thrift store finds: star wars- adventure in beggar’s canyon

Today we’re looking at Star Wars: Adventure in Beggar’s Canyon, published by Golden Books in 1998.

It was written by Jane Mason, with artwork provided by Gary Ciccarelli.

When the final chapter of Star Wars is written in history books for the younger generations to read, you will find I grew up during a fallow period of SW. I was around three years old when Return of the Jedi was in theaters and I remember the marketing blitz for the flick well. I owned a RotJ comforter which was embroidered with the visages of Jabba the Hutt and the Ewoks.

That being said, as I grew up, the world largely forgot about Star Wars and moved onto other pursuits. Ghostbusters was big. Nintendo was a monster. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dominated. Star Wars was relegated to occasional sick day VHS viewings.

You know the old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?” With Star Wars, this was most certainly the case. As the generation weened on “a galaxy far, far away” grew up, a collector’s market surrounding Star Wars began to build steam. In 1991, Lucasfilm okayed a novelized sequel to the original Star Wars movies written by Timothy Zahn. Galoob produced a set of SW Micro Machines, which paved the way for new action figures. In 1997, Lucasfilm rereleased the original Star Wars Trilogy to theaters, expanded on with new special effects shots. In 1999… Star Wars- Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. The property had come full circle and hasn’t really left the public’s consciousness since.

In 1998 however… it was a different story. Adventure in Beggar’s Canyon, released in that year, tells a “lost” story of Luke Skywalker’s time growing up on the desert planet of Tatooine. It builds on a single line of dialogue from SW: A New Hope, where Luke explains it’s possible to blow up the Death Star because he used to “bullseye womp rats in his T-16 back home.” Beggar’s Canyon comes a few years before the events in ANH and features Luke and his friend Windy going on a womp rat bullseye adventure in the titular geographic location.

A mishap puts the boys in danger and in contact with several of the unfriendly species native to Tatooine, including the Jawas,

The Sand People,

and a krayt dragon.

While a krayt dragon doesn’t directly appear in any of the Star Wars movies, you are probably familiar with this shot from A New Hope:

Those bones? Yeah, that’s a krayt dragon.

The picture above is emblematic of one of the hilarious things about the Star Wars universe; its’ insane specificity concerning background characters and ideas. Remember that three minute scene in A New Hope where Luke goes into the Mos Eisley Cantina and you see all those crazy aliens? Over the years, EVERY SINGLE ONE of those crazy space aliens has been given an elaborate backstory, three times over. Like, that krayt dragon probably has a backstory where he saved Luke’s Uncle Owen from a teenaged Boba Fett. That’s the kind of nonsense I’m talking about.

Adventure in Beggar’s Canyon carries on that proud tradition of nonsense by using Windy Starkiller as Luke’s buddy.

From what I gather, the name of this character was cobbled together from early drafts of Star Wars where the surname “Starkiller” was applied to Luke, and the name “Windy” applied to a Jedi of some kind. Lucas eventually included Windy in a famous deleted scene from A New Hope, where Luke hangs out with a bunch of his teenage friends on Tatooine.

Like most background Star Wars characters, Windy Starkiller has a RIDICULOUS amount of appearances and his own complicated backstory, most of which you can find here catalogued on the Star Wars’ Wookepedia (get it?). At various times, Windy has been portrayed as a rebel fighter, a callow teenager, and a small girl!

…and that’s what I found interesting about this picture book. Made a time when new Star Wars stuff was thin on the ground, writers and artists had to mine the original trilogy again and again to find ideas and characters to populate this “extended universe.”

The story itself is cute… both my boys enjoyed the paintings, especially that one of Luke and Windy facing down the krayt dragon.

The book ends with a last minute save from a familiar face and a look toward the future of the Star Wars Trilogy… which, with the Prequels on the way, was already the past… which was, in fact, the future of the story. I’m making it more confusing than it has to be for a Little Golden Book, right?

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