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Archive for the ‘Comic Books’ Category

The Jedi Blogger (TJB): Why did you decide to get into the comic business?

Brian Ching (BC): I was in my second year at college as a bio major and really had no idea what I wanted to do in life.  I knew I liked to draw and during some of my classes I would sometimes doodle comic book characters.  I signed up for some art classes and had so much fun I knew this is what I wanted to do. 

TJB: What comic book artists inspired you?

BC: I’d always collected comics since I was pretty young but during my high school years I stopped.  I guess you get more interested in other things.  But after high school I started collecting again because the artwork was so great, the guy that got me hooked again was Jim Lee.  At that time he was working on Punisher War Journal and later on X-men.  That showed me you didn’t have to be limited to any genre or style. Today, I’m inspired by so many artists but the few that really stand out are Bryan Hitch, Travis Charest, and Adam Hughes.  I think these three artists have had such a huge impact on the way comics are drawn today. 

TJB: Where you a Star Wars fan before you signed on with Dark Horse?

BC: I thought I was… you know everyone thinks they are a Star Wars fan until they meet a STAR WARS FAN,  someone who knows every little intricate detail about the Star Wars history.  Then I realized I was just a casual fan of the movies. 

TJB: How did you get the job working with Star Wars comics?

BC: I was working for a place called Top Cow, I think this was about 5-6 years ago.  I was finishing up an issue and I got an offer to do some work with Dark Horse and Star Wars.  I could only fit covers into my schedule at that point so that’s what they offered.  A couple of months later I was done with my commitments at Top Cow and working on the Star Wars comics full time.

TJB: You have been involved with Star Wars comics since the early days of the Empire series. What has been your favorite project to work with?

I have two favorite projects.  The first was Obsession.  Obsession was important for two reasons—I was able to read the script for EP III well before it was released in the theaters.  And the other reason is that it was a turning point in the way I worked.  We decided (along with my editor) to go with a no inks approach to the artwork.  Obsession was where I started to experiment with this approach.  At the time the book was coming out I was extremely disappointed with how it looked, so scratchy and rough.  You could see all the sketch lines which to me was very distracting and I wasn’t happy.  Doug Wheatley suggested I scan the pages myself ( and do the clean up digitally in Photoshop) and take control of how the lineart looked.  Up until that point I was FedExing all my pages into the Dark Horse office and they would scan and send the pages out to the colorists.  I took Doug’s advice and picked up a scanner.  I could see the difference immediately.  When your pages are inked they are at the discretion of the inker—meaning that there are nuances in the facial expressions, rendering, etc that sometimes get lost. It’s impossible for an inker to get inside your head so in some ways you are at his mercy.  With pencils only it was all up to me.  So regardless of whether or not it sucked it was my doing, which is a nice thing to have.

My second favorite project to work on has been KOTOR.  I was involved from the beginning and was able to design nearly everything in the first 6 issues.  It was such a gratifying experience—I still consider the book to be my baby.

TJB: What was it like drawing the comic book adaptation of The Force Unleashed?

BC: Fun!  The graphic novel is so action packed and there are so many cool new characters and things to see.  Everything was already designed by the video game’s artists but it was just a lot of fun for me to go off on that.

TJB: As Knights of the Old Republic’s initiator, how much creative freedom were you given while designing the world of KOTOR in it’s first arc, Commencement? Did you use the original video game as reference while designing the locations and characters?

BC: I was given quite a bit of freedom to design things as I liked.  We discussed early on that we would use the video game designs as inspiration and go from there.  I know some readers are disappointed that we didn’t follow the original TOTJ comics more closely.  I can understand the frustration but I just think that series was done in the early 80’s and that it had a somewhat dated quality.  No offense to any of the original artists because I’m sure in 20 years the next batch of Star Wars artists will be saying the same thing about my work.
 
I figured as long as I kept things looking like they belonged in the Star Wars universe we were okay.  It has to look like it has medieval influence, Asian influence, and a touch of the future.  All of it needs to look a little worn down.  These were the principals I tried to stick to.

TJB: You haven’t penciled an issue of Knights of the Old Republic in a while. Do you have any plans to return to the series? Are you happy with the way other artists have portrayed KOTOR?BC: I’d love to return and do a bunch more issues.  I’m doing covers right now and hope that things work out with scheduling that Dark Horse will let me do more stuff.

