Open John Cassaday’s Star Wars Sketchbook, Part 2

The acclaimed artist talks AT-ATs, matching the look of the original trilogy, and more!

Artist John Cassaday’s expert handling of such Marvel comics teams like the X-Men and the Avengers makes him the perfect creator to tackle the rich relationships and character interaction required in the new, ongoing Star Wars series, which debuts today. In the first part of this exclusive interview with the artist, found on Marvel.com, he outlined his approach to the saga; in this second part, he pinpoints his outlook on specific components of the property, as well as working with the series’ other creators.

StarWars.com: Do you ever ask for specific elements from your writer? Like the AT-AT in Star Wars #1 — was that in the script originally, or do you have some pull in drawing the coolest things from the films?

Star Wars #1 interior page by John Cassaday

John Cassaday: One of the clever concepts Jason [Aaron] inserted into the first story was to place our heroes in the middle of an Imperial weapons factory. In a very natural fashion, we’d have our pick of the litter in terms of bad-guy vehicles, some of which you might recognize…

We’ve gone back and forth with Lucasfilm about what to use and what to not…and I think it’s important not to fall too much into the arena of fan-fiction, which is to say: Don’t use something just because it was our favorite toy or “that would be so cool!” It needs to make sense that it’s there. That said, upon reading the script, I thought, “AT-AT…? Hell, yes.”

StarWars.com: When it came to designing new, non-film elements in the comic, like those aliens in #2, what’s that process like? How much of the films’ alien design informs what you do, and how much is your own flights of fancy?

Star Wars #2 interior page by John Cassaday Star Wars #2 interior page by John CassadayJohn Cassaday: From the start I knew my approach to the overall design on the book would be very much in touch with the practical filmmaking of the original trilogy. I wanted to embrace the limitations of technology, make-up, and costuming from that era. No intricate over-the-top CGI or mo-cap. So when I design an alien figure, I keep in mind that it’s an actor wearing a rubber mask, prosthetics, or possibly a puppet. If they couldn’t do it then, I won’t do it now.

StarWars.com:  How would you define the coloring on this book? What do you feel it does for your art?

Star Wars #2 interior page by John Cassaday

Star Wars #2 interior page by John CassadayJohn Cassaday: Keeping it basic and filmic. The movies wisely never stretch too far with cinematography tricks, so neither should we. [Colorist] Laura Martin and I have worked together many times over and she certainly knows the Star Wars universe, so it was a natural fit and she’s doing a fantastic job.

StarWars.com: Okay, what’s the one thing in Star Wars #1 that you can’t wait for readers to experience, and why?

John Cassaday: Honestly, I just want the reader to turn on the John Williams music as they crack the sucker open. From there on, if we’ve done our job, I think they’ll find themselves immersed in a stellar experience from long ago and far away. I know I have.

Jim Beard, a native of Toledo, Ohio, has worked as a professional writer since 2002, not only on comic books, but also on prose adventure fiction. He’s contributed weekly to Marvel.com for over ten years, one of his proudest achievements.

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