On the Subject of Moms

This isn’t exactly the kind of blog articles I write, but today I felt compelled to write this. Soooooo, here we go.

As a young child, you constantly rely on your mom. You trust her with all of your heart, and you count on her to fulfill all of your needs. You trust her completely because you’ve been with her all of your life, and she’s technically one of the first people, besides your dad, that you know. I think the dad is considered a fun “playmate” to the child while the mother is the caretaker. I have no proof of that, it’s just my own speculation. The dad is at work most of the day while the mother stays home and takes care of the child, so that’s just the concept I drew upon.

Anyway, once the child grows into a teenager, an odd feeling of stubbornness and selfishness seems to grow along with him and he and the mom tend to have moments of trouble between each other. It’s perplexing that a teen would take his anger out on his mom. What was once a very stable, peaceful relationship becomes kind of heated and unstable, and the most intriguing thing is is that the mom normally isn’t the one who did anything wrong. The teen takes his anger out on her because she loves him unconditionally and seems to have bigger heaps of mercy for him than the dad, because a teen won’t talk to his dad the way that he talks to his mom. I know from personal experience that if I talked to my dad the way I talked to my mom out of anger, well, that would mean I’m screwed.

Let me tell you a little bit about my own mom. My own mom was there for me through all of my school years, and though I finished high school, there’s so much that I have to thank my mom for because she bent over backwards to make sure that I succeeded. The saddest thing is that I don’t feel like I recognized how vastly important mom’s role was in me finishing high school. When I wanted someone to talk to, she was always there willing to listen and still is. She would drive me to youth group every week and made sure that I got there in time, she made sure I had everything I needed to complete school and everything I needed to simply live well. I remember when there were times I would give my mom a hard time or act ungrateful and she would tell me I have it “pretty well” where I’m at. I feel that the phrase “pretty well” is an understatement. My parents have worked hard to make sure that I live in the best household possible. Honestly, it’s like when Jesus died on the cross for everybody, I can’t find the right words or comprehend just how much I really owe Jesus and my parents for everything they’ve done. God uses parents to raise the next generation, so it’s the parents’ responsibility to raise their children in the best way possible, and I know that my own parents have worked so hard to do just that. It’s truly one of the greatest examples of love that the world can display.

If you the reader are still living with your parents and you’re having a difficult time getting along with them, think about everything they had, have, and will do for you. It’s incredible mercy and love that pushes your parents to do everything they can for you, so with that in mind, all they want is for you to respect them and be grateful for them in return. They want to know that they didn’t fail as parents. Even if your parents are doing everything they can, and if they haven’t been treating you right, continue to treat them with respect. The Bible doesn’t say “honor your father and mother if they’re treating you right”, it very simply says “honor your father and mother”.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1 Episode 12 ‘Seeds’ Review


Hello all! I decided after a long while of not writing reviews for TV shows (I reviewed all the episodes of the third season of Star Wars The Clone Wars) it would be cool to come back and do it again, this time with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This week, I saw Episode 12 “Seeds”, which was about our fellow team of agents investigating strange happenings at a SHIELD academy. It was really interesting to see an academy where new recruits for SHIELD are being trained. In this episode, we are introduced to Donnie Gill, who will inevitably become Blizzard later on. This was an interesting move considering that this show hasn’t been very heavy on real Marvel characters from the comic books or other media. We see a foreshadowing of Graviton way back in Episode 3, but other than that, that’s pretty much been it. Graviton and Blizzard are probably not Marvel villains that the fans would go crazy for, but it’s nice to see the show care to pay attention to that stuff anyway since those characters still have connections with the Marvel universe.
At this point in this show, I’ve come to accept the characters given to us and not complain that we haven’t even had a CAMEO of an Avenger. This show is about a team of agents within S.H.I.E.L.D, not the Avengers, and I’ve come to accept that. We get to see the Avengers in a much cooler way anyway: awesome MOVIES. Fitz and Simmons are a real delight to watch, particularly in this episode, and Coulson is always a great presence onscreen. The pacing of this episode was great, and the storyline was entertaining, but any Marvel comic book fans among the audience would know right away that the person behind the strange ice incidents in the academy is Donnie Gill, since he is, after all, Blizzard.
It was really cool to learn more about Skye’s backstory, and it makes us really wonder what kind of mysterious powers she has, or what exactly she is. I’m looking forward to learning more about her, which is surprising considering the fact that she’s my least favorite character on this show, LITERALLY THE WORST. I’m also excited to see more of Ian Quinn’s involvement with the Clairvoyant and Centipede, which is very obviously at this point a lurking shadow within this show. It’s a recurring foe that we actually know very little about right now. So far we’ve got the Clairvoyant, Blizzard, Graviton, Ian, and possibly a brainwashed Mike Peterson. Do I see a supervillain team on the rise?
In conclusion, this was a really fun episode. I can’t wait for Stan Lee to step in next time. That should be really interesting. If the show continues to produce more episodes like this, we may get to see a redemption for this series. Here’s to a bright future!

