Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our one hundred and fiftieth guest was the author of the Star Wars Super Collectors Wish Book series – Geoffrey T. Carlton.
Lightsabre – Todd, welcome to Lightsabre.
Lightsabre – You’ve taken your love for Star Wars from being a collector and fan to the author of what is fast becoming an essential buy for collectors. How does it feel to see your book lined up alongside other Star Wars books?
GTC – It feels surreal. When I go to a bookstore and see a couple on the shelf for sale there is a small sense of pride and accomplishment. When I go to the homes of other collectors and spot a copy on their shelf it’s almost embarrassing. I’m still at the point where I can trade person-to-person locally (or when I travel) and not everybody realizes that I’m the guy who wrote ‘the book’. When I see one of the editions I have to wonder if they know who I am and if they do, which of us is going to mention the book first.
Lightsabre – Tell us something of your career. Where did you begin in writing and what led you to the Star Wars Super Collectors Wishbook?
GTC – I was going to be travelling for Christmas of 1998 and found the second edition of the Tomart Star Wars guide that Steve Sansweet had co-written with Tom Tumbusch. All holiday long I color coded the entries in the book to indicate what I had and what I wanted to find the most. When talking with friends I referred to the book as my ‘wish book’. I had signed up for eBay in mid 1998 and the Tomart Guide and I spent many long hours together searching for pieces I was missing. I also had a set of spreadsheets which helped me track what I had in my collection that wasn’t in the book, what I was finding online that I didn’t have yet, and what price everybody was asking for each piece along with a note of what the condition was. I had a great little digital camera back then and snapped photos of my collection both for insurance and for my web page. By the time the year 2000 rolled around and no more collecting books had come out I was convinced by fiends that I should take my research and investigate my options. I completed a production-ready 300 page book and went shopping for a publisher. Almost 2 years later I was accepted by Collector Books.
Lightsabre – What is it like to be a part of the Star Wars phenomenon?
GTC – For me it’s just “cool kid syndrome”. I’m a tag-along member of the Dallas Fan Force. I bought a set of stormtrooper armor and joined the 501st in 2001. Though an online group called the StarWars_Madroom which was especially active in the early 2000’s I have friends internationally. I was already active in so many different facets of fandom that to most of the people I chat with on a regular basis, I’m just a friend who wrote a book. When I go to conventions and people line up to meet me, its insane. (Not the line, which never grows past 10-15 people, but just the fact that they’re excited to meet some guy who collects obscure Star Wars oddities and shares his photos and research in a book.) I get really excited on the odd occasion when I get to chat with Steve Sansweet, but it’s still beyond me that people view me in that way.
Lightsabre – With the demise of the previously essential Tomart Guide to Star Wars Collectibles, your book has become the printed modern version to own. Why opt for a printed version rather than an online endeavour?
GTC – Since all of this started back in 1998/99 there wasn’t much of an opportunity for an ‘online endeavour’ at the beginning. I offered a subscription to my ‘collecting database’ back in 2000 which was $15/year and included all my photography and price information in .html once a month on CD. The $15/year included the CD disc and postage – which was my cost. My goal was to share data and build a collaborative, not to make any kind of money. Star Wars, whether collecting, costuming, or congregating, has been and always will be about people. I had a web page where I posted new stuff I was finding in stores, but before the book, I was just another single unheard voice on “the information superhighway”. Ultimately the book came from my ability to fill the void left in the print world. It was a blessing in that it helped me to find my own voice online. I still wonder to this day how many other people are out there doing the research that I do but who don’t have a public voice. “Hey, if you’re out there, email me. Let’s talk.”
Lightsabre – Your book is clearly a labour of love, and later editions have included photographs sent in by readers from all around the world. How does that make you feel, knowing there are readers from North America sending in Star Wars product from such far flung locales as Serbia and Brazil?
GTC – When I travel through small town America antiquing, I find it difficult to imagine that Star Wars was even ever heard of in some of the small communities. Going through the five and dime shops I rarely ever see any Star Wars merchandise. Then I get home and there are images of Star Wars comics in Hebrew being sent in from Israel. I’m pretty sure Israel in general has a lot more going on at the moment than submitting Star Wars images, and yet here they are. Somebody there took the time to visually preserve their comics and to share them with others. You mentioned the drink packets from Brazil. Again, for somebody in Brazil to know who I am and get into contact with me directly is humbling. There are a lot of pieces of Star Wars merchandising internationally that you will just never see come up on eBay or will be in countries where I don’t already have friends looking out for me. Suddenly either emailed photos or occasionally a box just shows up. Star Wars fans care and deep down we all have a desire to be part of something greater. The book is great outlet for that and it also gives people an opportunity to show off what they’ve got that others might not get to see otherwise. I’m thankful for those contributors and especially for the ones who maintain contact enough and become friends.
