and I couldn’t believe all the stuff that had been written about and around the comic books that we did. It’s all incorporated in this huge Star Wars mythos, that if you go in there and start reading stuff it’s amazing. Just individual characters that we have that were, you know, maybe on 20 pages of an entire series have whole legends behind them now.
As storytellers, do you find the sprawl of all the Star Wars mythology appealing or does it get a bit numbing and off-putting?
Stradley: I think it’s great. The amazing thing is whether you set out to do this or not, it grew organically out of what George created. It’s not just a set of characters and a situation, but an entire galaxy, and even when you watch those original movies, there are suggestions of things happening on a wider scale than just in what you’re seeing in the movie. You end up with this entire galaxy and now the timeline, the history of that galaxy has been expanded to 25,000 years of events. How many stories can you tell set on Earth? Well, for this galaxy, take that number and times it by a hundred thousand inhabited planetary systems in the Star Wars galaxy.
Richardson: At one point we actually tried to add alternate dimensions too and we got shot down. So we were even trying to expand it further, and they didn’t [think] that it was necessary.
That’s interesting. So that raises the question of what’s it’s been like working with Lucasfilm?
Richardson: I think that it’s been a great partnership. They’ve trusted us. We got a lot of leeway in creating what we want, but of course it’s always under their guidance and they’re very protective of their continuity. We’ve tried to talk other franchise owners that we’ve worked with into following their model, because what happens, particularly in film, is often you bring in a talented writer, director and they have their own ideas. When they destroy the continuity of an existing franchise, it often destroys the credibility of the franchise.
Could you give an example of how Lucas has expressed a concept or philosophy that’s come to bear on the series?
Stradley: We never hear directly from George but Jonathan [Rinzler of LucasBooks] shows him all the stuff, and, for instance, on some of the stuff we’ve given him he’ll have three or four different versions for what this could look like. And he’ll say “This one” or maybe “This first one but this second one can be something in the background” or something like that. I’ll hear things from the people at Lucasfilm. They’ll say something like, “This isn’t for publication but George really likes this.” Or sometimes, “Well, I can’t tell you who, but somebody has asked for more copies of this book.”
The licensing landscape is shifting after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and must be a source of intrigue to you. Disney owns Marvel so it is natural to suspect the comics will be returning to their portfolio after your contract runs out in the next few years…
Stradley: Well, we’re, waiting for the other shoe to drop. What we’ve been told is we’ll hear something about the future of the license sometime this year.
Richardson: We have it for the foreseeable future, though, so we’re just going about business as usual. It is what it is. Look, from day-one we always knew it was a possibility that someday we might not have the license. We’re prepared for it. We have other franchises to move into that space, but we got involved with publishing in part because we loved Star Wars and so sure it’ll be disappointing on a business level, but probably more disappointing on a personal level.
If you both return to the status of “interested fan,” what would be your hope about the film trilogy on the way?
Stradley: I really hope they don’t just retread the old ground. I hope they embrace the idea that they’ve got an entire galaxy to explore and take the time to do it. Especially with the expanded universe and within even our comics, the old ground has been trodden and re-trodden until it borders on the familiar rather than the exotic. And I’d really hope to see new situations and new planets and new characters. I don’t figure that as a big concern. I think they’re going to go for the new, but I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve seen how many people just want to regurgitate what’s been done before.
Richardson: Yes, it would be great to see them start in a whole new place. Maybe with reference to the classic characters, but really give it a, a whole new start. They’ve got terrific filmmakers involved. When Kathleen [Kennedy] was first announced, immediately we figured something was afoot as far as the filmmaking. That’s the great thing about bringing J.J. Abrams on board. I don’t think that [recycling or revisiting] will be his approach to the material and with Kathleen involved it really bodes well for the future of the franchise.
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