**** (4 being the highest rating)

RWBY Volume One Review

rwby volume 1

Hi everybody! I was going to do this review in the form of a video, but I’m much better at doing reviews in written form. One of the best gifts I got for Christmas was RWBY Volume 1, an American anime about four girls and their time at Beacon Academy, which is a school that trains people to become hunters and huntresses to fight the creatures of Grimm that plagues the world of Remnant. The main character is Ruby, who resembles Red Riding Hood. In fact, most of the characters in this series is based off of a fairy tale character or Disney character in one form or another. This allows the series to feel very creative, and somewhat original. The resemblances of the characters does not take away from the story in the least. The characters are still quite original, and have their own character arcs that allows them to develop over time.

The animation for this show used is a program called Poser Pro, and though it’s certainly not top-notch, it’s still very nice to look at. The show is created by the famous online company Rooster Teeth, and is obviously created on an extremely small budget. This is evident by the many small mistakes in the animation you will see throughout the volume, but the mistakes are small enough that for the most part, they are forgivable and sometimes not even noticeable. One interesting thing I noticed was that on the DVD, some of those problems are fixed, but others are not, and surprisingly enough, there are actually new mistakes noticed. Despite all this, the animation is still beautiful to look at, and a real feast for the eyes. To me, the real beauty of the show is its characters.

Just about all of the characters have SOMETHING you can like, even if those characters aren’t your favorites. Ruby is one favorite of mine (SHOULD be, since she’s the main character). She’s an innocent, nice girl, but also extremely shy and has a hard time making friends. A lot of the characters are given a really nice introduction, and some of them learn quite a bit. This isn’t a mindless action series. It has something that’s pretty lacking in real TV shows these days: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, or at least PROPER development.

There IS action in this series, and boy is it great! Monty Oum, the director and lead animator of this series, probably makes the best choreographed fight scenes I’ve ever seen. Movies like The Avengers and Red have made me yawn because they’re trying too hard, but for Monty, creating good fight scenes is just something he’s naturally great at. Though there are not really a TON of fight scenes in this volume, it’s very much worth the wait when the next one comes up.

All of this being said, one thing I feel needs to happen in Volume 2 is more world-building. What they’ve done so far is great, but the problem is that they haven’t done enough just yet. I’m sure we’re going to learn more stuff down the line, but it would’ve been nice to learn a little extra considering that this is their first volume, and they’ve released it on DVD. The first volume needs to be responsible for more build-up, but with the exception of a few plot threads mainly concerning some of the characters, sadly we learn pretty little about the world of Remnant itself, and are only left with questions that should’ve been answered early on.

The bonus features on this DVD make it worth the purchase, and I think it’s a lot of fun to get to watch this volume in the form of a movie. I wouldn’t recommend this DVD for kids though, because despite RWBY being a pretty tame show, the two audio commentaries and the fan art bonus feature contains some strong language. If your kids watch this show, they’re better off just watching it online. Overall, my rating for this DVD is a 9/10.

