Notes on the Asian Star Wars Pilot

Here are a few things that didn’t make it into my story for NPR’s Code Switch about the first Asian pilot in the Star Wars franchise.

“That figure is a mess,” Chee says. “It’s wrong on so many levels. They made him red, which is the color of the B-Wing pilots. They gave him a Y-Wing helmet, [1] but they gave him the name of an A-Wing pilot.” [2]

1. This is a different design from what is shown onscreen. “There’s probably multiple helmets,” Chee says.

2. The name given is Arvel Crynyd. As Chee points out, “Arvel Crynyd is from the radio drama, so he was always clearly an A-Wing pilot. He’s the guy who crashes into the Super Star Destroyer.”

This is exactly the sort of mistake Chee and his comrades in the Lucasfilm Story Group are now responsible for preventing. [3]

3. “The process then is a lot different from the process now,” Chee explains. “Because the people approving it weren’t as steeped in the continuity necessarily … the departments were a little more fragmented.”

Like many minor characters, Telsij didn’t get his name until after the fact. [4]

4. “There’s another character named Telsij, and it was probably the intent for this character to be the same,“ Chee says. In fact, Chee thinks that Telsij “probably … was not created by Decipher.” The X-Wing comics also have a lieutenant named Telsij. “That character was a caucasian female with blond hair,” Chee says. “Judging from my experience with that set — because there’s a bunch of inconsistencies with that set — it’s more likely that there had been some confusion with these two characters. So the name definitely came from the comics Either there was confusion, or there was a desire to make this a relative of that character or somehow tied to that character. These are the only Telsijes that we have in Star Wars … in fact … Lt. Telsij, that sounds like a last name and Telsij Cayr sounds like a first name.”

Elsewhere in the Star Wars universe, there are more Asian characters than there might appear to be at first glance … [5]

5. “On the Blu-Ray release [of Return of the Jedi there are] some deleted scenes where some fighting goes on inside the bunker,” Chee says. “The call sheets themselves would specify they were looking for ethnic actors, either caucasian or black … specifically, it said Chinese.”

“That guy’s definitely Asian,” Chee says of Selig Kenjenn. “And that one I definitely named myself.”

So does the name carry some special significance?

“Ummmmm, not that I’m going to say,” Chee demurs. “ ‘Selig’ comes from one of my other fandoms, I’ll say that.” [6]

6. Might that be Eli Selig from the DC comics universe, who eventually catches up with his android creation in a place called Gnosis? And with encyclopedic knowledge at stake, could the last name possibly be a reference to Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings?

UPDATE: Chee says via Twitter that I’m wrong about the name Selig. Reading between the lines, I think that means I’m right about Kenjenn?

This post was first published on Tumblr on Dec. 30, 2014.

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