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Knights Archive Reviews Collect All 21!

Collect All 21 by John Booth

Andrew over at the Star Wars fan site Knights Archive has written a nice dual review of Collect All 21!  and Tony Pacitti’s My Best Friend is a Wookiee.

(You may try not to snicker when you get to the part where he describes me as the “matured family man.” I know it made me grin.)


December 20, 2011 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, writing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Best Friend Is A Wookiee

It’s awfully easy to lump us Star Wars fans into two major generational groups: Those of us who saw the original theatrical releases as kids, and those who have spent their collective childhood growing up on the prequels and The Clone Wars cartoons.

What this glosses over, though, is that even though it was out of the public eye for a big chunk of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Star Wars never really went away: It just lived rather quietly on VHS tapes and television broadcasts, and the saga’s fans who grew up in that time fall into kind of a squishy era of missing out on the originals, but having moved beyond the grade-school wonder mindset by the time the prequels came out.


Guaranteed more fun than getting your arms pulled out of your sockets!


Tony Pacitti was one of those kids, and his book, My Best Friend Is A Wookiee: One Boy’s Journey to Find His Place in The Galaxy, makes for a fun coming-of-age read that really captures that in-between-time, both in terms of Star Wars and in the awkward and painful and still hilarious years of late kid-dom.

You can probably imagine my reaction a couple months back when I got an email from fellow GeekDad writer Jonathan Liu which read, in part, “Hey, I’m sending you this Star Wars fan memoir I picked up at San Diego Comic Con.” (Yes, it was pretty much, “Star Wars fan memoir? Sonofabitchinfrakkinmundanenoodle…”)

And then I saw that Jonathan had not only had Tony sign it for me, but that Tony had actually written something nice about Collect All 21! in the inscription, and dammit, I couldn’t be mad anymore, especially after I couldn’t put down My Best Friend Is A Wookiee for the next couple days. (We also got to meet face-to-face at Celebration V not too long afterward, which was cool: Tony’s a nice guy, and if you get the chance, you should try to catch him at a reading or a con or a signing.)

I enjoyed his book on a couple levels. I’m a sucker for personal nostalgia that’s unafraid to take on the really crappy side of the middle-and-high-school years, for starters. (Which reminds me: This is an R-rated book. Seriously. Tony’s done a superb job of channeling his inner-12-year-old and then his sometimes-troublemaking-teenager and the result is an honest and often foul-mouthed recollection, and truth be told, some of the wincing I did was mostly at remembering the way my friends and I sometimes talked and acted when no adults were around.)

Of course, the Star Wars enthusiasm is hugely common ground, and even with our generational differences, there are still many familiar moments of saga-related awesome. His own Lucas-inspired parody project – a school paper on the digestive system titled “Indiana Skywalker and the Rectum of Doom” – took me back to the way my friend Jacob and I reinvented Empire with all manner of juvenile humor and later defaced his Jedi storybook with silver magic markers, howling with laughter the whole time.

Tony’s book and his story and his childhood differ from my own in so many ways – and yet, because there was this movie, this Star Wars thing, which occupied an important spot in both our lives, reading My Best Friend Is A Wookiee was a lot like those occasions I’ve had over the years hanging out with friends and reminiscing and geeking out about bizarre moments and half-forgotten times. Especially if you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s not just what’s in the pages: It’s what they’ll wake up in your own head.

October 17, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, writing | , , , , | 1 Comment

Star Wars Celebration V: Collect All 21! Connections

Although I didn’t land on any panels or have a booth at Star Wars Celebration V, I did have a lot of fun sharing Collect All 21! last week, even if my daughter and I had to lug my 10 copies in our carry-on bags because they pushed our shared suitcase just over the airline’s 50-pound limit.

For starters, the day we flew out of Akron-Canton, I spent the morning getting some new promotional postcards printed up for the book, since Ethan Gilsdorf, author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, had just written this incredibly nice blurb:

“Collect All 21!” is a deliciously warped nostalgia trip through Star Wars fandom. From collecting Kenner action figures to eating Star Wars birthday cakes to scribbling fan letters to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, Booth shamelessly flaunts his lifelong lust for all things Star Wars. Like a tractor beam, this endearing account draws us in, and makes us reminisce about our own geeky obsessions.

