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Phoenix Color has 'Stars Wars' covered

May 21, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Kerry Coyle and Jason Schaeffer weren't standing in any lines for the midnight debut of the new "Star Wars" movie this week.

Truth be told, as of Friday afternoon, neither of the Phoenix Color Corp. employees had seen the long-awaited prequel to the classic science-fiction trilogy.

But both shared in the excitement leading up to the release as Phoenix Color's Hagerstown plant quietly churned out millions of colorful covers and jackets for books related to "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace."

"It's neat to know something nobody else knows before anything breaks," said Schaeffer, customer service representative for the "Star Wars" jobs.

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Confidentiality agreements with publisher Random House kept Phoenix employees mum about the Star Wars jobs until the film was out, said Coyle, vice president of customer service.

The agreements and the resulting procedure, including destruction of any spoilage, are familiar to Phoenix employees, who handle many "top security jobs," she said.

They've done a lot of Oprah's Book Club releases lately, Coyle said.

Those are all hush-hush because Oprah Winfrey wants to be first to announce them, she said.

The numerous "Star Wars" jobs - including jackets for hardcover editions of a novel based on the film and covers for paperback children's books based on the film - started coming in back in March, Schaeffer said.

Many jobs were for the same books, including four versions of the jacket for "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace," a novel by Terry Brooks based on the George Lucas screenplay, he said.

The covers, each featuring two characters from the film, were made as "limited editions" for collectors, Schaeffer said.

Paired up are Queen Amidala and Jar Jar Binks, Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, slave boy Anakin Skywalker and his owner, Watto, and Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine.

In other cases, covers for the same book had only small design differences, like the Australian and U.S. versions of the paperback cover for "Star Wars: The Making of Episode I - The Phantom Menace," by Laurent Bouzereau and Jody Duncan, Schaeffer said.

Then there were at least 25 juvenile editions, including covers made for books going into Kmart and Wal-Mart stores to "Jedi Readers," stepped in difficulty for school children, he said.

All in all, over 4 million "Star Wars"-related covers and jackets have been printed by Phoenix, Coyle said.

And the presses will keep rolling as reorders come in, she said.

The first reorder, for the Darth Maul version of the novel jacket, came in the Monday before the movie opened.

Because all of the jobs had "something special" about them, like metallic print or foil embossing, they were all printed in the Phoenix plant off Western Maryland Parkway, Coyle said.

It's the only one of the company's several printing facilities with the capability for the special jobs, she said.

Despite the Phoenix connection, neither Coyle nor Schaeffer expect to see the new "Star Wars."

But Coyle said her husband, Jeff, and their 10-year-old daughter Danielle are big fans and plan to see the movie together.

Information about the Random House books is available online at www.randominfo.com/starwars.

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