Disney Reboots Star Wars Novels, Comic Books & More As Expanded Universe Ends To Make Way For A New Dawn

News, Top Story

This news was bound to happen. With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise, one of the first acts was to announce a new movie trilogy starting with Star Wars VII, as well as standalone films, plus a new animated TV series called Star Wars Rebels. Disney also purchase Marvel Comics years ago and it will now publish comics when the Dark Horse Comics license agreement ends.

Del Rey will continue to publish Star Wars tie-in novels for Star Wars, but its starting at ground zero as Disney has decided to remove the Expanded Universe of novel, comics, video game and even, it would appear, the 1980’s Star Wars cartoons Ewoks and Droids from official “continuity”. All that will be considered “Canon”, or in-continuity, from the past will be the first six Star Wars films and the recent animated cartoon series Clone Wars; we assume the Clone Wars film that begat the TV series is also “in”.

I had been avid reader of Star Wars’ Expanded Universe and, although unrelated, Star Trek’s literary work too.

Star Trek was at a similar crossroads several years ago when the Star Trek franchise was rebooted onscreen with the wildly successful 2009 film. However, since a big part of their reboot involved time travel and the creation of an alternate timeline that the film series populates, it allowed Simon & Schuster to continue to publish stories set in the “prime” Star Trek timeline with novels covering The Original Series (TOS), The Next Generation (TNG), Deep Space Nine (DS9), Voyager (VOY) and Enterprise (ENT). And, these stories would all count to an extent. However, “Canon” in common geek parlance was always reserved for what happened on screen whether in film or TV. That has become a bit easier with the film reboot set in the past of Star Trek. So, there are no barriers to telling stories in TNG era Star Trek novels or comics. The same can be said for actor William Shatner’s Captain Kirk first five year mission story despite actor Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk film adventures in his new Trek timeline.

However, Star Wars has thrown the baby out the bath water literary-wise. While I disagree with jettisoning 35 years of the Expanded Universe of Star Wars lit, including novels and comic books, I do like the idea of a more coordinated approach to Star Wars novels, comic books, video games, etc. that complement the true Canon adventures in film and TV. Branding the literature and ancillary Star Wars material like the video games as Canon too flies in the face of the generally accepted geek understanding of the concept of Canon despite the positives that come from more coordination of the storyline content amongst all Star Wars properties.

However, it is not all bleak for fans of the Expanded Universe novels. Some will still be print and be easily demarcated from the new in-continuity Star Wars prose with a new “Legends” banner at the top of all classic EU novels in print. I assume the same approach will be the case for Star Wars comics trade paperbacks or hardcovers that will remain in print.

Below are the two news releases from Disney. The first is the announcement of four new Star Wars prose novels set in the new continuity to hits stands in 2014 and 2015. The second is the announcement of the rebooting of the Expanded Universe. We open with a video released by the Disney folks behind Star Wars looking back at the EU in tribute and looking forward to the new futures of Star Wars lit.

Saying Goodbye To The Star Wars Expanded Universe



Press Release:

Disney Publishing Worldwide and Random House Announce Relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction Line


Following today’s announcement of Lucasfilm’s new unified storytelling approach, Disney Publishing Worldwide is proud to announce their first step into that larger world, beginning with Del Rey Books. The publishing program will feature new adult fiction novels set in the beloved galaxy far, far away, and will be closely connected to the cinematic entertainment currently in development at Lucasfilm.

Star Wars novels consistently rank on the New York Times Bestseller lists — from the very first tie-in novel, an adaptation of Star Wars: A New Hope released by Del Rey in 1976, to the recently published Star Wars: Kenobi — and dozens of titles in between. With over 75 million copies sold worldwide, these books have captured the imaginations and creativity of authors who have enriched the Star Wars experience for fans around the globe.

Going forward, Lucasfilm has begun mapping out the narrative future of Star Wars storytelling that will appear on film and television and in other media so that all projects will benefit from real-time collaboration and alignment. The future Star Wars novels from Disney Publishing Worldwide and Del Rey Books will now be part of the official Star Wars canon as reflected on upcoming TV and movie screens.