My Interview With Nathan P. Butler

I recently had the honor of interviewing Nathan P. Butler, the creator of the Star Wars Timeline Gold (explained in the interview by Nathan), author of the novel Greater Good, the novella Echoes and a couple other novellas and short stories. He is also a host on the podcast Star Wars Beyond the Films with Mark Hurliman. I got to interview Nathan on his writing history and his thoughts and opinions on Star Wars’ past and future and his involvement in that galaxy far, far away. Enjoy!

How did you decide that writing was your passion, and how did you come to the point where you’re writing books today?

I feel as though I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, even in my “regular” profession, since that plays a large role in teaching history and related subjects. When I would write, though, I often either never finished or never considered it as something I could do professionally.

In 2004, though, I was approached by Jeremy Barlow, who was then the Associate Editor at Dark Horse Comics for the Star Wars line. He had been given the chance to extend the life of the anthology-style Star Wars Tales, and because it was a place for short stories and unusual creative teams, he was able to do what often is impossible in Star Wars – invite someone to write who wasn’t previously published. Based on my Star Wars Timeline Gold chronology knowledge, passion he said could be seen in my podcast at the time (ChronoRadio, 2002 – 2007), and my storytelling ability, he offered me the chance to write a fourteen-page story in Star Wars Tales #21.

That gave me the confidence that people might actually give something I wrote a try, so I then moved into self-publishing two books, the novella Echoes and my time travel novel, Greater Good.

It was those two self-published works and my Tales work that got the attention of Grail Quest Books’ Josh Radke, who then offered me the chance to write two official WARS: The Battle of Phobos novellas in the universe first fleshed-out by Michael Stackpole and others. That then opened the door to revising and updating Greater Good for professional publication through GQB.

So, I suppose the “short” answer (and how I hate that acronym) is “I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”

What is your favorite piece of writing (besides the Star Wars Timeline Gold) that you’ve created so far and why?

Definitely Greater Good. The story is a time travel tale involving a totalitarian state, telepaths and telekinetics, modern and future settings, and a lot of historical themes and moral dilemmas. That’s the one I’d most like to see be read by more people in hopes that perhaps it could develop more from there. I penned it as a standlone story, though, so a sequel is very unlikely.

greater good

What advice can you give to people who want to write science fiction and fantasy (like me) being that you write those things yourself?

Well, if we are talking about simply wanting to write at all, then the best advice I can give is not to give up on a story you are passionate about. If that means taking a long break (in my case, it was sometimes months between chapters of Greater Good being written), then do it. If that means writing chapters out of order to hit major scenes before fleshing out the connective tissue between them, do it. The biggest challenge I tend to see with new writers is a lack of follow-through.

As far as getting your stories out there, these days you can use something like Lulu.com or Amazon Createspace to self-publish your works and make them available in both print and ebook formats. The bad news there is that a lot of people are doing that, so it is tough to get noticed. In that case, social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, are your best bets to get that self-published work recognized by potential readers.

When it comes to hooking up with a publisher to write professionally, my case was a matter of circumstances falling into place. I can definitely say, though, that it is easier to find smaller publishers looking for talented writers than the big publishers, if only because your competition to get your foot in the door could be significantly lighter.

In one episode of SW Beyond the Films you and Mark Hurliman did an analysis on the female role in the Star Wars EU. You had very interesting opinions on that, and seeing that when it comes to female protagonists, you want to see strong ones that have the ability or eventually gets the ability to protect themselves. There’s been conflicting talk of the female role in 2013’s big video game hit The Last Of Us, what is YOUR opinion on the female role in The Last Of Us seeing where Ellie’s journey leads her?

I enjoyed the game, though its intensity didn’t hit me quite as much as it might have, given that I had just recently finished the largely unappreciated but highly enjoyable ZombiU. What made the game was the characterizations, and, yes, Ellie was one of the strongest female characters in games lately. Then again, they did not have a chance to foul her up by making her over-sexualized or the typical “damsel in distress” because they introduced her in a role that was not really a “woman” but a “girl,” relating to Joel like his late daughter might, rather than as an adult, despite her profanity-laden vocabulary. I would like to think that her being a strong, solid character is a step forward in how video games portray women, but her age just gives me pause. We could be looking at an industry patting itself on the back for what turns out to be a “false positive” – a step forward that turns out to instead be meaningless.

