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May the 4th Be With You, Austin: Star Wars & Free Comics Collide

Obi-Wan Kenobi lied.

When the Jedi Master said “The Force will be with you, always,”he wasn’t exactly correct. Around the country, the force get its own special day: May the 4th.

Yep, that’s right, young Padawans. Tomorrow is National Star Wars Day. And this year it falls on the first Saturday of May, which – as any devotee of pulp yarns will tell you – is another storied celebration in the pantheon of nerddom: Free Comic Book Day.

Midi-chlorian counting comic-collectors searching for convergence can visit Dragon’s Lair Comics. Its Saturday event will feature free comic books from the big two publishers – Marvel and DC Comics – plus indie and local publishers. But it will also feature a life-size Jedi Starfighter replica, a legion of Stormtroopers in imperial garb, and signings from Austin-based screenwriter Ernie Cline and Star Wars novelist Aaron Allston.

And there will be costumes: it may be the only place this weekend where you can see the hammer of Thor swing alongside throngs of lightsabers.

“It’s definitely going to be a weird menagerie, for sure,” says Zach Martin of Dragon’s Lair. “Nobody’s required to be in costume, but if you do come in costume you should expect people to take your picture.”

Star Wars novelist Allston has written 13 books and some short stories in the franchise’s extended universe. He’ll be signing autographs and snapping photos with fans on Saturday, but he says he stopped reading comic books years ago. In Allston’s case, his art mirrors his life – his books focus on the everyday folks in the galaxy far, far away, shying away from the super-powered.

“One of the things that I’ve always liked to do in my Star Wars material is look at things other than the big Jedi-Sith issues,” Allston said. “I mean, it’s great to have all the fiction dealing with these superheroes of the Star Wars universe, but I think it’s also important to point out the participation and importance of ordinary people, people who don’t have force-based powers.”

Like a good portion of Allston’s works, his last novel – “X-Wing: Mercy Kill” – shows some love for galactic vets, chronicling the high-octane exploits of fighter pilots. But like most Star Wars fans, he’s unsure of what the Disney buy-out and the upcoming J. J.Abrams-helmed reboot means for the franchise going forward.

“That’s really up in the air. Everybody’s speculating madly about what’s going to happen to the expanded universe and with the intellectual property that is Star Wars,” Allston says. “Nobody can guess with certainty what’s going to happen.”

Martin says that the event will be flush with cinematic chatter, and will even feature a Star Wars-centric tunes from DJ Crescendoll. (He expects that the “Cantina Song” will get more than its fair share of spins.) 

Will you be celebrating May the 4th? Let us know in the comments section.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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