Amid the excitement and mystery building up to December’s release of The Force Awakens and the attending Shattered Empire comics and novels set for release this fall, Lucasfilm is working with writer and artist Hong Jac-ga to bring more nuance and background to the stories that nearly everyone now knows as the original trilogy, in the Korean-language Web comic Star Wars: Story Before The Force Awakens, as its English translation reveals.
The weekly tale, dubbed a webtoon in South Korea, debuted April 10, 2015 and has since captured the imagination of Star Wars fans whether they can read Korean or not.
In an interview with Coffee With Kenobi, a Lucasfilm representative confirmed that the story being told is part of canon and will explore Episodes IV, V and VI through its 10-month run that concludes January 2016.
“Yes, the Lucasfilm publishing team and Story Group were involved in the development and worked closely with” Hong Jac-ga, Lucasfilm said.
Just don’t look for it in English. There are no plans to translate it from the Korean. Even so, just scrolling through the pages imparts enough of a narrative to help overcome any language barrier.
The project first took hold in May 2013 and was slowly developed and nurtured for nearly two years, as Lucasfilm looked for new and different ways to introduce the Star Wars saga to new audiences in Korea.
“Webtoons (are) a great platform for storytelling. They’re extremely popular in that part of the world, so it just made sense,” Lucasfilm said in response to questions sent via email about the project.
“Webtoons in general have been provided by major portals for over a decade. Teenagers to older fans engage in the content a great deal, especially given the high penetration of smartphones,” the company added. “There are over 100 Webtoon-based movies, TV series, games, and plays being produced in Korea.”
For Star Wars fans, for whom no development is too minor, interest in the stories has mushroomed and become intense, particularly since the tales — published weekly by the web and mobile portal service Daum — have done a deep dive into Luke Skywalker’s life on Tatooine, his relationship with Lars and Beru, while tracking the events of A New Hope and adding in details not seen before in the films or the established canon.
The most recent installment sees Han, Luke and Leia on Yavin IV, the Death Star on its way with Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin scheming, and concludes with the final page showing X-Wings and Y-Wings launching to assault the space station. The next episode is due Friday.
Matt Moore has been perpetrating journalism since 1985, reveling in Star Wars since 1977 and reading comics since 1974.
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