For the 1974-1977 "Star Wars Buzz" series we posted a few weeks ago, I had cited a couple fan-produced bibliographies that I located in the file drawers beneath Skywalker Ranch's library. The name on the most expansive bibliography, which numbered over 150 pages and dated to 1988, was one Bob Miller.
Happily, thanks to a tip from Steve Sansweet, I discovered Bob is still very much involved in Star Wars some 20 years later, and still building his Star Wars bibliography (the Jedi Archives could only be so lucky!).
We thought it would be great to catch up with Bob to see how his Star Wars bibliography is coming along with 30-plus years of press coverage now behind us, and also find out where his love of Star Wars has landed him in 2009:
What got you started on this quest to collect every media mention of Star Wars since the mid-'70s?
I've been a Star Wars fan from the time of its first release. The movie excited me to such a degree that I had to find out how it was made. I was already a comics and science fiction fan, so I already had collected the earlier press mentions of the film in Starlog, The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom, and Mediascene. During the summer I began collecting in earnest through The Buyer's Guide and through Bud Plant. I was one of the first to sign on with the Star Wars Fan Club. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to ask [Official Star Wars Fan Club President] Maureen Garrett to send me Bantha Tracks unfolded, and buy crisp, unfolded copies of Mediascene through Bud Plant.
Tell me about the bibliography I found in the LFL archives -- it's dated July 19, 1988. Can you explain how it came to be there?
I met [Director of the Star Wars Fan Club] Maureen Garrett in person at a science fiction convention and gave her a floppy disc of the bibliography as it existed at the time. Someone at Lucasfilm must have printed it out. Of course, the bibliography is much more extensive now. The Internet has enabled me to find more sources for material.
How did you go about amassing the bibliography?
For the past 30-plus years I've been collecting and cataloging books, newspaper articles, comic books and magazines to the first three movies and spinoffs, up to the year 1990 inclusive. It's been a massive undertaking. I've visited libraries in Germany, England, France, Canada and across the U.S., and have gotten researchers to help me in Australia and Denmark.
On eBay, I was lucky to purchase Forrest J. Ackerman's Star Wars clippings file, which had several articles from really obscure publications, so hopefully I'll be able to share that knowledge with the fans at some point.
Just how big is the bibliography now?
Well, so far it's over 3500 pages. It's divided into two sections, a historical chronology and an alphabetical index. Currently, the index itself comes to 406 pages, at 95,570 words. That means I've catalogued around 15,000 publications dealing with Star Wars up to 1991.
The annotated bibliography contains lots of obscure but fascinating behind-the-scenes anecdotes as printed in the media. Did you know there was a Star Wars ballet performed for two years in Oklahoma City? Did you hear about the tragic "Jedi Homicide" in Kansas City? Did you read about the young cancer patient who through sheer will power stayed alive just to see Return of the Jedi -- and the generosity of Lucasfilm granted his dying wish? It's all documented in the project.
Have you done any research surrounding the prequel films and Clone Wars, or are you sticking to the classic trilogy era?
I'm sticking to the classic trilogy era, up to the year 1990 inclusive. That's a good breaking point because it's just before Timothy Zahn's novels and the Dark Horse comics. I cover everything Star Wars-related, including Hardware Wars, the documentaries, the Ewoks TV movies and cartoons, and general Lucasfilm coverage involving ILM, the ranch, Star Tours, Captain Eo, a little bit of Willow.
What do you do when you're not collecting Star Wars media references?
The movie, and the articles about it, inspired me to investigate a career in entertainment. I was a writer, and an artist, so I trained in those disciplines in college.
Today I primarily work in the animation industry as a storyboard artist. It involves writing and drawing skills, the best of both worlds. I've been on four seasons of The Simpsons and won two Emmy certificates for my work. After I left the show last year I worked on an episode of Spaceballs, storyboarding Act 2 of "Grand Theft Starship." I was also storyboard supervisor on Megas XLR at Cartoon Network, where I worked with co-creator George Krstic (a writer on Clone Wars) and the talented director Kelsey Mann, also working on Clone Wars as a story artist, though I suspect he'll progress to the director's chair there before long.So what keeps you motivated to continue with the bibliography?
Star Wars is a fascinating story, but the real-life drama in its making, and its impact on society, is even more fascinating. That's what the bibliography is all about.