Against the Sith
|Title:||Against the Sith|
|Publisher:||Nancy Duncan and Tracy Duncan|
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Against the Sith is one of the first Star Wars zines. It contains stories by multiple authors, has black and white and color covers, interior illustrations by various fan artists, letters of comment and articles. It ran for nine issues from April 1978 to October 1980.
In the spring of 1980, the editors proposed, via an ad in Pastaklan Vesla #6, a Star Wars information zine called "Alliance Intelligence" about the actor activities, news clippings, ads, interview transcripts, and reviews. This zine was never published.
The two editorials in the last issue gives no hint that it was to be the last issue.
Its Place in Star Wars Zine History
- Hyper Space (fiction and non-fiction) ties with The Force (non-fiction) as the first Star Wars zines published (both June 1977)
- Warped Space #28 published the first Star Wars story in a multimedia zine in August 1977
- Moonbeam #3 (fiction)   and the letterzine, Alderaan, were both published in February 1978
- Against the Sith (fiction and non-fiction) and Skywalker (fiction) were published in April 1978
Description from an Ad
"A fanzine devoted to Star Wars and focusing on the relationships between the three human characters as derived directly and solely from the evidence presented in the film." 
A 1981 Interview
The "Eugene Register-Guard," a newspaper in Oregon, ran an article about the Duncans and "Against the Sith."
Tracy and Nancy Duncan “… found themselves immersed in the printing, copyrights, postal regulations, and layout…. Neither sister was prepared for the mass of decisions, details, and work. “We didn’t know how much it would cost or how to print it – it was like a shot in the dark,” says Nancy. “But I like to experiment,” adds Tracy, “ and I thought I’d have fun with it.”
The sisters drew $200 from their savings, found a printer, wrote copy, wrestled with reluctant typewriters, and chose a name for their joint effort. In April 1978, “Against the Sith” joined the ranks of existing Star Wars fanzines… One of only three Star Wars fanzines when it was begun, “Against the Sith” is now the longest running of the 10 magazines currently being published. Its 200 subscribers contribute artwork, cartoons, critical commentary, fiction and poetry. Star Wars creator Lucas himself is on the subscription list.
In the past two years, the Duncans have published seven magazines and one special issue –roughly one magazine every three months. “A lot of fanzines are like anthologies,” says Tracy. “I wanted to put out magazines with a variety of material – like a real magazine.” As a consequence, “Against the Sith” contains features carefully selected from the contributions of readers. Although many of their competitors publish everything submitted to them, the Duncans screen material, printing only half the copy sent to them.
Tracy and Nancy believe they have an edge over other fanzine producers because there are two of them working together in the same house. “We work great together, “ says Tracy, “and we depend on each other for help and suggestions. I wouldn’t be able to do it without Nancy.” Production of each issue takes about one month. The sisters share most chores equally, although at first, laughs Tracy, “I made Nancy do most of the typing.” Between issues, they plan, correspond with contributors, keep up with other fanzines, and record subscription requests…The July issue of “Against the Sith” will deal exclusively with “The Empire Strikes Back.” Since their first elegant viewing, the Duncans have seen Empire seven times, but they don’t like to compare it to its predecessor. “They’re like two parts of a whole,” says Tracy. “Empire is like the second act.”… Like other followers of the Star Wars phenomenon, Nancy and Tracy Duncan are looking forward to further acts in the drama… It’s a saga Tracy and Nancy Duncan have not tired of. As long as others share that interest, they say “Against the Sith” will continue to be an important part of their lives.” 
The zine folded after The Duncan Scandal
Against the Sith 1 was published in April 1978 and is 24 pages.
- Escape from Vestarine by Tracy & Nancy Duncan (20 pgs) (The Rebels strike against the Empire in more ways that one.)
- Man's Best Friend by Nancy Duncan (10 pgs) (Han got a lot more than he bargained for on a lawless planet.)
