McGinnis: New book commemorates tenth anniversary of sci-fi seriesWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten years ago, an odd space/western hybrid debuted on the Fox Network. Created by Joss Whedon, whose “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series had already blossomed into a cult phenomenon, the show focused on the ragtag crew of a spaceship trying to survive on the fringes of a new intergalactic society. The show was “Firefly,” and it was intriguing, exciting, moving, involving and cancelled after just 11 episodes aired.
But then a funny thing happened. As with Gene Roddenberry’s legendary “Star Trek,” a passionate fandom grew around the series, driving sales of the Blu-Ray and DVD releases of the show. As with many of Whedon’s other properties, demand for “Firefly” did not wane in the aftermath of its “failure,” but intensified. And now, ten years later, it has inspired an epic compilation in the form of “Firefly: A Celebration,” produced by Titan Publishing.
“Some of the reviewers have been kind enough to say that the book includes everything you could possibly want to know about “Firefly,” and I’m glad people think that, because that’s what we set out to do,” said Adam Newell, editor at Titan Publishing, in an email interview with Toledo Free Press Star.
The book is essentially a hardcover collection of three previous pieces: “The Official Firefly Companion” Volumes One and Two, both published in the mid 2000s, and a third entitled “Still Flying” from 2010. The three are collected in a beautiful volume filled with facts and pictures, with enough new extras and goodies to please even the most dedicated fan.
That a show that aired for less than a dozen episodes could inspire passion so fervent that the faithful would support the production of three different volumes (to say nothing of a ten-year anniversary collection of the same) seems remarkable. But Titan Publishing has found success for more than 30 years appealing to such devoted fandom, from a wide variety of licenses.
“Back in the 1980s, Titan published the Star Trek novels in the UK, and it grew from there,” Newell said.
If you ask Newell to name the properties his company has worked with over the years, be prepared to listen for a while. They include ”Star Wars,” “The Simpsons,” “Supernatural,” “Farscape,” “Stargate SG-1,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Terminator,” “Alien,” and so on, up to modern video game franchises like “Halo” and “Assassin’s Creed.” Titan also publishes the official “Walking Dead” magazine, covering both the television and original comic versions of Robert Kirkman’s celebrated zombie apocalypse series.
“It’s hard to summarize our output in one sentence (it’s quicker to check out http://www.titanbooks.com/),” Newell said. “But I think the key is that we publish stuff that appeals to fans — whether it be of a particular TV show, movie, video game, musician, genre or artist — and it helps that we’re fans ourselves. We’re putting together the books we want to buy!”
Among the most successful pieces that Titan publishes are their tributes to the work of Joss Whedon. Along with their “Firefly” compendiums are works dedicated to “Buffy” and spin-off “Angel” (including both of their official magazines), the film “Cabin in the Woods” and internet sensation “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”
Newell noted that there has also been an increase in interest in all Whedon’s franchises since this past summer, when a little movie directed by Whedon — “The Avengers” — came out.
“A good example is the daughter of a friend of mine. She was only 7 when Firefly came out, but after loving “The Avengers” and discovering this Joss Whedon fellow, she started hearing about Firefly, watched the show and loved it. In fact, I have never come across anyone who watched “Firefly” and didn’t love it,” Newell said.
But what is it about this universe and these characters that continues to fascinate viewers a full decade after the failure of show that sired them?
“There’s no simple answer to that, but I think the show was made from the heart by a bunch of people who knew they were involved in something very special, and when you watch it, that’s very evident, it really comes across,” Newell said. “Being a part of that, even as a viewer, is a great feeling, and tends to make you want to watch the show again and again (and again), and tell your friends about it.”
As for Titan Publishing, Newell said the company has several other new books that they hope fans will enjoy this holiday, including a volume celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tarzan. And, as with all their works, the passion of Titan’s staff for their subjects comes through with every page you read.
“I just hope they enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together,” Newell said of the “Firefly” book.