Ever since Disney announced plans to continue the Star Wars film franchise, the pop-culture landscape has been flooded with products across mediums and more licensed merchandise than seems necessary. Hopefully not lost in the tsunami is Mark Clark’s Star Wars FAQ, an entertaining and informative reference guide about the Original Trilogy published by Applause Books.
Before rushing headlong into that galaxy far, far away, Clark grounds the book in Earth history, offering chapters on the movie business, creator George Lucas, and Lucas’ influences in creating Star Wars, such as Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comics. Clark gains the readers’ trust by revealing an awareness of what came before John Williams’ classic fanfare and the iconic crawl of yellow letters first graced theaters.
Clark then dives into the first film, from the outline for Journal of the Whills and the creation of Industrial Light and Magic to the impact Star Wars had at the box office, including the imitators it spawned, such as Italy’s Starcrash and Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond the Stars. The rest is history, as Star Wars great success led to many ancillary products, which are explored, from the next two episodes to the toys and games. The book covers a great range, showcasing the silly (Mad magazine and other parodies) to the serious (chapters devoted to the trilogy’s science and ethics).
In the book’s Introduction, Clark writes of the profound effect that Star Wars has had on his life, but that doesn’t keep him from an honest assessment of the franchise. He covers many disturbances in the Force, from continuity errors and plot holes to the Special Edition versions of the trilogy and even a chapter about the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.
Previously praised by Greg Barbrick for his Star Trek 2.0 FAQ, Mark Clark succeeds in his mission “to cover all aspects of the Star Wars phenomenon.” For the casual fan like myself, who was 10 years old in 1977, Star Wars FAQ is a very entertaining and informative reference guide. It brought back many memories and offered new-to-me trivia. Hardcore fanatics may not learn anything, but they should enjoy the material and the manner Clark has presented it.