Interview: Dark Horse Comics’ “Star Wars” Editors (Part I)

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Over the past couple of decades, Dark Horse Comics has published hundreds of Star Wars comics and graphic novels, spanning millennia of the saga, and their publishing plans are ramping up for a big year next year. We went out to the company’s Milwaukie, Oregon headquarters to chat with editors Randy Stradley and Dave Marshall about the history and the future of Star Wars comic books. (Episode I of this interview appears today; Episode II will appear tomorrow.)

TECHLAND: How did Dark Horse get involved with publishing Star Wars comics in the first place?

RANDY STRADLEY: The history of Star Wars comics and Dark Horse actually starts at Marvel. My very first job in comics was writing Star Wars for Marvel back in 1983. In ’86, we started Dark Horse, and somewhere not too long after that, ’88 or ’89, Marvel had let the license lapse, and at the point when it lapsed Cam Kennedy and Tom Veitch had already begun work on what became “Dark Empire.” We started pursuing the Star Wars license, and “Dark Empire,” which had kind of been started at Marvel, became our first book. I think originally it was called “The Light and Darkness War,” something like that.

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To make it clear, I wasn’t involved in our Star Wars comics until later. But we did things based on some of the Ballantine novels at the time; we did some series that went way back in time to thousands of years before the Star Wars of the movies. So Star Wars was a going concern here for at least ten years before I took over.

What have been some of the peaks of Dark Horse’s Star Wars publications?

RS: We had a lot of success with “Dark Empire,” and a lot of success with our adaptations of the Timothy Zahn novels. We went through a period when we were doing series of miniseries–one thing we did was called “Crimson Empire,” which focused on one of the last surviving Imperial Guards. We did an X-Wing series that followed the members of Rogue Squadron after Luke had left the squadron. And then we started a series that was just called Star Wars, as part of a lead-up to Episode I being released. After Episode II, we changed the title of that to Republic, and started focusing on the events in the Clone Wars. That kind of led us to where we are today.

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So what projects do you have coming up?

DAVE MARSHALL: Right now we’re working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, which is a series that ties into the LucasArts MMO that’s planned to launch next year; that’s being written by one of the writers on the game. Our first story arc was written by Rob Chesney, and our second story arc is written by Alexander Freed, both writers on the game. And we’re launching a new series in October, Star Wars: Knight Errant, which is written by John Jackson Miller, who wrote a 50-issue run on Knights of the Old Republic, which ended earlier this year. Knight Errant is going to introduce this new character, Kerra Holt. It’s a relatively uncharted time period for Star Wars–a thousand years before Episode I–and John will then be taking that character and that time period and writing a novel for Del Rey as well, which is going to come out in February. So the plan there is to integrate the stories of the comics and the novels, all under a single author. We’re pretty excited about that.

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