Scoundrel (Star Wars letterzine)/Issues 01-03

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Issues 01-03 · Issues 04-06 · Issues 07-10

Issue 1

Scoundrel 1 (v.1 n.1) was published in the fall of 1983 and contains 22 pages.

first page of issue #1
  • Marcia Brin gives a World Con report with an emphasis on Star Wars -- she writes of the films shown, Maureen Garrett's slideshow, the Indiana Jones franchise, and some filming tidbits.
  • a fan is looking for a "stuffed wookiee doll wanted -- cheap! (like under ten bucks!) by fan expecting first child... The fuzzy commercial version is perfect with or w/out ammo belt. Doesn't need to be in mint condition because it's for a baby..."
From the editorial:
First of all, I'm very much interested in printing article/essay-type material. There are so many facets to the Saga that have yet to be explored aside from the obvious. To name one—I think the most neglected part of the Saga is the background of the droids—especially Threepio. That robot is hiding something and since both he and Artoo will appear in all nine films, there's more here than meets the eye. Threepio's lines in the first movie were most interesting. He goes from saying, 'There'll be no escape for the Princess this time,' to telling Luke he really didn't know who was on the ship '...a person of some importance, I believe..,' Just one of the many instances of his contradictory behavior. Who are the Sith? We know next to nothing about these people. Do all little Sith grow up to be big, bad Darth Vaders? Do all Dark Side Force users come from the Sith or, better yet, become Sith? If Owen Lars was truly Luke's uncle, is he a Sith? What about Kenobi? A Light Lord of the Sith? Very little has been written about Yoda and his people. Are they, for the most part, Force adepts? Was Yoda an exception? How did he come to be on Dagobah and is Dagobah real or a thought planted in an apprentice's mind? Who was Yoda's teacher? I think you get the idea. Above all, SCOUNDREL is a letterzine and LoC's will be its lifeblood! In addition, however, I would, from time to time, like to publish reviews of current zines, personality profiles of writers, poets and artists who make up SW fandom, together with reviews of their work. There are quite a few new names on the fan scene—names we will be hearing a lot from in the future. Also, I will be running ads and notices as a service to subscribers. And, I am open to suggestions. Well, there it is. SCOUNDREL can become anything you wish. Again, I would like to emphasize my policy of NO CENSORSHIP. This is YOUR letterzine, but I would like to say that personal attacks have no place in fandom. Let's keep it light, interesting and, above all, fun!
  • a fan, Melody Corbett, writes a humorous letter about Boba Fett called "What I Did on My Summer Vacation":
    Now when I first saw Boba in TESB, I said to myself:what a terrific, mysterious character. This, I must admit, was aided by the publicity releases hinting at a nefarious background and possible changing of allegiances. I was eager to see his further development in JEDI, maybe find out about those Wookiee pelts, find out if Chewie would pull his arms out of his sockets, one-by-one, or maybe find out if he was really a good guy in disguise all along. The only thing I did find out is that he's very quiet and seems to be very protective of one particular bounty, whether said bounty is in or out of carbonfreeze. I was really all set to be overwhelmed by Boba's deeds. After all, wasn't he the main man called in by Darth in TESB? Isn't he the character whose name Han utters in surprise on the skiff? (I find it very interesting that his name is never mentioned in TESB, but in this film Han, who is blind, knows who it is; must be Boba's reputation.) He didn't last long enough for me to really get to love him and perhaps rightfully so: he's not as good as I thought. Dispatched to the Sarlacc pit by a blind man yet. Humiliating!
  • an article by Bev Lorenstein, "Will the Real Scoundrel Please Stand Up?" -- Opening excerpt:
    Scoundrel... mmmm... I think I like that! And, who is the real scoundrel? Well, I guess it all depends upon one's own personal point of view. Is it Han or could it be Luke? How about Lando or Ben Kenobi, or Dear Darth? (Yoda stretches it a bit!) Seems to me that each of these characters has some sort of mysterious quality besides some flagrant flaws to them. Or, do they? Is Han really only interested in money, being the selfish redneck we all knew and loved so well in ANH, and is he only following Leia until he gets his reward? Did Luke fall to the Dark Side rather than the Light because he began to get angry in order to fight Darth and, if so, could he have possibly planned this whole thing, rather than the Emperor? Or, do Luke's actions symbolize something else? Did Lando intend for Han and the rest to suffer in TESB and only repented for the 'hell or-high glory' of it afterwards? And how about Obi-Wan's so-called 'certain point of view',..sound a bit tricky? Now, for the worse one, Darth Vader becomes goody-two-shoes? Well, the eagerly awaited answers to these questions cannot truly be answered except by Lucas himself. But I can sure give my OWN interpretation. And I am sure that we can agree on one thing...misconceptions are apt to arise because we are all individuals who interpret and validate actions according to our own set of morality codes. My conception of what the Dark or Light Side is may disagree with yours even IF I am trying to stick by Lucas' concepts, i.e. Dark is evil. Light is good, because we each have our own separate consciousness which evaluates separately...therefore differently. What I CAN do is contribute an in-depth analysis of how I see it, feel and experience it—mentally and emotionally—at first hand. But before I begin, I would like to say that there are misconceptions at large when we do not attempt to evaluate and study why and how the characters changed and how or why they affected the outcome of the saga. And of course to get to the bottom of why and how the characters behave the way they do, we must understand the plot, its conflict and main purpose, in order to understand how they synchronize with us. Of course by now, we have been told by Lucas, this is a story of good versus evil and that it centers around Luke Skywalker as the pawn. Therefore, although all the characters are important to the saga as a whole, the main character it focuses on is Luke. With that in mind, I will begin my analysis on him.
  • an article by Patricia D'Orazio called "Tips for Taming the Beast, Or What to Do When Your Short Story Turns into the Creature that Ate Cleveland" -- about writing fanfiction that isn't too long:
    Some writers outline everything minutely while others like to 'go with the flow.' This second category are usually the ones who discover that their short story has surpassed the combined word count of War and Peace and Quo Vadis and is rapidly gaining a numerical superiority over the Encyclopedia Britannica. On the other hand, the outliners occasionally discover that they have written 105 pages and are still only in the middle of the first scene of the twenty they have outlined. The Beast has struck.
  • a fan, Kathy A, writes of "Evolution of a Fan":
    Once upon a time, a little over a year ago, I was a mundane, blissfully unaware that such a thing as STAR WARS fandom existed. Now, I'm hard at work on a series of STAR WARS fiction, encompassing twenty-eight stories, one myth and a few dozen filksongs and poems. What caused this transformation? I had always been aware of STAR TREK fandom; I had even attended a con. I was a good little Trekker, reading the novelizations of the episodes, never missing an aired episode, and lamenting about the way our local station edited each episode. But that was where my involvement ended. Then along came STAR WARS. I saw SW in August of 1977. I took my poor mother (whose tastes run toward Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies) along for company. She didn't like it; I loved it! In 1980, again in August, my husband and I saw TESB. My reaction upon walking out of the theatre: "I don't want to wait three years for the ending!" Early in 1982,1 became aware of Pernese fandom, based on the Dragonbooks by Anne McCaffrey. I was no stranger to Pern, having purchased the books years earlier and having read them over and over. I became involved in Pernese fandom, and it led me to other fantasy fandoms. So far, so good. Then in October of 1982, I purchased GRIP #10, a media-based fanzine published by Other World Books, and edited by Roberta Rogow, creator of the Dirty Nellie stories. It contained two poems entitled, respectively, Han and Leia. Both were written by Amy Forrest aka Joan Shumsky. Wow! Both poems knocked me out! That was the real beginning. I purchased every SW zine I could afford (and some that I couldn't). Some of the fanfic I liked, some I didn't. Some made me think that I could do a better job with the characters than the author had done. So, I started writing...