- Change (poem] by Tracy Duncan (1 pg)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1
This is a first effort by Tracy and Nancy Duncan, and everything inside this zine is written, drawn, or perpetrated in one way or another by one of the two sisters. In all there is a lot of room for improvement in a number of small areas, but I probably could not have produced anything as good-looking for my first publishing effort. There are only two major stories inside; "Han's Best Friend," written by Nancy, is a short, but charming story of one way in which Han and Chewbacca meet and become comrades. "Escape from Vestarine," written by both authors, is a longer story that will be continued in subsequent issues of this zine. There are a few different sub-plots going on through this story which interrelate well. I suppose the major action revolves around Luke's mission to the planet Vestarine in order to find dissidents at the Empire's space academy who wish to join the rebel forces. On his way there, however, he is stopped and searched by the commander of an Imperial ship. Princess Leia is discovered as a stowaway and is taken prisoner. Luke continues on his mission to Vestarine, returns the new recruits to the new rebel base and then takes off immediately to find Leia. Of course there are other characters involved in other things. Leia, Han, Darth and a few others all get their chance at a part of the story. The rest of the zine contains a varied selection of small features, editorials, trivia quizzes, and even a Star wars Lexicon which goes up through D in the alphabet, and to be continued in other issues. All in all the zine is a fair effort for a first try. It might have been better with some outside material and better visuals. Gratefully Tracy and Nancy managed to make everything legible, which many first-time zines can't claim. It should be interesting to see how the zine progresses and improves. 
I never really got into the fanzine "scene." What little I knew about those fan-to-fan publications came from articles in the book Star Trek Lives! and Starlog magazine. However, on an impulse, I packed two bucks into an envelope and ordered the first issue of a Star Wars 'zine called Against the Sith out of the Starlog classifieds back in '78.T he first issue is pretty amateurish, if ambitious, with a couple of fan fiction pieces, a poem or two, and some scratchy illustrations. One of the stories purported to tell of Han Solo & Chewbacca's first meeting! The issue also includes a pretty harsh review of Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye - young Nancy Duncan was quite put out by the absence of Han Solo, it seems. Looking through it again tonight, I note with some amusement that the issue is dedicated to "Ficus, our favorite vegeton," from Quark! As a kid,though, I thought Against the Sith was rather marvelous, and it did inspire me to "publish" my own short-lived (and essentially uncirculated outside of some supportive relatives) 'zine, Outer Space/Inner Mind, which was more of a general sci-fi mag. 
Against the Sith 2 was published in July 1978 and is 36 pages long.
- The Noble Servant by Tracy Duncan (7 pages)
- The Truth About Yavin by Nikki White (4 pgs)
- Crash on Zanderine by Nancy & Tracy Duncan (20 pgs)
- Songs for the Exiled (poem) by Candace Wiggins
Against the Sith 3 contains 32 pages.
- editorials by Tracy and Nancy Duncan (2)
- Parsecs (2)
- Comlink (4)
- Forum (5)
- The Corellian Factor by Nikki White (6)
- Star Wars Holiday Special - review by Nancy (8)
- Wedding March by Susan Matthews (9)
- One Morning for E.V.L. 2 by Gail Courtney (11)
- A Visit with the Cantina Aliens by Tracy (12)
- Painful Memories, Future Dreams by Melanie Dickson (14)
- Two Heroes, One Purpose bt Tract (16)
- Darth Vader's Christmas by Paula Nutter (19)
- John William's Discography by Bob Buchtel (19)
- Discovery on Seytan by Tracy (29)
- zines (29)
- Star Wars Lexicon (30)
- Thee Contest (31)
- Seduction (31)
- Kenobi's Calling by Robert Frazier (32)
- Darth Vader by M.R. Little (32)
- art by L.A. Adolf, Robert Frazier, Angela-Marie Varesano (cover), Irene Loughlin (inside front and back covers), Nancy Duncan, Tracy Duncan and Becky Aulenbach
Against the Sith 4 was published in April 1979 and is 44 pages. It is offset reduced.
- Bunkies by L.A. Adolf (4 pgs) (Luke and Han must share a bed for the night when no double accommodation is available.)
- The Chosen One (poem) by Tracy Duncan (3 pgs) ("An epic style poem using the above theme." ["Princess Leia -- Should She Ever Have Been Liberated"])
- The Brothers by Tracy Duncan (2 pgs)
- Mission to Ashderaan by Nancy Duncan (36 pgs) (Leia and a female acquaintance of Han's find themselves in the midst of a confusing triangle of emotions on the eve of a great battle for freedom from the Empire's oppression on Chewbacca's home plane, where Luke and Han have been enslaved. Continued in the next issue.)
