August 3, 2006
Way back at about issue 19 of Republic, John Ostrander and I were asked to do a 4 issue arc for Republic so we asked if we could create a Jedi from a background character in Episode I. We both watched the film again and I spotted the extra who would be Quinlan Vos in the background of the outdoor Cantina on Tatooine. I didn’t actually know Doug at the time, but the character I drew resembles him so closely that it’s hard to believe I did not use Doug for my initial model of Quin. Doug is the friend of a mutual friend and 501st member Chip Childress. Happening to see some old photos of Doug with longer hair, Chip noted that Doug surely looked like Quin and sent the pics along to me. I agreed he looked a lot like Quin and thought it would be fun to work from a model. After meeting Doug, it also occurred to me that it might be fun to use my rusty costuming skills to build Quin’s dark Jedi armor for him so he could appear at Chicago Wizard World as Master Vos. Making the armor was a blast—I brought the leather for the vest to Mid-Ohio Con and a bunch of us brainstormed how to make it. After we’d made the basic pattern and cut it out we had to dampen the leather to form it. There we were at about 2 AM drenching a hunk of leather in the shower of the hotel room! Now that’s how to party, huh? Lots of laughs and great memories. It was a lot of fun to bring Quin to life.
The in-depth and incredible stories of Vos, from Twilight, through The Clone Wars, up until now, are they your stories, or are they a collaboration of all the writers and artists who cover the Star Wars Universe for Dark Horse Comics?
The only Quin story that John and I did not take part in was the ‘Infinity’s End’ arc. All of the rest, Twilight, Darkness, Rite of Passage, The Stark Hyperspace War, Jedi Aayla Secura, Jedi Count Dooku and others were worked on by either John or myself. I both wrote and drew a short story for Star Wars Tales about an older Quin entitled ‘Ghost’.
You also created Aayla Secura, the first character from a comic book to make it to an actual Star Wars movie. How was she devised?
Aayla was devised at first as the missing padawan of Quin for Twilight. Initially, she was never intended to make an actual appearance in the book except in flashback—and we were pretty sure she would be dead by the end of the arc. Then my daughter, Sian intervened. When she found out that Aayla would die by the end of Twilight, she complained to John and I that there just were not enough cool female Jedi in Star Wars (This was pre-AOTC where there are a lot of cool female Jedi, btw). Sian won both of us over and Aayla lived through many more story arcs and even made it onto the big screen.
Amy Allen played Aayla Secura. How incredible was it for you to see a creation of yours go from comic book art to a living, breathing, character in Attack of the Clones and again in Revenge of the Sith? How did you feel about her demise?
I first heard about Aayla being in AOTC while I was drawing the end of the graphic adaptation of the film. I couldn’t believe it, but it was true! Couldn’t wait to see her in the film and really enjoyed all the spots in AOTC that she showed up in. I got a real charge watching the fans find her throughout the film. Amy did a great job of portraying Aayla—she looks just like I imagined the character. In Revenge of the Sith, there was a different feeling because, well, we all knew the fate of the Jedi with Order 66. Still, Aayla appeared on one of the most amazing worlds in the film. Felucia was incredibly alien and beautiful. It showed that the horror and death of war does not respect the peace and beauty of any world. And, I also felt the scene with Bly and the Clones betraying their general had enormous impact—especially for the fans who had read Star Wars Republic issue 68—a one issue story titled ‘Armor.’ In that issue we explored the way the Clones view their Jedi generals and themselves in the war. Aayla trusted Bly to watch her back—and he had never let her down. I think that story gives added emotional content to his betrayal of her. I know a lot of fans would rather that Aayla have lived. I respect the way she died, as a Knight of the Force, as a Jedi, leading her troops in battle. By dying in the Clone Wars, Aayla became part of the legend of these mysterious warriors called the Jedi.
Aayla Secura is now an incredibly popular figure in the Star Wars Universe, as well as the action figure scene. She has gone from amnesiac Padawan to Jedi Knight, and now to Jedi Master. To top it all off, she has broken one of the sacred Jedi rules and has fallen in love with another Jedi Master, Kit Fisto (another of my all-time favorites). We know that she was supposedly killed on Felucia, yet rumors are that she may have lived. What else may be in store for our favorite Twi’lek Jedi?