What was your first experience with Star Wars? What’s your favorite Star Wars movie and why?

I honestly don’t remember my very first Star Wars experience, but one of my earliest memories was of seeing Return of the Jedi in theaters in 1983 with my mother, who took me to see it multiple times.

A movie pecking order is always going to be nitpicked, but I personally find Revenge of the Sith to be my favorite of the films. I find the tragedy in the film rather interesting, and I feel as though it has a lot of depth. Of course, the problem is that the “depth” isn’t always in the movie, per se. I definitely gained a lot by reading Matthew Stover’s novelization of the film prior to seeing it. That “Stover Effect,” as I call it, let me see the film and infuse scenes with more depth than was probably shown on-screen at any given moment. A close second would be Return of the Jedi. (Yes, that makes The Empire Strikes Back my third favorite, near the middle. Such blasphemy.)

How and when did you fall in love with the Expanded Universe? What made you decide to make it a hobby to keep track of the Star Wars timeline and do podcasts discussing the EU, and what is your relationship with it like now that Disney is involved with Star Wars?

I started reading Star Wars comics when I was little, mostly the Marvel Comics of the era just after Return of the Jedi. For the modern Expanded Universe, though, I actually missed the boat on that by about a year. My first exposure to the modern EU was through Dark Force Rising, which I saw at a bookstore in 1992. That prompted me to also pick up Heir to the Empire and Star Wars comics that were popping up in specialty stores, beginning with some second printing copies of Dark Empire’s earliest issues.

My Star Wars Timeline Gold (or Star Wars Timeline Project back then) emerged out of necessity. I needed a means of keeping track of the various stories that were part of the Official Continuity at the time, so I created a list for myself that I then shared with a few friends. Over time, the demand grew, as did the document, which is now the most comprehensive Star Wars chronology available anywhere. I didn’t set out to make a name for myself in fandom, just to keep track of things for myself.

My podcasting “career” actually began before that term and the idea of releasing podcasts for automatic downloads (actual “podcasting”), back in 2002. I had toyed with audio files with thoughts on particular topics earlier than that, putting up a few to go with the timeline document. After becoming a fan of (and guest on) Digital Llama Radio (a Star Wars fan film podcast), I decided to try my hand at a show. The result was ChronoRadio, which was well received enough that I began some new podcasts. It was a rather busy time in that regard. Now, I guess you could say I’m in my golden years of podcasting, as I’ve ended all of the podcasts that I hosted and mixed, so that now I’m a host on Star Wars Beyond the Films and among the team of Republic Forces Radio Network, and I’ll soon be a host for an effort that merges those two teams into Rebels Roundtable. The trick to that activity, though, is that I generally no longer mix podcasts. My partners in those cases do the mixing, so I am able to focus on content and still churn out weekly episodes without the time-sink of my teaching profession making it impossible.

The Disney buyout of Lucasfilm is something that makes for interesting discussion and food for thought, but I find myself somewhat wary of what is coming next. Will the Expanded Universe change dramatically? Will there be a new timeline developed altogether? All of that factors into the hobby for me, especially since the Star Wars Timeline Gold chronicles the saga in its current continuity, which might be supplanted by something entirely different within the next couple of years.

One of the latest changes since Disney stepped in was that Disney’s Lucasfilm and Marvel Entertainment have now “joined forces” to create new Star Wars comics together which we’ll see in motion by 2015. What’s your opinion on this, and what do you want to see from these new comics? Do you think it was time for Dark Horse, the company that normally produced Star Wars comics, to step down anyway?

With Marvel, I think this is a mixed bag. On the one hand, they have managed to provide interesting twists on old ideas with lines like the Ultimate comics. In that sense, I have hope for something great with Star Wars at Marvel. Having read all of Marvel’s older Star Wars works (1977 – 1988), I can’t say that I was too impressed compared to Dark Horse’s materials, but I would imagine that is more a matter of when Marvel first had the license, rather than anything from a creative potential standpoint. It was a vastly different era for Star Wars and comic publishing in general.
My worry is that when the new films begin to hit theaters and Marvel launches their Star Wars line, they won’t make it a clean break with older, pre-2015 continuity. If they try to just let the films and new comics slam their way into the continuity, dumping books and comics left and right to accommodate for events in newer stories, that would create a rather large mess (The Clone Wars trampling the original Clone Wars tales, anyone?). I’m hopeful for a clean break with some fresh new ideas.

