We are approaching an important moment in Star Wars history. What we do will influence Star Wars fandom for the next generation. How will we respond?
I currently spend most of my time in three spheres outside of my family. Church, comic books, and Star Wars. All of them share a common trait, the feeling of family.
I’m a pastor at a large church and my job is to make sure people who come through the doors with no connection to the people of the church are able to connect to others through groups and relationships. Seems like an odd job for an organization, right? Many people have discovered, however, that churches can be rather unwelcoming to new people. They usually don’t mean to be unwelcoming and would be hurt to think that others thought they were unwelcoming, but it is the reality of how things are. Our church wants people to connect and to become a part of the family, so that is my job. I try to help people build extended family within our community.
If you have spent any time at a local comic book store, you know the family nature of these hallowed halls. The people who congregate and spend time at the store are a tight knit group, and there is definitely a strong sense of community or even family. Something interesting has happened in these stores over the past few years. Disney bought Marvel and Marvel has produced blockbuster comic book movies one after another. People who were not interested in comics suddenly wanted more of these heroes they were loving on the big screen, so they sought out their local comic book stores. (They HAD to seek them out because no one has EVER found a comic store by accident.) This swell of comic fans began to threaten the sanctuary of those who had found a home in the comic store. Comic fans started resenting “fake fans” and walking into a comic shop could get uncomfortable for the uninitiated. I experienced this recently when I moved.
I was no stranger to comic shops but having moved to another city I had to find a new local store. My first few times, I was definitely the outsider. They didn’t know me and I could tell they weren’t terribly excited to get to know me. They wanted to know if I was a REAL fan or if I was just looking for the latest Guardians of the Galaxy comic. (Luckily that isn’t one of my titles!)
Guess what, my fellow Star Wars fanatics? Disney bought Lucasfilm! A story group is on the job and we are about to enter an era that will be a great jumping on point for NEW FANS. The book world is starting from scratch so there isn’t a library of Star Wars books to catch up on, you start with A New Dawn. The comic books begin fresh in January and there aren’t 20 years of Dark Horse comics to sift through in order to know what has happened. Star Wars Rebels begins a new chapter of legend where, for the most part, we are all starting from the same place. Best of all, Episode VII! Whether we like it or not, we are about to host an onslaught of new people wanting to know more about this universe we love so much.
How will we respond? Are we going to celebrate NEW FANS or will we try to weed out the FAKE FANS?
The economics of it tells us that if we want more and more great Star Wars stories we should probably embrace the inquisitive and help them find their place in our great universe. If they spend money, more stories are written. Everyone wins!
Economics aside, the kind and generous thing to do is to be welcoming to people who want to know more about this galaxy far, far away. Star Wars has always been about finding an ever expanding family regardless of where someone comes from. Orphans, princesses, and scruffy looking nerf herders alike have always found a place in the Star Wars family. After all, at one point, all of us were NEW FANS falling in love with these characters and the wonderful universe they inhabit. I don’t know about you but I want to share the joy Star Wars has given me with as many people as possible.
Let’s be remembered as the generation who continued to encourage Star Wars fans to flourish for generations to come. Welcome to the family!