I am hopeful we will see Aayla in the upcoming Clone Wars cartoon series and someday I would love to see more comic book tales involving her as well.
You introduced not only a new character, but an entire new race, two new planets, and a whole new dimension to The Force. Was your intent to create all of this, or was this already in place for you?
Part of the beauty of working within the Star Wars galaxy is that there are so many worlds that have only been mentioned in passing. It’s a lot of fun for me to visually explore these worlds and fill out the look of them. Kiffu/Kiffex—the twin worlds which Quinlan Vos is from, had been mentioned before in novels, but no one had ever taken us there to see what those worlds looked like. We created worlds that had their own storm season when the orbit brought them close together, a moody world for a dark and conflicted Jedi. The Kiffar were mentioned in one of the ‘Tales from’ books of short stories. The Tonnika sisters were from Kiffex. I thought their hair looked like a female version of Quinlan’s, so he became Kiffar.
Saleucami was mentioned in ROTS by Obi-Wan, but never shown in the film—we did a four issue story arc which took place there. It’s wonderful to be able to fill in side stories that take place around the films and novels and to give some visual identity to these places. We also told the story of Sora Bulq—a Weequay Jedi who appeared in the arena in AOTC. He became one of Dooku’s dark Jedi and Quinlan’s instructor in the lightsaber art of Vapaad.
Are there any other characters you created along the way that you are especially fond of?
Lots of them. Tholme (Quinlan’s shadowy Jedi Master), T’ra Saa (an ancient and beautiful Neti Jedi), Jeisel (a headstrong, female Devaronian Jedi), Vilmahr Grahrk (Devaronian smuggler and thief), Sheyf Tinte Vos (leader of the Vos clan on Kiffu/Kiffex) Volfe Karkko (an ancient Anzati Jedi) and many more-- were are fun characters to draw and tell stories about.
Do you have a say so on the direction the other writers and artists take Quinlan?
Not really. Once you create a character in Star Wars you have to be willing to let them go and live their own ‘lives. ’ John calls it letting them ‘take a walk. ’ It’s sometimes interesting and sometimes tough, but it is a shared galaxy.
You started drawing for comics in 1985 for Star Wars issue #92 for Marvel Comics. Since then, you’ve done work for other Marvel titles such as The Incredible Hulk, X-Factor, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. For DC Comics, you’ve penciled Batman, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman, among others. Dark Horse, as it seems, is where you like to be, doing work on many Star Wars titles, such as Darth Maul, Jedi, Tales, Clone Wars, and the comic book adaptation to Attack of the Clones. Where does your passion lie?
I am very passionate about Star Wars. I have been having the time of my life working on the Star Wars titles. I’ve always enjoyed stories about sci-fi, fantasy, historical war and westerns. Star Wars has aspects of all those and more . I love the big galaxy/small town feel of the universe and that the characters are presented with all their flaws and faults. Part of the fun of Star Wars is telling the stories about imperfect characters in a chancy galaxy–about their individual destinies and how they are interwoven.
What company has been the most fun to work for?
That would be a tough choice. I try to have fun wherever my travels take me-- so I can’t really choose.
Which has given you the most creative freedom?
Creative freedom is how you define it, I suppose. I’ve always been of the mind that if one creative outlet is closed on a certain project then you can always find another outlet for creativity within the project. A creative mind is always free.
What is your absolute dream project?
I’m living the dream with all the Star Wars projects I’ve been involved in.
You’ve been at shows with both Doug Wangler and Amy Allen. Tell us a little about them. Do you have any good stories from the road?
It’s always fun to get together with Amy and Doug at conventions. Always a great reunion catching up on what everyone is working on and how life is going. We always stay up way too late and meet so many interesting people from all over the world.
You seem like you genuinely enjoy talking to the fans. So many celebrities, of all calibers, seem as if dealing with fans is a chore. What keeps you down to Earth?
