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

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Is there any really good history of the earliest Star Wars comics? It seems like those were put together under such weird circumstances.

RS: The first six or eight issues from Marvel were put together before the movie came out. They had some photos from the movie, but nobody really had an idea of what this was, and so things get pretty wacky early on. I mean, there are giant green rabbits running around, and things like that. After the first movie came out, and nobody knew there was going to be a sequel–now you had an idea of what Star Wars was, but it sort of went off in all directions, and at that time even the people at Lucasfilm didn’t know where it was going to go. More things were allowed that now somebody would go “oh, no, we’re not going to do that.”

(More on Techland: Star Wars Producer: The Movies Became About the Toys)

Do the ideas for the Star Wars comics that Dark Horse publishes tend to get generated by Lucas, or by Dark Horse, or both?

RS: Occasionally, like with “Clone Wars,” they really wanted a “Clone Wars” comic, and so for the first year we did a “Clone Wars” comic. But what we discovered was that kids don’t buy comics: adults buy comics! So doing a comic based on a show that’s aimed at kids didn’t do so well. Now we’re doing mini graphic novellas, digest-size, 72-page or 80-page graphic novels set in the Clone Wars, and those do really well. Those seem to be something that parents will buy for their kids, as opposed to a comic book.

Which books are your perennial sellers?

RS: Dark Empire won’t stop selling. We collected all the Republic series under the title “Clone Wars,” not knowing that Lucasfilm was going to do a Clone Wars TV series–in hindsight, it was the most genius thing we could’ve done! So many of the books keep selling and selling–Legacy does really well, Knights of the Old Republic does well. We’ve started doing fat omnibus collections, so it’s a value package, and those have been really popular.

(More on Techland: 5 Heroes Who Totally Should Be Jedi Already)

DM: I think one of the strengths of Dark Horse’s comics line is that it reflects how Star Wars is different things to different fans, and there are a lot of satisfying points of entry for different kinds of fans. You don’t have to start in any one place. If there’s a particular thing about Star Wars that you’re really passionate about, we have a title about that part of the Star Wars experience.

RS: If you think Jedi are really cool, there’s plenty of points of entry; if you think Boba Fett is the hottest thing ever, there are some volumes based on Boba Fett.

When did Dark Horse get the license to reprint the stuff Marvel published?

RS: It belongs to Lucasfilm–we could have done it from the beginning, it just didn’t occur to us to do until 2002, right before the time I took over the Star Wars line.

And how many Star Wars books has Dark Horse published in all?

RS: Well, about five years ago, I counted ’em up, and there were over 150 graphic novels. Part of what we’re trying to do with the omnibus collections is make that backlist less intimidating and give people more for less, but… there’s probably over 200 by now. And next year’s going to be big. We’ve got a number of things that either people have been clamoring for or will be so unexpected that they’ll get excited.

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