Tag: Darth Vader

May the Force be with … me

As I mentioned in the Albany Con post-mortem, I was made an Honorary Member of the 501st Legion, when members of the local Garrison Excelsior presented me with a plaque and badge, to go along with the patch the gave me last time. The plaque reads, in part: “…in appreciation of your contributions to the Star Wars legacy.”

Now, to be honest, I’m not much for awards and all that. But I’m very happy about by this one, because of the place that Star Wars holds in my childhood, and how much of an influence it had on me. I do what I do now, to a fair extent, because of the impression Star Wars made on me in the summer of 1977. The movie fired my imagination like nothing else. I still vividly remember sitting in the theater, my jaw hitting the floor when the Star Destroyer rumbled overhead and just kept going, and going, and going. I’d never seen anything like it.

I bought the trading cards and the books and the toys and the glasses at Burger King. And I bought the comics from Marvel that continued the story. I was transfixed by the comics, even that guy who was a giant green bunny. I kept up with those original Star Wars comics for a few years, even when my interest in other comics waned. So getting the chance to contribute to that mythology years later was a huge treat. I’m not prone to phrases like “a dream come true,” but it was pretty damn close.

I’ve written more issues of things like Witchblade, Green Lantern and Silver Surfer than I have Star Wars issues. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a signing that didn’t include some Star Wars books. I tended to want to write the established characters. That made it more of a chore to fit my stories into the established continuity, since the adventures of Luke and Han and Leia had been mined so thoroughly in previous comics and novels. It’s a lot easier to tell tales about the “third Stormtrooper from the left” rather than the icon characters. But, for me at least, not quite as much fun.

I was especially drawn to the villains, Vader and Maul in particular. My favorite jobs were the Darth Maul mini with Jan Duursema, the Darth Vader story with Claudio Castellini from Star Wars Tales, and the Vader vs. Maul slugfest with Rick Leonardi and Terry Austin from Star Wars Tales. Those last two are “non-canon” stories by virtue of appearing in Star Wars Tales, but I wrote them so they could easily fit into the existing continuity. Ironically, probably one of the few times in my career that I’ve been overly concerned with continuity.

I’m asked fairly often when/if I’ll be doing more Star Wars comics. And the answer is … I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind visiting that universe again. But my schedule is pretty packed for the foreseeable future, and any extra time I can squeeze out is apt to be applied to creator-owned work. But never say never.

The recognition by the 501st is very flattering, and I’m truly thankful. But I got far more out of Star Wars than I ever contributed to it. I just hope the stories I wrote provide some inspiration for someone else, and we keep paying it forward.

May the Force be With You,


“Uncle Terry”

As promised, here are Terry Austin’s inks over Matthew Dow Smith’s pencils for the Albany Comic Con Magdalena #1 variant cover. (Click on the images for hi-res versions)

Matt’s pencils Terry’s inks

First time Terry has ever inked Matt. Not much for me to say about the piece; you can compare the pencils to the inks yourself and see how Terry approached it. Terry’s a pen inker, as opposed to using a brush, a tool he’s never been comfortable with, according to what he’s told me. You can also see where he utilized a razor-blade skip technique toward the base of the background buildings, actually gouging the paper to lend texture to the piece. If I’m remembering the story correctly, Terry learned the razor-blade skip from classic inker Jack Abel up in the Marvel bullpen. I met Jack during his later days, when he worked as a proofreader up at Marvel. Incredibly kind man.

Maybe that’s an inker trait, because Terry is very literally, the kindest, most gentle soul I know. He’s “Uncle Terry” to my kids, and one of my best friends in the world. All of which is, of course, in addition to being a legendary inker, one of the best to ever work in the business. His pairings with John Byrne on Uncanny X-Men and the late, great Marshall Rogers on Detective Comics are invariably mentioned among the tops runs in comics history. I’d also add his work with Paul Smith on Doctor Strange, and Rick Leonardi on Cloak & Dagger to that list. A couple of single issues that Terry inked are also among my all-time favorites: the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover (with Walter Simonson) and Daredevil #191 (with Frank Miller).

I’ve been fortunate enough to have Terry’s inks grace a number of stories I’ve written, including a good chunk of my Green Lantern run (over both Darryl Banks and Paul Pelletier), the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer crossover, and the Darth Maul vs. Darth Vader story that appeared in Star Wars Tales (over Rick Leonardi again).

As I said in an earlier post, one of the best things about working in comics is you get to work with your friends. In the case of this cover, I got to work with two of them. Thanks, guys.

Later this week, I’ll be able to show off the colors for the cover. If all goes as planned, maybe even a few different versions.



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