  • a fan, Michelle M, writes of how she feels about those who malign Star Wars characters:
    I'm going to begin my letter to SCOUNDREL with a few character observations. The first thing that I have to make absolutely clear is I disagree with those who see Luke as having fallen to the Dark Side in ROTJ. The way I see it, in this movie Luke has completely achieved adulthood. He may have slipped a few times, but how else would he or anyone else truly learn? It's very easy to refuse to become evil when you haven't been tempted by the fruits of evil. You wouldn't know what you were giving up, so there would be no real choice. You'd just be a goody-two-shoes. But to have experienced evil, to almost have given in to it and then reject it—that is the sign of a really strong person, one who is willing to make sacrifices and put the good of the majority against his own selfish desires. That's Luke Skywalker. Not only that, but Luke was willing to risk his own life to try to bring his father back to the Light Side and, failing that, to die with him and the Emperor. Luke made the right choice. Even Anakin finally realized this and told him so. JVe heard some people say that Luke was a self-centered braggart in the scene with Jabba where he warned him that he would be sorry if he carried out his evil plans. Has anyone considered the psychological affect of bravado at the proper time and place? Besides, isn't it possible that Luke, as a Jedi, had had a future vision that showed him what would happen if Jabba remained recalcitrant? In that case, he would have been trying to warn him for his own good! This is, of course, only a possibility—but it's as good as any other possibility. And there's also the fact that I would rather think well of a person than evil. I especially don't like it when people deliberately look for or create flaws and/or weaknesses in one character to bolster the strengths of another character, especially when the other character (Han) doesn't need any bolstering, but can stand on his own strengths. Both Luke and Han are strong characters, neither is a threat to the other. I wish that people would stop trying to set them at each other's throats. That is a fannish sickness. It doesn't exist anywhere in any of the STAR WARS films.
  • a fan is concerned by something she has seen in the series:
    I wonder if many have considered the SW films as pro military vehicles? The irony that bothers me in ROTJ is where, in one scene Luke is being lured towards the Dark Side via hate and vengeance, he is told fighting from these emotions will start him down the dark and twisted path. Then there are scenes where little kids applaud the nice, clean, bloodless killing of the Stormtroopers. War is portrayed as something which is glamorous and adventurous. The pain and misery of the reality is not seen or even strongly hinted at having an existence. Killing is killing and is something which should always be avoided if at all possible. To present such an occurrence to be cheered is something to cause serious thought to step in as to what is being said.
  • a fan brings up the subject of BNFs, zines, and the economy:
    One of the more detrimental effects of the current state of the economy is that it has accelerated the Name-brand Fan Syndrome. New zines have less chance of breaking even or attracting an audience unless they have a Big Name Fan writer/artist to bring attention. This is hardly the fault of the zine-buying public. The price of an average zine has gone from under $5.00 to over $10.00, and postage hasn't gone down any. Fans are less likely to buy a "nerf in a poke", so to speak. And it is not the fault of the Big Name Fans, either. I am of the opinion that most of them become BNF because they happen to be very good at what they write/draw. But all this makes it hard for a new zine to attract an audience, unless it inspires someone to write a solid-gold review. I think the best thing for zine-buying fandom would be for it to take a few chances and investigate an unknown quantity now and then.
  • a fan loves what she sees as the continuity of Star Wars:
    I think that one of the primary reasons for the tremendous appeal of the STAR WARS movies is a shared sense of continuity. When those famous words, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." appear on the screen, the audience knows it is about to enter a familiar universe in which they will encounter many things that may seem strange or weird, but never entirely unexpected. Lucas has been criticized for overdoing the monsters, but within the SW framework you would expect Jabba to look as he does, and you would expect him to have an entourage of scummy aliens. In fact, Jabba provides a good illustration of the element of continuity. In the first film, Han kills one of Jabba's henchmen who has come to collect a debt; in the second, Han says that there is still a price on his head. By revisiting familiar places, we get the feeling of an orderly, structured universe. Tatooine was the first world we saw in ANH, and though Luke naively swore he would never return to it, Tatooine was again the first planet visited in ROTJ. References are made to Banthas and the Dune Sea; Jawas are present in Jabba's palace. As he promised, Luke does return to Dagobah, where his "old friend" reiterates those Jedi words of wisdom: "Beware of the Dark Side—anger, fear, aggression..." Also on Dagobah, Obi-Wan offers solutions to the questions raised years ago in ANH. Every fan can undoubtedly dredge up a hundred examples of continuity (my favorite is Leia's "I know"—a direct reference to Han's last words before his "carbonization"), but perhaps the most outstanding is when Threepio acts as storyteller, recounting the saga to the Ewoks in delightful pantomime. Continuity is an attribute that sets STAR WARS apart from STAR TREK. The two TREK movies were marked by almost complete dissimilarity and even blatant contradictions, and the fans have been tearing their hair out trying to reconcile the two stories within the same universe. I believe STAR WARS is the first real movie trilogy, and not simply a collection of sequels.
  • speaking of continuity, this fan is not so pleased:
    As for the Other? Big deal! Lucas made a big thing out of the existence of the Other, and then the whole concept is thrown away in a few lines of dialogue. So what was the point of introducing the concept in the first place?
  • nor does continuity impress this fan:
    I'd like to add my two credits' worth of reaction to THE MOVIE. My first is a question. Now that we've seen the coming attractions, when do we get to see the movie? I didn't fork over $5.00 to see an outline. For my credits, too much was left on the cutting room floor which is where some of the effects should have been left. The skimpy, almost nonexistent dialogue and cavalier explanations of the QUESTIONS Uncle George told us would be answered, left much to be desired. My biggest gripe was the missing scenes. I'll get to the unanswered questions in another letter. Let's start from the beginning. At the end of TESB, we were given to believe that Jedi-in-Training, Luke Skywalker, left Dagobah to save his friends in the Cloud City and by being told over and over by his two teachers that he must complete his training and that he wasn't ready to face Vader. Further, he couldn't control the Force at this point. Now, here it is, six months later—according to the novelization—and Luke Skywalker not only marches into Jabba's stronghold, but announces for all the galaxy to hear that he is a Jedi Knight! In addition, we learn he has constructed his own lightsaber! When did all these miracles take place? Is there a Jedi Correspondence School we don't know about? Obviously Yoda doesn't know of these accomplishments, because he tells Luke that he is not a Jedi, that one thing remained, his confrontation with Vader. I think George left something out. Missing scene number two. I agree with a lot of people that Lando had to do what he did. His responsibility was to his city. However, there should have been a scene between Han and Lando where Han tells him he understands Lando's actions and forgives him. JEDI gives the impression that Bespin didn't happen. In fact JEDI gives the impression that TESB didn't happen! I think George left something out. Missing scene number three. The commissioning of Han Solo by the Alliance, to my mind, would have been a wonderful scene. Why does Han accept a commission after all the resisting he's done up until now? His rescue could have played a big part in the reason but, technically, Luke and Leia were the only members of the Alliance on the rescue mission. At the end of TESB, it was never mentioned that when Lando and Chewie left for Tatooine, they were part of the Alliance. For that matter, when did Lando join and get his commission? Who talked Han into joining or did he volunteer? Since when do volunteers become generals? Further, since Leia is supposed to be right up there with the rest of the Alliance leaders, why doesn't she know about his commission? Was he saving it as a surprise for her birthday? I think George left something out. Missing scene number four. When does Han regain his full eyesight? Surely he was still partially blind when he shoots the Sarlacc's tentacle to save Lando. Is he using the Force at this pomt? Does he regain his sight after they return to the fleet, aboard the Falcon? More missing pieces. I can't stand the way George introduces characters, such as Generals Dodonna and Rieekan and then forgets about them. It's a small wonder Wedge made an appearance in JED! The biggest missing scene was the private reunion between Han and Leia, after they return to the fleet. How much time has elapsed between the scene showing Luke going off to Dagobah and the War Room scene when he returns? George, I KNOW you left something out!

Issue 2

Scoundrel 2 (v.1 n.2) is dated Winter 1983 (though it appears to have not reached its subscribers until January, perhaps February of 1984) and contains 44 pages (printed on one side).

