John Jackson Miller on “Star Wars: Knight Errant”

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Are there parts of the overall Star Wars timeline that you’re particularly drawn to, even if they’re not necessarily the parts that you work in?

I like to have room to move around. With Knights of the Old Republic, we positioned ourselves seven years before some cataclysmic video game events. It was fine to do that, because what we were writing about had a lot to do with the overreaction by some fortune-telling Jedi to this horrible thing that they saw coming in the future. I liked the fact that some of our readers knew that “yeah, the horrible stuff is coming in the future,” but I was far enough back from it as well that I was not constantly running into too many events that had to happen. That said, there was always the question: when is this guy gonna show up, when is that guy gonna show up? And I really tend to not want to have a lot of cameo appearances, just to do it. I would much rather create our own tapestry and fill that in. So we only ended up using characters that we could add something to–I wasn’t going to bring these guys off the bench just to have them appear.

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Now, in the case of “Knight Errant,” I deliberately said “let’s put this an entire generation before the nearest thing,” and that’s exactly what we did. “Knight Errant” is set 32 years before what they call the Rule of Two was instituted: that’s when we go from having a whole bunch of Sith warring with each other to be the top guy or woman, we go down to just Darth Bane and his apprentice, so there’s always a master and always an apprentice, and that’s how it stays until we get up to the Emperor in the Star Wars movies. We are 32 years before that, and one of the reasons we picked that number is it’s exactly 1000 years before Phantom Menace. That’s the round-number thing.

But it’s right in the middle of a period when we’ve got heaping gobs of Sith, warring with each other; all you’ve got to do to become a Sith Lord is put a hat on your head and say “hey, I’m a Sith Lord!” They all have warring fiefdoms, and really, the feeling in the era in this time is like you’re living in the outskirts of the Roman Empire, for example in England, when the Roman Empire’s collapsing and they’re calling back their support, and suddenly there’s barbarian hordes coming from this direction and that, and they’re saying “sorry, we can’t help you.” That’s exactly what happens here to the outer rim of the galaxy; as I’ve said a couple of times, the Republic sort of curls up into a fetal position, recalls all the Jedi, and pretty much says to everybody who’s living out there “can’t help you, there’s nothing we can do.”

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Kerra Holt is the star of our series. She’s part of a group of Jedi who are pretty much weekend warriors, and they decide “we’re going to try to do some raids out in the territory and change some things; we know we can’t have a major effect, but we can at least do some targeted things and show the flag and show people that there is hope.” Problem is, when you cut off the rest of the galaxy like that, you don’t know what’s on the other side of the hyperspace corridor; you don’t know what you’re flying into. That’s the springboard for our whole series. The first mission goes horribly wrong, and Kerra, 18 years old, on her first mission, ends up alone out there, and in between these colliding icebergs that are the Sith Lords that are out there. She has to decide what she’s going to do: she can try to get back home, or she can try to knock off one of the Sith Lords, or she can actually try to help the people, and that’s yet another purpose of the Jedi: to help the victims and not worry so much about the strategic picture. We do hit her with a lot of choices in the comics series, which starts October 13. And, of course, then the novel, which is a completely separate story, comes out January 25.

Who’s drawing the comic?

Federico Dallocchio. He’s really come up with a visual that I think is very arresting here–it’s got that Dark Ages by way of Star Wars feel that we’re going for. And Michael Atiyeh, who’s our colorist, has brought in this new palette of colors. I’m looking through these pages, and it’s cool–it’s a totally different look from what we’ve seen before. Everything looks spooky. And just about everything is on fire in this series, so he’s got a lot of opportunity to show what these things look like. It’s a very strong contribution there.

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