by Maria Ramos
Since its initial release in May of 1977 the Star Wars series has been a cultural phenomenon worldwide, and generations of fans have celebrated their love of a galaxy far, far away in the past thirty-eight years. Some of these fans have gone on to do professionally affiliated projects, and in honor of the upcoming release of The Force Awakens, here are a select few of the best of these spin-offs.
William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher
Verily, the true form that Star Wars was meant to be admired in was iambic pentameter. Interspersed with gorgeous woodcut-esque illustrations, William Shakespeare's Star Wars series is a delight in six volumes. Sadly, don't look to see Star Wars in the Park performed any time soon - Lucasfilm is holding the copyright and only allows a few scenes to be performed by the author and audiences at book readings.
The Dark Lord Trilogy by James Luceno and Matthew Woodring Stover
This acclaimed trilogy consists of Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno, the Revenge of the Sith novelization by Matthew Woodring Stover, and Dark Lord by James Luceno. These three books encapsulate the mindset of Anakin Skywalker during his final days as a Jedi and the beginning of his life as Darth Vader, and are met with near universal acclaim by fans of the Star Wars book series. All three were originally released separately in 2005, though a collected omnibus was released in 2008.
Star Wars Rebels
Fans of Star Wars' previous cartoon series The Clone Wars were sad when it ended, but can be overjoyed to know that their favorite series continues to be in good hands. Showrunner Dave Filoni continues to weave humor and emotion into Star Wars Rebels, combining old and new faces while telling the story of a small band of rebels in the days leading up to A New Hope. A third season has just been ordered, but fear not, latecomers - past episodes can be viewed on Disney XD and DirecTV.
Chewbacca by Gerry Duggan
One of the first Star Wars comics released by Marvel under the new collected timeline, Chewbacca tells the story of everyone's favorite walking carpet immediately after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. Writer Gerry Duggan is fresh from his run on Marvel's Deadpool and goes from writing the Merc with a Mouth to a mostly nonverbal character remarkably well. The art by Phil Noto is gorgeous, and succeeds in giving Chewbacca the range of expression that he deserves.
Lando by Charles Soule
From the moment he showed up in The Empire Strikes Back, Lando Calrissian was the coolest man in the Star Wars galaxy. The newest Star Wars comics have taken this and run with it, giving him his own miniseries and letting fans see how he became the baron administrator of Cloud City. Written by Death of Wolverine author Charles Soule and featuring art by Daredevil's Alex Maleev, Lando is a monthly delight.
The enduring success of the Star Wars series can be attributed to the fans. Their enthusiasm has kept the story alive for nearly forty years, and their imagination has led to the creation of new and original content. With The Force Awakens in theaters soon across Los Angeles, including locations such as El Capitan and three marathon events at local AMC Theaters, it's easy to see another generation being introduced to the Force.