first page of issue #2
  • a fan, Kathy A, writes an article called "Word Games," and discussed how to use resources to find way to name characters and planets and such in one's fiction
  • a fan, Roberta Rogow, writes an article titled, "STAR WARS FOR THE RECORD, A Brief Look at Star Wars Recordings"
  • from the editorial:
    The response to the first issue was most gratifying and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support. It is deeply appreciated. It is always with apprehension and the holding of one's breath when a new venture, such as SCOUNDREL, is undertaken: Your response tells me that interest in STAR WARS fandom is not. 'dying' as some people would have you believe. Oh, no! The contents and size of this zine should put that theory to rest because it looks like JEDI has awakened a new interest in SW fandom. Rather than the film being the 'end1 of fan interest, many view it as a 'beginning' and have come up with new and interesting theories concerning the Saga. When I asked for articles and/or essays for SCOUNDREL, I didn't dream I would receive the excellent and provocative pieces contained herein. I'd like to do a study sometime on the number of words written about the Saga—words in essays, articles, reviews, stories and poetry. STAR WARS fans are, indeed, a literate, prolific and intelligent part of the universe! Some of you have mentioned the 'wasted space' in SCOUNDREL. As mentioned previously, this is a 'no-frills' letterzine and for the time being, I must use the means of reproduction available to me, the present being a Xerox. However, in the not too distant future, I will have access to a brand new Xerox, which will enable me to reproduce on both sides of the paper, so please bear with me for perhaps another issue. Please be assured that I will investigate every avenue I can to make this zine as presentable and readable as possible while trying to keep production costs to a minimum.
  • a fan, Marie A, describes her journey into Star Wars fandom, much entwined with her sometimes disastrous love-life in her letter titled: "EVOLUTION OF A FAN - ANOTHER VIEW IT'S NOT ALL FANTASY, GEORGE":
    [A co-worker remarks,] "You do realize, of course, it's only a movie?' "You're right," I replied. "I'm sure there are thousands of people who look at these films as nothing more than two hours of fantastic entertainment. But this "fantasy" was responsible for a lot of my reality, and it will never be only a movie to me."
  • a fan, Melody C, writes a letter that discusses all the characters and if they could be The Other, and settles, after much analysis on one:
    Well, hello again. Last time I wrote to SCOUNDREL, I had a problem understanding the section of JEDI concerning the rescue on Tatooine. This time I would like to question the validity of the possibility of Leia being the Other I don't believe it for a minute. The logic of the events in the saga just does not support this supposition. The finger of destiny most assuredly points in another direction, and after I've shown you my reasons I'm sure you'll agree.... Now, I know most of you must have discovered 3P0's secret identity in a more intuitive fashion, but for me, logic works best. I find that if I can discover the reason for my mind to accept, then my heart will follow, and in my bones, I will know that I have found a truth that is lasting. So for the 10 of you out there who still have doubts, please indulge me my explanation.... [much analysis here]... Need I say more about 3P0's position in the saga? All the clues were always there in front of us"
  • a fan, Nora P, writes an essay called "From a Han Fan to a Luke Fan" in which she discusses not only how fans degrade the character of Han Solo, but also how George Lucas has as well. An excerpt:
    This is an article/essay/letter written by a Han/Ford fan in a spirit of conciliation and friendship. I want to state at the outset that I am a 100% Ford fan—no doubt about that—but, I like Mark, too. He is handsome, has a lovely family, is a good actor—and Harrison likes him. That's good enough for me. And as for Luke, although I am only four months older than Mark, I feel towards Luke as if he were my younger brother—no disdain intended. I have two younger brothers, one who is around Luke's age. So, I can relate to and sympathize with Luke. In fact, my feelings about Luke and Han are much like those of the Princess—one is her brother, the other her lover. Now, to the topic at hand. Many Han fans, myself included, disagreed with or were offended by Solo's portrayal in JEDI. We felt that it was a complete reversal and negation of the Solo of the two previous films. Some Luke fans have been moved to write letters voicing the opinion that any criticism of George or the Saga or JEDI is a major breach of respect and loyalty. We, the Han fans, love the Saga as much as Luke fans. We don't begrudge Luke's triumphant coming of age and shining glory in JEDI. I, for one, felt exhalted when Luke's love redeemed his father and the last scene between Anakin and Luke was profoundly moving to me, because, as my pen pals know, my father is old and ill and I literally cried rivers watching it. What we Han/Ford fans object to is how Han was presented in this film. Most of us have read stories where the zinewriter, because he or she was insecure with his or her hero's potential, decided to bolster the hero at the expense of another character by degrading and debasing that character. In some stories, Luke has been presented as a naive, silly, completely ignorant farm boy, idolizing Han. In others Han was presented as a heartless mercenary, an amoral "stud of the galaxy" and an habitual drunkard. Sometimes the Princess was portrayed as a full-blown bitch who the Han and Luke of the films would have sent packing. In other stories, Vader was presented as being without conscience and without dignity. I never felt that Vader was that way. He has his own moral code and loyalties, albeit different from the Rebels. He doesn't torture someone just for the pleasure of seeing that person suffer, but does so in order to obtain information or with another objective in mind (such as torturing Han in order to lure Luke to Bespin). All these stories were false portrayals of the real characters and only served to prove that the author didn't have enough confidence in his or her writing abilities or faith in his or her hero, resulting in the need to debase another character in order to build up his or her favorite. Therefore, it was with much surprise that I witnessed George Lucas using this same ploy in JEDI. I, for one, can't imagine any other explanation for Han's incomprehensible transformation from an adult, capable character into a childish, clown-like incompetent. Consider this: if Lucas had had real confidence in Luke's heroic characteristics, he wouldn't have needed to degrade Solo. Lucas' alter ego would have been able to stand on his own and there would have been no need for him to become more heroic at the expense of another character.... In the previous films, Han got into some tricky situations, but he almost always managed to extricate himself, along with others. Not, however, in JEDI. He is always being rescued by somebody—Leia, Luke, the Ewoks, etc. This storyline only serves to dilute and mock Han's heroic qualities shown in the first two films. Why did George Lucas feel obliged to present this caricature of Han Solo? It is completely illogical and inconsistent with the Solo of the first two films. Was it because he realized that this was the last film of the trilogy and that if Han weren't presented as a clown or a buffoon, audiences would leave the theatres with the impression that yes, Luke was the last Jedi, but Han was the real hero of the Saga—more human, dashing, commanding, charismatic, interesting and heroic? Did Han have to retrogress in order for Luke to mature?... In writing the above, no offense was meant to any Luke fan or to George Lucas, for whom I am grateful for giving me both Solo and Indy. This was written to explain to Luke's fans how disappointed, frustrated and disillusioned some Solo fans feel. We have admired Han Solo for six years and to see his character as portrayed in JEDI become totally alien, really is galling. On the other hand, how would Luke fans feel if their hero were treated in a similar manner?
  • a fan, Patricia O, writes an essay called "So What?" in which she discusses fanfiction and moving the story forward:
    Recently, while reading the LoC section of some 'zines, I repeatedly ran across complaints about stories that made the reader feel like saying 'so what?' At the same time many remarked that the story had a good setting or an interesting idea or solid characterizations. So what's wrong? The basic complaints fell into two categories. One, that the stories just didn't seem to go anywhere. Two, that the events of the story didn't seem to make much difference to the characters, A lot of times a story doesn't seem to go anywhere because the characters don't—go anywhere that is. They stand around or they sit (on couches or around conference tables) and they talk. And they talk, and they talk. But they don't really say very much. In fact they are usually saying the same thing several times in several different ways, but still basically the same thing. This is a particular problem in vignettes. This is not to say that I advocate only stories in which the characters never sit down. A story can be chockful of action and still not go anywhere even if the characters are contenders for the intergalactic planet-hopping championship. Neither do multiple explosions or high body counts cause a story to go anywhere.
  • a fan, Roberta R, writes of her trouble with Interstat:
    I swore I would never get involved with another letterzine after the hassles I went through last year with Interstate (A word of advice to all those letterhackers out there: NEVER criticize anyone else's fanzine, not even gently. Someone didn't like my insinuating HER effort was unworthy of a certain award, and proceeded to make my life miserable, with the result that I resigned from the letterwriting crew of Mterstat and haven't written a printable LoC since.)
  • a fan writes:
    Thank you for a very interesting and provocative first issue. It never ceases to amaze me how SW fans are willing to dig deep to find answers to their questions and I hope this type of communication will continue. Some people have voiced the opinion that interest will eventually die down because the trilogy is finished—more, because George Lucas' interest is waning. I certainly hope not because JEDI, instead of answering questions has opened up new speculation. I'm almost sorry Lucas started the Saga with the Middle Trilogy. Unless his primary purpose was to have fans speculate on the beginning and the end, which I seriously doubt, it served no purpose.
