Ahsoka Tano has never been one to fear speaking her mind and her instincts serve her well.
It’s especially handy when there’s a Clawdite saboteur planting utensils at an important diplomatic dinner, putting both her friend Senator Padmé Amidala and the future of the Republic in jeopardy.
The Clone Wars may be over, but the latest installment of the new Star Wars Forces of Destiny five-issue series from IDW Publishing proves that there are still plenty of adventures to be had in the prequel era. Throughout January, we’ll sit down with the rotating cast of talented creators behind the mini-series to get a behind-the-scenes look at each issue.
This week, we catch up with author Beth Revis and illustrator Valentina Pinto, who teamed up on Star Wars Forces of Destiny: Ahsoka & Padmé, a continuation of the Forces of Destiny short “The Imposter Inside.” With the issue hitting stores today, Revis and Pinto e-mailed from rural North Carolina and Rome respectively to talk to StarWars.com about teaming up for a little lightsaber sparring, characters that are so real they almost write themselves, and learning to let go because Star Wars belongs to everyone.
StarWars.com: The comic begins just before the animated short “The Imposter Inside,” with some lightsaber sparring between Ahsoka and Barriss Offee. As you were expanding on the short, what made you decide to reintroduce this particular Jedi Padawan into the mix?
Beth Revis: I’ve always loved Ahsoka’s arc in the Clone Wars cartoon, and in particular felt that her final interactions with Barriss were really crucial to her character. We see a bit of their friendship, but the focus of the story is obviously how that friendship ended. Barriss and Ahsoka both had very different but equally passionate ideas about what it meant to be a true Jedi. They forged a friendship in spite of those differing perspectives, but they both obviously found some sort of common ground. That’s what I found fascinating — their magnetic-like attraction and repelling of their principles.
StarWars.com: Valentina, of the five comics in this series, your style on this issue adheres the closest to what the crew at Ghostbot, Inc. did for Forces of Destiny, the animated micro-series. What made you decide to maintain that stylization for your comic?
Valentina Pinto: Working for the most part as a colorist, I became versatile both for the design and for the color. [In talking] with Denton [Tipton], one of the fantastic editors of this series, we thought it would be great that a number of this series had the same style as the shorts of animation from which they were inspired…It was really fun for me [working] with color; I thought I was working on a cartoon!
StarWars.com: Beth, you’re no stranger to the Star Wars universe, having previously penned Rebel Rising, following the life of Jyn Erso between her adoption by Saw and her appearance as a prisoner in Rogue One. What’s the biggest challenge in writing a comic book versus a full novel?
Beth Revis: I’m very used to writing narrative where I have to describe everything and often find a poetic way to express what’s happening visually with words. It was both challenging and a lot of fun to let go of that. I tried to leave a lot of room for Valentina to put her own signature in the work, and I tried to only give detailed descriptions when I felt it was necessary to the plot. It was freeing in a way, but it took a concentrated effort to not try to control every aspect of the story!
StarWars.com: For a series that dedicates the spotlight to individual characters, it also does a tremendous job of showcasing teamwork both in-universe and behind the scenes. What advice would you give someone about collaborating on a narrative that includes ideas from two creators in the finished work?
Valentina Pinto: To work in a team is to create an alchemy and a collaboration. I must say that we found ourselves right away and it was really stimulating for me! It is an experience that I recommend to everyone in their professional life.
Beth Revis: One of the things I’ve learned from writing for Star Wars is that it belongs to everyone. Prior to contributing to the canon, I felt a deep ownership of these characters. They meant so much to me growing up, that I just wanted to clutch them to me. But once I started working with other creators to develop more stories for Star Wars, I realized that these characters and stories belong to everyone. They are an almost universal love within our human culture, and one of the few stories that translates throughout the world. Because of that, I have actually found it really easy to let go of “owning” the characters. Padmé and Ahsoka and Leia and Hera and Rey and all the others are important to me, but not less important to anyone else. It’s incredibly easy to find a way to tell a story about them, because they are such clearly defined characters that almost everyone can identify with. There’s very little compromise because it’s not needed. The characters almost write themselves, as if they were real people.