“With the establishment of the Lucasfilm Story Group and our even greater focus on unified storytelling, we expect our entire publishing program to be stronger and more meaningful than ever before,” said Jeanne Mosure, senior vice president and group publisher, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “We’re extremely excited to kick off this new strategy with Del Rey Books.”

The first novel to benefit from this deeper collaboration is Star Wars: A New Dawn, by bestselling author John Jackson Miller. Set prior to the events of the forthcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, this novel tells the story of how two of the lead characters of the series, Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla, came to cross paths. To tell this important backstory, Miller benefited from contact with series executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg and Greg Weisman, who together ensured this tale will be part of the Star Wars canon of storytelling going forward. It is scheduled for hardcover and eBook release on September 2, 2014.

“We’re extremely proud of the hundreds of amazing Star Wars books we’ve published at Del Rey,” said Scott Shannon, SVP, publisher, Del Rey and Digital Content, “And now we’re excited to finally be able to call our upcoming novels true canon — a single, cohesive Star Wars storyline — all while keeping the amazing backlist of Star Wars Legends content in print.”

Following Star Wars: A New Dawn, the all-new Star Wars fiction line will continue with the following 2014/2015 titles:

James Luceno

(UPDATE: The novel delves into the life of the Grand Moff.)

Kevin Hearne
January 2015

(UPDATE: The novel is Luke Skywalker’s first hand account of what happened between Star Wars A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back.)

Paul Kemp
March 2015

(UPDATE: The novel tells of the tale of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader stranded together on a inhospitable planet.)

In years past, the storylines that would appear in print and on screen were developed separately, resulting in an “Expanded Universe” that differed in ways large and small from the filmmaker’s “canon.” These rich stories provide a treasure trove of characters to fall in love with — and deep worlds to explore and will live on in both physical and digital editions, newly-branded as Star Wars Legends.

For more information and for looks at the covers of all four new titles announced above, please visit the Del Rey Star Wars Books Facebook page at Facebook.com/StarWarsBooks.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Press Release:

The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page

For over 35 years, the Expanded Universe has enriched the Star Wars experience for fans seeking to continue the adventure beyond what is seen on the screen. When he created Star Wars, George Lucas built a universe that sparked the imagination, and inspired others to create. He opened up that universe to be a creative space for other people to tell their own tales. This became the Expanded Universe, or EU, of comics, novels, videogames, and more.

While Lucasfilm always strived to keep the stories created for the EU consistent with our film and television content as well as internally consistent, Lucas always made it clear that he was not beholden to the EU. He set the films he created as the canon. This includes the six Star Wars episodes, and the many hours of content he developed and produced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. These stories are the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align.

(Editor’s Note: The “I, Jedi” novel on the left was not part of the official news release, but it is John Babos’ favorite Star Wars novel. It is still in print and highly recommended reading.)

Now, with an exciting future filled with new cinematic installments of Star Wars, all aspects of Star Wars storytelling moving forward will be connected. Under Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s direction, the company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development.

“We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” said Kennedy. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”

In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe. For example, elements of the EU are included in Star Wars Rebels. The Inquisitor, the Imperial Security Bureau, and Sienar Fleet Systems are story elements in the new animated series, and all these ideas find their origins in roleplaying game material published in the 1980s.

Demand for past tales of the Expanded Universe will keep them in print, presented under the new Legends banner.

On the screen, the first new canon to appear will be Star Wars Rebels. In print, the first new books to come from this creative collaboration include novels from Del Rey Books. First to be announced, John Jackson Miller is writing a novel that precedes the events of Star Wars Rebels and offers insight into a key character’s backstory, with input directly from executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman.

And this is just the beginning of a creatively aligned program of Star Wars storytelling created by the collaboration of incredibly talented people united by their love of that galaxy far, far away….

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome.

John is a long-time pop culture fan, comics historian, and blogger. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief at Comics Nexus. Prior to being EIC he has produced several column series including DEMYTHIFY, NEAR MINT MEMORIES and the ONE FAN'S TRIALS at the Nexus plus a stint at Bleeding Cool producing the COMICS REALISM column. As BabosScribe, John is active on his twitter account, his facebook page, his instagram feed and welcomes any and all feedback. Bring it on!