I do enjoy talking to fans. Fans are the heart and the soul of Star Wars. It is through the fans that a convention becomes a reunion and the message boards a global community. I’m a fan myself and we’re all there for the same reason—our interest in and passion for Star Wars. I don’t feel ‘famous’ and I’ve never understood the whole ‘celebrity’ thing. I love to draw and to tell stories and I do feel very fortunate to be having so much fun drawing stories that others are enjoying reading. I’m just happy to be able to contribute my work to the greater galaxy and hope I can keep doing just that for a long time.
Star Wars: Legacy, the latest project between yourself and John Ostrander, takes place 100 years from the current novel lines. We are introduced to a large cadre of new characters such as Cade Skywalker, the heir apparent to the Skywalker legacy, as well as a whole fleet of new Sith and Jedi. Where does Cade come from?
When creating Cade Skywalker and this new era, John and I didn’t want to re-do any of the classic characters—which is tough because they have become such well known archetypes. Yet we wanted to be able to show that Cade had been influenced here and there by his predecessors and his ancestors. I suppose when your ancestors are as famous as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, you would not have much choice but to have read histories about them. Visually--at first, I tried to give Cade dark hair, maybe show some of Padme’s genetics showing up. We all considered red hair, as Mara’s genetics must be present somewhere, but as the character evolved for me, I kept getting drawn back to the Anakin and Luke. I made sure I stashed the reference I had for them deep in the reference folder—I really didn’t want to duplicate their faces in Cade’s. Somewhere in the sketching process, their faces and attributes began to filter through in Cade anyway. Though he does not really look like either one of his famous ancestors, sometimes when he makes certain expressions, I can see Anakin or Luke present in his face.
We wanted the younger Cade to reflect his upbringing with the Jedi and his father, Kol Skywalker, then hit him hard with a life-shattering event to see where it would take him. These life experiences show up in the older Cade’s face. He’s become cold and hardened, building a wall between himself and the galaxy. As one of his closest friends, Jariah Syn states, “No one’s colder than Cade.”
The first issue hits hard with a lot at one time. We see how powerful Cade really is, even as a padawan learner, and how he is already flirting hard with the Dark side. In issue 2 he’s a bounty hunter wearing what appears to be Mandalorian chest armor and Vader’s pants and boots! Where are you heading with Cade?
There are questions that need to be answered there--was Cade’s venture into the Dark side intentional? Certainly, he would have been taught that the Dark side exists and how to avoid falling into it, but the anger he felt at the Massacre of Ossus certainly pushed him over the edge of anything he had been warned of or taught. Is it a flirtation with the Dark side or the beginning of a journey there? That is something we will be exploring further to be sure.
I’ve heard a lot about ‘Vader’s’ pants and boots and the pieces of Mandalorian chest armor Cade wears. My intention was to give Cade the feeling of having been around the galaxy, of being a scavenger who utilizes what is at hand. I wanted to key into GFFA fashion-- such as the fabric that Vader’s costume was made from. I imagine in the Star Wars galaxy, as in our own earthly one, fashion and what it is fabricated from follows historical cues and the whim of present day designers. I wanted to take some of those OT fashion cues and bring them forward for the clothing of Legacy. The boots are a variation of a theme on Anakin’s boots in ROTS—I added metal toe-guards and other metal pieces onto them to update them and make them more Underworld.
Where are we heading with Cade? We have a definite direction, but like we did with Quin and Aayla, we’re going to let Cade take us there.
This series seems ripe with many new Jedi Masters and Sith Lords. Most notably to me is the newest Twi’lek Sith apprentice, Darth Talon. She looks like the polar opposite of Aayla Secura…was this the intention? Is this your way of exploring the other side of the coin?
Darth Talon was created because I wondered what Maul’s tattoos would look like on a Twilek. I think her appearance makes a strong and striking image. I’m not sure that her character will be totally opposite of Aayla (after all Aayla had her own brush with the Dark side…) but as Darth Krayt’s Hand, she will have lots of evil missions to attend to.
Jan, can you give us a little inside scoop, maybe a nice hint on what that might entail? (Something that only you, Dark Horse, and now Sandtroopers.com will know? IF possible)
I can’t say much, but I can throw a little foreshadowing on issue 3. There are a couple of things happening in it that have the potential to blow the minds of a lot of Star Wars fans…
What’s next in store for Jan Duursema?