Star Wars Insider is celebrating its 200th issue, and Coffee With Kenobi is joining in the festivities with a special Q&A with Insider editor Christopher Cooper as he looks back on where the magazine has been, and what the future holds.
Check it out below:
CWK: How has Insider changed over the years, and is this more of an example of changes in the industry, consumer needs, or various creative decisions?
Christopher Cooper: Every editor brings something of themselves to the magazine, and there have been a few of us along the way, so there’s bound to have been some variation. I think that’s what has kept Insider fresh over its 200 issues. That being said, each of us has a feel for what our readers are looking for in Insider, because we’re fans ourselves, and we tune into that and do our best to fill the magazine with what people want to read. Personally, I like to look a little deeper at aspects of storytelling, but I also love to learn new things about how Star Wars is made. There’s always been a mix of behind the scenes, interviews, and editorial pieces in the magazine, and it’s probably the latter that changes most with each new editor, as we all come at Star Wars with our own experience of the saga, and our own interests and tastes.
And for over 40 years, Star Wars has come and gone and come around again, what with the prequels, the animated series, the sequels, and everything that’s going on with Disney+ now, all of which has changed the content of the magazine.
CWK: Besides original, fresh stories set in a galaxy far, far away, what do the exclusive fiction offerings mean for Insider?
CC: It’s really exciting for Insider to be a part of The High Republic, and to be able to tell stories set in the Star Wars galaxy rather than reporting on them from the sidelines. That’s a brilliant opportunity for us, and for me it’s been really rewarding working with Lucasfilm Publishing and the authors in developing Insider’s contribution to this ever-expanding galaxy. And our readers have been asking for the return of fiction in Insider for a long time, so it’s great to finally be able to deliver new Star Wars stories to them every six weeks.
CWK: How has the gradual shift to digital media impacted Insider and what does that mean for the future of the publication?
CC: We have a digital edition of Insider, which I know has seen some uplift since the whole global pandemic thing made it harder to pop down to a comic store to pick up the physical edition. But there’s something unique about Insider and print magazines in general. They’re not as ephemeral as a web page, there’s still something wonderful about turning real pages, and I don’t think that’s an experience that humans are ever going to truly abandon. We’re physical beings, whatever Yoda might say, and being able to hold Insider in your hands matters. I hope and believe the magazine has a long and vibrant future as long as Lucasfilm is making Star Wars.
CWK: What are some memorable moments from the history of Star Wars Insider and how did these moments add to the magazine?
CC: The lead up to the release of The Phantom Menace was a terrific time for Insider. There was so much fan expectation, and the magazine was in a position to feed that anticipation with some great reveals. I spoke to Dan Madsen, Insider’s founding editor, for issue 200, and he’s adamant that the late 90s were the best time to be a fan. The period just before the release of any new Star Wars project is always a buzz, and those moments have provided Insider with exciting new angles to explore and investigate. Being in the chair at the end of the Skywalker saga has been really interesting for me, editorially, as we’ve been able to look back at the whole story from a different perspective. And with all the new stories on the horizon, which I imagine will approach Star Wars in a variety of new and exciting ways, I’m sure each of them will add dimensions to what Insider can deliver to our readers.
CWK: What would be your ultimate dream interview?
CC: Almost certainly the same dream you’ve had: a cup of tea and a nice chat with George Lucas up at the Skywalker Ranch, probably watching the sun set while chewing the fat and putting the world to rights. Doesn’t have to be tea. Maybe an Americano. You’re coffee guys, after all.
CWK: What can we look forward to over the next 200 issues?!
CC: More Star Wars. Much more Star Wars. Whatever the galaxy far, far away throws at us, Insider will cover it.