Hasslein Blog: From Planet of the Apes to Star Wars: New Anthologies Bookin' Your Way


Hasslein Blog

Thursday, August 27, 2015

From Planet of the Apes to Star Wars: New Anthologies Bookin' Your Way

By Rich Handley

While Hasslein Books prepares to enter production on our next upcoming books (Haven Riney's Messing With Telemarketers and Alan J. Porter's two-volume The James Bond Lexicon: The Unauthorized Guide to the World of 007 in Movies, Novels and Comics), I've been busily working on several other projects for Sequart Organization, following my contributions to last year's essay anthology New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, edited by my friend (and Hasslein writer-editor) Joseph F. Berenato.

For the Star Trek anthology, I contributed a pair of essays about the long-forgotten L.A. Times Syndicate Star Trek newspaper strips, as well as a wide range of proposed or partially completed Trek comics that never saw the light of day. While working on that anthology, I suggested to Joe that we should co-pitch some additional books, which we did, and to our amazement, Sequart's Julian Darius and Mike Phillips (who are smart enough to recognize great talent when they see it... and yet, they still hired us) said "yes" to all of them. Joe and I are now co-editing a whole slew of titles for Sequart, and it's been a blast to work with Mike and Julian to bring these labors of love to life.

Click on the various covers presented here to view larger versions. (That didn't need to be said, I know, but I assume nothing.)

The first of these collaborations, The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes, is one of two Apes-related books that Joe and I are spearheading. The Sacred Scrolls, released this month to great enthusiasm, examines the entire history of POTA comic books, from Gold Key to BOOM! and everything in between.

The book contains a foreword by popular Apes comic authors Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; an afterword by BOOM! Studios POTA editor Dafna Pleban; essays by Samuel Agro, Jim Beard, Joe Bongiorno, Joseph Dilworth, Dan Greenfield, Ed Gross, Zaki Hasan, John Roche, Lou Tambone, Dayton Ward, Joe Berenato, and yours truly; and a wonderful cover by Patricio Carbajal. This anthology features insightful, analytical essays about the franchise's four-color continuation, from popular comic historians, novelists, bloggers and subject-matter experts. If you're eager to learn more about Apes comics, then you need to get your stinkin' paws on this volume.

A sequel, Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos, is currently in the works and will discuss the Apes movies, TV shows, novels, stage show, parodies, music and more. This second volume will feature a foreword by novelist, screenwriter and Star Trek tribble creator David Gerrold; essays by Corinna Bechko, Stephen Bissette, Joseph Dilworth, Matthew J. Elliott, Alex Galer, Robert Greenberger, Ed Gross, Zaki Hasan, Jim Johnson, Neil Moxham, Dafna Pleban, Steven J. Roby, John Roche, Paul Simpson, and Dayton Ward (and, of course, me and Joe); and another beautiful cover by Pat Carbajal.

These two books have been a thrill to work on, as they've allowed me to revisit the upside-down world of Planet of the Apes. I'd previously written two Apes books, Timeline of the Planet of the Apes and Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes; contributed to the novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes for Archaia; helped Ed Gross update Planet of the Apes Revisited, the seminal POTA bible he co-wrote with Larry Landsman and Joe Russo; and penned several articles for British Apes fanzine Simian Scrolls. So the chance to collaborate with so many talented writers, many of whom were already friends of mine, in exploring one of my all-time favorite universes was one I could not possibly pass up.

Next up: Sir Berenato and I are weeks away from turning in the manuscript for the first of three anthologies devoted to Star Wars. A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe examines the entire Star Wars saga on the large and small screens, from theatrical films to TV movies, cartoons, video-based amusement-park rides, and more. This anthology features essays exploring why the films proved so immediately popular, where the movies and TV shows have succeeded and faltered, and why we all keep going back a long time ago to that galaxy far, far away.

With a foreword by former Star Wars Insider editor Scott Chernoff, the book includes essays by me, Joe B., Jean-François Boivin, Joe Bongiorno, Nathan Butler, Julian Darius, Ian Dawe, Keith DeCandido, Kevin Dilmore, Zaki Hasan, Rocko Jerome, Alex Newborn, David Pipgras, Matthew Sunrich, Lou Tambone, Dayton Ward, and Steven H. Wilson.

This book and its two sequels each sport a cover by Kevin Colden and Miss Lasko-gross that, to me, capture the very essence of what Star Wars fandom is all about: our love of the saga. It's not meant to be about paying tons of money or fighting over minutiae or looking down on other fans who prefer different aspects of the galaxy far, far away; all that matters is that you're having fun while you're there. What I especially like is that they pay reverential tribute to the world of cosplaying, showing how body type doesn't matter when you're expressing your devotion through costuming. And they're topped off with title logos (designed by Señor Berenato) designed to emulate those of the original trilogy, which makes them look even better.