I mean – WOW. If you haven’t read Ethan’s book (and here are my reasons why you should), the new paperback edition comes out Sept. 1, so why not go order it?)

A couple days later, on Aug. 11, I spent the afternoon in Clermont, Fla., hanging out at Heroes Landing and talking comics and Star Wars with Adam, The Force Among Us creator Cris Macht, and Korgi author/illustrator Christian Slade. A steady stream of customers to the store led to some book sales and a lot of Celebration V chatter, and I traded a copy of my book for Cris’ DVD, which I couldn’t pass up after noticing, “Hey, those are my OSWCC friends in that movie!”

Pre-Celebration V event at Heroes Landing in Clermont, Florida.

I was also introduced to Felix Albuerne of the Prime Time Geek program, which proved to be an awfully timely meet-up, since he called me four days later for a fun interview about my book, which he worked into this post-Star Wars Celebration edition of the show.

I already wrote an overview of Celebration Day One, but I want to stress here again how fun it was to finally meet Steve Sansweet – not because of his status as a megacollector and Lucasfilm fan liaison, but because of what his first Star Wars-related book meant to me. This is from the Collect All 21! chapter called “The Dark Times”:

Then Steve Sansweet’s “ Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible” book came out. This thing came at me out of nowhere one afternoon in a mall bookstore, and I absolutely devoured it: page after page of the toys I’d had, the toys I’d craved, and sweet God, the toys I’d never even known existed but now wanted to see. And for just the second time in my life, my eyes fell upon the image of a Blue Snaggletooth. This single picture and one-paragraph explanation of the figure’s existence, maybe more than anything else in that book, put the scent of Star Wars collecting back in my nostrils. “Collecting” even seems too antiseptic and grown-up. This nostalgia was like being little again and feeling that bone-deep desire to Collect All 21!

So, yes, it was amazingly neat watching him sign that same now-well-worn copy of his book most of two decades later. We talked for a couple minutes about journalism (he’s a former Wall Street Journal writer, and I always appreciated the interviews and research that went into Concept to Collectible, as well as Sansweet’s ability to tell the Kenner story) and about my own writing, and when he asked me to sign the copy of Collect All 21! I gave him, that was a great moment, too.

On Friday, I met up with another fellow writer and fan, Tony Pacitti, whose My Best Friend is a Wookiee – One Boy’s Journey to Find His Place in the Galaxy memoir is set for a Sept. 18 release. Tony’s book came to me through two near-simultaneous recommendations: GeekDad Jonathan Liu sent me a personalized, signed ARC he’d picked up during his coverage of the San Diego Comic Con, and while it was in the mail, Ethan Gilsdorf sent me a link to Pacitti’s book asking if I’d seen it.

After online introductions and back-and-forth messaging, Tony and I met face-to-face:

Two guys with excellent taste in literature.

I gave him a copy of my own book, and he plowed through it after the convention and wrote up some cool reactions here. Even though we’re fans of different generations – he watched the original trilogy on VHS and came of age during the prequel era – I enjoyed his book and it’s deserving of its own dedicated review post rather than a paragraph shoehorned into this entry.

The last panel I attended on Friday was titled “Why We Love the Prequels,” and while I’ll admit I enjoyed it probably more than I was prepared to, I really went because Fanboys director Kyle Newman was there. See, awhile back, after I’d created the Collect All 21! Facebook page, I noticed one day that he was among the new “likes” – and it just sort of floored me. So just before heading to Celebration V, I sent him a note thanking him for the support and offering him a copy of the book. He had responded with a thumbs-up, so just before the panel started, while he was hanging out near the door to the room, I introduced myself, and we talked about the book for just a minute or so. (Neat moment: He said he really liked the title, and identified with it, since he’d once considered starting a company called “12 back.”) When I told him that Jim and I had stayed up late and watched Fanboys the night before the convention kicked off – mentioning one quote from the movie in particular – Kyle nodded and said something to the effect of, “Yeah. That’s it.”

The quote? “It was never about the movie. It was about all of us.”

That line came to mind a lot during Celebration V.

August 20, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Travel, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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