Kathleen Kennedy once said, “I don’t think there is anything more important in the Star Wars universe than the fans,” a sentiment very much shared by Fantha Tracks.
Here at Fantha Tracks we meet many people with unique and individual stories about their fandom. We feel it’s important to share these stories.
Our series of interviews From Different Points of View will highlight Star Wars fans from across the world and allow them to tell you about Star Wars fandom from their point of view, how it has influenced their lives and the direction it has taken them.
As Star Wars celebrates its 40th anniversary, fans from across the world are holding events to celebrate the milestone. Jeff Cummings from Warwickshire in the U.K is one of these people, having organised the inaugural and very successful Coventry Comic Con in October 2017. His next project is something very dear to those at Fantha Tracks.
Jeff when did your love of Star Wars begin and what direction in life has it taken you to?
I’ve always loved sci-fi and fantasy and I was brought up watching the original Flash Gordon and Gerry Anderson TV series, amongst many. I was 11 when I saw Star Wars for the first time and as soon as I saw the Star Wars logo accompanied by the music I was hooked. The opening scenes simply blew me away and I have remained deeply in love ever since. It really does combine all the elements that truly great films have – action, suspense, romance and also great scripts, timings, visuals and above all memorable characters.
A characteristic that Star Wars has given me in my outlook on life is the view that anything is possible if you want it badly enough. I’m a bit of a dreamer too and Star Wars has certainly provided many hours and hours of enjoyable escapism for which I am truly thankful for.
This love has led you to organise something for Star Wars fans this December in Fargo Village in Coventry. Can you explain?
SW40 is a Celebration of 40 years of Star Wars event but with a strong focus on meeting some of the actors who are now part of its rich history. We have assembled 19 Star Wars guests representing 7 of the films (dare I say officially 8, once The Last Jedi is released!) They are all really excited to be meeting the fans and offer autographs and selfies. I spoke to Gloria Garcia last week and she said that without the fans we are nothing. That is so true.
I also wanted to invite some artists, a few handpicked vendors and costume groups to the event but mindful of how intimate the venue is I think we’ve got the balance right with numbers.
What made you decide to do this type of fan event given the competitive climate for Comic Cons and Fan Days?
I think niche events are always more challenging to create, but the appeal of Star Wars is timeless. Nick Joseph is a friend of mine and I saw a post on Facebook where he asked why were there no 40th celebration events happening in the UK. I saw it and agreed totally but also wanted to do something about it. This was the catalyst for creating a fan event run by fans. I then spoke to Steve Everitt, who runs Sgt. Bilko’s Emporium in Fargo village, and as another Star Wars fan he was really keen to help spin an event up in Coventry and the rest they say, is history.
What can fans look forward to when they head to The Box at Fargo Village for SW40 on the 9th December, besides meeting the actors?
They can look forward to meeting some great guests who include Kenneth Colley (Admiral Piett), Christopher Muncke (Captain Khurgee), Brian Muir (sculptor of Vader’s helmet and the original Stormtrooper armour), Andy Secombe (voice of Watto) and many more! I’m also really proud that we have been able to get 4 of the original Bounty Hunters under one roof as we will have Chris Parsons (4-LOM), Cathy Munroe (Zuckuss), Bill Hargreaves (IG-88) and Alan Harris (Bossk). I don’t think that has happened for a long time and provides a fantastic opportunity for autograph hunters.
You can also meet JAKe, a Star Wars artist who works with Lucasfilm Ltd. George Lucas has been seen wearing his designs on his t-shirt, and Keith Guppy who owns the largest collection of Star Wars action figures in the UK. Keith will be available to talk about his passion for collecting.
We will also have some local artists who just happen to be Topps Star Wars artists (Solly Mohammed and Rees Finlay) as well as a couple of local traders selling custom Star Wars curios (Fantayzia Designs and Mark Goodman from www.mostlycuriousgames.co.uk)
The Galactic Knights and Joker Squad will also be present to bring some high quality costuming delight!
You can also purchase a limited edition A1 size custom original Star Wars movie poster which contains all the SW40 guest names. It is only available at the event and makes a great keepsake and you can also get the guests to sign it. This can be pre-ordered from the website under the merchandise menu or bought from the event on the day (depending on availability).
Can you explain how the SW40 day and sessions are organised?
The day is split into two sessions, the morning session starts at 10.00am and finishes at 1.00pm, and the afternoon starts at 2.00pm and ends at 5.00pm. All guests will be present at both sessions.
We have a break for lunch at 1.00pm when the guests can recharge and get ready for the afternoon session. Attendees can take advantage of the break and head for some of the really cool shops in Fargo village such as Sgt Bilko’s Emporium which houses the world’s only Phil Silvers archival museum. Mark Hamill is a huge Sgt. Bilko fan and has contacted Steve who runs it as he wants to make a trip across to see it.
For those people who CANNOT make it to the event you have set up a unique but limited service, can you explain it please?
Yes, we have a limited pre-order service for autographs which can be purchased on the website. This service has proved really popular and will close one week before the event, Saturday 2nd December.
What are YOU looking forward to most on the day?
I’m looking forward to just being part of this celebration event with other fans and making sure everyone has an enjoyable time. As an organiser that is the bit you can forget to do as you are so focussed on making everything run smoothly on the day you can forget to enjoy it.
Where can people find out more information and buy tickets for SW40?
You can find all the information you need and tickets at www.coventrycomiccon.uk/fargo.
To end each point of view we will ask some rapid fire questions, gut feeling, no hesitation….
1. Favourite Star Wars Film? – Empire Strikes Back
2. Favourite Character? – Han Solo
3. Favourite droid? – C3-PO
4. Holiday Special or Caravan of Courage? – Caravan of Courage – has more structure
5. Clone Wars or Rebels? – Clone Wars
6. Worst Star Wars film? – Attack of the Clones
7. Porgs or Ewoks? – Ewoks
8. Treasured Star Wars possession? – Darth Vader original Kenner 1977 action figure
9. What colour of lightsaber would you have? – I own 4 but love the red glow!
10. What planet would you visit? – Coruscant – so much to experience!