The second volume, A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Exploring the Star Wars Comics, will examine the history of Star Wars comic books. More than a thousand comics have been produced from a variety of publishers, including Marvel, Blackthorne, the L.A. Times, Dark Horse, Scholastic, Tokyopop, and more. The comics have spanned the history of the franchise, from millennia before Anakin Skywalker's birth to beyond Luke Skywalker's death, and have focused on every aspect of the Star Wars universe: Jedi, Sith, clones, politics, droids, the underworld, romance, and even the much-maligned Ewoks.

We're thrilled to feature a foreword by fan-favorite comics writer John Ostrander, as well as essays by Mike Beidler, Jean-François Boivin, Joe Bongiorno, Nathan Butler, Christopher Cerasi, Ian Dawe, Win Scott Eckert, Matthew J. Elliott, Glenn Greenberg, Steven Greenwood, David A. McIntee, Martín A. Pérez, Tom Speelman, Matthew Sunrich, and me and Joe B. And it's all wrapped up in another charming cover by Kevin Colden and Miss Lasko-gross that continues what the couple started with their artwork for the first book.

The third volume, focused on Star Wars novels and other corners of the franchise, is titled A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe. More than 250 Star Wars novels have been published by Del Rey, Bantam, Ballantine, and other companies, aimed at both young and adult readers. Spanning the decades before, during, and after the films' events, the books have spawned new galactic governments, explored the nature of the Jedi and the Sith, and developed the mythos well beyond merely a series of films and television shows. The Expanded Universe (now called "Legends") has grown exponentially, comprising not only the novels and comics, but also video games, radio shows, role-playing games, and more.

Discussing these works in our final essay batch will be iconic Star Wars novelists Timothy Zahn (writing the foreword) and Ryder Windham, as well as Mike Beidler, Joe Bongiorno, Nathan Butler, Drew Campbell, Ian Dawe, Joseph Dilworth, Mario A. Escamilla, Sabrina Fried, Rocko Jerome, David A. McIntee, Alex Newborn, David Pipgras, Lou Tambone, Matt Wilkins, Ethan Wilson, Steven H. Wilson, and, as usual, me and Joe. Kevin Colden and Miss Lasko-gross once again turned in a great cover, thematically linked to the first two. When placed side by side, these three covers (like Pat's two Planet of the Apes covers) tell a fun story.

As a Star Wars fan going all the way back to my tenth birthday in 1978, and as someone who has done a chunk of work for various Lucasfilm licensees (he said immodestly), I jumped at the chance to edit these books as well. How could I not? It's Star Wars, and no matter how far I may roam, I always seem to come back home to that universe eventually. After that? Well, Joe and I will be working on additional Sequart volumes in other franchises, not yet announced or assigned. In the meantime, Hasslein's releases in 2016 will include James McFadden's Fighting for Freedom: The Unauthorized G.I. Joe Chronology, Jean-François Boivin's If It Bleeds: The Unauthorized Chronology of the Alien/Predator Universe, and more.

It's an exciting time for me, Joe B., and my Hasslein partner Paul Giachetti (whose own two-book set, Total Immersion: The Comprehensive Unauthorized Red Dwarf Encyclopedia, has been a big success for us) these days, and I try hard never to take that for granted.

The best aspect of collaborating with so many other writers, editors, and artists—not only at Hasslein Books, but also on these Sequart anthologies—is the opportunity to work with people I like and respect. Since I try hard to surround myself with only such types, I'm as pleased to be involved in these books as James Bond and Jim Kirk would be in a room full of Fembots… as Doctor Zaius would be at a history book-burning event… as Luke Skywalker would be at an incest-themed film festival… as… well, you get the picture.

But, wait... there's more! We've got other as-yet unannounced projects in the works for Hasslein, Sequart and other publishers as well, including yet another Planet of the Apes project for a major publisher that I'm particularly ecstatic about, as my co-editor Jim Beard and I will have the profound privilege of working with such amazing award-winning authors as… oh, wait. I can't say anything about that one yet.

Soon. Stay tuned.

Ed. note: Amidst the sea of overwhelmingly positive responses, I received a single less-than-satisfied comment about the third Star Wars cover (I will leave the letter sender nameless since he's a good friend of mine), which is that having the girl holding a droid from The Force Awakens is inappropriate in a book about the Expanded Universe. However, I absolutely disagree. She's clearly a fan of both versions of Star Wars, so she's embracing the new while her friends happily read the old. These books aren't anti-Disney; they look at everything fairly, including the end of the EU and the Disney changeover. The major focus is, of course, on the Expanded Universe since that encompasses decades' worth of material (hence the massive shelves from which they're pulling their books), but to ignore the new materials would do a disservice to those who enjoy them.

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At August 27, 2015 at 2:24 PM , Blogger John Small said...


At August 27, 2015 at 4:37 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Glad to be a part of some of these! Exciting!

At August 27, 2015 at 4:43 PM , Blogger Hasslein Books said...

Lou, your Shadows essay is a true highlight.

At August 27, 2015 at 5:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been a fun ride, working on the Trek, Apes, and Star Wars essays.

At August 27, 2015 at 5:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been a fun ride, working on the Trek, Apes, and Star Wars essays.


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