Marvel’s Star Wars #1 arrived last week, officially ushering in a new age of Star Wars comics. Set right after the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, the issue features Han and Leia at their flirting-meets-bickering and Imperial-blasting best, Chewbacca as a sniper (!), and a thrilling cliffhanger ending. In short, it’s Star Wars to the core, it feels like a fresh start, and it’s fantastic.
In celebration of Star Wars #1’s release, StarWars.com spoke with the landmark comic’s creators, writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday, for some Bothan-spy-worthy behind-the-scenes secrets.
1. Star Wars #1 may have some Easter Eggs. Obi-Wan once said, “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.” But in this case, ignore the Jedi Master’s advice. “I won’t go into specifics,” says Cassaday, “but between the fact that we’re in an Imperial weapons factory and the rest of the moon is an intergalactic junkyard, I’d suggest that there may just be a few fun bits hidden beyond the shadows…”
2. When it came to the writing, one character proved surprisingly difficult to capture. All of Star Wars‘ heroes and villains — from braggadocios scoundrels to evil Sith Lords — are unique in terms of personality. But for Aaron, writing a talkative droid was the most challenging aspect of the entire script. “The hardest part was getting C-3PO’s voice right,” he says, “because it’s very distinctive. But it’s also probably the most fun, because he’s the guy that spends most of those movies insulting everybody and arguing.” Thankfully, Aaron had the tools to figure it out. “It helps being the perfect age,” he says. “Being a kid who grew up on Star Wars, you have those voices in your head. We were all, as kids, running around in our backyards, swinging sticks and pretending to be Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, or Princess Leia. You’re acting out those characters. So, basically, my childhood was good research for my current job.”
3. Luke and Leia’s outfits serve character-driven purposes. At the end of A New Hope, Luke wears a new getup in the brief medal ceremony scene: striking yellow jacket, black shirt, brown pants, and black boots. He never wears it in The Empire Strikes Back, but Cassaday felt it was right for the new series. “That was my call and luckily no one objected,” he says. “I always loved that outfit. The jacket is based on a British rally jacket (possibly store-bought) and the pants are in the style of what Han wears in the next two films… Just a great mishmash. It always struck me as a reflection of Luke graduating from outer-rim farm boy to the Flash Gordon-type swashbuckling defender of the universe!”
Leia, however, sports an all-new look. Cassaday, like he did for Luke, looked to reflect the princess’ personality and arc in her attire. “I played up the middle ground between her regal robes and mission-appropriate action gear,” he says, “but always in white and a bit sexy. Y’know, Princess Leia! You’ll see her in different variations and hairstyles as we go, depending on the occasion.” The ultimate goal with the characters’ appearances, however, was for the book to truly feel like Star Wars.
“I think we all agreed coming into this,” Aaron says, “that we wanted this to look like a direct continuation of the original film. So, we didn’t want to see people wearing something that was jarringly different than what we’d seen before. It doesn’t mean they had to be dressed exactly the same, but we wanted it to feel like an easy segue from that movie into this.”
4. The issue’s aliens are not digital effects. In the original films, masks and costumes were hand-made. In order to maintain a visual continuity with those movies, Cassaday followed the rules of practical effects. “The key approach to design on this book,” Cassaday says, “is very much in touch with the original trilogy and the technology, make-up, and costuming of the time. No intricate CGI or mo-cap. When I design a new character or alien, I think of it as an actor wearing a rubber mask, prosthetics, or possibly a puppet, and I try to work within those given boundaries.”
5. One type of alien makes a cameo for a specific reason. When you’re writing Star Wars #1 and you have a favorite alien, it gets in the comic. “I love the Hammerhead guy in the cantina, in the original film,” says Aaron. “I remember having that figure. I’ve still got it somewhere. So, I’ve always liked those guys, so we see several of them in issue #1. I don’t know why, but they’re probably my favorite.”
6. You should think of Star Wars #1 as the opening scene of a new movie. As Marvel’s Star Wars picks up where A New Hope leaves off, the book’s creators went into this project looking to create a cinematic experience — and to honor the spirit of the original films. “I wanted to capture what made me fall in love with Star Wars as a kid,” Aaron says. “I wanted to see that entire cast of characters, together, getting involved in the same sort of situations that we’d seen them involved in in the films. You know, I wanted this to feel like we were doing another movie set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. We’re just doing a movie on paper, in comic-book form.” And while both Aaron and Cassaday were extremely excited to create their own Star Wars movie-as-comic, that excitement has not dissipated with the release of issue #1.
“These characters and stories are an important part of my creative building blocks,” says Cassaday. “I must say that getting to reach back and live inside that mythology for a bit is a special thing that will live on for me.” Aaron concurs — and is looking forward to the future of the series.
“I’m still just as happy as I sit down to write issue 6 as I was when I wrote the first one,” says Aaron. “This is not a job that’s going to get boring anytime soon. I feel like we’re just getting started and just scratching the surface.”
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer, and spends his days writing stuff for and around StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.