A Moff By Any Other Name… – SWBTF Ep 167

Tarkin, Vader, Palpatine, and a Rebel Plot against them all! …and much, much more! All on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films. YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR Podcast of Legends! YOUR ticket to that Galaxy far, far away!

This week true believers, Beyonders, Fanboys, Fangirls, respected aliens around the galaxy, The Champion of the Multiverse; Mark Hurliman, and your Count of Continuities; Nathan P. Butler sit down with Johnathan Brenner of Rebels Roundtable to explore Star Wars: Tarkin. So strap in and tighten your crash webbing Fandom, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on another rapid-fire trip into the galaxy far, far away!

TarkinCover

Continue reading

Celebrating Tarkin – SWBW #39

bookworms Banner

This is our Celebration preview episode where we talk about all the cool stuff we are excited for. We also announce some exciting things going on at our live episode of Star Wars Bookworms happening on the Podcast Stage. And we finally get to that Tarkin review we keep talking about.

  • We are still reading Heir to the Jedi for our Goodreads book club. At the end of April we will start our discussion of Lords of the Sith.
  • Exciting things going on for our live show. We will be on the Celebration Podcast Stage at 4:30 PM on Friday, April 17th. Joining us will be special guests author Drew Karpyshyn and Del Rey Books editor Erich Schoeneweiss. And we will be giving away lots of free books!
  • We take a look at the Celebration schedule and talk through some of the things we want to attend
  • Kanan #1 is now out and we give our brief thoughts.
  • For the Tarkin review Teresa had to go pack for Celebration, but Aaron brings on guests Stephen (Ion Cannon Podcast) and Mark Hurliman (Star Wars Beyond the Films, Star Wars Report) to help him review the book.
  • Stephen, Mark, and Aaron get way off track and talk about Celebration, Legends, new canon, and more.. and finally get around to actually reviewing Tarkin.

star-wars-celebration-2015-official-poster-artwork-by-craig-drake

Continue reading

Review: Draw Star Wars Rebels

Review: Draw Star Wars Rebels (or, The Art of the Nozzie)

The psychological illusionist Derren Brown once conveyed a story in his book, Confessions of a Conjuror. That tale was one from when he was a child, perhaps four or five years old, and was attempting to draw a 3D nose. This wasn’t something he decided to do out of the blue, I should add. He saw a looking though a picture book, and wanted to replicate a drawing he had liked. At first he started to draw a line on the page and then moved his pencil up – that is to say, made it hover above the page (the conventional hovering, that is. He didn’t start to hover people until at least six years of age. He was a slow learner). Naturally, this failed to produce the desired result. Undeterred, he proceeded to bow the paper towards him, but was again left unsatisfied. Again and again he tried, until his mother finally taught him the secret art of drawing nozzies, a skill that eludes the grasp of many an adult artist, today.

Because apart from that dodgy nose, the restorer just nailed it.

As a child (okay, even as an adult) I struggled with making a drawing of a person look alive. A simple flick of the wrist by an actual artist that made a hand look realistic, for example, were things that I could never quite master. Which is why, when I started reading this book, Draw Star Wars Rebels by Egmont Publishing, my mind was put quickly at ease. This is because one of the first things that it discusses is something called ‘overlines’ – those very same touches that I had trouble with. It was then that I knew this was a book I could share with The Kids.

Okay, but since that’s page twelve of an 89 page book, I should probably write just a little bit more. Mix things up a little. So, on to the review proper!

klutz

I mention above that one of the first things the book does is tell you about overlines, but – apart from a few quick rules – the first thing it does is tell you, using the tracing paper provided, to trace a picture of Ezra Bridger surfing on Chopper (seriously). For a book that’s about learning to draw, this does seem a tad incongruous. It says that they – the editors of the book – believe in the power of the shortcut, and that tracing teaches you about curves, lines and shapes. I’m a bit sceptical; I’m not entirely convinced that this does help. Oh, tracing is fun, certainly, and is a quick and easy way to get results. But as a means of learning, I’m unsure – but that’s just me playing armchair artist. I don’t really know, but I’ll take it in good faith that it is so. But even if not, the tracing activities do make an (infrequent) appearance*, enabling you to draw well a few of the characters and several space ships, so for that alone it is, on the whole, a good addition.

*By that I mean, the activities including tracing paper alone. In the first ten pages you can trace the faint but fully detailed outlines of the other characters on the paper page itself. These faint outlines make a frequent appearance, in various stages of detail, in almost every drawing space in the book. I’ll expand on that later.