- From the Journal of the Whills by Ross Johnson (2 pgs)
- an article called "Princess Leia -- Should She Ever Have Been Liberated" by Tracy Duncan ("An in-depth look at a less than admirable heroine. Speculates on why she is what she is.")
- poetry, cartoons, art
Against the Sith 5 was published in July 1979 and is 48 pages long.
- editorial by Nancy and Tracy (2)
- Parsecs by Nancy (2)
- more zines (3)
- Comlink (4-6)
- Forum (7)
- The Prometheus Pattern by Winston A. Howlett (8) (a new look at an old story)
- A Review by Bob Buchtel (10)
- zine businesss (10)
- Reflections from a Maintenance Workshop by M.H. Loughlin (10)
- Map of Tatooine by Ross Johnson (11) (graphic)
- Stars End, Good Solo, Fair Plot by Nancy (12)
- The Stars in Our Hearts, a Critical Commentary on George Lucas by Denis Wood (14) (article)
- Thee Contest (18)
- After the Battle by Anne Davenport (19) (contest winner)
- Payoff by Curtis Cole (21) (contest winner)
- Something Nasty This Way Comes by Bob Buchtel (23) (Mork meets Vader.)
- Han and Chewie Centerspread by Beckey Aulenback (24)
- Battle on Wooka by Nancy and Tracy (26) (a continuation of "Mission to Ashderaan" in the previous issue -- Luke, Leia, Han and company battle the evil foe on the Wookiee's home planet in an effort to liberate the region for the Rebel Alliance and the forces of Good)
- Many Mourned Moff, Services Held Today by Empire Times (47)
- The Attack, Twin Suns by Scot Noel (48)
- art by Beckey Aulenbach (centerfold of Han and Chewie), Anne Davenport (inside back cover), Nancy Duncan, Tracy Duncan, Jon Heilman, Ross Johnson, Dave Smith and Angela-Marie Varesano (front cover)
Against the Sith 6 was published in November 1979 and is 48 pages long.
- Maybe George Will Kill Us (Includes 3 cartoons) (3 pages)
- Del-Ac Model Ii Freedom Fire (Article and illustrations) (1.5 pages) We So Love Our Dolls
- The Empire Strikes Back Special Section
- (1) Cast and Credits
- (2) Slide Show (1/2 page)
- (3) Daniels Speaks (1/2 page)
- (4) Preview Trailer (1 page)
- (5) Behind The Baron—It’s Billy Dee (1/2 page)
- (6) Bibliography (1/2 page)
- (7) George Lucas Meets The Force or Not Only The Empire Strikes Back (2 pages)
- (8) Ken Do—The Jedi Way (1 page)
- At The Rebel Base (22 pages)
Against the Sith 7 was published in 1980 and is 40 pages long.
- editorial by Nancy and Tracy (2)
- contributor info (3)
- PARSECS (3)
- Comlink (4)
- Forum (6)
- Little Boy Lost by Laura M. Campbell (7) (Luke, at age 8, is quite determined to find adventure.)
- more zines (10)
- The Star Wars Official Poster Monthly by Tim Blaes (11)
- More Marvel Star Was and The Long Hunt - a review by Bob Buchtel (13)
- A Revelation According to Han by Lee Kottner, art by A-M Varesano (14) (Han learns that there is a power beyond the blaster, as he and Luke confront Darth Vader in a terrifying duel.)
- Revenge by Gene Trumbo, art by P. Nutter (18) (Vader and his fellow Dark Lords hatch evil plans with Emperor Palpatine to destroy the rebels once and for all.)
- STOP the Action! by Nancy (17)
- Darth Vader by Paula Nutter (centerspread)
- At the Rebel Base, part 2 by Tracy, art by Nancy (22) (The continued goings on of Luke, Han, Leia, Wedge, and the rest of the personnel on the snowy planet Hoth before the Empire strikes back.)