  • a fan writes of a common opinion regarding "the rules" in fanfiction writing:
    I have found... that writing for fandom, as good as some of it is, doesn't always follow 'standard' rules. I think there should be some allowance for the fanzine genre. Sometimes, things can't be 'ruthlessly' thrown out, just to fit into a short story or novella mode. My feeling has always been that if you have an interesting enough story to tell, who cares about length, form, etc. If the author's writing pleases you, then that's all that counts. Remember, we are not writing for Random House or any other publishing firm. We're writing strictly for ourselves and to entertain other fans. So, I think in our special case, the rules, however good they are, can be suspended or bent a little.
  • most fans pretty much dislike the third movie, most blaming George Lucas for not caring, not being true to his vision, for selling out, for being weary, being careless, being illogical, focusing too much on special effects ....one sample comment:
    George Lucas left something out to be sure—character development, series plot continuity and development, decent dialogue, explaining how and why a lot of things happened (I guess that should be included under development and continuity, but I wanted to be specific), explanations of who a lot of the important folks floating through the movie were or where others had disappeared to (Mon Mothma and General Rieekan are examples of each). I think you get the idea. ROTJ could have been so much better. It had such possibilities.
  • another fan sums up fans' reactions to ROTJ, and adds a query about Lucas' attempt to corral Star Wars fanzines (See Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett for more info on that subject.
    Despite variation in individual comments, the consensus on ROTJ seems to be "all special effects, no characterization". Though it's obviously too late to change anything, I think you should send Lucas a copy of the zine, at least to let him know how we feel, and to prove that SW fans are intelligent people who don't like to be fed pablum. (The requisite four copies were sent to Lucasfilm. However, I have yet to receive an acknowledgement. Ed.)
  • a fan, Bev C, writes extensively and academically about how SW is not science fiction:
    I do want to make some comments about the nature of the story as a fairy tale, however. Everyone concerned has been saying all along that SW is not SF; George originally called it science fantasy, and then eventually came right out and said that it's a fairy tale... The main problem with seeing SW as a fairy tale is its images, I think. Because the fairy tales we're all familiar with have been set in a medieval or psuedo-medieval world, we have come to regard that setting as a necessary part of a fairy tale. It's not. The setting merely reflects the kind of world in which fairy tales were originally created or written down, which most often was medieval or modern rural that hadn't changed much since the middle ages. However, fairy tales existed before the middle ages: for instance, there is an Egyptian version of "Cinderella" in which the main character's name is Rhodope and the surrounding world is Pharaonic Egypt. Yet the story is not only recognizably a fairy tale, it's recognizably the same basic fairy tale as the European "Cinderella". ... [some fairy tale elements used]: Setting in a never-never land,... Contrary-to-fact conditions, usually magic but sometimes religious... Lots of symbolism... Logical inconsistency as interpreted by a more "sophisticated" audience (logic is learned, not innate)... Symbolic use of characters rather than individual characterization or exploration of relationships... No sex, except very symbolically (the hero marries the princess, a woman has a baby)... No politics.... Violence, when it occurs (which is frequently), that lacks the sickness and horror of real violence... A dual emotional resolution: the victory of the Good is celebrated (or the achievement of a quest):... The corollary of this is that Evil (or the obstacle) is defeated, usually by being destroyed...
  • about Vader's redemption and salvation, a fan writes:
    The more I see JEDI, the more puzzled I am by the seeming change in the nature of Darth Vader, and his almost facile attainment of "grace" with the Force. Forget the Vader of JEDI for a moment and go back six years to the original SWars novel. On page 129 we're shown a Vader with galactic-sized plans for eventual conquest. He kow-tows to no one, though he condescends to deal with other men while he bides his time. He makes the mental statement that he has no equal. This doesn't seem to me to be a man under anyone's thumb. If he bends the knee to the Emperor, the suspicion is that it is for appearance's sake only and in actuality he's thinking, "Hey, Palpatine! When I start kickin' ass, you're Number One!" (And while we're on it, the Emperor of JEDI seems a great deal more formidable than the one we meet in the SWars novel prologue.) So we have a Vader who presumably makes his own rules and takes his own risks. If he does answer to the Emperor, it's a formality only. And this Vader is a BAD MAN. He tortures women, takes part in the destruction of a planet, routinely promotes his admirals by the expediency of strangling them, and orders the slaughter of innocent bystanders, such as Owen and Bern. He dismembers his own son (a Byzantine form of punishment, that), lies (to Lando) and murders (lots of folks). Now I can't think of any metaphysical discipline that doesn't require something positive from a man before he is granted forgiveness for his sins. An act of contrition, penance, a turn on the wheel of Karma, a sacrifice, an apology. But here is Darth Vader, a murderous, lying, torturer who, by a final act of violence, suddenly is granted absolution and permitted reapproachment with his own kind in a sort of incorporeal paradise. Notice that when Luke removed the helmet and the old man is close to death, he mentions none of his past acts, shows no contrition whatsoever. In fact his only statement is disappointingly self-serving. He tells Luke that he (Luke) has saved him, and that he (Luke) was right. Almost wonderingly as he expires, he concentrates not on making amends, as a man might wish to at such an extreme moment, but on his discovery that, By Golly! There WAS some good in him after all! "Tell your sister you were right," he says. That murdering the demented Emperor as his life's final act would tip the theological scales in Vader's favor makes no sense. It's an odd eschatology at best. Because nowhere in the third film does Vader ever do the one thing that is required of any man who would be forgiven: He never says, "I'm sorry".
  • a fan, Jean S, responds to another fan's letter in the previous issue:
    You seem to be under the impression everybody was going to dump on Luke. Well, maybe heated dialogues face-to-face gave you that idea. For now, I can only say, c'est la vie. However, I'm troubled by your attitude, as conveyed through words, that you are the only one who's right and anybody who disagrees is not qualified to continue expressing opinions, maybe not even continue living. I recognize this syndrome only because I share the affliction—me and nearly all those adhering to or suffering from one of the subliminal precepts of western civilization—evangelism. We all tend toward it—even TREK fans had trouble agreeing over what IDIC was, much less living by its tenets. When faced with a different/opposing point of view, one is driven to convince the "opponent" of the error of his/her ways. (Lest I seem to preach without knowing my own errors, I will admit to a certain pedagogery in my letters and essays on SWars. My only defense is the need to present my case in as logical and firm a manner as possible.) And what stimulating conversations occur in this manner—so long as nobody gets an idea to wipe out whole villages in an effort to convert!
  • a fan comments on the ongoing Luke and Han War:
    Consider: the ardent Hanatic (forget Ford for the moment), wishing to uphold Han against all claims that he is just the big dumb, clumsy sidekick to Luke (a sidekick who has his own sidekick—very innovative is our George), grabs his blaster and shoots all sorts of legitimate and illegitimate holes in Luke. This, not unexpectedly, angers the ardent Lukophile, who grabs his lightsabre and hacks away at Han. Human beings being what they are, the battle soon expands to include the actors: Hanatic saying everyone hated Hamill in Amadeus; Lukophile saying the only pain Ford has to hide is that of the audience at his acting. Both claims so patently false that the infidel observer is moved to either teai*s or laughter, but definitely to pity. From there it is only a short step to hacking up the Hanatics and blasting the Lukophiles—ad hominem (ad feminen?) attacks becoming the sole content as dialogue degenerates into competing monologues. All of which is text book example of how to lose friends and influence absolutely nobody (with the possible exception of the infidel observer—who may get bored and go home—a shame because there is a lot of good analysis and some very creative thinking going on under and behind all the sound and fury. In any 'religion' that ever really won converts, it never has been a case of superior force, not even force of argument. The spirit lures, seduces, courts...
  • this Han Fan extolls her hero's virtues:
    Han Solo has to be one of the all-time romantic heroes who has set female hearts pounding. Why the scene aboard the Falcon had to be one of the best love scenes of all time. And Han's voice has a particularly sexy rumble to it. Hey, did you notice the way he walks? To paraphrase Tommy Lilliard, "Keep an eye on his tush!" Let's see, aside from Han being the sexiest thing in the galaxy—our and theirs—his heroic qualities are outstanding! From the time he chases those Stormtroopers down the corridor on the Death Star in order for the others to escape, to the dignified way he met a possible death in EMPIRE, I would say, Han is the guy for me! Had enough... No? Well let's see. Going back to SW:ANH—from the moment he comes on screen and says, "Han Solo. I'm Captain of the Millennium Falcon..." I knew I was hooked. He can run my spice any day! And, who else says, "It's not my fault!" in such an endearing way? Yep, Han is my idea of a hero...