Lightsabre – Collector Books are designed specifically for authors such as yourself, encouraging the collector to go out and catalogue such information. Do you feel as if SWSCWB has found its true home, or would you one day like to become a part of the ‘official’ publishing family?
GTC – Collector Books, which is a division of Shroeder Publishing, is a family owned publisher. Two summers ago my wife and I got to sit in Billy Shroeder’s office in Paducah Kentucky and chat with him about the book and how in the world we were going to cram 12,000 more entries into the same number of pages. He didn’t know we were coming as it was a last minute side trip on a much longer road trip. Billy made time to visit with us. Shroeder Publishing started in, and is still officed in, a very large converted home on the edge of an active neighborhood. Most of the people we met there lived in that neighborhood and nearly every one of them was a Star Wars fan. (They love the book.) As much as I covet being part of the ‘official’ publishing family, I don’t know that I would make the move if it were offered.
Lightsabre – Which of the myriad Star Wars characters do you feel the most affinity for?
GTC – I’m into Jawas in the old school kind of way. During the Dark Times (1987-1992) I used to haunt garage sales finding action figure vehicle pieces-parts and trying to see if I could re-assemble a respectable armada of refurbished vehicles. I’d pull the electronics out of crushed TIE fighters to repair others with battery corrosion issues, and fix the spring-out suspension on landspeeders. With enough searching I could find good legs to make unloved AT-ATs stand again. Yep. I learned everything I know about breathing new life into discarded toys from watching the Jawas. I’m still fascinated by the few glimpses we get into the sandcrawler.
Lightsabre – Tell us something of your other interests outside of Star Wars?
GTC – I have a wonderful wife who came into my life at about the same time as the first edition of the book. (That means she knew what she was in for, and was all for it!) She likes to take road trips so that works out well. I’d have to say she’s my number one interest. Most of the rest of my hobbies all kind of flow together towards the book. I program in Visual Studio for fun and take my camera nearly every place I go.
Lightsabre – What lies ahead for you in the future?
GTC – I just launched a new online collecting database at StarWarsguide.net One of its features is that contributors can ‘fill in the blanks’ on existing items or submit collectibles that haven’t yet been reported. I still have aspirations of founding or joining a Star Wars Collaborative Collecting Society, although I really don’t want to run the thing. I’m hoping that’s a perfect project for one of those unheard voices I mentioned earlier. There’s plenty of Star Wars to go around.
Lightsabre – A quick question about our site, Lightsabre. Any comments?
GTC – Yes. When I heard you were going to interview me, I tool a look through your past interviews to see what to expect and was surprised at the sheer number and variety of professionals you’ve chatted with. You’ve been busy! Thank you for chasing me down and letting me have my 12 minutes of fame on Lightsabre!
Lightsabre – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest on Lightsabre. Just one final question. You enter Watto’s Junkyard and wander around, trying desperately to find the last remaining article you need to complete your broken hyperdrive system. Suddenly it appears, and you move towards it but Watto blocks your path. He begins to speak, and gives you a choice of three options:
“Eeeehhh, wassa going on here? You wanna buy this gidget? It’ll cost you for sure. Two thousand credits!”
“Ahhh, you have a good eye but thatsa gonna cost you. Ten thousand credits to back my friend Sebulba in the Tatooine Ten Thousand.”
“No way, you’ll hafta do betta than that! But maybe your girlfriend could dance for Jabba in his court, thata might pay for it.”
GTC – I haven’t got 2,000 credits, so I’ll tell you what. Sell it to me for 1000 credits and I’ll add your name as a contributor to the sixth edition of the Star Wars Super Collector’s Wish Book, PLUS I’ll throw in a full page article with color photos which is a five thousand credit value! (By the way, how much for that pit droid in the corner?)
- Used Book in Good Condition
- Hardcover Book
- Carlton, Geoffrey T. (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 464 Pages - 11/18/2009 (Publication Date) - Collector Books (Publisher)