On Friday afternoon, Dark Horse hosted a Twitter chat with the writers of two of their most recent Star Wars comics series, Brian Wood of the top-selling new Star Wars ongoing series, and the team of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman of the new Star Wars: Legacy (Volume 2) series.
With Brian Wood’s series that has been flying off the shelves since its premiere in January (the 4th printing of Issue #1 comes out on April 17, while Issue #4 comes out April 10), there were a lot of questions about the focus on Leia. Bechko and Hardman discussed Legacy’s new protagonist, Ania Solo, and gave a few hints for what’s in store for the series, which had its first issue on March 20. I’ve got the highlights of the conversation at #SWComicsChat below, and even have a handful of questions of my own.
Q: I’ve never read any Star Wars comic, can I start with both comics?
BW: If you’ve seen the 1977 film, that’s all you need to get into mine
CB: We have really tried to make it easy to jump on board our Legacy run. And @brianwood’s is easy to sink right into.
Q: Has there been a Star Wars story you wanted to tell that has not been approved? Or were you able to alter it enough to print?
BW: I was barely asked to alter anything I pitched.
CB: No, working with Dark Horse on this has been very easy. We haven’t had to alter much of anything.
Q: I’m not a SW fan, but a @brianwood @gabrielhardman @DarkHorseComics fan. Why should I read SW?
GH: Yes! :) We’re trying for a fun adventure book if you know SW or not.
Q: How much time does it take to plan a Star Wars comic series? How long before the official announcement do you star working?
BW: I’ve found it typical in comics to have 5-6 issues done by the time you launch.
CB: Longer than you’d think! Dark Horse is very good about having several issues complete before launching.
Q: What comics did you all read or still read?
CB: My most recent favorite comic miniseries was Comeback, which was about time travel.
Q: What is hardest thing about writing comics in general, not just Star Wars?
BW: just getting the work out, plain and simple. Producing on a tight schedule.
CB: Being creative on a timetable. Deadlines are important, you can’t wait for inspiration to strike!
Brian Wood and Star Wars:
Some basic answers: the second story arc (which will follow the first six-issue arc ‘In The Shadow of Yavin’) does not yet have a name 100% locked down yet. The first 12 issues will form one big story, and Wood is contracted for 20 issues.
Q: Is Princess Leia your favorite SW character to write?
BW: Probably! I think I like Wedge just as much but my series is really about Leia.
Q: How do you create characters that not only intrigue the readers, but are as memorable as Luke, Han, Leia and the rest?
BW: Not sure it’s possible to create anyone as memorable as the originals.
Q: Do you ever feel limited by previously written stories and/or the Star Wars canon?
BW: I don’t – I just try and do my own thing and not break or contradict continuity in the process.
Q: As much as I love Leia, so far my favorite part of Star Wars from Dark Horse Comics is that Han shot first.
BW: My subconscious did that one before I was really aware of it!
Q: How do you feel your earlier work from DMZ or Demo has influenced your current work on Star Wars?
BW: Not 100% sure about DMZ, but Demo taught me the value of making sure readers relate to your characters in any situation.
JJ: @brianwood said Wedge is a fave, what’s it like getting in this head in this time? is he still grieving the losses of Yavin?
BW: Everyone is grieving, yeah. Wedge is getting lots of screentime, but I have yet to really get into his head.
Q: Is the key to Star Wars the action and adventure aspect or the characters? Which do you spend more time on?
BW: It’s the characters, always. It’s the drama, the relationships. That IS Star Wars, more than anything else.
Q: Why do you use more than your usual amount of narration on Star Wars? Is a style choice to line up with comics of old?
BW: I actually think its a little less than other books I write.
Q: Do you use as much omniscient narration in your other work? That’s what I meant.
BW: In some, sure. The Massive has a good deal of that, as does Mara. I use it very selectively in Star Wars to evoke the text crawl of the films, and to add a bit of epic-ness. But overall its very little narration.
Q: Leia is the main character for Star Wars. Are you using a main female protagonist to draw new readers or widen perceptions?
BW: In this case, I just felt her story was most compelling. It’s an ensemble cast, but she is a focus for now.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in playing in this massive Star Wars sandbox?
BW: In my case, just keeping it simple and not overthinking anything.
Q: Was it ever your dream to write a star wars comic?
BW: I didn’t know I even wanted to until it was offered to me!
Q: What is it like to be able to delve into characters like Wedge and Leia, or any rebel, beyond the movies?
BW: Fun? haha, that’s mostly it. I’ve known these ppl for 35 years of my life.
Q: Who is your favorite Star Wars character to write & why?