  • another Han Fan writes:
    Watching ROTJ, I couldn't help thinking how absolutely beautiful a person Lucas gave us in Han Solo. This is a man who loves and is loved by everyone (except the bad guys, of course. Interestingly enough, though, based on things going on beneath the surface, I think he is valued by them). And I think this is perfectly exemplified by the ending. In a celebration of love and joy and peace, Han is at the center. Chewie's love has been visible throughout the Saga, and is reemphasized in ROTJ. The Ewoks clearly adore Han (I love the Ewoks grabbing him around the neck—and his expression—as well as both Wicket's sympathy at "teeglo carbon" and his refusal to let go of Han's leg). Not only is Lando's affection for Han obvious, but also his faith in his friend is unshakeable, Lando refuses to leave, sure Han will get the shield down. Even the destruction of ships around him does not lead him to give in to despair (notice that Lando's faith is in Han; that's the name he continually mentions). Even Wedge is touched by Han. In the film, we first catch a glimpse of Wedge standing alone and looking rather forlorn. Then, we see the tail-end of a scene that appears on one of the Topps cards—Han shaking Wedge's hand to congratulate him which, I think, is a very nice gesture—you can catch part of Han's arm as he leaves the picture. All of a sudden, everyone is coming over to Wedge. It's as if Han brought him into their circle of celebration. Of course, there's Leia. The simple act that Han was picked by her, tells us something about him. In fairy tales, princes get princesses. This does not necessarily mean Han is a prince by birth (though his background remains so mysterious that he could be practically anyone or anything), but that he has passed his test and now embodies the virtues of the fairy tale prince, i.e. hero (note that in fairy tales, those heroes who do not start out as princes usually end up that way).
  • a fan comments on zine reviews:
    A bit on the topic of zine reviews: I personally appreciate zine reviews, though I don't always agree with everything. But, just because I don't agree doesn't mean the reviewer is wrong and I'm right, though. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. A good review does tell me a little bit about the contents and quality of a zine so that I can judge for myself whether to buy it. What I dislike so much about reviews is the way the reviewer and, occasionally, the reviewee in retaliation, tend to pick on each other. Which is something that I've unfortunately seen creeping into fandom more and more these days. I'm not sure of the reasons behind this, but I think if some common sense and politeness are used this problem is one we won't have to see again. I think the reviewers should remember they are not doing this professionally, only for fun, and the "tone" of the review should express that. Also, if the reviewer doesn't personally like romantic stories and they are reviewing a romantically-oriented Han and Leia story, that reviewer should clearly state, "I don't personally like romantic stories, so...", instead of tearing a story down just because ' of personal tastes. On the other side, a reviewee should most importcntly remember it is their work that is being reviewed and not them.
  • a fan, Bev L, writes of her journey to fandom and writes of some possibly uncharacteristically spicy topics:
    "Evolution of a Fan" [in the previous issue] was very reminiscent of my own experience in discovering fandom. For me, it occurred miraculously in 1974 with TREK and in 1978 with STAR WARS—and in between with the DARKOVER fandom. Hooked on all three and their fanzines, it was so much fun to go to the conventions and discover your own interests' could be shared. I'll never forget the time I went to see STAR WARS a year later after it was first released. I had seen it four times in 1977 but quickly forgot about it until [Michelle M] brought to my, attention one roguish smuggler, Han Solo. Instantly, I saw the potential for a threesome between Han/Luke/Leia. [1] I had grown used to all combinations, from Kirk and Spock to Hans Dietrich's beautiful aliens with humans. Why not? Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder! Michelle, a year later, 'saw the light', too. (She became a threesome plus Han/Luke fan as well. Of course, relationship wasn't the ONLY thing that got me hooked. The philosophies in all three universes and the occultism or sciences were just in line with my way of thinking. I wonder if other people got into SF the way I did? From ST to SF (particularly DARKOVER) to STAR WARS...then ELFQUEST, THIEVES' WORLD and a load of other interests?)
  • a fan praises a fan's earlier letter regarding character-bashing:
    Good for you! We know there are those calculating untrue Han lovers out there who have it in for Luke. (And they are untrue lovers of Han because they simply can't accept Han the way he is, but want to plaster him into some super Jedi role. I don't even care for Luke in that role!) Why don't they quit and just have some fun? That's what life is all about. Your distaste for ugliness and viciousness is to be commended. All those folks who give credit to Lucas in having such a wild imagination, by saying he is providing subtle evidence to prove Luke went to the Dark Side with Darth Vader who is his father—but NOT Anakin Skywalker (because Han is really Luke and Anakin is REALLY another person separated from Anakin—ho! What a good laugh!—So Anakin is Han's, eh...Luke's...eh, the smuggler's? father! Wild! I love it! But really, now, you Church of Ford preachers...) are not paying ATTENTION. Lucas uses simplicity. In fact, he uses such a simple plot and premise, that it is basically trite. Or at least trite in comparison to the way the fans want the film and characterization expressed.
  • sticking up for Chewie and scolding bigotry:
    Boy, do I agree with you on Chewie's character being corrupted by some bigots out there. He's a PERSON, NOT AN ANIMAL. Well, we all are animals...but come on, we're people with brains and so is Chewie! We females have the same problems with men and we're the same species! Ugly, people, right? To be put down just because you're female? Well, anyone who calls Chewie an animal without a brain probably thinks themselves as stereotyped 'ladies'. Good luck in the 2000's, lots of luck, folks!
  • more about the third movie:
    I've read your letter in Fantastic Films and I must say your "Dear George" letter was a bit extreme. I have my gripe about JEDI, sure, but I have no "feelings of betrayal and hollowness. Regarding the "unanswered questions" in JEDI—and the other films, for that matter—half or more of those questions would be asked only by those who are obsessed with the moviest i.e. the fans. Most of the moviegoers who see the SW films do not do so because they are 5F fans. They went to see STAR WARS for the first time because their boyfriend/girlfriend drug them along, because the sudden success brought it to their attention and they went to see it out of curiosity, and the 8 and 12 year-olds, who really don't pay that much attention went because it was something flashy and their mothers wanted to get rid of them for a while. Movies like these can't help but have unanswered questions. It would take four or five movies just to satify us concerning the ^ questions and implications of SW/EMPIRE/JEDI, and then those five movies would have their own questions and implications. George Lucas is probably the only person who could answer every question, and he won't spill his guts.
  • a fan writes of her profound disappointment in the third movie:
    To say that I was disappointed is putting it mildly. But what has surprised me even more is the ridiculous praise and ludicrous justifications fandom has lavished on a film that did not appear to even attempt to bring the trilogy to an intelligent conclusion. Thank God for the novelization! (I refer primarily to the background information and Mr. Kahn's ability to project emotion and a sense of purpose into the characters within the framework of what they were given to do; however, the script itself remains an illogical piece of garbage.) One of my favorite scenes in ANH was that of Luke ("Looks like I'm going nowhere") Skywalker leaving the dinner table and wandering outside to contemplate his future by the glow of the planet's twin sunsets. Here was the yearning/frustration/hope that lies at the very core of the Saga, and earned Anakin's boy a special place in my heart forever. When I heard the words, "I'll meet you at the rendezvous point on Tatooine," at the end of TESB, the reunion of past and future had already begun to formulate in my mind. For three years I had envisioned a scene of Luke returning to that same spot; now a man, marred and surrounded by the tragedy of his Aunt and Uncle, Ben and Biggs—yet, still feeling that spark of longing and adventure that drove him to stand there so many years ago—gazing at another Tatooine sunset, as he silently contemplated his past and renewed his determination to the future (with John Williams providing a full symphonic accompaniment of "The Force" theme). I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to forgive George for returning Luke to his birthplace and, foregoing the above-mentioned scene, at least have had him take a quick landspeeder cruise past his Uncle's farm—or Ben's home—or Mos Eisley—or anyplace that could have been interpreted as him having some feeling for the world on which he grew up. Oh, excuse me...there was a line which said, "I used to live here," which, (sorry as it was), had the potential of packing a wallop the size of "I want to come with you to Alderaan," but instead, sounded more like, "Please pass the salt". Having Luke acknowledge his origins would have recitified a thousand faults in this film. (The actual number of boo-boos is in the several thousand range; however, most reside on obvious ground, so I'll leave the nit-pick treading to others.) When I first started writing this letter, I had planned to compile a list beginning with: "No more training do you require." Gee! With a few handstands and a jog through the jungle maybe £ could build a lightsaber, too, and continue spirlaling downward from there! But, then, I suddenly remembered something Joan Shumsky had said to me about fandom dividing up and taking sides over this movie, and I realized that whether you loved or hated it had little to do with the real issue. When you get right down to it, it really doesn't matter how Jabba gets around, where Han's elbow-cuffs disappeared to, or who does Leia's hair. I wasn't sitting up at 4:00 a.m. feeling like I'd just lost my best friend because of superficial inconsistencies, weak plotting or wooden dialogue. My heart hurt. Because the heart of this film was missing.