As for whether it was time for Dark Horse to lose the license, it was probably time, or close to it. Dark Horse set a rather high standard a few years ago with comics like Knights of the Old Republic and Legacy, but things feel as though that greatness has passed. It feels like Dark Horse has been on a downward slope recently, and that impression is only compounded by errors now creeping into the comics again (especially chronological references when they try to use the credits page to pin down the year the story takes place) and new series that don’t stack up to their predecessors (Legacy, Vol. 2 as compared to Legacy, Vol. 1, for example).

More recently, though, it is Brian Wood’s Star Wars, Vol. 2 that makes me feel that it is probably time for a change. That series consistently tosses thermal detonators into continuity of previous decades of storytelling, seemingly on a whim. Between Wood’s series smashing through the Classic Trilogy era and The Clone Wars blasting away the previous version of the Clone Wars that saw print starting in 2002, it feels as though continuity is mattering less and less in Star Wars. I am grateful to Dark Horse for giving me my first professional writing gig and for their decades of Star Wars entertainment, but with the likelihood of either an entirely new continuity or at last a major shakeup in continuity when the new films arrive, now is as good a time as any for a fresh start. That seems more likely to happen if the license shifts away from Dark Horse, if only so that the saga is being approached with new eyes.

With Dark Horse stepping down from Star Wars, what can you say was your favorite and your absolute least favorite Star Wars comic book series from them and why?

My favorites, hands down, are Legacy (the original series by Ostrander and Duursema) and Tales of the Jedi (Veitch and Anderson). There are some others that are pretty close, though, like Knights of the Old Republic and Dawn of the Jedi. I enjoy seeing new eras explored with familiar concepts in different context and practice.

As for the worst . . Comic-wise, it would have to be Tales form Mos Eisley (not to be confused with Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, the prose anthology). Bad art, bad storytelling, pointless tales, and a slapped-together feel make that one something I’d like to forget existed.

I have to admit, even though Disney has done things such as (presumably) bring an end to The Clone Wars animated TV series, shut down LucasArts, and change the management behind Star Wars comics, they’ve actually been promising us things that fans have wanted for a while now such as a TV series that takes place during the Dark Times (between Episodes III and IV), a new Star Wars Battlefront game, and of course new movies that will give the newer generation a chance to see Star Wars in theaters. Many fans have decided to judge these things in a negative light without even waiting to see what happens. What’s YOUR opinion on this, being a major Star Wars/EU fan yourself?

I think it comes down to intellectual honesty. Anyone who is playing it straight should be able to recognize that the saga is changing. Episode VII will shatter post-ROTJ continuity like The Clone Wars did to its era. There’s nothing stopping this, it would seem. Thus, we basically have to just look at the reality of the situation, decide whether we want to remain fans or active in the fan community, and go from there. Some people will give up on Star Wars Expanded Universe publications if they see old beloved tales being dumped from the saga. The question is whether they will be able to “get over it” and enjoy the new tales. Every major shift in Star Wars has tended to bring out a lot of naysaying, and I’ve certainly added my voice into that mix from time to time, but when something is inevitable, fighting against it or allowing yourself to get unduly stressed out about something that is beyond our control and supposed to be just a hobby just seems to be a waste of time and energy. Like I tend to say, if fandom is causing you the kind of stress you’d get from a life crisis, then you are most definitely “doing it wrong.”

There’s lots of talk that the EU will probably officially die out by 2015 because of the new comics, the new Rebels TV series, and of course Episode VII. What is one thing that you can say was the best thing about the EU to you?

It gave me a fandom occupation! What am I supposed to do now???