- What Every Woman Should Have by Nancy, art by Tracy (22)
- Son of Something Nasty or Mr. Bill Meets Darth Vader by Bob Buchtel (38)
- Thee Contest (38)
- Alliance Intelligence (39-40)
- art by Anne Davenport, Paula Nutter (cover), Angela-Marie Varesano (inside front cover), Nancy and Tracy (back cover)
Against the Sith 8 was published in Summer 1980 and is 45 pages long.
- Reflections On The Empire Strikes Back (Article) (1 page)
- The Mythmakers: George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Gary Kurtz and Lawrence Kasdan (2 pages)
- Galactic Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels (2 pages)
- Luke Skywalker Visits The Forbidden Planet (Article) (1 page)
- What The Critics Think: Rona Barrett and Gene Shalit, (1 page)
- Mark & Harry Visit TODAY (2 pages)
- John Williams (1/4 page)
- Production Of A Saga (1&1/2 pages)
- Meet The Magicians: Norman Reynolds (Production Designer), Peter Suschitzsky (Cinematographer), Paul Hirsch (Film Editor), Brian Johnson (Special Visual Effects), Richard Edlund (Special Visual Effects), Robert Watts (Associate Producer), Ralph McQuarrie (Design Consultant & Conceptual Artist), Stuart Freeborn (Make-Up Supervisor), John Mollo (Costume Designer), Ben Burtt (Sound Effects Editor), Dennis Murren (Effects Director Of Photography) and Harrison Ellenshaw (Matte Painting Supervisor) (2 pages)
- An Excerpt From Once Upon a Galaxy—A Journal On the Making Of The Empire Strikes Back (1/2 page)
- Frank Oz (1/4 page)
- Our Heroes Return: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, C-3PO and R2-D2 (3 pages)
- Most Wanted: Dead Or Alive—Luke Skywalker (1 page)
- That’s Impossible (Question if Darth Vader is really Luke’s father) (5 pages)
- A Fannish Adventure or Who Did You Say Was Striking Back? (1 page)
- Subject: Giant Space Slug (1 page)
- The 6th Contest Final Nominees (1 page)
- Novel Review: Star Wars Lives! (2 pages)
- Preview Trailer 2 (1/2 page)
- Comics: A Review Of The Marvel Super Special Magazine) (1/2 page)
- A Shocking Expose (1 page)
- Bibliography (1/2 page)
- Album Notes: Sounds Of The Empires (3 pages)
- Empire Jazz (1/2 page)
- Secrets Of The Force (3 pages)
- The Tao That Can Be Spoken (2 pages)
- The Miraculous Birth Of Luke Skywalker (1 page)
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 8
Issue #8 was great. Everyone really has some interesting speculations. I do have some comments to make on this myself, but first three cheers for [S S's] letter '. I'm glad I'm not the only person crusading for Luke and Leia's future together. Well said . . I'm not sure I could have calmed myself down enough to put it into words. This is my biggest complaint about EMPIRE, aside from the obvious cliff hanger ending - that Luke and Leia still haven't gotten it together. As for Han and Leia - well, I can buy into the fact Han loves Leia a lot easier than the fact Leia loves Han, which I still, despite Carrie Fisher's wonderful performance, cannot believe. I believe she felt something, but not love. 
Against the Sith 9 was published in October 1980 and is 48 pages long. While this was the last issue, there is no hint in either editorial of this zine's demise.
- editorials by Nancy and Tracy (2) (Some of Tracy's editorial is all about how much she dislikes Leia, tolerates Han, and adores Luke: I could see in black and white why it is impossible for me to admire the character of Princess Leia, and why I conversely admire Luke so much. People keep saying, "Oh, but Leia's strong and independent." But these qualities are optional. What counts is what's in the heart. Leia's just not someone I can look up to because she's not better than myself, or probably than any of you... It has nothing to do with her being dedicated, courageous, or tough. It has to do with her being mean.... Just because she's in my favorite movie (STAR WARS) and is put up as a heroine doesn't mean I have to like her. I can't. I hope she's given only a cameo role at best in the next STAR WARS film, a scene at the end, perhaps. Thank goodness she can be easily ignored in TESB.") (Nancy's editorial suggests that she'd like to see some some sexual situations for Luke: "We could use a little warmth, tenderness and passion to offset the harsh realities of the War. TESB proved that not only fanfiction has a monopoly on the get 'em story. Maybe we'll quit hearing all those outcrys over blood and mayhem in the future. After all, what's good enough for Lucas... Then there's that other staple of fanfic—the lay story. All legitimate myths have sex. For ROTJ a nice tasteful PG-rated love scene for Luke — in bed, perhaps? How 'bout it, George? ('m serious). Now that they've shown us what Luke's got, he should have the opportunity to use it (now cut out that giggling.) I know Mark Hamill would approve.