BW: Leia, she’s young and complex and multi-faceted. Smart, capable, but carries a heavy burden. Pure gold to write.
Q: Cool. Do you think you’d ever do a book just focused on Leia?
BW: If I could, absolutely.
Q: Was Han Solo shooting the imperial agent in the back in SW3 you weighing in on who shot first Greedo controversy?
BW: Not consciously. Mostly just wanted to show Han is smart and savvy and can smell a rat. I’m fine with people seeing a subtext though!
Q: How did you come up with the Black X-wings?
BW: Dunno, I just thought it would be cool if they had prototype models.
Q: How difficult is it to write Chewbacca’s dialogue?
BW: HARD! Same with R2. I wish there was a dictionary I could reference.
Q: What was emphasis or idea behind having Leia be such a “warrior” figure in your new Star Wars series?
BW: Isn’t she one in the films? One of the 1st things we ever see her do is smoke a stormtrooper. She resists torture, takes over her own rescue, shoots troopers, helps fly the Falcon, and that’s just the 1st film.
Q: Any other trilogy characters that might make an appearance soon? Dodonna? Lando? :)
BW: Dodonna’s not a bad idea.
Q: How big of a role will Boba Fett play in your story?
BW: He’s there for a few issues. Huge epic battle over Coruscant.
Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman on Star Wars: Legacy:
The current story arc, ‘Prisoner of the Floating World’ will be a five issue story arc. The title of the second arc is known, but wasn’t revealed as Hardman felt it would be a spoiler.
DHC: To @gabrielhardman & @corinnabechko Are you big @starwars fans in general or excited to explore storytelling with Legacy?
GH: Absolutely! We wouldn’t be doing this book if we weren’t big fans. Love exploring this universe.
CB: Oh definitely! Who wouldn’t want the chance to explore a bit more of that universe?
Q: Do you ever feel limited by previously written stories and/or the Star Wars canon?
CB: Not at all! Making the story fit into the existing SW universe is part of the challenge, and can be a lot of fun.
JJ: Ania & Sauk: they seem like opposites – what holds them together as friends?
CB: They’re both outsiders, yet they realize their personalities are complementary, I think!
JJ: As outsiders, they seem to have this great level of trust – will we see more of their history?
CB: Yes, we will definitely be going further into that in the next arc.
Q: Will we be seeing any other characters lineage in the new Legacy book? Like a descendent of Lando?
GH: We may though it’s a big galaxy and we want to avoid the “young Greedo” scenario.
Q: I heard @gabrielhardman mention Peter Suschitzky as an influence for SWLegacy, how did you draw influence from P.S. for Legacy?
GH: The look he brought to Empire is the look of Star Wars for me. He’s the best DP who worked on the series.
Q: Agreed! Between Empire, RockyHorror, and the Cronenberg films…I think he is my fave DP of all time. Bold words,
GH: He’s one on the best, absolutely.
Q: Surprised to see Sith right away while introducing a more scoundrel character. Why that route?
GH: We wanted to bring in the Sith in a different way. We have big plans.
JJ: Your art sets a different tone, setting it apart from vol1. Was this intentional, or is it just your style?
GH: A little of both. Star Wars is a used universe. It should look rough around the edges.
JJ: Your use of shading and character shapes remind me a lot of Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire – was he an influence?
GH: Not specifically but I was a fan of that book.
Q: Do you plan on showing us the fate of Cade Skywalker?
GH: Cade may be involved at a later point but we don’t want to step on the work Jan and John did.
Q: How will your take on the Legacy series differ from other Star Wars comics & stories?
CB: I hope Ania’s personality will cast an interesting light on new stories that organically fit into the universe.
Q: Any chance Ania is a descendant of Allana or will I have to wait and see?
GH: You’ll just have to wait and see! :)
Q: how does the writing work between you two?
GH: We make detailed notes of plot and dialogue. Corinna writes a first draft, then I take a pass.
JJ: what’s the draft like? more like a script or does it have panel/layout ideas?
GH: We break down all the panels before we go to the first draft. That’s a big part of the storytelling.
Q: So did Ania inherit the falcon as a family heirloom & have it stashed away someplace?
GH: The Falcon is over 100 years old! I’m sure it’s on a junk heap somewhere. ;)
CB: Oh, blasphemy, @gabrielhardman ;)
Q: How hard is it to transition from Planet of the Apes to Star Wars?
CB: Not hard at all! We’re still writing Apes too, but I admit it’s easier to NOT work on them on the same day ;)
GH: It’s not hard. We’re very well versed in both worlds. Just have to make sure and not not mix them up. ;)