Honestly, I think the best thing it did was give us a fleshed out universe that was able to both survive and thrive in the gaps between films and between trilogies. Few franchises could claim such a long period of growth, mostly within a single, unified continuity. It showed that it can be done; not flawlessly, but it can be done.

What are your hopes for the future of Star Wars, and will any future changes on Star Wars affect how Beyond the Films runs and how you manage the Star Wars Timeline Gold?

My hope would be that these new films recapture the feel and spirit of the original films and, along with Rebels, help usher in a new Renaissance of the saga. And I mean that literally; “renaissance” refers to a “rebirth,” not a continuation. Let’s see Star Wars get the kind of reinvigoration and fresh perspectives that Star Trek received in 2009. (Just don’t let J.J. Abrams turn Lando white or something; I’m still retconning some Star Trek Into Darkness stuff in my head…)

How this all affects the projects I’m involved with will depend on how the saga changes. Rebels Roundtable will owe its existence to Rebels, so as long as that series is developing, that podcast will move right along. Star Wars Beyond the Films will continue to address Star Wars stories and concepts outside of just the films, but we may have to start drawing the line in discussions between what is “old” continuity and “new” continuity. The same goes for my From the Star Wars Library videos on YouTube. I have a good 22 years or so of material still to get through before reaching 2014, so I’ll be amid the “old” continuity for a while still.

The Star Wars Timeline Gold is the big question mark here. On the one hand, the idea that the current Expanded Universe continuity could simply come to a halt means that the continuity timeline that I have been chronicling for going on 17 years would no longer be growing, which would be the perfect time to fill in the last remaining gaps of really obscure items and make it an even more definitive resource than it already is today.

On the other hand, it begs the question of how to deal with any new continuity that might arise. I will probably just add another (fifth) document into the SWT-G’s annual releases, focusing entirely on that new continuity. That is, if there is a clean break for a new continuity. If Lucasfilm ends up claiming that there is still just one continuity and simply starts throwing out stories that no longer fit due to Episode VII and such, I will just have to improvise and figure out a new approach. If nothing else, we might see the post-ROTJ era split into two separate timelines within the SWT-G documents, the same way I’ve had to basically keep The Clone Wars events and the previous version of the Clone Wars as separate timelines in their own document for now, as we await a reconciliation of the two into a single order of events that will likely never come.

Either way, I’m going to try to keep the SWT-G going. I mean, when I turn 36 in October 2015, right before the premiere of Episode VII, I will have been working on the SWT-G for literally half of my life. Why stop now?

How can people find you, and, being that you have helped me before with this, how can people get a link to their Star Wars podcast posted on your website starwarsfanworks.com?

My published works can be found via nathanpbutler.com, and the Star Wars podcast I’m currently involved with can be found on starwarsreport.com. The Star Wars Timeline Gold can be found at starwarsfanworks.com/timeline. My starwarsfanworks.com is also still around to provide a directory of where fans can find other Star Wars podcasts, and those interested in having their Star Wars podcast listed can email me directly at nathan@starwarsfanworks.com.

Super Target Stalkers

Hey guys! In Christmas 2011, I wrote a Stick Guy comic series called Super Target Stalkers for my brother Hudson! After two years of having this shelved, I’ve finally decided to release them to the public! It’s cheesy, it’s stupid, but I think it’s a lot of fun. You can now read the first volume by clicking here, and I will release one volume a week for the next thirteen weeks. Enjoy!

