Comic Con hits town: ‘Shakespeare’s Star Wars’ author to speak at event
'Shakespeare's Star Wars' author to speak at event
It’s a blatantly “Richard III,” except it’s C-3PO speaking:
“Now is the summer of our happiness
“Made winter by this sudden, fierce attack!”
Verily, thanks to author Ian Doescher, “Star Wars” has met William Shakespeare and become a “star-crossed galaxy, far, far away.”
Oh, what a lark!
Even R2-D2 communicates in iambic pentameter. “Beep, meep, beep, squeak, beep, beep, beep, meep, beep, whee!”
And when C-3PO or Luke aren’t listening, R2-D2 actually speaks, revealing the thoughts and feelings you always knew were inside that “overweight glob of grease” (or as Doescher says via C-3PO’s golden mouth: “Thou overladen glob of grease ... rubbish bucket fit for scrap ... silver pile of bantha dung!”)
Doescher will be the special speaker at Mesa County Libraries’ Comic Con on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Two Rivers Convention Center.
“His work combines two elements that are just key to Mesa County Libraries’ Comic Con, and that is ‘Star Wars’ and literature,” said Bob Kretschman, spokesman for Mesa County Libraries. “Plus, it’s incredibly unique, It’s amazing that anyone can think and write like that.”
Doescher’s seven books follow the seven “Star Wars” films about the Skywalker family. The seventh book, “William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken,” was released Tuesday. The cover art features BB-8 draped in a dashing cape and hat with feather plumes.
Each book is a play with five acts complete with soliloquies and asides all in iambic pentameter with a few exceptions. Yoda speaks in haiku and Boba Fett in prose, for instance.
During his presentation at Comic Con, Doescher plans to talk about how his books came together. He also will read from the books — “I pull out my Yoda and my Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
When you’re 8 years old and practicing all those voices while playing in your room, “you don’t really realize the reason why until you grow up,” Doescher said during a phone interview from his home in Portland on Tuesday.
Doescher was born in 1977, the year Darth Vader, Luke, Leia and Hans Solo burst into American pop culture with the first “Star Wars” movie.
One of Doescher’s first significant memories of the space saga came when he was 6, watching “Return of the Jedi” in a theater and listening to his uncle translate the dialogue into Japanese for his wife, he said.
The scenes with Jabba the Hutt “just captured my imagination so much as a kid,” and as an adult “Return of the Jedi” remains his favorite movie in the series, Doescher said.
His introduction to Shakespeare wasn’t quite as dramatic.
He was in eighth grade, and his older brother was reading “Hamlet.” So Doescher found a used copy of the play at a bookstore, “mostly because I wanted to be like my big brother.”
The next year he studied “Othello” in school and was smitten with Shakespeare. He was a theater kid and was quite taken with the character Iago. “He was such a great villain. I was hooked,” Doescher said.
Later in a high school he had an assignment to write a satirical poem with at least 10 lines using iambic pentameter. Doescher doesn’t recollect much about the poem other than it was about Barney, the plush purple dinosaur from the children’s show “Barney & Friends.”
He also doesn’t recall what his classmates thought of iambic pentameter, but “I remember really enjoying it,” he said.
The idea for a “Star Wars,” Shakespeare mashup didn’t pop into his mind until 2012, after reading “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and attending a Shakespeare festival and seeing the modern adaptation “The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa.”
Doescher approached an editor at Quirk Books with the idea and, fortunately, the editor told him to go for it.
“If I had had to write this whole thing before I knew if anyone would be interested in the idea, I don’t think I would have done it,” Doescher said.
As it was, his enthusiasm pushed him through evening after evening of “translating” the “Star Wars” movies into Shakespearian iambic pentameter while his wife watched TV and their boys were tucked in bed.
“William Shakespeare’s Verily, A New Hope,” based on “Star Wars: A New Hope,” was published in 2013 and six books have followed.
Doescher said he frequently get the question, “Does Lucasfilm know about these books?”
“They’re licensed. They do,” he said. And, no he’s never met George Lucas.
“As a ‘Star Wars’ author, it’s not like writing your own novel,” Doescher said.
Lucasfilm has the copyright and over the years its editors have said no to things in the books, which can be disappointing, but is “nothing that makes me feel really frustrated or upset. I just feel so lucky to be able to do these books,” Doescher said.
“I get to get inside the heads of all my favorite characters,” he said. “I get to put words into the mouth of Hans Solo.”
He has been invited to sit around with friends, each reading the part of a certain character in his books, and he has listened to the audio book versions — “they are tremendous” and include the “Star Wars” music composed by John Williams and voices of professional actors, he said.
Hearing his Shakespearian “Star Wars” come back at him evokes two reactions: “Oh, my goodness. I love this! This is fantastic!” and “Ooo. Did I write that? I wish I could go back and tweak that,” he said.
Just recently he realized one of Kylo Ren’s lines from “The Force Doth Awaken” doesn’t make sense when read out loud. “Raised me to know good” can be misinterpreted as “no good,” he said.
So when he gives a reading, he must figure out a way to make the word somehow sound like “know” instead of “no,” he said.
As for ever seeing an stage production of his work, that licensing likely won’t happen for awhile, Doescher said.
Lucasfilm has bigger things to worry about, he said, such as “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” set for release in December.
Which likely means Doescher’s evenings soon will be spent putting more “Star Wars” into iambic pentameter and causing many of his books’ readers to intone, “And ever shall the Force remain with thee.”