Issue 3

Scoundrel 3 (v.1 n.3) was published in early 1984 and contains 52 pages. The letterzine is now printed on two sides, as are further issues.

first page of issue #3
This issue prints a list of zines that were available at the Paterson Fanzine Library
This issue prints a snippy, and poorly spelled, letter from TPTB regarding a fan's question in a prozine about one of the movie's soundtrack albums. "Dear Debbie, In the February issue of STARLOG you said you felt cheated by the JEDI soundtrack album because it was too short. We at Lucasfilm felt that a double album would be too expensive and research told us most of the record buying public preferred the one-record price tag. Its that simple. Sincerely, Howard J. Kazen."
The back cover of issue #3 by Peg Dixon and Joan Shumsky, it generated angry letters by two fans who felt it trashed Luke. The editor responded by saying: "The cartoon is just that—a cartoon! Of course it pokes fun at a situation involving Luke in the movie. In this issue, I printed one poking fun at Han! I wonder—did you consider this a cheap shot also? No doubt, from time-to-time I'll be publishing cartoons poking fun at other characters in the movie. My question is: has everything become so sacrosanct about this movie—or as far as Luke is concerned—that we can't publish cartoons such as the one in question? I have the feeling that if Gordon Carleton's name had been attached to it, you would have smiled and said, "Gee, that Gordy's a funny guy". And, speaking of Gordy, I've seen much stronger stuff from him. In fact, I've winced at a few, but realized they were only cartoons. My apologies to Peg Dixon, the co-author. If anyone feels offended, please direct your letters to me. It was my decision, as editor, to print it."
  • the TOTM: "When did Luke become a Jedi?" -- fans had a variety of responses from "he is already," to "he was when he could make a light saber," to "he still has a long way to go." Most fans found issue with the conflicting messages about this subject in the movies.
  • the zine listing section at the end of the letterzine includes a number of complaints and personal statements directed to specific fans/warning fandom regarding money sent for zines that had never arrived, one example:
    When I wrote to her she responded by saying the copies were $15.00 each FC. I sent her a check for $30.00 in August of 1983 and have yet to hear one word out of her. I wrote to Jani in October, 1983 (enclosing an SASE) and asked her if there was some problem with the processing of my order —she never replied. I wrote to her again several weeks ago and again there has been no reply. The only conclusion I can reach is that [Jani H] has, in effect, stolen $30.00 from me. I would advise everyone to stear clear of her offer. [2]
  • from the editorial:
    Well, here it is, folks, Issue No. 3—complete with 'new look' and typeface.... I have been experimenting and have found that the name of the game is to save space and the new printwheel seems to do just that. I still can't, however, go to offset but, hopefully, the new 'two-sided' look will keep postage costs down. The response to Scoundrel has been growing by leaps and bounds. I am amazed and delighted to find I've been "doing something right" and again, I want to thank all of you for your interest and support. As much as I would like to take credit for this interest, I know it's your love of the Saga and what it holds for the future (in this case, the past!) that keeps your interest at fever pitch. Opinions run strong and emotions high where our own particular likes and dislikes are concerned. In line with this I feel I must mention again that although Scoundrel has a policy of no censorship, I wish to make it clear that this policy does not extend toward personal attacks. Debate, disagreement, argument are fun and healthy ways to get your point across. In fact, I encourage you to present your own views in a logical and persuasive fashion. However, I will draw the line when a person and not his or her opinions is attacked. I assume we are all adults and wish to be treated as same. On the other hand, I find it ironic that a person will write a letter decrying these personal attacks, then a few paragraphs down, proceed to do exactly the same thing when that person's own point of view is presented. Ya see, guys, it works both ways! So, let's lighten up and have fun!
  • a fan, Sandra H. Necchi, writes a long essay titled, "There is No Fandom for El Cid." Some excerpts:
    There is a fundamental contradiction in Star Wars fandom that no one (to my knowledge) has expressed in any straightforward or lucid manner. The heated debates sparked by Return of the Jedi all point to this contridiction, and it is no accident that they comprise the fiercest arguments in SW fandom to date. They are a direct result of this contradiction, for nowhere is it so obvious than in this third Star Wars film: You can't flesh out a fairy tale. And when you do, it is no longer a fairy tale.... When I saw an actual Star Wars fandom developing, I was more than a little puzzled, and somewhat annoyed. I saw the film as nothing more than a light diversion with some nice music. I appreciated its heart, its childlike joy, but I could not understand how it could engender fan fiction. I began thinking of analogous situatiions like a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fandom, or stories exploring the "three dimensions" of Beowulf (the character). A New Hope was full of symbolic caricature (and a strong middle-class conservative Libertarian ideology). To write serious fan fiction would transform it from a mythic saga to something else entirely, that is, a serious, complex, three-dimensional story. I realized boredom with Star Trek fandom had a great deal to do with the flood of SW fan fiction, but I could not understand how anyone could take the film so seriously. Lucas repeatedly explained his view of the SW universe in interviews. He saw it as just fun entertainment, a couple of hours to leave your brain at home. But any viable fandom, if it wanted to live and grow, could not possibly leave it at that. I began to see that a fandom with such a deep contradiction at its base would not only generate several arguments, misunderstandings and misinterpretations among its members, but it might probably create a troubled relationship with George Lucas and Lucasfilm who would look at fandom with condescension only, a far cry from the relationship between Gene Roddenberry and ST fandom (because Star Trek was meant to be taken seriously). It is clear that Lucas does not ponder very deeply on his own creation, and so does not notice (or try to) whatever plot and character contradictions there may be in it. Fandom does not see SW in this way at all, and Return of the Jedi is the epitome of this contradiction...
    ... When a fan writer writes a story in the SW universe, he or she takes that universe and the people in it seriously; he or she explores their minds, hearts, the many possible events, ideas, aliens and cultures within that unvierse. The writer elevates it from a myth or saga, which is not meant to be a complicated presentation of three-dimensional people, to something more tangible, more developed, and much more interesting. And therein lies the dichotomy, because many fans constantly press this "fairy tale" point ad nauseum, not realizing that for fandom to exist, SW has to be transformed into something more. I don't dislike fairy tales—on the contrary—but you simply don't explore the psyche of Little Red Riding Hood. You can, but then you've changed her symbolic purpose and made her into a real human being. She is no longer a caricature. People in myths and fairy tales are symbols, representations of an idea, or a legend. The moment fans decided they wanted to write about the SW universe, they instantly changed it. Lucas1 own vision is stagnant. Fans have expanded it, and they can do nothing else if they are to continue writing, discussing and reading about it. Those fans who hold fast to the "fairy tale" stance ignore this basic contradiction. They may consider SW to be primarily a "fairy tale" or "myth", but when they sit down to write or read SW fan fiction, they are no longer dealing with one. SW is not a saga, myth or fairy tale in fandom. The mythic elements are still there and they can be pointed to and analyzed, but in fandom, they are not the important components of the story. On screen, in George Lucas' mind (excluding Empire) it is merely a saga, but not to the fans who saw what could be developed in Empire and in fan fiction. The story cannot be a saga in fandom. We require more than idealized symbols in our fiction.