Fan Communities And Church Families


Recently, my youngest brother Hudson and our Dad went to go see The Day of The Doctor in 3D. As you can well imagine, the two were very excited to go see it. According to my Dad, there was a very decent crowd in the theater, some even wore costumes of the different doctors. There was also a pretty good variety of different aged people there too, but regardless, they all had something in common: they were all very happy to be there and very friendly too. When the 3D effect wasn’t working a few minutes into the film, the theater had to stop the movie and have a special technician fix the problem, but they were assured that the problem would be fixed and they would still get to watch the film. Instead of complaining though or walking out of the theater, the audience was just very happy to be there. One young woman even shouted “free popcorn!”
Hearing this makes ME happy, because it’s really nice to see a decent group of people get along with each other so well. That’s what a lot of fans do. They all have something in common that they really enjoy, so they get along with each other and talk. Walk into a Comic-Con convention or a Star Wars celebration some time and you will know what I’m talking about. It’s a very pleasant community. Sure they’ll have split opinions on certain aspects of what they enjoy, but they normally don’t allow it to make them get into heated arguments, at least not in public when they’re in a convention together. Now if we can just see this more often in church. I’m not saying that churches do a terrible job creating a community that gets along, I’m just saying that they can do better. When church families don’t get along with each other and constantly fight with each other, it creates division. You don’t have to be good at remembering the Bible to know the phrase “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Disagreements and fights amidst a church community will affect the entire community until it completely falls apart unless it decides to work out its problems and get along. It’s okay to agree to disagree sometimes, but we can’t make it a big deal that can hurt others. Whatever we disagree with is normally not worth fighting about. We are entitled to our own opinions, and we need to respect that.
The bottom line definitely comes across then as “just get along”. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the simpler things. It’s what helps us grow. If the church families get along as much as a lot of fan communities out there, they would become much stronger, and our church communities will become like strong families just like God intended them to be.

My Interview With Ryan M. James

I recently had the honor of having an email interview with Ryan M. James, lead editor of games such as The Last Of Us, the Uncharted games, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, and the still-remembered and still-loved Star Wars Battlefront games! He’s also the director of the web series A Clone Apart. Here is the interview below!

1. What was your first experience with Star Wars?

I was born after The Empire Strikes Back came out, and only 2 when Return of the Jedi was in theaters, so I saw all 3 on VHS at home while growing up. I was a fan, with a bunch of the Kenner toys courtesy of my mom.

2. What’s your favorite Star Wars movie and why?

Empire, for all the same reasons people who saw the original trilogy first loved it. Its tone, though still for families, was better than the others, including how it tried to really expand on threads after the first, neatly-structured A New Hope film.

3. You’ve worked with Pandemic Studios and Naughty Dog and helped them with the Star Wars Battlefront games, Mercenaries 2: World In Flames, Uncharted, and The Last Of Us. What was your favorite game to help work on, and why?

The Last of Us, mostly because I had the most creative involvement. Battlefront II has a special place in my heart of course, since that’s when we shot all the A Clone Apart footage.

4. I would love to touch on The Last Of Us for a moment. The Last Of Us was very well received by game critics and got a 10/10 from a lot of groups like IGN. What was your reaction like, and how do you feel about that, considering that your job editing the game is one of the important parts of making it a hit?

It took a lot of work from a ton of people to get everything as polished as it is, and we’re all glad it’s been as well received as it has. Being compared to Citizen Kane is a huge compliment, and we hope we’ve helped push things in terms of showing the character depth, tonal subtlety and moral complexities that games can explore.

The Last Of Us

5. How much creative control did you have over the game’s editing? Were you able to make a lot of decisions on your own, or were you given a very specific direction? How does that work?

I worked very closely with the Creative Director, Lead Cinematics Animator and Dialogue Supervisor to maintain consistency in the dialogue and camera/editing style throughout the game. The largest level of control I had was over dialogue in the cinematics, but everything was done with the Creative Director’s approval.

6. Considering that as the lead editor you were responsible for getting the music score edited into the game, what’s your favorite music track in the game?

I actually wasn’t responsible for the music, that was provided by our Composer Gustavo Santaolalla and Music Supervisors Scott Hanau and Jonathan Mayer. I played around with cutting a couple pieces into cinematics throughout the project but they provided me with everything and made better edits than I could for all the final stuff you hear.

My top 5 favorite pieces:
1) the one you hear during Joel’s Lie in the second to last cinematic
2) the simple, acoustic version of the main theme while Joel and Ellie have a moment in the apartment before Tess joins them
3) of course the Giraffes piece
4) the music when they say goodbye to Tommy
5) the ending piece

7. Editing anything be it games or videos can get exhausting, because it means repeatedly studying the same sequences over and over again. How did that feel for you considering that The Last Of Us is a very emotional game? Does the beginning still make you tear up?

