Tattoo contest sends fan to Star Wars marathon

John Edward Lee shows off the "Star Wars" tattoo that won him Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's contest to see a movie marathon in Austin, Texas, before the premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Rachel Mahoney/Daily

WINCHESTER – After showing off his Star Wars tattoo, Clarke County resident John Edward Lee was off to a 17-hour movie marathon in Austin, Texas, leading up to the much-anticipated premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas across the country held a contest for fans to share their ink on Instagram and score a trip to Austin for a full Star Wars marathon when the latest film premiered Thursday. After seeing an ad for the contest – and creating an Instagram account – Lee decided to enter and was chosen as the winner from the Winchester theater. He also said he’ll be blogging about the experience and writing a review for the theater’s website.

Lee’s upper arm tattoo, which he said he had wanted since age 18, is a replica of the Mandalorian skull marking found on Boba Fett’s armor in the same location. Lee admitted his tattoo isn’t the most unique piece of Star Wars ink, since the character has gained quite the fan base since “The Empire Strikes Back.”

“I used to think of myself as not even a tattoo kind of guy when I was a kid,” he said. “I would draw it on my arm with a marker for years, just getting the feel for it. And then I finally got it and I felt good about it ever since.”

Lee said he’s been preparing for the release for years by immersing himself in everything Star Wars. Having traveled to many a Star Wars convention, he said he’s seen plenty of other themed tattoos, too.

“I’m kind of always living a Star Wars marathon – I’m always reading or playing or watching something,” he said.

The marathon in Austin started at 4:45 a.m. Thursday so that the audience could sit though all six films before catching the premiere. Apparently, there won’t be any surprises for Lee.

“They try to keep it as guarded as possible, although I read the plot about three months ago online, so I know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Beyond the episodic films, fans like Lee have been able to satisfy their Star Wars appetite through TV shows, books, games and other media that further explore the galaxy far, far away. But as he explained it, many of those stories were invalidated by Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012.

“Because Disney bought these movies, all those stories don’t mean anything anymore – this is a new continuity,” he said. “So I have 130 books, 400 comic books that really don’t exist anymore.”

Despite the effective erasure of years of Star Wars lore, Lee said the new continuity has its own advantages.

“I just went through the seven stages of grief and dealt with it,” he said. “The best thing about it, though, is Chewbacca died in the books about 15 years ago … so now that there’s this new continuity, Chewbacca’s alive again.”

According to the Alamo website, all showings of the new film  were sold out on Thursday. Lee he said he’s lucky he won his ticket.

“I didn’t buy tickets immediately when it came out … and someone asked me why and I’m like, ‘I trust in the Force to get me tickets. It was pretty funny.” he said.

“Seeing the movie is the real prize, more than anything else,” he said. “It’s really about seeing that movie with other fans who are there.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com