The thing about being a teenage nerd is… you do a lot of awkward stuff. This is not so much because you’re a nerd, but because you’re a teenager and teenagers are generally awkward, unfinished human beings. In my case, I devoted a downright silly amount of time to Leslie Knope-esque scrapbooks and collages of things I loved. For history’s sake, of course. Action figures were never an obsession of mine, but if it was on paper? That made it into a dearly important record.
And I had clippings, folders, and binders for the Star Wars prequels, friends.
You wanna see them, don’t you?
A lot of my stuff is currently packed away, which is why I can’t find my folders stuffed full of Phantom Menace paraphernalia. But I found the binder for Episodes II & III, which will serve as a fine example of my obsessive tendencies.
The spines of these binders were decorated with the header images created and used by TheForce.Net when each film was coming out. During Episode III, the site had two modes—one for non-spoiler discussion and one for spoilers, hence the double spine action there.
The front and back cover of the Episode II binder. Star Wars Celebrations II and III were big deals for me, being the first two SFF conventions I ever went to. And as you can see, Celebration II was brought to us by Suncoast! Remember them?
…yeah, they died. A long time ago.
This folder is inside the binder. This folder was a BIG get for me—my mom hated spending more money on fancy school supplies, but every once in a while I got a few Star Wars folders and then repurposed them for my weird fandom shenanigans. Wanna see what’s inside?
The Time magazine is kinda self-explanatory, the middle section there is a schedule for Celebration II, and the one on the right? HISTORICAL. RECORDS. Y’ALL. (With my old name, too, gosh, that’s a weird thing.) In different color gel pens, no less. And what went inside those funny stapled packets?
You might be sorry you asked, honestly.
Just weirdo me explaining away the hype machine. Actor headshots and character labels (some of those characters never showed up in the final cut of the film, incidentally—that’s how close I was following this stuff), a bunch of the George Lucas Select photos that he slowly doled out to the public back when it was possible to keep things vaguely under wraps in good faith, and then sets of photos labeled for whatever was happening in them (hence an entire page of “Bad Situations”, which is going to be my sequel song to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”).
For the record, those folders for Episode I that can’t find right now? They were full of picture packets like this, too. Full of them. Here are some more…
Why did my dad not disown me for using all the color ink in the printer? I’m serious, how did I get away with this?
I did mean it when I said that I kept everything. Here is a note from one of my best friends when I passed her my meticulous record-keeping at some point during the school day. (I am terribly sorry to embarrass her like this, but it’s just too sweet for words. Plus, I’m not revealing the actual comments to the world, so hopefully I will be forgiven.)
How do you know how advanced Yoda’s new CGI body will be? It has a shadow, okay? A damned shadow. Cutting edge, I’ll tell you what.
Me, in my repurposed Obi-Wan Kenobi costume from Episode I (made of bits and pieces I sourced from the Goodwill because my costume budget was like… under 15 bucks). I could lie and say I’m not smiling because I had braces at the time, but the real reason was that I was in character and Jedi don’t grin unless they’re Kit Fisto.
That Jedi robe is made from a safety-pinned tablecloth, I kid you not.
The funnier part of this story is that when we arrived at the convention center, my friends and I ran smack into the prequels producer, Rick McCallum, and he said “My first female Jedi of the convention! Hi, I’m Rick.” (He can be forgiven for not knowing I was nonbinary because I also did not know that on account of having never heard that word before.) We shook hands as I gaped at him. This was in the time of crappy disposable cameras, so I didn’t get a picture of it, alas.
I did document everything else about the convention, though…
…and was extremely canny about the capitalism involved in said experience, for a teenager.
Ads, I saved ads, these aren’t even all of them! I mean it is really fun to look back and see all the weird crap they peddled to us, but am I okay?
I saved copies of comic strips that came out around the movie! That’s not too bad, right? Kinda cute?
I saved a map of the convention center, which is… that’s a memory?
I saved an MSN MAP POINT print out of our destination, you know what, I got nothing. Maybe I’m a hoarder? Someone would tell me, right?
I kind of love these, though: Back before internet notifications and e-tickets, you got letters confirming your registration at the convention, sent on paper. It was a little bit magical.
These are stickers—I think from the Star Wars fanclub? I got the Star Wars Insider for years, and I still have a patch that reads “Bantha Tracks”, the name of the old newsletter.
These are the front and back covers to the Episode III binder…
And this is the Celebration III program, in which Anakin and Obi-Wan mean business, and Padmé is just… she’s just so very concerned. And sleepy.
People often go to conventions for autographs and photo ops with stars, which has honestly never really been my thing. The circus around big celebrities, no matter how cool they are, always makes me deeply uncomfortable. I’d rather connect to a person as though they were a person, speak to them, ask a question. And I found a way to enjoy that as Star Wars conventions—I went to talk to all my favorite Rebels.
Sure, I got autographs from Kenny Baker (R2-D2), and Peter Mayhew (Chewie), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando) over the course of those conventions. I got an autograph from Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), who was shocked—he said a Jedi had never asked for his signature before. Everyone was lovely to a very nervous teen, but the people who took the most time were the Rebel pilots. Bill Hootkins (Porkins) was funny and disarming, and keen to give his time to excited strangers. Ian Liston (good shot, Janson!) actually read the Expanded Universe X-Wing series, and signed my picture with an inside joke from the books. Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar) was soft-spoken and so kind. And for a young fan who read to your average convention-goer as a teenage girl—and was thus labeled as an outlier even though there were plenty of teenage girls around—being encouraged in that space meant the world to me.
Also, Celebration III was when I went dressed as Mara Jade, and Timothy Zahn (who created the character and has written many incredible Star Wars books) looked up before signing my book, said “Hello, Mara” without a thought, and I nearly died.
(That’s the same Jedi robe tablecloth, just pinned differently, btw.)
There are even more pictures and more stuffs to unpack, but that’s the highlight reel. Did it make you feel less bad about your own teenage exploits? More bad? Either way, you have my deepest apologies. I just thought it might be hilarious to go through the loops and funhouse mirrors of my brain back when I had no idea that it was a strength instead of a pure oddity.
Originally published in December 2019.