I’m actually the only person who doesn’t tear up during the beginning. It’s due to the fact that when we capture the actors on the stage, there’s a bunch of velcro noise that can happen when two people touch–like, say, someone holding another in their arms. So that whole sequence to me was a “cleanup job” to preserve great performances, and so each time I hear it I still feel like I’m working on it. So strange, ’cause every other scene I’m separated from and can just watch & enjoy!

8. Now about A Clone Apart. How did the idea for the show come to you?

There’s plenty of info on that in our website’s FAQ, but the shortened version goes like this:

As we were saying earlier, we always loved Star Wars while growing up, but the prequels really threw us, the way they threw a lot of people. We were in a unique position:

When we were working on the Star Wars: Battlefront II filming the cutscenes in-game, my brother Jeff and I thought it’d be fun to get some extra footage and to something similar to Red vs Blue, but in the Star Wars universe. Many crunch-time lunches were spent talking about it, until we realized we’d never seen time travel in the Star Wars universe, and if we took a lone, awkward clone and transported him to the “present” of the Original Trilogy, he could point out everything in the Prequel Trilogies that just didn’t add up, among other gags.

9. I’m very curious about what your inspirations for Teflin McBomb and Percy might’ve been. Was there anything that inspired you to make these characters or did the ideas just come to you?

Percy (Or as we call him most of the time, “Scout”) was really inspired partly by the friend who voices him. Whitney Baron, who has since been co-writing all post-Episode-03 episodes with us, naturally has a very long-winded, verbose way of speaking, so we decided to have him voice the character and amp things up. Whitney never sounds quite like that, but the gist was inspired by him.

Teflin McBomb comes from two places: one, a Scottish accent is one of the only ones I feel I can do passably well–though for the series I purposefully make it over-the-top. Second, I knew a guy in college who played an RPG character named Tic Tac that always liked to blow things up, no matter what circumstance, and when we realized–to keep the characters distinct–that we had to use a Rocket Trooper class for the character, we looked at the bazooka he always carries and said, “Why not make him like Tic Tac?”

10. Can you say anything about what ACA fans can expect to see in Season Two?

Well, first I should say that if there are any fans left after this second hiatus, we’re grateful for their patience. Making The Last of Us took 3.5 years and after the first year-ish, during which I released the rest of ACA Season 1, I realized I was just too exhausted form moonlight-editing the series after a full days work editing TLOU. So the series has been waiting for me to be done. Now TLOU is done, though the single-player DLC we’re making is still taking my time, but never fear, it will be over soon!

That being said, the biggest thing we have in store for fans is… all I can say is it’s my favorite thing we’ve ever wanted to do on the show. It beats Rook killing the Jawa, Alpha’s “believe” speech, and even the Scooby-Doo-like sequence in the Death Star Prison Block, all of which are my other favorite bits we’ve ever done. If you want a hint, look at the shot in the trailer that involves fireworks. Now, if we can only get the *recording* needed for that section to actually happen, that will be the real trick, as it requires efforts we’ve never had to go to before. Once that recording has happened, and I know we’re solid, then–and only then–will I be able to confidently announce that the series last season can come to the light of day.

11. And finally, where can people find out what you’re up to, and are there any projects you’re working on that we’ll get to see in the future?

I’ve been remiss about posting on www.illusive-entertainment.com, so find me on my Facebook Page (the.Ryan.M.James) or follow me on Twitter (@RMJames).

Thank you for your time, Ryan! It was a great honor to ask you these questions!

It was an honor to answer them, I’m just sorry it took me so long to get around to them!

You can visit Ryan M. James’ website featuring full episodes of A Clone Apart at illusive-entertainment.com

Special Contest: Red vs Blue

Hello all! I am feeling very happy right now, so I want to give somebody a copy of Red vs Blue Season 8 Revelation. All you have to do to win is post a comment on this post that says what you’re favorite moment in Red vs Blue is. The drawing will be held on October 26th and the winner will be announced on the same day. I will send you an email announcing you’re the winner and all you’ll have to do in return is send me your mailing address so that I can have the DVD delivered to you! Zotte Man out!