Through the use of comics and prose books, High Republic will paint a picture of what the galaxy looked like 200 years before the Skywalker Saga began in Phantom Menace. In this age of relative peace and prosperity, order is kept by what James Waugh (VP of franchise content & strategy at Lucasfilm) calls "the Jedi Knights of the Round Table."
Instead of the Sith, the main threats come from the scum and villainy found on the fringe outposts that do not abide Republic law. In these Old West-inspired frontier lands, the Jedi become almost like Texas Rangers. The Big Bads are the Nihl, a group of antagonists that Jennifer Heddle (executive editor at Lucasfilm Publishing) describes as "space vikings."
“We are so excited to be opening up such a rich, fertile era for our authors to explore,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “We’ll get to see the Jedi in their prime.”
“Star Wars: The High Republic will allow creators to imagine entirely original stories in a new corner of the galaxy. Our incredible team of authors worked together alongside the Lucasfilm Story Group and Publishing teams to help craft a completely new era for the franchise that begins with Publishing,” added Lucasfilm Press Creative Director Michael Siglain.
Learn more about the publishing strategy in the video below:
IDW, Del Rey, Insight Editions, Marvel, DK, and Abrams are just a few of the brands slated to crank out High Republic content, which is said to appeal to a wide range of readers. Claudia Gray, Charles Soule, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, and Cavan Scott are among the initial batch of writers confirmed for the first "phase" (think MCU) of this multi-year enterprise.
Phase I is being called "Light of the Jedi," and since none of the stories being told overlap with any of the films and shows (that includes any projects currently in development), creators have the freedom "to tell Star Wars stories in a never-before-explored timeline," reads the release.
“As an all new publishing-led program to extend the Star Wars universe, Star Wars: The High Republic is an important initiative for Disney Publishing Worldwide. The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm are renowned for creative excellence and we are excited to develop entirely new stories with unique characters and worlds while staying true to the Star Wars universe,” said Tonya Agurto, senior vice president, Disney Publishing Worldwide.
In essence, the company is crafting a fresh Expanded Universe, the original one having been stricken from official Star Wars canon after Disney took over the multibillion-dollar franchise back in 2012. Thanks to the work of Dave Filoni, many of the SWEU elements have been rescued and incorporated into the onscreen IP.
The first set of High Republic books and comics go on sale this August at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. Check out some out-of-this-world concept art and covers for the first batch of projects in the media gallery below: