Star Wars Insider
|Title:||Star Wars Insider|
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Star Wars Insider is an official, for-profit Star Wars fan magazine published by The Official Star Wars Fan Club. This was a direct continuation of The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine without restarting the numbering. The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine ran for 22 issues, from Fall 1987-Spring 1994. It then changed to "Star Wars Insider", whose first issue is thus #23, published in Fall 1994. . The magazine continues to publish, through at least issue #177 in November 2017.
From One of Its Editors
It was discussed in Interview with Jon Bradley Snyder, one of the magazine's editors:
OK - so you come in and you have to take this Fan Club magazine and make it better. What are your first steps? 1. Free up Dan so he could focus on other aspects of the company. 2. Get rid of the previous designer. His work was boring and he charged too much money. 3. Add more humor and irreverence to the magazine. 4. Perk up that sleepy letters column. There were too many 'Star Wars' changed my life letters (Duh! If it didn’t why were you reading the magazine?) and add some controversy. 5. Help get a new printer. 6. Find new contributors.
Were you given all the help you needed from Lucasfilm or were you on your own a lot? Well, essentially the magazine is done all on our own. Lucasfilm would help with getting photos, setting up some interviews and whatnot. Alan Kausch was always a great person to bounce ideas off of.
How did you choose a staff...or were they chosen for you? There wasn’t any staff to speak of until Scott Chernoff came along in late 1996. Almost everything was freelancers.
What are some of the rarest issues of the Insider?
Here’s the top ten:
- 1. Issue 11 (? I need to double-check the number) of the Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine with the Harrison Ford interview done by Dan Madsen. The print run of the magazine was only 5,000-20,000 copies the first few years Dan was doing the club. All issues under #19 are similarly rare, but this one was sold out before I came to work for the company.
- 2. Issue #31 (Printing Variant) They was a 2nd run of only 5,000 copies of this issue which featured a color photo screened back on the contents page depicted a little boy playing with a Skyhopper toy. On the common version of the issue there is a plain white background on the contents page. Almost all of these issues were sent to Lucasfilm. Only a few went to customers.
- 3. Issue #32 This was the first issue with the new logo that had the Rebel Pilot Reunion story. It sold out immediately when the Special Editions came out.
- 4. Issue #24 Ralph McQuarrie cover.
- 5. Issue #27 David West Reynolds Return to Tatooine story.
- 6. Issue #35 TIE Fighter Pilot cover version only went to subscribers.
- 7. Issue #43 Darth Maul cover with gold logo was a Diamond comics exclusive. Only about 15,000 were made.
- 8. Any Issue of the Scholastic version of Star Wars kids (original trilogy, not Episode I). The issue with Wicket on the cover is IMPOSSIBLE to find.
- 9. Issue #49 The Empire Strikes Back 20th Anniversary issue.
- 10. Issue #47 The Mara Jade cover. Sold out almost as fast as #49.
How closely did you work with Starwars.com and the staff over there? Not very closely, especially after Mark Hedlund left in 1999. I don’t think they have ever figured out a strategy for how the magazine and the website can support each other. Lucasfilm puts a lot of restrictions on the magazine that the web site doesn’t have.
Did it bother you that most of the prequel news in the magazine had been on the Net months before each magazine was released? Yes. We knew all that news before it ever reached the net but we weren’t allowed to do anything with it. I felt bad for our readers. They still wanted to see more news in the magazine.
What was the most exciting thing that happened to you during your years with the Star Wars Insider?
One of the most exciting things I did while with the Insider actually had nothing to do with Star Wars. I went to Disneyland for the opening junket for the Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. That was a blast. Got to see all the celebrities come check out the ride, including Wayne Gretsky and Carrie Fisher. When someone in the press crew asked Carrie Fisher what she was 'expecting from the ride?', Fisher responded with her trademark deadpan stare and said, 'Nothing short of orgasm.' Of course I couldn’t print that in the magazine. Disney, being smart like they are, made sure every journalist who came to this junket had the time of their lives. During the day we had our own private escort who could get us to the front of the line on any ride we wanted. At night they closed off Adventureland for a big party. You could go on any ride you wanted, plus they had live music and DJs with cast members whose only job was to dance with you. There was terrific food, not the park food mind you, but fabulous California gourmet stuff. And there was booze. All the free booze you could drink. My friend Chris and I got roaring drunk and went on the new Indiana Jones ride over and over again until the wee hours of the morning.I could live until I was 300 and never have more fun at Disneyland.
What were some things you wanted to do with the magazine that got shot down?
