• James Hewlett

Star Wars Is Forever.


Preface for todays post:

I wrote this last year, I didn’t have anywhere I wanted to put it at the time but knew I would eventually. I’ve gone through and edited this evening and stand by everything I wrote then… oh, and then theres another bit at the end after the picture that is also from today!

I grew up with Star Wars. I can't tell you when I first saw one of the movies as, as far as I'm aware, they have always been a large part of my life.

I've written previously about my experience of collecting original Kenner figures and how that was something my late father and I bonded over so I won't get into that here but that is just one of the reasons Star Wars is such a huge part of my life.

In 2005 I'd saved enough money to be able to go to Celebration 3 in Indianapolis. The show took place not long after my 18th birthday and as my present, my mum bought the plane tickets for us both because she had decided to come to the event as well.

At this point I hadn't been to any large scale conventions but I'd followed the the coverage of Celebration and Celebration 2 and had also followed news coming out of SDCC for a couple of years.

We made our way to Indy via Chicago and checked in to our hotel in downtown Indianapolis. After that we took a walk down to the convention centre to pick up our badges, thinking this would remove any need for queuing overly long in the morning… ah, times of innocence.

Day one of the show we head to the event nice and early so we can get in as quick as possible. We then joined the line and five hours later made it in. I'm not sure how long in it was before we met the father and son team of Jeff and Jonathan, who were immediately in front of us but as soon as we did we started chatting and bonding over this one thing we all love. We people watched, we got to know each other and we talked theories of how the prequels might wrap up (this was still a time period that us die hard fans were gleaming anything good we could from those films and ignoring all the bad.)

The three days we had in Indy were great, we teamed up with Jeff and because my mum was most interested in taking to other fans and people watching she became our collective line proxy. We'd organise what panels we wanted to see and she would get in line for them switching out with us last minute so we could scour the show floor without spending too long in line. Kind of cheeky, but as she wasn’t taking a seat in the (most) panels it wasn’t really cheating.

Two years later and the next Celebration (4) was announced for Los Angeles. After C3 no one knew if there was going to be another, we were entering a second dark time where there were going to be no more movies. Comics, novels and video games are great but can't usually fill a singular property convention on the scale of Celebration.

So after the incredible experience we'd had at C3 we couldn't resist going to LA.

We knew what to expect a bit more when it came to lines and such so we were prepared. This worked out well in one respect but also made the whole event feel more clinical… less spontaneous, weird and wonderful. We knew what we wanted to do, where it was and when we needed to be there. It wasn't until we happened upon Jeff again that the event started feeling truly fun again.

We had just left a panel in the morning on the second day and were between rooms when my mum stopped dead and said "well there you are!" It was a totally Liea move and from that moment Jeff joined us for the rest of the show.

Jeff was at that particular show by himself as his son was graduating high school at the same time so I think he really appreciated some familiar company. As a guy who grew up in LA he loved being able to show us around some key places outside of the con that Saturday night. I'd visited LA when I was six with my family but we'd never driven down “Hollyweird” Blvd on a Saturday night before! It was a fun night and we wrapped up the event intersecting with Jeff throughout the Sunday but over all by the end of the event I think my mum was over it and I was ready for something other than just Star Wars.

That led to me going to SDCC in 2009 which was great fun and then after that I too was done with cons for years as I had climbed the mounts and come back down.

Cut to 2015, Star Wars fever is at its highest since 1999 and Celebration is in Disney's home town of Anaheim. I made no plans and had no intention of going but I watched all the live stream coverage from the event and by about midday Saturday I had decided I had to go back to the next event. It was fortuitous then that the 2016 event (as they had become annual affairs now) was going to be in London, just and hour and change away from where I live.

I was going, that was never a question. By this time I was engaged to Sara who embraces my Star Wars love and appreciates why it resonates so much with me. So then we were two.

When I told my mum that the show was in London this year she too was instantly game as was Paul, her husband who had previously been working when we went to the last shows. He’s a big fan and wanted to see what all the fuss was about too! They ended up buying Sara and I day tickets as birthday presents and we were set.

A few days before the event my mum forwarded me an email she had sent to Jeff seeing if he was coming to the show. Obviously he was, the guy has been to every one!

I had no idea they'd stayed in contact but was thrilled they had. They had even visited him in Arizona a few years back!

Sara and I had a great day looking around and seeng everything, we managed to get to the big panel of the day and be a part of the big reveal which was great but it wasn't until we met back up with my mum and Paul and heard that Jeff and his wife were staying just over the road from the con that the show really came together for me. We spent a good few hours catching up and reminiscing before any Star Wars talk even started and it was wonderful. We asked some other people in the hotel bar to take some picture of us as a group and when I explained that we met at Celebration 3 they were amazed, not because of how much of a long time ago in a country far far away that was but simply because that was when the events were still numbered!

For me, it's one of the core values of Star Wars. The universe doesn't just mean the characters, creatures and locations for me. It is something far more, it's these personal connections and friendships formed over decades and thousands of years.

Back to October 10th 2017! So the new trailer for The Last Jedi just dropped which is why I decided to post this one today. Also funny because in just a few days time Sara and I will be staying at that same hotel Jeff was at in London as we’re heading to RTX, Rooster Teeth’s convention, their first in Europe. I’m super excited, its going to be a lot of fun. I just hope that community is as nice and enduring as Star Wars community.

See you tomorrow everyone. May the force be…. I can’t, I can’t bring myself to be THAT Cheesy.

#starwars #fandom #conventions #friendship #family #travel

©2017 by James Hewlett.