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Von Pinnon: Planets align for Forum project of galactic scale

Sometimes the planets align and what starts as a glimmer of an idea grows into a universe of possibilities.

Today's newspaper illustrates that evolution.

Let's start at the beginning, the "big bang" if you will.

VIDEO: Go behind the scenes on The Forum's massive Star Wars project

Editors at The Forum meet weekly to plan for what's ahead, what's out there in the distant universe of possibilities. We try to anticipate events both locally and globally.

A couple of months ago, at one of these weekly meetings, we noted that the new "Star Wars" film, seventh in the series, was slated to debut Dec. 17.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to anticipate this film will be popular. You might have even seen and heard a little about it by now. The series started in 1977, so it has pulled in several generations.

We wanted to do something special to mark this latest offering.

Presentation Editor Jason Miller and page designer Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, a "Star Wars" superfan, threw out the possibility of doing a full-page artistic treatment to illustrate the movie.

It's worth noting that, for most newspapers, that idea alone would be as challenging as building a Death Star. But we have a semi-secret galactic weapon in graphic artist Troy Becker. His talents for illustrating stories are as honed as Mace Windu's lightsaber swordplay.

As Miller, Becker and Strnad Hoalcraft started discussing the idea, they quickly surmised that relevant "Star Wars" info was too big for one page. Heck, it was too big for two pages.

What if, they asked, we did a full-page infographic on each of the previous six movies?

That's a pretty big commitment in its own right. But the next idea, moments later, took it to lightspeed.

What if those full-page posters made one giant poster at the end?

And there you have the makings of our madness.

Beginning today and running through Friday, you can pick up a copy of the paper and piece together, day by day, a giant poster of all things "Star Wars."

We really couldn't do this crazy stuff without crazy-talented people. Becker's a fantastic artist. He worked on it for weeks between other daily commitments. Miller, his boss, fought for the time it took to make that commitment stick, meanwhile cooking up the other related fun elements in today's edition. Strnad Hoalcraft worked tirelessly to edit and fact-check the elements of the poster. Only somebody so committed to the films could properly do that.

Our publisher, Bill Marcil Jr., routinely challenges us to have fun and surprise and delight our readers whenever we can. It's a challenge we take seriously.

In this case, the planets aligned.

Now, we fully understand and appreciate that some readers may think we've lost it, gone too far. Surely, "Star Wars" needs no more promotion from us. All of those criticisms are fair.

But in this day and age when so much of our planet seems destined for destruction and despair, a little diversion into a make-believe universe far, far away can't be all bad.

Pick up your paper each day this week and the Force will surely be with you.

Matthew Von Pinnon

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum.

(701) 241-5579
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