StarWars.com: Did you have any input on what characters you would focus on?
Beth Revis: This was the first story I was offered, and I jumped on it! I’ve always loved Ahsoka for her courage at the end of her original story, to choose her own path. And Padmé has long been a favorite — although I particularly loved the action she took in The Clone Wars. She was never afraid of danger, but she always moved with grace. There’s something stunning about a person who can do that.
StarWars.com: The whole Forces of Destiny animated series has focused on small moments and decisions as essential building blocks of a person’s character. Ahsoka is wrestling with some serious self doubt here, great foreshadowing for things to come in The Clone Wars. Why do you think it’s important to include those moments of reflection and uncertainty for your characters?
Beth Revis: Adding in those moments of doubt make the characters more human (even if they’re not human). That’s actually something I really loved about the way the story has developed past the original trilogy. In the original three movies, there was a clear black-and-white picture of good and evil, right down to the clothing the characters wore. The prequel trilogy played with that concept of how our choices dictate what we become, but I think we’re seeing that even more in the new movies — there is doubt, and fear, and those play heavily in our choices about ourselves. It’s easy to see Luke as a hero based on the original trilogy, but I actually quite love the way the past is killed in the new movies — it reminds us that there is no perfect good or evil.
StarWars.com: How did you first discover Star Wars and what turned you into a fan?
Valentina Pinto: I discovered Star Wars the first time when I was little girl but I did not remember so much. However, I’ve reviewed the films recently. My travels [to] Disney Parks have made me even more a fan.
Beth Revis: I first discovered Star Wars thanks to my parents’ old video tapes. They recorded the movies when they came on television, so our version of Star Wars still had all the old commercial breaks. It’s strange for me now to watch the movie without them! I don’t recall the first time seeing the movies; they just always were. My brother and I would go into the field and forest near our house and pretend to be on Endor, using old PVC pipes as lightsabers.
StarWars.com: How would you describe this mini adventure in your own words?
Valentina Pinto: This mini adventure speaks of strength, how to have confidence in yourself, and how friendship and collaboration can be the most powerful weapon against the forces of evil.
Beth Revis: This adventure is about learning to trust yourself by trusting others.
StarWars.com: The ever-expanding Star Wars universe has given us novels, films, and animations dedicated to these characters. What were you studying for inspiration?
Valentina Pinto: Although my approach to the story is the one closest to the animated shorts, I was inspired by everything now on Star Wars, so a lot of stuff. It was a beautiful journey, in this fantastic universe of Star Wars and I hope so much that it is not the last one.
Beth Revis: For this particular work, I went back to the cartoons. I watched a lot of The Clone Wars in preparation for developing Saw in Rebel Rising, and I just kept watching them over and over again for Ahsoka’s development in this comic. I also, of course, loved EK Johnston’s novel Ahsoka.
StarWars.com: And how do you know when you have the dialogue, the movement, and the story just right for these characters in particular?
Valentina Pinto: When everything while drawing becomes spontaneous and natural without sacrificing quality and myself. And I hope this will shine from the pages for you, too.
Beth Revis: I tried to put myself in my shoes as a kid — when I was younger, what did I want to see my heroes doing? I wanted them to be able to kick butt and fight, but I also wanted them to know when they could rely on others. I tried to find a balance between Ahsoka being a fighter, and Ahsoka realizing that she could still be friends with someone.
StarWars.com: When you look at the finished comic now, what are you most proud of? And what aspect or individual detail gave you the most difficulty?
Beth Revis: For me, the hardest pages to write were the beginning — staging the first fight and finding a way to have that fight reflect the entire rest of the story. I don’t think I nailed it on my own; it was seeing Valentina’s art bringing that fight to life that really made the scene come alive and be true to the characters.
Valentina Pinto: I’m proud of the total result — story, art and lettering. [Being asked to illustrate a full comic does not often happen for someone] working expressly as a cover artist or colorist. For me, every [day] was a joy and a challenge. I hope you enjoy our work and have fun with Padmé and Ahsoka!
For more on this issue, check out StarWars.com’s exclusive preview!
Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them!