Shadows of the Empire

Shadows of the Empire: The Movie-Without-the-Movie Extravaganza of 1996

In 2015, I conducted a series of interviews with some of the people who worked on the Shadows of the Empire project concocted by Lucasfilm back in 1996. I loved the project, warts and all, from the moment it was released so it was a joy to conduct these interviews and gain multiple inside perspectives on what it was like to create such an expansive project. The essay was written for the Expanded Universe anthology called A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe (2016) from my friends Rich Handley and Joe Berenato. I’ve decided to reprint the essay here on my site because I feel it sheds some more light on the nearly 30-year-old project and ended up revealing a few facts that were previously unknown to me about the inner workings of Lucasfilm at the time.

I’ve slightly edited this essay for the Internet by removing footnotes and changing them to links, and other small things like that. All quotes, unless otherwise indicated, are from my interviews. For more fun, head over to Facebook and like my Shadows of the Empire fan page.

I hope you enjoy the essay.

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Retro-Reviews: The Clone Wars Micro-Series by Nathan Butler (2003-2005)

Back in 2003, my friend Nathan Butler penned quite a few guest reviews for this site including a complete, episode by episode review of The Clone Wars mirco-series by Genndy Tartakovsky that aired on Cartoon Network. Lucasfilm had ventured into animation before with the likes of Ewoks and Droids, not to mention the Star Wars Holiday Special, but this series of shorts was different. Nathan’s reviews were posted as individual articles dated November 2003 to March 2005, but I’m going to compile them all here into one big retro-review. Here’s Nathan…

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Retro-Reviews: Star Wars Gamer Magazine by Nathan Butler (2001-2003)

From 2001-2003, Nathan P. Butler penned reviews of all ten issues of the then-new magazine Star Wars Gamer for this site. After years of moving the site around, much of the old content was lost but as I come across old files, I like to repost them as “retro” articles. Nathan’s reviews were fun, entertaining, and truthful. They also bring us back to a time when the Prequels were still being created and give us a different snapshot in time of Star Wars fandom. If you like old magazines or gaming, these reviews might interest you enough to go find some old copies on eBay for nostalgia’s sake. These reviews were originally posted individually as the issues were released, but I’m going to compile them all here into one big review for readability. Unfortunately, due to a technical error, the review for Issue #2 was lost. All apologies. Here’s Nathan…

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As some of you may know, this site has been around since 1996. That’s over 25 years. During that time, I have moved the site over and over again to various servers, switched to hand-coded HTML over to several content management systems, and have lost much of the old content and design along the way for various reasons.

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Interview with Toby Philpott
(Original posting: July 29, 2003)

Toby Philpott was one of the puppeteers who worked inside of Jabba the Hutt back in 1982 for a few weeks. His job was to control some of Jabba’s head, left arm, and tongue. Mike Edmonds, David Barclay, and John Coppinger (who was outside the costume, remotely controlling the eyes) rounded out the gang whose job was to make the audience believe that this slug of a puppet was real. The eclectic group pulled off the task with great success. Toby started out in the 1970’s as a street performer, fringe theater performer, and circus performer doing everything from acrobatics to fire eating to juggling to magic to unicycling and more. He moved on to film work through his contacts in the entertainment industry and worked on such great films as The Dark Crystal, The Company of Wolves, Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and of course Return of the Jedi. He currently lives a peaceful life in England, working for his local library in the IT department and attends the occasional Sci-Fi convention as a guest when time permits, signing autographs and meeting numerous fans of the films he’s worked on. (Original posting: July 29, 2003)

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Interview with Randy Martinez
(Original posting: May 22, 2004)

I had the pleasure of meeting Randy Martinez, a wonderfully talented artist from Hollywood, California, a while before Episode I was released, back in the days when the Internet was still young and adventurous. Randy’s come a long way since the old days of Star Wars fandom, creating pieces for popular magazines and newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, plus official pieces for Lucasfil and other companies. Not only has he done work for the now defunct Star Wars Kids magazine, but you’ve seen his his cartoons gracing the pages of the Star Wars Insider. I figured it was time for a proper interview.  (Original posting: May 22, 2004)

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Interview with Tsuneo Sanda
(Original posting: June 16, 2004)

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve probably seen the work of Tsuneo Sanda in many places and have never even realized it. He’s done everything from Yoda-claus to Anniversary images to prequel images to expanded universe. He’s also worked on Star Trek pieces and much more. You’ve seen his work on book covers, in comic books, and in magazines like the Star Wars Insider magazine. I love his style and I especially like his “Shadow of Evil” series which you can find at his site  (Original posting: June 16, 2004)

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Bringing “A New Hope” to Star Wars

Those of us old enough to have seen the original Star Wars film during it’s initial run have a fond memory to cherish. When the Flash Gordon-inspired, yellow text crawled its way up the screen, it began with, “It is a period of civil war,” and then continued on. There was no subtitle to the film since, we assume, no one really knew if it would be a hit or not. If you’ve seen the film since the 1980s, though, then you’ve most likely seen the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope added above the crawl. (For a GREAT article on May 25, 1977 and all that goes with it, please see May 25, 1977: A Day Long Remembered by Michael Coate.) Read More

Interview with Peter Mayhew
(Original posting: January 16, 2001)

At seven feet four inches tall, it goes without saying that Peter Mayhew is a big man. Fortunately, he has a heart just as big. Not only is Peter one of the nicest Star Wars celebrities I have met but he’s always ready and willing to share his fondest memories with the fans over and over again. Peter first worked as a hospital attendant at the King’s College Hospital in London when film producer Charles Schneer cast him in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. One year later, he became Chewbacca and entered the world of popular culture. Though he has not done much acting since the Star Wars films, he keeps very busy at conventions and is always ready to don the hairy walking carpet once again if asked, no matter the occasion. Peter is very proud of his role and his contribution to Star Wars. I recently interviewed Peter and we talked about life as Chewie, what he thinks of Chewie’s big finale in the Expanded Universe, the Holiday Special, and much more. (Original posting: January 16, 2001)

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Interview with Nalini Krishan
(Original posting: April 8, 2003)

If you’ve seen Episode II, you’ve no doubt noticed the many female Jedi who have no problems keeping up with the male guardians of peace and justice. One of the first female Jedi ever to grace the screen was Barriss Offee, a Jedi played by Nalini Krishan. Complete with ornate robes and diamond tattoos, she stands out on screen in her far too few scenes. I had the pleasure or working with Nalini for a time and even hosted her website for a while. I was her assistant at the Star Wars Celebration II in Indianapolis in 2002 and we had a great time. We had many a conversation about all kinds of things, but I felt it only necessary to post a more formal interview so the fans could experience Nalini’s enthusiasm and get to know her a little better, as I have. (Original posting: April 8, 2003)

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Interview with Michael Sheard
(Original posting: January 1, 2004)

Michael Sheard is a veteran actor who has appeared in hundreds of films including Force 10 From Navarone (with Harrison Ford), Escape to Athena, two Indiana Jones films and of course The Empire Strikes Back. He’s also known in the UK as the bow tied teacher Mr. Bronson from the TV show Grange Hill. He’s had countless roles on all kinds of TV shows ranging from Dr. Who to The Avengers. He has four books under his belt and promises more to come. Above all, however, Michael is a gentleman and a fun person to talk to. He took a little time out to answer some questions about his life and career.  (Original posting: January 1, 2004)

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Interview with Kenny Baker
(Original posting: July 25, 2000)

