I saw an interesting phrase yesterday on an online 10 of the Best site [there are tons of them!]. The phrase was 'the burden of canon' and was referring to some plot twist or other in the US superhero TV series, Arrow.
Now the word canon is not one I bandy about at all as I'm very unsure of its meaning and how to use it. I assume that it refers to the unfolding backstory of a superhero like Arrow or Thor or someone equally fabulous. The first question I would have to ask is whether canon is restricted to Superheroes and...... maybe even just comics?
However, I'm pretty sure I've heard mention of the Star Wars canon though, so it must also embrace films, film franchises, sequels etc.
So, getting back to that phrase, 'the burden of canon'. Its fascinating to me that a canon could be a burden, but I suppose that any backstory with its own characters and history will determine in some way what comes next and thus restrict the writer/ artist/ producer etc.
In terms of what we speak most often about on this blog, the Project SWORD canon would, I presume, include everything that has been officially published - Solo, TV21, Annuals, Letts Diary, Make a Model Books - together with all the toys and associated material like the badges, instruction sheets and Manual.
I wrestled with this very idea way back in the original Checklist I did when I classified toys and publications as either 'true SWORD' or not. For instance, I marked SpaceX and Golden Astronaut as not true SWORD.
Was this correct? They share some of the same vehicle designs and Jack Rosenthal was involved in both lines. Are they 'canon'? [can you even say that? 'are they canon?']
But what about something clearly tangential like, say, the Randy Rayder LP, which includes a version of Probe Force 1 called Athena on the cover and in the gatefold comic? Is that part of the Project SWORD canon? Just the cover and comic art or the whole story on the LP and what's written in the comic [which has no SWORD content whatsoever] ?
The newly discovered American Tarheel Project SWORD Spectrum Patrol Car is another useful example too. It clearly says Project SWORD on the box but we know the vehicle has been hijacked from Captain Scarlet and is most likely the Century 21 SPC anyway! Is it part of the SWORD canon? The question is even trickier if you consider anything other than Century 21 Toys both on the box and in the box to be unauthentic.
I wonder if this is what the burden of canon refers to? More likely perhaps, its to do with tying a story [or toy line?] into what has gone before. I can imagine that Star Wars fans have a problem with the 1978 TV Holiday Special as its just so awful but because all the original cast are in it then surely its canon?
What are your thoughts about canon readers?