For the longest time we assumed we would never see another Star Wars movie. Now, we’re getting one every year. But what do you do during the 364 days that you’re not watching a brand new Star Wars movie? Glad you asked. At Audiences Everywhere we’ve put together a list of cultural methadone to help you get through the Star Wars cravings without having to resort to watching the prequels.
Dune is one of those properties that has a weird adaptation cycle. It’s very similar to the way in which the book Starship Troopers inspired the movie Aliens, which in turn inspired the movie of Starship Troopers. In the same way, Dune the book inspired Star Wars inspired Dune the movie. Frank Herbert’s Dune is set in a universe full of ancient religions, messiahs, powers, and set mainly on a planet that is a giant desert. The first Dune trilogy is an incredible feat of dense story-telling, awesome characters, and inventive world building. Setting a lot of the action of the Star Wars movies on desert planets is an obvious homage to/steal from Dune, but they are also two very different entities, and each stands on its own two feet as a work of sci-fi genius. But avoid the movie at all costs as it is awful.
Much of the fun of Star Wars is the mixing of science and magic, humans and aliens. Bryan K. Vaughn’s Saga is similar in the way that it takes a myriad of different ideas and throws them together in a way that should work but ultimately works like a charm. The story of two star-crossed lovers trying to evade assassins, robots with TVs for heads, and cats that can tell when you’re lying, Saga is a work of insane creativity with gorgeous art by Fiona Staples. If Star Wars is too childish for you then you are looking for Saga; you just don’t know it yet.
Another comic but Usagi Yojimbo is too good to not put on this list. Usagi Yojimbo is Stan Sakai’s magnum opus about a rabbit Ronin who trawls the countryside of Shogunate Japan dispensing justice and ass-kickings. It is an incredible work of art that Sakai has written and drawn himself for thirty-odd years. I include it on this list because Jedi and samurai are pretty similar and if you read this and pretend that Usagi is a Jedi and his samurai sword is a lightsaber then you have something very special. Or leave it as it is and just enjoy the fact that for thirty years Sakai has been telling Usagi’s story with never a dip in quality. Either way, read Usagi Yojimbo and tell your friends to as well.
On TV the best antidote for the Star Wars withdrawals is the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. If you’re a fan of the flying bit of Star Wars, then this is the show for you. There are like twelve Han Solo characters in this thing and each one is incredible. The show is like Star Wars if Star Wars began with a universe-wide genocide and included sex, terrorism, and Edward James Olmos. I hate to call it Star Wars for grown-ups, but I just did so suck it up. The show sometimes veers into the absurd, but when it is firing on all cylinders you’ll forget Star Wars even existed. Also the robots in this are much nicer to look at than C-3PO.
This is a story about an orphan who possesses special powers and his two companions who fall in love with one another and a friend who is a hairy giant. The orphan is guided through his adventures by a wise old man with a white beard who is eventually killed by a character in black who manages to redeem himself before the story ends. And for the finale, he fights a strange looking white-faced ghoul who leads the bad guys. If you like that as a story outline, then I have the series for you. Harry Potter is one of the greatest things to ever exist and frankly it wouldn’t matter what I was writing about, I would still suggest you read this series. The similarities to Star Wars just add the icing on the top. Also, no one is saying Harry Potter ripped off Star Wars; the comparison is just funny.