  • Sandra Necchi writes of Han Fans and Luke Fans:
    Some of the criticisms heaped upon Luke by the "Church of Ford" people are extremely picayune (not to mention just plain overreactions), but there are some valid points to be made about Luke's behavior, especially on Tatooine with Jabba. But, unlike these "Hanatics" who grab at anything to make Luke look like a villain, I view these illogical character presentations practically. I simply see them as carelessness on Lucas' part, and ignore them. (Some of these people have pointed out that criticism of a character is healthy—why don't they attack Han just as viciously? Some of them have suggested that Lucas did it all on purpose to make Luke look bad. Why don't they carry their analysis further and claim Lucas' treatment of Han in Jedi is deliberate to say that Han is actually a clown?)
  • Sandra Necchi writes of the honesty of all three movies:
    ... all this arguing is futile, because Jedi is simply not an honest movie. No matter what Lucas (and several fans) say, Jedi is not a fairy tale because of what has gone before in Empire. It is an attempt at the purity and innocence of A New Hope, but flawed because of the serious growth we've seen in Empire. This attempt at "going back" simply makes for poor storytelling, a weird, distorted mish mash of confusing character behaviors and storylines. You can't box "real", complex characters into simplistic "fairy tale" roles. And, neither does Jedi have the sincerity, nor the childlike warmth that A New Hope had. Lucas' condescension toward his audience and his characters is quite evident throughout Jedi, not to mention his obvious desire to reap merchandising profits. The moment I saw Wicket and the Ewoks, I said to myself, "George has gone into the Teddy Bear business now". Perhaps the best illustration of Lucas' contempt for his audience is his admonition to the Ewok designers in the early stages of their work that "They don't look cute enough. We have to make the audiences love these furry Teddy Bears who are being killed by the bad ol' Empire." ... Those of us who dislike Jedi recognize that we have moved forward while Lucas is where he has always been from the beginning. This in itself is fine, but it's not particularly imaginative. Lucas has never considered his universe seriously, as we have. To Lucas, Han, Luke, Leia and the others are not three-dimensional people. (And in Jedi, they are a distraction to what he considers the important stuff—the effects, the battles, the "look-what-we-can do" aliens.) This is why the entire storyline that deals with the characters is so haphazardly, and quickly dispensed of. He pays little attention to the integrity and logic/illogic of their behavior.
  • a fan, Nora P, writes an essay called "Why Did George Cool the Romance?" in which she questions why the romance between Han and Leia fizzled:
    Then why did Lucas take the 'romance' out of the love story of Han and Leia? In Rolling Stone, June, 1981, Lucas said "I never wanted to be like Disney, and I don't want to let myself get painted into a corner". So it couldn't be that Lucas felt that there was anything immoral or indecent in the kisses Han and Leia shared in Empire. Kids nowadays are exposed to much more than kisses by watching television. And, he certainly had no qualms about raising the issue of incest. Remember Leia kissing Luke in the medcenter in Empire? Lucas also permitted that Hugh Hefner of a Jabba the Hutt to ogle both Leia and Oola, the dancing girl, but why did he think it is wrong to show the adult love between a man and a woman, as he did in Empire? It couldn't be a sense of modesty that made Lucas curtail the love story. The answer must be somewhere else. Larry Kasdan may have given us the clue in a Today Show interview shortly before Jedi came out. "It's a tribute to Harrison and Carrie that their characters have held up very strongly throughout and, in some ways, their presence may have been stronger in Empire, but what needed to be resolved in Jedi was Luke's story". So, that's it! The Han and Leia romance gave a new dimension to the Saga and deepended their characterizations. These lovers were so vividly portrayed that audiences everywhere recognized them as such, identified with them and made them their own. Cutting the romance cut the heart out of the Saga. Luke belongs in an ensemble; he functions best interacting with Han, Leia, Chewie and Vader. If Lucas had not meant for the romance to blossom, why did he bring it up in the first place? It leaves a void in the Saga and is a crushing dramatic mistake.
  • plot holes as an invitation to fans?:
    Speaking of Trek, by the way, I must comment on the apparently growing notion that Lucas left all these neat holes and questions just so fans could play and that fans should lobby for the stories we want to see. First, I firmly believe Lucas himself plans to answer with as many surprises as he has unveiled so far in this trilogy.... Second, no filmmaker plans writing to fill logic or plot holes. The critics called Lucas on holes and justly so. They are flaws in the film—on a one-time viewing. (On the other hand, I think of the number of critics who still say these are just cardboard characters who never change—completely ignoring the fact that they're changing all over the place. White to black, black to white, loner to lover, girl to woman, and so on.) Third, I am convinced that it was fan insistence on maintaining a 10-year-old status quo of characterization and relationship in combination with the ecstatic fan and critical reception given the SWars special effects that made the first Trek movie what it was. A could-have-been-great story turned into a yawning purple cloud. Please leave Lucas alone! (And he probably doesn't need me to defend him, but I need to say it.) Even if he doesn't do what we want, if he does his story, then it will be a good one.
  • for a taste of how letterzines could be a hotbed of conflict:
    Since you did not respond to anything that I actually did say in my letter in Scoundrel #1, but chose instead to throw a baseless accusation at me, I can only wonder at your motives for doing so. Letterzines are a forum for open debate in which fen may state the personal opinions to which we are all entitled. If there was anything in my Scoundrel #1 letter with which you disagree, please mention it specifically so that we may debate the subject or subjects in this open forum. We may be dealing with a fantasy world, but letterzines exist in the real world. Things will be a lot pleasanter for all involved if we just stick to the issues at hand and not resort to personalities. Also, I felt that your attack on Jundland, Too's editorial policy was uncalled for. The zine hasn't even been published yet, and the editorial policy was stated openly and honestly in the last issue of Jundland Wastes. The editor of any zine chooses his or her editorial policy, not the readers. If you disapprove of this, then don't buy the zine. But trying to create an atmosphere of 'us against them' (your suggestion that Scoundrel and Southern Enclave exchange ideas and continue letters from issue to issue, but not J, Too or Comlink) would set a dangerous precedent of divisiveness in SW fandom. There's enough of that already. Why can't we at least try to work together or, if we can't, not attack each other in subtle but obvious ways?
  • a fan writes of the third movie:
    It certainly was not the film that I expected or wanted. Had I not been persuaded by a friend, I would never have seen it a second time. Well, here I am, past the film's second run, and I don't think I'll admit to the number of times I've returned to Jedi. I will say that it's not the emotional satisfaction that pulls me back. (I didn't find this film satisfying on an emotional level then, and I still don't. In fact, for Luke, I think it's a rather sad story.) It didn't hurt that Harrison Ford was in it, but I sure had trouble understanding what had happened to his character. Truthfully, I think that's what intrigued me with this film—the fact that Han (and every other charcter in it) seemed off-kilter. To me, everything about this film was out of whack. I saw a Luke who was wearing black with no explanation for it, who was devoid of humor and who, as far as I was concerned, was no example of a positive role model. (Yet the press seemed to be saying he was the hero of the saga and most initial fan reaction indicated delight with him.) Han, who had before been swaggering, arrogant and the complete scoundrel with a heart of gold, was now sweet, docile, more than a little clumsy and, oh, so willing to do his duty. (What bothered me most was the fact that Han's role in the scheme of things seemed to have moved so far backstage as to almost be an afterthought.) Darth was no longer the menancing, powerful, worthy villain. Rather, he seemed to be an indecisive, subservient lackey. Leia—well, she had become just as sweet as Han, but on my first view, I thought she was spending an inordinate amount of time fawning over Luke. (My feeling was that Han and Leia had better work this little problem out before they settled down or there'd be hell to pay.) Administrator Calrissian, who seemed to have his own problems very much at heart, had transformed into General Calrissian, who just totally adored Han. (Leia could take a few lessons from this guy.) Yoda appeared to be testing for the lead in Camille, and Obi-Wan, yeah, well, Obi-Wan. Just as wrong as the characters seemed, the story seemed even more loose and careless. Boba Fett in and out with no part and no dialogue? Leia, Luke's twin sister and the Other with no function? Han bumping into things and not piloting the Falcon (or the shuttle either, for that matter)? Oily-one...er, Obi-Wan allowing (in fact, encouraging) Luke to think he has to kill his father. Yoda, in his last painful dying gasps trying to impart vital information only to have any dramatic impact of that scene diluted when within five minutes another character completes the message. Darth stealing scenes right and left with some great double takes (I didn't think this was possible). Lando (on the skiff) calling for the blind man to help instead of the Jedi. Luke proclaiming himself a Jedi knight only to be told by his master that he's not? No sense. This made no sense at all.
