For years, comics based on movies were just after-thoughts or felt smothered by the movie continuities…
Richardson: Comics based on films before then had generally been done by anybody [instead of top talent] and they hadn’t been done particularly well, at least in our opinion. Going back to the early days of comics, they had counted on the title of the movie to sell the book and never really put much thought or effort into the titles. There were some exceptions — Walt Simonson’s Alien was a good adaptation — but as far as expanding the mythology? I don’t think any of them did it or did it well.
With their late 1970s Star Wars comics, Marvel took the mythology to unexpected places. I remember Han Solo becoming a gunslinger and teaming up with a giant green bunny…
Stradley: You have to put the Marvel series into stories into historical perspective. They didn’t know there was going to be a second movie, they didn’t know what form that movie might take. They were just running with it, although, yes, some of the places they went to would never have occurred to us.
Richardson: What struck us as strange is that after Return of the Jedi, Marvel kind of decided Star Wars was over. We discovered that because there were no movies on the horizon and no Star Wars merchandise coming out, the fans were hungry for it. They were primed to have more Star Wars, not less. We asked ourselves, “Hey, what’s the the next movie we’d like to see?” and that connected with fans who weren’t ready to leave Star Wars.
Dark Horse took Star Wars comics away from one central ongoing saga and set adventures in different eras and followed different characters, an approach that is now part of the Lucasfilm plan moving forward with spotlight films on Boba Fett and Han Solo. Do you think they might pluck ideas from the Dark Horse canon?
Richardson: I can’t imagine that they will. I mean, it’s certainly possible, and certainly within their rights but, you know, everybody wants to come up with their own ideas and especially with Star Wars. It seems like everyone who works on it wants to a chance to put their fingerprints on that mythology. I think the books we’ve done will have an effect on some stuff that happens. I mean, some of the characters that we’ve created are included in the mythology, so the material’s there and people will see it.