jedi council. fantastically knowledgeable, wise, disciplined, and humble. His apprentice, Qui-gon, is a talented young padawan. (Sound like I got it backward? It’s not.)
Obi-wan has tremendous respect for the traditions and history of the Jedi. A quality he continually tries to impart on Qui-gon. However, Qui-gon is young. And not atypically, he prefers to improvise over practice, act on instinct rather than rule. For the most part, Qui-gon’s style works. He’s a good man, and it’s clear he will make a good Jedi. Still Obi-wan tries to impart the wisdom of the Jedi ancestry. “These were great masters who could see deep into the future. Their words are more than just advice. Obedience to the codes will make you great, and keep you safe. From your enemies, and from the temptations of power as you grow.”
A mysterious enemy is systematically attacking the Jedi. Stealing artifacts, assassinating Jedi, and sewing doubt with rumors about the Council. Almost too late, Obi-wan uncovers a sith plot, but has no time to bring it before the council. An instrument of an unknown master, Darth Maul, will be assassinating Padme Amidala in mere moments. Quick to the scene, Obi-wan and Qui-gon intercept and confront Maul.
Even together, they are not a match for the ferocity and lethal precision of Darth Maul. The terrifying sith warrior presses the attack, and Obi-wan commands Qui-gon to find Amidala and escape. Obi-wan knows this would be the death of his master, and instead engages the force-doors, and attacks Maul. In ensuing struggle, they are separated only momentarily, but that is long enough for Maul. With little ceremony, he strikes down Obi-wan as Qui-gon watches.
The force-doors have sealed them in. There is no where to run. His disobedience has cost the life of his master, the information about the Sith return, and Maul will soon succeed in his mission.
Maul strides with a twisted smile toward Qui-gon, who is frantically trying to think of a way to defeat Maul. Maul is far more skilled. And Maul is strong with the dark side.
Looking at his fallen master, furious at himself for letting this happen, he turns his eyes to Maul, embracing his rage. He taps into everything he’s learned of the force, commanding it to bring him victory. Bring him power over his enemy. And it obeys. A flurry of light-saber blows, crackling with force-lighting surprises the unsuspecting Darth Maul, and Qui-gon kills him.
He looks at the two bodies. His master, and his enemy. And he realizes what he’s done. He has truly betrayed his master’s teachings. He channeled the dark side of the force.
He calls a meeting of the Jedi council. “Though it was only for a second, I opened my heart and my mind to the dark side. I feel its shadow falling over me. Obi-wan taught me: the dark side will consume, and the man I am will become the enemy of all I cherish. I know this means I must die first, and I ask the council to carry out my sentance.”
Yoda approaches him. “True, this is. Death has come for you, Qui-gon Jinn. The Jedi you were died with his master. Before what must come, tell me, are there any words you wish to pass on?”
"I have no wisdom to give. Only regret. Obi-wan was the wisest man I knew, and his work is unfinished because of me.“
Yoda takes Qui-gon’s lightsaber, and ignites the blade. "You will be struck down, once a Sith you become. But not a Sith are you yet. Cost the Jedi a great man, you have. His work will you continue. Until you again meet the dark side, and death, you are Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
Great. Now it seems totally anticlimactic to talk about a few measly paintings I did. Still, here I go:
Light in the Darkness
Rachi Sitra pleads for a sith to let his hate go, and come with her to safety, rather than die a warrior. I’ve always liked the Star Wars concept of redemption. Even Vader, a force-choking, genocidal murder machine, has good in them. And in letting go of their power and anger, they can be good again.
After Emperor Palpatine’s fall, a new order of sith arises. Discarding the old ways of one master, one apprentice, Darth Krayt creates a new hierarchy. “The One Sith” where every lord acts as a part of a greater body. Darth Talon is one of the hands of the sith, And a tremendously effective one.
The man himself. The Shogun of Shadow. The Skull-faced Sith of Scariness. The tightening in your throat… Erk!
One of the things that makes this a personal favorite, is how I came to be allowed to show it at Gen Con many years back. I’d just turned it in, and I asked “hey, I’d really love to have this up at my booth for Gen Con. It’s Vader, so it’s not exactly spoiling any new content. What do you say?”
The art director: “Oh. Well, we’d be okay with spoiling it. But Lucasfilm has pretty tight tabs on their copyrights, and your contract doesn’t technically allow for that, even if we wouldn’t care. Still, I’m not going to be the guy to say no, so I’ll pass it up the chain. Don’t get your hopes up, though.”
Lucasfilm brand: “Hi, we don’t really give this sort of permission out, but my position here is just to veto stuff that doesn’t line up strictly with canon. This Vader is spot on for Empire Strikes Back, so I’m not going to be the guy to tell you no. I’ll let my boss do that.”
Lucasfilm licensing: “Strictly speaking, you specifically don’t have a license to show this. But everything was done correctly under Sony’s sub-license, and they’ve said they’re okay with it. But it’s not their call, or mine. Lemme get back to you, but just know that this isn’t the sort of thing we do.”
Lucasfilm licensing: “Ran it past my boss, he ran it by the last fella who could give you a yay or nay. ‘George likes it. Approved for display.”
Stay tuned for one last day of rambling and pictures!
Day 1: Bread and Butter Best of: Legend of the Five Rings.
Bonus: The Origin Story.
Challenge: Christopher Rush
Day 2: Bread and Butter Best of: Dungeons and Dragons.
Bonus: Left to My Own Devices.
Challenge: Jason Felix
Day 3: Bread and Butter Best of: Magic the Gathering.
Bonus: Fanservice Favorites.
Challenge: Peter Mohrbacher
Day 4: Bread and Butter Best of: Star Wars.
Bonus: the Obligatory Sketchbook.
Challenge: Allen Williams
Day 5: The New Stuff.
Bonus: The Unsung Heroes.
Challenge: Scott M Fischer