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?
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?
John 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?
John 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.