Kenny Baker is the actor/entertainer who crawled into the R2-D2 unit for every Star Wars film thus far. Being three feet and eight inches tall never stopped Kenny from making it big in the entertainment industry. He was in several fantastic films including Time Bandits, Flash Gordon, Amadeus, The Elephant Man, and of course the Star Wars films. If all goes well, he should end up being one of the proud few who can claim that they were in every Star Wars film. He currently lives in England and is enjoying life relaxing between touring all over the world and appearing at various Sci-fi conventions, something he really enjoys. Kenny was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few of my questions.  (Original posting: July 25, 2000)

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Interview with Jon Bradley Snyder
(Original posting: February 09, 2001)

Jon Bradley Snyder grew up in Spokane, Washington. He attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in the late 80’s where he was very involved in the music scene. “I did some intern work the music labels K Records and Sub-Pop before I returned to Spokane and was a PA on the MGM movie Benny and Joon, which filmed there on location in 1992,” he stated. He moved to San Francisco in late 1992 to work in publishing and helped form co-op small press imprint called “High Drive Publications” which was the imprint under which his first Star Wars publication Report from the Star Wars Generation was published. During this time he worked at a variety of jobs including BBDO advertising agency, Maverick Magazine Consulting, and wrote for various magazines including Rocktober, The Stranger, and Topps’ Batman Forever movie magazine. He also edited the first issues of Megan Kelso’s Girl Hero comic book. In 1995, he created the imprint Dodecaphonic Books for the express purpose of publishing a collection of Nickelodeon cartoonist Sam Henderson’s work entitled Humor Can Be Funny. In 1996 he moved to Denver, Colorado to work full time for Fantastic Media after working for them offsite for two years. “In May of that year I went to Tunisia with David West Reynolds on a Star Wars location trip that was the grand prize of the first Decipher Star Wars CCG tournament. I launched Star Wars Kids magazine for Scholastic in 1998. I then co-produced the Star Wars Celebration in 1999, and I almost forgot to mention that I was a contributing editor for Sci Fi Universe for 5 years,” said Snyder. Currently, he’s is working off-site for Fantastic Media in North Carolina where his partner, Heidi, is teaching art. They live with their 15-month-old son named Jackson. Jon took some time out to chat with old T-bone about life before and after The Insider.
(Original posting: February 09, 2001)

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Interview with Jonathan Smith (Giant Interactive/TT Games/ LEGO Star Wars)
(Original posting: March 15, 2005)

LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game takes one of the most successful toy brands ever and lets you play a full length video game using their version of Star Wars characters in Prequel era situations. There are vehicles you can use, puzzles to solve and much fun to be had. Development Director, Jonathan Smith of Giant Interactive (now TT Games Publishing) took some time out to answer a few questions about the game and why it’s fun for all ages. (Original posting: March 15, 2005) Read More

Interview with Joe Corroney
(Original posting: May 11, 2004)

Joe Corroney has been illustrating Star Wars artwork for Disney and Lucasfilm and Star Trek artwork for CBS Studios since 1997. Other licenses, studios and professional publishers he has illustrated for include Stranger Things for Netflix, Marvel Comics’ Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, DC Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, The Jim Henson Company, Dolby Cinema, Indiana Jones, The Walking Dead, X-Files, Doctor Who, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, True Blood, GI Joe, Farscape, Firefly, Heroes, The Phantom, Hasbro, Xbox, Sony Pictures, MTV, Random House Publishing/Del Rey Books, Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books, Becker & Mayer! Books, Topps, Titan Publishing, Boom! Studios, Wizards of the Coast, IDG Entertainment, Upper Deck, Rittenhouse Archives, Paizo Publishing, and White Wolf Publishing. Currently, he’s developing his creator owned comic book series, Death Avenger and continues to create new Star Wars artwork for Disney and Lucasfilm. He was also the instructor for the Comic Book Illustration and Digital Illustration courses at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio for ten years and has taught the Ohio State University’s Summer Comic Book Workshop. Joe runs a full-time illustration studio and can be commissioned or contracted for work. You can contact him at . — Bio courtesy  (Original posting: May 11, 2004)

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