The instructions themselves are presented in four stages: 1) stick figures, 2) shapes, 3) basic details and 4) detailed details. Without going into too much detail (otherwise you won’t need the book. I highly recommend getting the book, by the way. If only because it comes with a Star Wars: Rebels embossed mechanical pencil. And some colouring pencils, a black marker and a rubber, but I’m mainly just excited about the mechanical pencil), each stage talks about what is involved in that specific stage, and does so at a fairly easy pace, so that you never really feel overwhelmed when advancing through the book. I think this is the best way forward for those new to painting. My niece, for example, is one such person. And though she wasn’t inclined to follow the prescribed guidelines at first, I do believe that she did benefit from such instruction and pacing. And this is the small human whose greatest masterpiece is the painting of the colour orange. No detail. Just painted the page orange.

I call it 'Ceci Ne Pas Orange'. That'll be a million quid, please.

I call it ‘Ceci Ne Pas Orange’. That’ll be a million pounds, please.

But this is a fairly simple thing to do. Not the painting the colour orange bit; the advancing at a steady pace bit. That’s easy. The neat trick is that, with each drawing space provided, the tracing images that are already on the page, intended to be used as gentle guides, are slowly simplified with each drawing, so that, by the time you finish the segment, there’s no pre-existing image at all. By that time, you will have hopefully gained enough confidence and skill with that particular stage that you can do it without any help. This is something that is done with each segment, and it’s a great touch. There’s no ‘ripping the band-aid'; just a slow easing into it. That, I fully believe, is for the best and a very useful aspect of the book.

That’s not to say that the book has its faults; it certainly does. Later on, you’re asked to fill in much more detail so that a few blocky shapes, that are the vaguest of outlines of a stormtrooper, can turn (supposedly) into, well, this:

Yeah, I totally drew that. Honest.

This is treated with much less ease. There’s just two stages: basic details and detailed details, and they come with very little instruction or notes. I think this was a bad idea, as it can perhaps be a bit daunting to one just learning to draw. Certainly, Niece was happy to just stick with the more basic outlines and attempt to draw the rebels without consulting the book at all – which leads me to believe that this part could have well done with a few more steps. Or at least much more instruction and break-down of the character details.

But it wasn’t just those steps that could have been included, but other things, too. I think it could have benefited from discussing shading techniques. As I write this, I’m looking at the page demonstrating how to draw Sabine. There are several areas of her body that require shading, but there’s no real discussion on it. Of course, the budding artist can copy it just by looking at the picture provided, but my mind keeps drifting back to the four year old Derren Brown. He could have simply drawn the nose as he had seen it in his drawing book, and produced the same effect. But he wouldn’t have understood how it was done. It needed the intervention of his mother to explain how the effect was, and can be, achieved.

However, despite the aforementioned faults, the book does provide solid basic skills upon which you can build – and that is the whole point of it. But that leaves one last important question: it could make you very good at drawing, but just drawing these characters. Are these skills transferable? Again those faults come to mind, and are what stop me from giving an unequivocal yes – but it is a yes. Those same basic skills are both an important foundation and easily transferable. Furthermore, with practice, I am certain that the budding artist can fully grasp those ‘detailed details’ that can bring drawings of your favourite characters to life.

Michael Dare

Drawing Star Wars Rebels, published by Egmont, is out now in UK bookstores. Thank you to Egmont for providing a copy for review purposes.

Review: Star Wars Rebels Colouring Activity Book

Review: Star Wars Rebels Colouring Activity Book (or, Getting Stuck With Chopper)

It’s more than a little weird to review this book. For me, a review is for an item that, if favourable, I will then go out and buy. But this book, the Star Wars Colouring Activity book by Egmont Publishing isn’t one I’d typically think of as a book that you’d go out and buy, say, as a gift (after having read, and thus have need of reading this review). But rather it’s an impulse buy. Now, I realise these preceding words could sound negative, but I honestly mean no such connotation. When I first looked at this book I instinctively felt that it was something I’d pick up either because one of the small humans saw it and – hypothetically speaking, of course. They’re wonderful kids, really – made some sort of noises to indicate that they wanted it, and then made further noises to indicate that they wouldn’t stop until they had the book in their possession. At which point I duly succumb to their threat and buy it. Or perhaps you’re about to set off on a long journey and realise that The Kids need something to do, and you pick this up thinking ‘this is Star Wars. They like Star Wars. I buy this and sleep well tonight.’ That’s what I mean by an impulse buy. And it’s a good book for that. It’ll shut them up great. Colouring does that. Gagging does, too, but I’m not allowed to do that any more. Not that I have. Or would. Look, there’s no point in assigning blame, let’s get on with the review.

The book itself itself is small, roughly forty pages filled with pictures to colour in and activities to do. There are a few other things, which I’ll elaborate on later, but for now let’s focus on those two.