- Parsecs (3)
- Comlink (4)
- Forum (7)
- The TESB Run-Off by Jon Heilman (8)
- Thee Sixth and Seventh Contests (9)
- classified ads (9)
- The Death of Star Wars by Tracy Duncan (10) (This is an long, impassioned article explains this fan's relative disinterest with George Lucas' plans regarding further movies. It cites her total alliance with Luke Skywalker, and how any other movie or topic is not, in her opinion, what Star Wars is really about.)
- More Marvel Star Wars by Bob Buchtel (13)
- He and Another by M.C. Loughlin (15)
- The Westercon Survey by Anne Davenport (16)
- What Price, Friendship? by Laura M. Campbell (18)
- I am Jedi by Jacque Fashcing, The Othre by M.H. Loughlin (21)
- The Chart Explained by Tracy (23)
- The AtS Virtue-Chart of Heroic Characters (24)
- A Brighter Future by V.J. Nelson (30)
- TESB Premium Products (34)
- A Royal Pain by Nancy (35)
- A Look at Leia and a Look at Luke by Rhonda Fasching (40)
- The Dark Path by Tracy (42)
- TESB Goes Digital by Jon Heilman (44)
- Book Review by Tim Blaes (45)
- more zines (46)
- The Cosmic Destiny of Luke Skywalker (47-48)
- art by Anne Davenport (inside front cover), Steven Fox (front and back covers), Jon Heilman (inside back cover), Irene Loughlin, Carol McPherson, Kathy Moore, Angela-Marie Baresano, Nancy Duncan, Tracy Duncan
Reactions and Reviews: Issue 9
Some excerpts from LoCs:
The Force? We have the Force! We don't call it that; we call it God. I don't mean for that to sound blasphemous; I believe that God is a man and that his spirit can be with us always if we will but let it.
Now for the greatest controversy since whoever it was shot J.R. Ewing. I'd like to go on record as saying that I don't believe that Darth Vader is Luke's father. Everytime I hear that line, my mind screams, "No, Luke, don't listen to him." To Luke's credit, he doesn't. He would rather throw himself off the ledge and trust his luck to the Force or to fate than to choose the wrong and join the Dark Side. And he does it quite calmly. He knows what he's doing. Luke has the courage of hie convictions. Darth only told him that to get Luke to join the Dark Side, There could never be an alliance between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; the kid's just too powerful for the Dark Lord. Vader would kill him off for sure. You see, Vader is a Satan figure. He'll show his noble side to entice people; he'll even present them with some of the truth. But, it's the part that's not truth that will ultimately prove to be their undoing. Sure, Darth knows what happened to Luke's father . . but he won't tell Luke the truth. He'll plant that seed of doubt in the boy's head and make him doubt Ben, Yoda, and the Force.
Yes, I'd really like to see the article about you in the paper - That must've been fun. Now you're local celebrities! It's nice seeing people who do the whole thing credit get publicity. We live in an area where there are a lot of cons , and the TV crews always turn out - and they never fail to pick the most bizarre people they can find to put before the cameras who then turn around and say even more bizarre things - so all fans come out looking like they're nuts, I'd like to see the rest of us getting equal time, so to speak.
From this corner as to whether TESB was worth the wait? How about a resounding YES, every second of it. The truth is that had you asked me that ques tion upon leaving the theatre for the first time I would have hedged on it. I mean I liked the film immensely but I really didn't fall in love with it until my second viewing later that evening and the next day when I had a chance to sort out my feelings. Not that it was ever a disappointment in any way, if anything it's a film technically superior to SW, but it's lacking slightly in some subtle, undefinr able quality that differentiates a truly great film of the first rank (which I personally consid er SW to be...)... But who could really expect lightning to strike twice...
