Brian Wood is the popular writer of such books as The Massive, Conan the Barbarian, Northlanders, and DMZ. Now he takes on Star Wars from Dark Horse, featuring stories set during the original trilogy. Westfield’s Roger Ash recently contacted Wood to learn more about his work on this upcoming series.
Westfield: How did you become involved with the project?
Brian Wood: I was asked, simple as that, and in this case it was one of those great opportunities that never occurs to you to ask for, but once it comes it’s the greatest thing ever. I am a Star Wars fan, and I figured that if ever I were to take on a Star Wars comics project, this is the one to do. I didn’t actually have time in my schedule for it, but I made the time. I figured it was worth losing a few extra nights of sleep a month to take this assignment.
Westfield: What do you see as the challenges of taking on a book featuring characters and concepts that people have become so attached to over the years?
Wood: Well, generally the fear is screwing up something that so many people love, for not being up to the challenge, and failing in such a public way. And, of course, the more fans a property has out there in the world, the more people who will be rigorously checking your work for errors and overall quality. It can be intimidating, and I deal with that all the time writing the X-Men for Marvel. But in the case of Star Wars, I know it so much better than the X-Men, or Conan, or anything else I’m doing, and so I have a high level of confidence and no worries at all, really. It’s just a really fun gig. And in a way, the fact these characters are so classic and well known, I find it helps me when writing dialogue. It’s easy to picture, in my head, Harrison Ford or James Earl Jones as these characters, and I can “listen and hear” if the dialogue sounds genuine.
Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the series?
Wood: A lot of X-Wing action, lots of dogfights and deep space scenes, lots of spectacle and tension, but not without the quiet moments… I feel that it’s that blend of the two that makes Star Wars work.
Westfield: Are there any of the characters you’re particularly looking forward to writing?
Wood: Well, I’m deep into the writing so it’s easy to say who’s been the most fun: Leia, Han Solo, and Vader. No surprise there. Vader is just the ultimate bad guy, totally evil, and there’s no need to do anything but that. It was tricky at first to find his voice, since it’s not like he did that much talking in A New Hope, but that was a minor hurdle. Han is still very much the scoundrel of the first film, really sarcastic, selfish, a total bastard, but loyal to his friends, and that’s fun to write. Leia is getting a lot of attention and focus… I’m looking at the bits of Leia we’ve seen, where she’s Leia the Action Hero, armed with a blaster, fighting her way out of a jam, and showing smarts and maturity way beyond her years. I’m taking that and running with it.
Westfield: Will you be introducing new characters as well?
Wood: Several, yeah. An Imperial bad guy and a slew of new Rebel pilots.
Westfield: You’re working with artist Carlos D’Anda on the book. What can you say about your collaboration with him?
Wood: It’s a little separated, which is often the case with licensed work and work for hire. We don’t chat back and forth about the script or anything like that. My scripts go to Lucasfilm before they get approved, so most of the back and forth happens with them and with Dark Horse, and then it gets locked in and sent to Carlos. By that point I’m already on to the next script. Which is not a bad way to work; it definitely gets the issues done. But I’ve known Carlos’ work for a very long time, and have wanted to work with him, and so I recommended him for this. He has incredible attention to detail – important, here – and can draw the hell out of the ships, and also has been quietly putting in a decade or two of work at DC and Wildstorm under Jim Lee. He’s a tremendously talented guy.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Wood: Just like I thought when I took this job: if there was ever a time to read a Star Wars comic, this is the time. It’s the classic characters just as you know them, at the absolute peak of their character arcs, in brand new story situations that don’t require knowing all the continuity of the expanded universe. Great characters, great art… I think this one will be big.