The colouring pictures consist, essentially, of the main characters in various poses, which you can then decorate (I’m foraging in my thesaurus for anything besides ‘colour in’. It was either that or use a euphemism – like ‘spelunking’). Occasionally you’re asked to be faithful to the original design or tasked with being creative in your vandalism, but luckily there’s no such thing as Festooning Police (yet. This shall be my first act as Prime Overlord) so you or whomever owns the book can festoon however you see fit. At other times you can spruce up pictures of various ships (and at one point, asteroids. It was rather trippy seeing green asteroids). Niece, who often helps me test out books, enjoyed these, though I did notice she didn’t put so much effort into the face on 2D images, which I sort of understand. It’s hard to be engaged in detailed designs when the image are relatively alien concepts to you. She’s used to 3D images of the ships, not top town 2D images.

Beyond that, you can do some sort of grid design copy drawing. Sorry, I’m not very familiar with this type of drawing, though I gather it’s a standard practice; essentially you’re given an image in a grid, and in a larger, empty grid you then draw the image. It was a little bit weird for me, but the end result was some fairly accurate depictions, so I can’t complain too much. Lastly, you’re occasionally asked to draw your own hero, villain or space ship. Niece and I both found this to be rather entertaining, especially as a lot of people in Star Wars fandom so dislike non-standard lightsaber designs, so it was fun to think up increasingly weird and flamboyant weapons.

‘No one will ever think of thi- oh bugger.’

As for the activities, they’re the fairly standard maze, a sudoku-like thingy, spot the difference, word search, etc. All fairly easy to do, not much of a challenge. Well, maybe the spot the difference. That can be difficult for people of all ages, and there’s no shame at all if you’re, say, 25 and unable to find the last one. Shuddup that’s always the hardest. Moving on. What else? Ah! And a word scramble. Essentially you are given some letters, which you then unscramble to identify a villain. If you’re not great with names of characters on the show, this may be difficult. Even I was stumped on one or two. I (honestly, for about two minutes) could not get ‘TPSOROOTRMRSE’. Who on earth is that?!

‘Doug?’

There’s also a personality test, to find out which rebel you are – though the answers are limited to just Zeb, Hera, Chopper and Sabine. I’m personally a little bit weird (in the negative sense) about personality tests. For me, I know who I want to be, and so adjust my answers accordingly (unfortunately I still got Chopper. I am not a fan of Chopper), and as such the test never really fits to me, rather I fit the test. That might just be me, though. But beyond that, with some rebels lacking, some may be disappointed if you’re a Kanan or Ezra fan, and are thus unable to identify yourself as that person.

Last of note is a game called Droid Workshop. The majority of these activities are ones done alone, yet this, curiously, is a communal game. A group of people start with a piece of plain paper each, and then proceed to draw a droid head, swap papers with each other, draw another piece, and so on and so forth until you have a full astromech. The game itself, being communal, does rather stick out like a sore thumb, but it was a decent addition, and so I note it here.

I had previously mentioned that there are other things besides activities and pictures to … bedeck. These come in two forms; the first being character profiles. These are the normal ‘Age, Species, Homeworld, Special Skills, Signature Equipment, Likes and Dislikes’ and are, admittedly, somewhat forgettable. The only things that piqued my interest were the ages – I had no idea Zeb was 39. Though he being an alien, that may be the Lasat equivalent of early puberty. Sorry, I’m straying off topic. But another thing was the one line at the end of the Chopper bio: ‘Dislikes: almost everything.’ That had a bit of charm to it that I appreciated, and would have liked to see more of that.

The second thing is a number of full-page images – shots from, as far as I can tell, the TV show or the attendant promotional material. As I was flipping through the book, I had had the thought that these would make nice A4-sized posters, when I noticed the little dotted line on the spine-side of the page, indicating that yes, they are indeed supposed to be cut out. It is, ultimately, a small thing, but I liked it. Books sometimes come with an air of stuffiness; with the unsaid order that they shouldn’t be tampered. For the most part, I agree, but I recall a few years ago picking up a used copy of Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale; notes from the previous owner had been doodled in in the margins. I usually don’t, but I delighted in this unsaid permission, that yes, I could leave my mark, too. And in a similar vein, I like the permission given in this colouring book that I – I mean, The Kids – can cut these pictures out and hang them on the wall. After all, they are nice pictures, and deserve to be released from the confines of a book.

However, I do say that with one caveat: All the Rebels are represented in poster form (even, thankfully, Hera and Sabine), except for Ezra. Personally I don’t mind, because I sometimes feel that the focus, both in the show and the media surrounding it, is too much on Ezra. But my personal preferences don’t mean much if you’re a fan of Ezra, and want a picture of him. So, you know, do with that information what you will.

Sorry that sounded rather mysterious and cloak and dagger, didn’t it? Whoopsie.

Michael Dare

Star Wars Rebels Colouring Activity Book by Egmont Publishing is out now in UK bookstores. Thank you to Egmont for providing a copy for review purposes.

Epic Yarns and Star Wars Stories – SWR #163

Epic Yarns, Star Wars Celebration, My Star Wars Story, and more!
SWR 2Go slyly with Riley, and embark with Mark! It’s this week’s episode of the STAR WARS REPORT! Continue reading