I had guessed TESB would bring some mixed reactions from SW fans. The movie is flawed. The quantum leap in the Han/Leia relationship is never explained, we're simply presented with some rather adolescent dialogue at the beginning of the film with no background. To be honest, my first suspicion when I saw that scene the first time was, "Oh, they've been sleeping together." (You can see I did not read the book beforehand). Where did Han get the idea the princess cares for him personally as more than a friend? At this point he's never even kissed her.
It's possible that I just don't want Leia to be the way so many people think she is, cuz I really don't want to see a nasty woman in such a wonderful movie. To be perfectly honest, after hearing that George Lucas created a liberated heroine for his movie, then seeing the movie, I thought he was unconsciously trying to put Women's Liberation back several decades: showing libecated women as unfeninine, tough, raucous, etc. et al, and so forth.
OK, let me offer my own speculations. Let's look into the future. Luke will no doubt get married someday. If not to Leia then to someone else, I'm sure. In their wedded bliss the Skywalkers will give birth to a male child. Now, if the Force is truly hereditary (as some have speculated) then Luke's offspring will be the new hope. There! You see, Yoda? It pays to "look into the future."
As to who is the other, I hope it is a new character and hopefully female, perhaps someone for Luke. A lot of people feel it is Leia. Well, I don't think so. She may have heard Luke near Cloud City, but through Luke's power, not hers. Many facts do point towards her, however. She resisted the mind probe on the Death Star, something few people are able to do, has great spirit and strength and through the film kept getting "bad feelings about all this." If she is the other, look out Yoda! He said Luke was angry and impatient? He sure wouldn't like Leia, let alone teach her. Luke would have to do it. Poor Luke, he always gets the dirty work. He is not a Jedi yet, and really not capable to teach. Anyway, after what he's been through he wouldn't want to. Leia can't be the other, Lucas wouldn't do that to us, or would he? Granted he's done a lot of unorthodox things, but Leia isn't the right type for a Jedi. Besides, we need a new female character, and if the other isn't a girl other than Leia, Lucas will hear from me (veiled threat).
Luke Skywalker, in as much as the story/plot has yet been developed, is supposedly an only child, whether that father be Darth Vader or another now dead young Jedi knight. But, what if young Skywalker does indeed have a sibling? Could not this individual, boy or girl, be the other hope? Skywalker's own birth and young life up to the age of 20 is a blank, except for the fact that somehow he came to live with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. It is entirely possible that he was one of twins or that he had a slightly older or younger sibling. And since, at the time of his birth and toddler years the Republic (turned Empire) was in such a period of upheaval, a separation and complete loss of contact or even knowledge of each other is entirely conceivable.
Who is the other? Han? No, Han would deny there is a Force at every turn, so it seems very unlikely that he is the other. Also, he'd have to do a lot of changing as a character to start Jedi training. Lando? Nope, too similar to Han in character. Leia? Somehow I believe her destiny points in another way. Chewbacca? Why not?? But seriously, I think the other will be an entirely new character who will appear in REVENGE OF THE JEDI. Also, I think this character will be a female Jedi, and that she will become the love that Luke has been looking for. Why do I think this? Well, I'm an incurable romantic for one thing I And for another I just love happy endings.
- The editor of "Moonbeam" says: "I believed for almost 30 years that it was in fact the first primarily Star Wars fiction fanzine, but I recently learned that Skywalker, the exceptional Star Wars zine edited by Bev Clark, was in fact first by a couple of weeks. Ah well. I was still one of the first, and probably the first on the East Coast..." Main Moonbeam Page; WebCite.
- Actually, according to the dates on the zines themselves, "Moonbeam" was first; perhaps there was an understood wiggle-room with the distribution?
- from Scuttlebutt #13
- from the Eugene Register-Guard, July 16, 1980 issue
- Southern Enclave Issue #22 pdf, page 47
- from Alderaan #3
- from Space 1970, posted February 11, 2011, accessed April 1, 2012
- from an LoC in issue #9
- Well, Lucas wouldn't -- fans first tried it in Slow Boat to Bespin and look where that got them -- *wink*
- a reference to the July 1980 article in the Eugene newspaper article, see Tracy Duncan