'Star Wars' fans fight for Legends to be continued; Exclusive interview with Brian Borg

By @sachintrivedig on
Brian Borg
A picture of "Star Wars" fans behind the billboard campaign that seeks the continuation of the Expanded Universe stories. From left to right we have Bill Adkins (Chief Editor), John (Dylan) Tuttle (Social Media Coordinator) and Brian Borg (Campaign Administrator). Picture taken in front of a Yoda statue, outside Lucasfilm HQ. Brian Borg

Disney may have conveniently removed “Star Wars” Expanded Universe from being canon, to make room for new stories to be told. All the content that kept the franchise alive for years after the original trilogy is now called Legends. The fans, however, are not going to let this go quietly and are fighting to make Disney continue their favourite stories in an alternate timeline.

While driving in San Francisco, one may find a curious billboard about “Star Wars.” The billboard has been put up by Brian Borg and his friends and their simple appeal to Disney is to allow the Expanded Universe stories to continue.

In an exclusive interview with International Business Times, Australia Borg talked about what the stories mean to the fans and how they plan to continue the campaign till Disney listens.

Borg is a life-long “Star Wars” fan who was in the right place to make the billboard project happen. A Commercial Property Manager within the state of Arizona, US, Borg helped convert the idea of the campaign into reality. He is joined by many others in the campaign, including Gordan Sullivan from Perth.

Sullivan assisted at all stages of the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe billboard campaign and almost single handedly created the website www.giveuslegends.net.  Gordon likes to read books from the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe and when not reading he likes to play Pokemon and World of Warcraft.

International Business Times: Why do you and the other fans want Disney to return the Expanded Universe?

Brian Borg: “ Put simply, to fans like myself, the ‘Star Wars’ Expanded Universe IS ‘Star Wars.’  Thirty-eight years of storytelling is not something you just get over when you are immersed in it for a good portion of your life.  I believe there are really two types of ‘Star Wars’ fans, the fans out there who loved the movies and the fans that love the universe the movies portrayed.  It is from the latter group you find fans like myself.

Two years after the declaration that there would be no future for the Legends timeline, a timeline that represents all that ‘Star Wars’ was to Expanded Universe fans, our persistent desire to know more about that universe has not abated in the least.  Quite the contrary.  It has only grown stronger. 

Our movement accepts that Disney has every right to do as they please with the franchise.  They own it and paid quite a bit to do so!  We have no issues with that whatsoever.  Because we recognize that, we also recognize that only Disney ultimately has the ability to grant our wish, to see a continued Expanded Universe as an alternate timeline.  There is no one else we can go to for an official continuation, thus we find ourselves where we are today, asking Disney to make our collective wish come true.”

IB Times: How long do you plan to run the campaign?

Borg: “This campaign to see the Expanded Universe continued will last until Disney and Lucasfilm decide to announce a continuation of the Expanded Universe as an alternate timeline.  Expanded Universe fans are simply too passionate and loyal to what we love to simply give up.  These past two years have demonstrated that as we have only grown more resolute by the day.”

IB Times: With a new storyline introduced by Disney, how feasible do you think it is to bring back the Expanded Universe?

Borg: “From my point of view, bringing back the Expanded Universe is not as hard as many make it out to be.  Disney has already created a playing field favorable for there to be two timelines when they rebranded the entirety of the Expanded Universe, Legends.

The only real question becomes ‘is there enough of a demand to make it profitable’ and I believe fans around the world are demonstrating that with projects like the Expanded Universe billboard.  Strong Legends book sales as seen during the 2015 holiday season should also indicate that the desire is still there as well.

Admittedly some out there are concerned that running two timelines side by side would be confusing to a new reader.  The situation already exists where you have new canon books on the shelf at a bookstore right next to Legends branded books without any confusion.  New Legends books would be no different on those shelves... I also believe that the proposed problem also assumes that the average reader is incapable of keeping track of more than one universe.  That is a bit of a ridiculous thought process as any one of us is capable of keeping track of many universes. 

Just ask any ‘Star Wars’ fan off the street what other franchises they are into.  For me I have dabbled in some other sci-fi series such as ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Babylon 5’ and find myself a big fan of the ‘Legends of Zelda’ series.  Those do not confuse my understanding of ‘Star Wars’ in the slightest.

Speaking of other franchises, many of franchises out there have managed to pull of the alternate universe idea in a big way for many years now.  Coming immediately to mind is the popular ‘The Walking Dead’ which currently has a story happening in the comics and another in the TV show. My question to those opposed to this idea of continuing the Expanded Universe as an alternate timeline on the basis that they believe it to not be feasible would be, ‘what makes Star Wars so different it cannot do the same?’

IB Times: The Expanded Universe has a lot of content, but the primary complaint about it is the inconsistency. What is your view about this?

Borg: “When you say inconsistency I think it can be taken a couple different ways, quality level of each entry in relation to others or if the stories within the Expanded Universe contradicted one another. 

On quality that is a product largely of the beholder.  While there are fan favorites and books that are not quite as good in the majority opinion, there were always those who disagreed.  For example my favorite entry in the Expanded Universe is a novel called ‘I, Jedi’ by Michael A. Stackpole.  Many fans agree that this book was an excellent read...but not all enjoyed how it was written in first person and thus they believe it to be lower quality than any other entries Michael Stackpole made.  Inconsistent quality does not automatically mean something bad.  It does mean there were plenty of differences between the entries and that was almost always a good thing.

As for the issue of contradiction, the Expanded Universe, when it was young, did have some inconsistency.  It did not have the benefit of more recent times when Lucasfilm provided support for their officially licensed story through the creation of the position known as the Holocron Keeper.  This position was held by Leland Chee who now has a position with Lucasfilm’s current story group.  Mr. Chee's entire job was to ensure that entries within the Star Wars Expanded Universe were consistent with one another. 

Whether you are talking about quality or keeping the story free of contradiction, you have to consider what it is we are talking about.  A universe spanning literally hundreds of entries from multiple different mediums created over the course of 38 years by hundreds of individuals, there is bound to be someone missing something already done.  Retcons were the solution to resolving inconsistencies most of the time and they were handled extremely well in the ‘Star Wars’ Expanded Universe on the rare occasion they were needed.  Frankly no other comparable body of work I am aware of has had fewer changes required for it to be anywhere near as consistent as the Expanded Universe narrative is.  It really is a marvel within the realm of storytelling.”

The Billboard campaign has brought together people from different places and backgrounds and Borg sees this as “inspiring.” “ Humanity really does not see much of that these days and to me it speaks volumes about the ‘Star Wars’ Expanded Universe and what it means to all of us,” he said.

“Individually no single one of us has the ability to cause the change we wish to see. True. But together we are proving that our goal may not be so far out of reach as we once believed back in April of 2014.”

The billboard campaign has given Borg and his team the much needed exposure and they are seeing their team grow very quickly. “Now the world is learning that it is okay to ask for the old Expanded Universe to be continued.  It does not mean altering the enjoyment many get out of the new stories, but it does mean that, once again, ALL ‘Star Wars’ fans might just have something to look forward to in a galaxy far, far away…”