Nothing comes to mind right off the top of my head. Lucasfilm was pretty good about letting me do some of my more nutty article ideas, including Star Wars Tattoos, Star Wars Rocks, and interview with the band Weezer, and The Cult of Wedge.There was a point when they would not allow us to break news in the magazine anymore, which was a really bad idea. We were the magazine for the official Star Wars Fan Club. We represented the most devoted fans. Many of our readers had been members of the Fan Club for years. These people deserved to get a scoop now and then.
Do you think that's because they wanted to make more use of Starwars.com and use that as the vessel for breaking news?
Yes. I don't think there was ever a firm grasp of how print magazines and the web interact, and the magazine suffered because of this policy, and oddly enough, I think the web site suffered too.I was always fighting to get more in the magazine. I hope that’s how people would remember me and Fantastic Media’s time doing the magazine—which we always tried to make the best magazine possible for the fans.
If you could go back and change one thing you did with the Insider, what would you change? The Star Wars Celebration. I would not do that. That took ten years off my life.
What was your favorite SW Insider article? There are a lot. Scott Chernoff’s piece we did in #30 about people who never saw Star Wars was an excellent piece. All of David West Reynolds articles were great. What Chernoff is doing right now with the 21-B letters column is hilarious. The Simpsons cover story for #38 took almost a year to do, but it was well worth it.
Reactions and Reviews
[from a review of both "Star Wars Insider" and Star Wars Galaxy]: This post autumn, two professionally-produced SW magazines hit the stands; Star Wars Insider and Star Wars Galaxy. In fact, the past two or three issues have come out the SAME WEEK. Talk about synchronicity. Admittedly, the two publications are very similar. Both are very slick, with lots of pictures, artwork, and info-packed articles (kinda like that Blue Harvest thing, only not as good! - JA [interjection by the editor of Blue Harvest]). Both have regular features by Dark Horse Comics and Steve Sansweet. Both even contain the same info from Lucasfilm (verbatim press releases, etc. - JA). Yet there are still variations and differences that only a media connoisseur can distinguish.
Star Wars Insider is published by the same people who have been publishing the old Lucasfilm Fan Club magalog since 1988, and who run the Official Star Trek Fan Club. The new magazine boasts more pages of actual text than before, with greater emphasis on SW than on other LFL projects like Indiana Jones. The old catalog section is still there, now called the "Jawa Trader," and it now contains mostly SW merchandise. Ex-Star Wars Generation editor Jon Bradley Snyder is a regular contributor, with some really good pieces on The Cult of Wedge" and the Art of SW exhibit under his belt. There are also many more interviews than in the past, with folks like Carrie Fisher, Denis Lawson, Kenny Baker, Ralph "Godlike" McQuarrie, and new SW producer Rick McCollum. While lacking the old "Bantha Tracks" dinky charm, I still think it's the best incarnation of the official fan club' s catalog-newsletter-magazine, and it continues to improve each issue.
Now, I really love Star Wars Galaxy. Why?? Okay, so they haven't had as many star-studded interviews, and there's no catalog, but the magazine covers the role playing game in addition to the comics, novels, and other products, and there's a lot of cool, ORIGINAL artwork done for the magazine, such as Dave Dorman's gorgeous cover for #2. There are also regular features on AOL's SW activities (and they've quoted many people I know, not to mention contributors to this here 'zine), trivia contests, book excerpts, and best of all...GOODIES!!! Trading cards, milk caps, comics ashcans, and posters come bagged with every issue (if you special order it or get a subscription). Hey, I can be bought. Not to be outdone on the bribery front, the SW Fan Club recently gave to all of its members a special-boxed Micro Machine Millennium Fa/con with a bitty little Han Solo figure.My conclusion? We're winners either way: SW gels a higher profile, we have two quality mainline publications to enjoy, and we get free stuff in the bargain (those Trekkies don't get squat from their myriad of publications—ha ha!). So, buy both of them.... after you pick up the latest Blue Harvest. 
Also, in ranting about the catalog portion of their magazine Star Wars Insider, I neglected the mag itself. All in all, it is just about the best source for new SW info you can get. Except for Blue Harvest, of course! And the Internet SW news groups. Okay, so it's third. But that's still pretty good! Anthony Daniels writes a really funny (if exceptionally long-winded] column about... er, something or other, and Steve Sansweet is always on hand to provide sensible answers and solid information on the world of SW collectibles. They have better access to cool celebs to interview than we do, and the/re in color. Okay, the price did go up, and I cannot stress how bad their customer support is, but at least they're making an effort. Oh, and their mag is now edited by John Bradley Snyder, former editor of the sadly lamented Report from the Star Wars Generation. In only three issues of that 'zine, he set a standard for all SW fanzines that BH can only hope to live up to.