MakingStarWars.net — So, did you ever wonder about C-3PO’s upgrades and changes since the Return of the Jedi? Have you ever pondered whether the Hammerhead Crew survived the Battle of Scarif? Or, maybe, Star Wars fans think about Dengar, and where he ended up after the Empire Strikes Back.
Folks, I know a guy: Alex Damon, also known as Star Wars Explained.
Jocasta Nu (if you don’t know who that is, just ask Alex) has nothing on Mr. Damon, who does Jedi-level work curating an easily accessible library of info from sources in Canon and the Expanded Universe.
“I go to Dragon Con every year in Atlanta, which is a tie with Star Wars Celebration for the best place on the face of the planet,” said the Georgia-native as he explained the genesis of his work on YouTube. “They have a Star Wars trivia contest every year, and I’ve always done fairly well, but never great. And every year when it was over I would go, ‘This year I’m gonna study.’
“Then in 2014, I committed to doing it. I was going to re-read books, catch up on comics, all of it.
“I have always worked in some form of video marketing online,” he added. “And I thought this could be a fun thing to document and share, and it would help me study, so I decided to do minute long videos on topics.
“I started releasing them in January of 2015 and people seemed to enjoy them.”
Expanding His Universe
What’s “understatement” look like in Aurebesh? Well, Alex probably knows that, too, and with nearly 310,000 subscribers and over 60,000,000 views, a whole lot of people watch his work.
“I evolved out of the minute-long format, although I still keep my videos very to-the-point,” Damon said of his ever-evolving technique. “I want to give people information without wasting their time.
“But that’s pretty much the origin story of Star Wars Explained.”
Alex’s Star Wars story began nearly 20-years after A New Hope debuted in 1977, which makes the success of Star Wars Explained even more remarkable.
“The Olympics were going to be in Atlanta in 1996. So the city built this new park, and my parents and I went to check it out in like 1995. There were people dressed in costumes, and it actually might have been for Dragon Con, I was too young to remember. But what I do remember is a guy in a Darth Vader costume,” he said. “My dad told me who he was and started telling me all about Star Wars and I was like, ‘I have to see this,’ so we went home and watched a VHS that my parents had taped off of TBS with commercials and everything.
“I think I watched that tape every day for the rest of that summer until it destroyed itself and they had to buy me the actual copy.”
Star Wars: First Obsession
Far from a mere hobby, like many fans, Star Wars became Damon’s “first obsession.”
Alex absorbed everything he could. However, Damon’s unique gifts made it easy for him to recall information on topics like “The Ancient Secret of the Massassi Temples on Yavin 4” (Yes, there’s a video on that).
“For whatever reason, my brain has always retained [Star Wars facts], so that became useful,” he said. “People always say you should make content about what you know, so that was something that encouraged me to pursue the idea of the channel.”
That “idea of a channel” has reached Jedi Archive proportions, and after 781 videos, Alex continues to refine his technique.
“I credit a lot of my growth to just consistency,” he said. “I was building the channel with a full-time job. So I had to work on it during my nights and weekends. But I committed myself to releasing videos every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to start.
“After I got my process down and became more efficient, I bumped it up to daily videos. But when I said I was going to do something, I made sure it got done. I wanted to be dependable not only as a source of accurate information but also as a content provider.
“The episodes flow pretty easily,” he added. “Sometimes picking topics can be difficult, but usually once I start writing it all comes together.”
Family & Community
Like many who work in and around the saga, “coming together” around Star Wars takes on a different meaning for Damon as he looks over his time on the channel.
“I bonded with my dad over it. My parents and I have gone to see The Force Awakens and Rogue One in theaters together,” he said. “Back when the Special Editions were released, they made a big deal out of it, and we saw them all. They waited in line with me to go to the Prequels. They always encouraged my nerdy side, bought me books, etc.
“I remember my mom would go out and find the more rare action figures for me. It was a family affair.”
And creating a larger Star Wars family has been a positive byproduct of all Damon’s hard work. He said meeting new people is the best part of being in the know.
“I’m coming off that Celebration high,” he said. “I got to meet so many people; Fans of mine and people that I admire. But I now have strangers tweet at me about things that they loved in a new book or something, and I can reply and go ‘I know! Wasn’t that awesome?’
“It’s so great to know I can almost always strike up a conversation about Star Wars if I feel the need, and I hope people feel comfortable asking me questions or just geeking out with me, too.”
Geeking Out in Orlando
“They were some of the people I got to meet that I admire,” he said. “I wish we got more time to hang out. Everyone was so busy!
“I don’t seek out news very often, but only because I try to stay very spoiler-free, so my wife, Mollie, kind of vets news for me. So she uses the site all the time.
“I guess I would say Star Wars Explained as an ‘organization’ uses MSW very frequently, but I only read the articles that Mollie sends me [laughs].”
Mollie, a cosplayer, is a big Star Wars fan, too.
“My wife takes cosplay much more seriously than I do,” said Alex. “She has a really killer dark Rey that she did at Dragon Con last year.
“I tend to go in a more goofy direction that is fun and comfortable. I’ve roped my friends into doing Star Bros, so we all dress up as characters like Broba Fett, me, Han Yolo, Chewbrocca, etc.”
Asked if there were any negatives to his high-profile place in the fandom, Alex admitted one: pressure, both internal and external.
However, unlike Jocasta Nu, if something isn’t in his archive, Alex acknowledges that he can’t possibly cover everything.
“I started the channel to teach myself,” he emphasized. “I already knew quite a bit, but this is always a growing experience for me too.
“Obviously, I don’t know everything,” he said. “But sometimes I feel pressure like people expect me to.
“I don’t think anyone really does; it’s just my own inner voice. Also if I ever mispronounce something, I get torn to shreds [laughs]. But come on! Half of the names in Star Wars are just consonants and apostrophes!
“I’m doing my best!”
He certainly is. Just thirty years old and the director of marketing at a small business in Atlanta, Alex still finds time to be a fan and giddily recalls his own geek out moments, including his favorite experience: Meeting Garrick Hagon.
They’ll Never Stop Us…
“Biggs Darklighter, he’s my favorite character, which is a fact that has become sort of a running joke on my channel,” said Damon. “Mr. Hagon was absolutely delightful, very kind; everything I could have hoped for.
“His character was kind of my first introduction to the world of deleted scenes and how the film industry works. There was an old CD-ROM game called (I think) Behind the Magic, and you could unlock Biggs’ deleted scenes. And he had a scene restored in the Special Edition.
“That was so intriguing to me as a young kid, that scenes would be shot and then not used. So I became obsessed with learning about this Biggs guy and back before the internet you had to get clues from different books and sources and piece it all together. And doing that just made me love the guy.
“Plus he’s like the perfect favorite character to have in terms of content. He’s not Han Solo or Luke, who appear in so many stories. Biggs rarely appears, so when he does there is a reason to get very excited. Also when your favorite character is more minor, it’s much easier to collect all the merchandise, and you don’t have to wait in a terribly long line to meet them at Celebration, and they have time to actually talk with you,” he added. “Biggs is the man.”
That’s appropriate, because over 310,000 people call Alex Damon “the man,” too.