  • a fan comments on what she sees as a unsatisfactory trend:
    I am, I confess, a neo fan. I missed the golden age of fanzines, when fanzines were cheap, plentiful and, most of all, fun. ANYBODY could put one together; all it took was access to a mimeo or copier and a few literary and artistic friends. It ran 20-50 pages, cost was minimal, it was a lark to put it together, and the editors enjoyed it as much as the readers—and it was affordable. Maybe not especially slick, but just as enjoyable. These days... Don't get me wrong; I stand in AWE of today's fanzines; they're almost pro— Hell! Some of them ARE pro in quality of both content and production—but geezy-peezy! The price, both to print and purchase!!! What used to be a fun little zine now is a slick and gorgeous thing that Hearst could be proud of—but, unfortunately, costs as much and is just as much labor. Even more disturbing is the feeling I sense (when talking to various editors) that the zines must all "keep up with the Joneses": if zine A comes out with perfect binding, 4-color cover and 900 pages thick, then everyone else feels they must, too...after all, the readers wouldn't want to pay $12.00 for a 100-page B&W, when for $20.00 they get War and Peace in Space, Part 47...and so it goes. Maybe I'm naive, but this seems to me to make it Un-Fun, especially for the editors and those who should be enjoying it the most. Fan editors shouldn't have to be worrying about - the kinds of things the editors of National Geographic, Time, Life or others worry about—theirs is BUSINESS, guys—yours is supposed to be pleasure and, from what I hear, there's usually little joy in mudville when it comes to putting one together; look how many have folded just from sheer pressure! Do I have a solution? Well, except for urging editors not to feel they must "keep up with the Joneses", I don't, really. But I'm SO glad SOMEONE had the guts to quit the race and produce a zine that gets back to the grass roots of fanzine publishing. I'd like to urge the same for others. Let's stop keeping up with the Hearsts and start having fun again! Scoundrel —great job! I hope you're the forefront of a trend.
  • a fan is upset at the lack of comment and respect fan artists in zines receive:
    A LoC appeared recently critiquing a certain zine. I'm sure the writer did not intend to offend, but she did—grossly. How? By mentioning the entire art staff of the zine in almost the same breath as the stapling job...in fact, the staples got top billing! Actually, it isn't just this particular LoC, it is more a case of the straw that broke the camel's back. I love reading LoC's, I really do. It's great to get feedback on work you do. So WHY, gentle readers, is this a privilege reserved for writers only? I can count on the fingers of one hand the numbers of LoC's I've seen on zines containing tremendous art, where the art is even mentioned; I can't even count on one FINGER the LoC's I've seen that analyze the art as lovingly and exhaustively as they have the stories. Why? Artists need feedback just as much as authors do...what they do right, what they do wrong—and why—and what can be done to make an improvement next time. Constructive criticism is just as important, and just as welcome, to artists as it is to authors. Time and time again I have seen fantastic pieces of art produced by great fan artists like Lybarger, Martynn, Karen River, Edwards and so many, many more, and yet in NO subsequent LoC are they discussed. At most, they got a passing mention, 'oh, yeah - the art was pretty nice, too'. More usually, they got zilch, nada, nothing! The art might just as well have been in hell for all the comment and/or discussion and analysis it raised, yet it was produced with just as much labor and love as any piece of literature in the zine, I'll warrant, and it made that zine into something special that bare print alone couldn't do. Think how much less effective and exciting zines would be without the art. Yeah, you could put out a zine with all literature and no art...but then envision that same zine laced with pictures, illustrations, portraits...big difference? You bet! The question raised in my mind is, why the silence? Indifference? Laziness? Ignorance? Granted it's easier to LoC writing, because most Fen tend to be pretty literate, and familiar with basic literary structure. Granted, LoC-ing art might tend to be a tad more difficult, because the reviewer needs to have a passing knowledge of composition, line, value, etc. in order to do a really thorough job...but I cannot believe that EVERYONE out there is so abysmally ignorant of art that they cannot manage more than a passing sentence. I cannot believe that NO ONE out there is capable of a thoughtful paragraph on a piece of art—or an artist—that particularly impressed them, that they cannot state specific terms that worked or failed, and offer some good, constructive, cogent reasons why. "So-and-so did a nice job"...how? What did they do that you liked? What did they do you didn't like? How could they improve? How is their grasp and execution of anatomy, inking, or composition? C'mon, people: you all know when someone's legs are drawn too short, or the hands are clumsy, or the picture's composition just doesn't quite work. You people are so good at analyzing the writing...with a bit of effort, I'm sure you could do equally well at the art! You don't need to get technical, if you don't have the training or the vocabulary—just to say what you like, fgosh sakes.... To consign the art to a few careless, general sentences or pass it over entirely is unfair, unjust and impolite. Fan artists deserve better from the reviewing fan public. They deserve the dignity of having more than a line or two tossed their way, especially those that have spent years bringing a special grace and beauty to fanzines. Artists need feedback, too. Come on, you people out there: stop relegating art reviews to a few vague lines—or none at all—and start commenting intelligently on the art as well. How else can it grow and improve without constructive criticism from YOU?!
  • a technology fix:
    For anyone who doesn't own a VCR, the next best thing is a cassette tape recorder. Still Things [address and full name redacted] offers audio tapes of the entire soundtracks of the SW trilogy. These tapes are the WHOLE movie! The quality is excellent and is a grand substitute if you can't swing a VCR. In addition, Jeff offers tapes from Raiders, Star Trek, E.T. all of Harrison Ford's movies, other movies and TV shows. Send Jeff an SASE and specify your wants. It's like listening to a radio show where you have to use your imagination—and lots of fun! The records to me aren't at all satisfying because they cut out all the "good stuff"! Trust me!
  • another tiny taste of the One True Character conflict that saturates the letterzine:
    I have noticed a growing tendency for Han/Ford fans to be snickered at and referred to as members of the Church of Ford. I find this particularly amusing as most of these gibes come from Cathedral of Luke fans! Tsk, tsk!
  • a fan has this very tongue-in-cheek reply to another in which she actually mentions /, a big no-no in Star Wars of that time:
    So now you've converted [name redaced] to the rank (and I do mean rank) and file of "/" fandom. This type of behavior has got to stop. I realize you are a lost cause, but the rest of us "innocents" out here would prefer to remain that way and not be reminded that such sleaze exists. (Oh, before I forget...I'd like to thank you for all of the K/S, S/H & H/J zines you sent me recently, and for all your helpful suggestions in resolving the sexual quadrangle in my own G/H/S/J story. Wonder how many people, will be able to figure out who those participants are?!)
  • a fan asks others to tone it down:
    THIS IS STAR WARS FOR CHRISSAKE! Have we all gotten so caught up in our character defenses, alternate universes, personality clashes and nit-picking that we've forgotten the simple beauty upon which this fandom is based? In our efforts to "show the other person the error of his/her ways" the discussions have gotten so far out in left field it's difficult to remember what we're talking about. I'm certainly not advocating an end to debate, as that is the primary function of letterzines. However, let's keep in mind that unlike our celluloid heroes, fandom is comprised of real people with real feelings. Nothing we say or do will have any effect on the films, but could possibly have a profound effect upon the life of someone just trying to have a little fun with their favorite fantasy. A LoC that appears to be a vehement personal attack in the beginning, might be something else altogether when you get to the end. We all make mistakes. We all say dumb things. Let's try to put as much effort into laughing at ourselves as we do jumping on the defensive.

References

  1. It is difficult to determine if she means a sexual relationship. This fan went on to edit slash and femslash zines with some controversial topics, so it possible (and she does allude to slash in the next issue of Scoundrel), but it is important to remember that Star Wars letterzines, ESPECIALLY during the early to mid 1980s stayed far, far away from discussion of sexual issues of any sort due to to fears due to Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett.
  2. from more on this, see Jani Hicks