Obviously, Dustin is the stand-out artist.  He’s just phenomenal and seems to get better with every single thing he does.  I designed the Last Resort but he has done such a great job interpreting it that I look to his version as the definitive one.  If it were up to me I wish I could have done every single issue but unfortunately I don’t have that Mark Bagley or John Romita speed.

TJB: Who has been your favorite character to work with in the Star Wars universe?

BC: That’s a tough one.  I’ve been fortunate enough to draw the younger Obi-Wan, the Ewan Macgregor version.  He’s easily one of  my favorites.  But I also really enjoy drawing Zayne and Gryph.

TJB: What advice would you have for aspiring artists wanting to break into the business?

BC: Just to work on your craft.  Make sure you understand anatomy, perspective, and lighting.  Even if you don’t make it into the comic business (which is extremely difficult) you’ll still have the drawing ability to make it in another industry.

TJB: What projects, if you can tell us about them, do you have coming up? Do you plan to continue working with Star Wars comics?

BC: Nothing I can say right now.  I don’t want to jinx any of it!  There are still a few things I’d like to do in the Star Wars world so I hope they’ll keep me around for a little while longer!
 

Thank you again to Brian ching for the great interview! To check out some of Brian’s art, head over to his blog at http://brianching.blogspot.com/

 

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Rebellion #5 was a new beggining for Rebellion, the first issue in the five-part Ahakista Gambit story arc. Wyl Tarson, who played a minor role in My Brother, My Enemy, becomes the main character in this  arc. Other than the character of Darth Vader, this story arc did not feature any familiar characters or planets, making it more interesting and exciting.

Artist Brandon Badeaux takes the backseat in this issue as Michael Lacombe, who pencilled the third issue of My Brother, My Enemy, illustrates all five issues along with colorist Will Glass. The art in this series, while not exactly what you’d expect from a comic book, is superb. The style is perfect for the feel of this story. Lacombe takes a more realistic style with this series, somthing very diffrent from Brandon Badeaux’s super-muscled interpretations of the human body.

After he learns that Wyl is stealing for the Alliance, Raze plants a bomb in Wyl’s head and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t complete a mission for him. Wyl is tasked to create a team to assist him on this suicide mission for Raze. When he, hacker Baco Parr and Raze operative Laynara travel to an abandoned Rebel base to recuit an inactive Rebel operative, they’re attacked by a red-lightsaber sporting enemy, someone who’ll be revealed in the next issue as the promonant main character of the Nomad arc from Tales.

This was a great first issue to the Ahakista Gambit story arc. The story is great, the art is great, and it promised a great new beggining to redeem the series for the people who disliked My Brother, My Enemy.

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Finally, we’ve reached the release date of the first issue of Vector, Knights of the Old Republic #25, which is reportedly on sale today! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Look for a review of that coming up soon! Also coming out today is Dark Times #8, Parallels part 3 of 5. I sent in a fan letter after #2 was released, so I’ll most likely end up buying this one to see if it got on the fan page.

I think Vector would be a good spot for someone new to comics to start off at. You’ll get to have a taste of each of the different Star Wars lines Dark Horse is publishing, all in one cohesive story arc. Dark Times is another story. If you haven’t picked up the previous issues of Parallels, I’d suggest waiting it out until the next arc starts. While I like the series overall, Parallels isn’t turning out to all I had originally hoped it would be.

 I’ll be back soon with some reviews and release dates for February, so as always, stay tuned!

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Originally published in comic book series in 1996, this volume of the 30th Anniversary Comic Book Collection contains the entire series of comic adaptions of the book Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Originally written and released in 1978 by Alan Dean Foster, it was re-adapted by comic book writer Terry Austin.

When Luke and Leah crash-land onto the mysterious world of Mimban, they find themselves in the middle of an Imperial mining outpost. Desperate to escape before being notice, they offer their help to an old Jedi Halla in exchange for transport of Mimban. Halla tasks Luke and Leah to retrieve a powerfull Jedi artifact from a temple deep in the jungles of Mimban: The Kaiburr Crystal, a device used to magnify one’s power in the Force.
After escaping an Imperial prison with the help of two native Yuzzem, Luke, Leah and Halla trek through the jungle to the old temple, where they confront Darth Vader and a legion of Stormtroopers in a race to obtain the crystal. After a quick duel with Luke and Leah, Vader plomets through a hole in the floor of the temple and the three ride of into the sunse.
This must of been a tremendous job for Foster to write a Star Wars story with just the original movie as a reference point. That said, I think he did a great job. The story was clean-cut and straightforward. Unlike some other EU from the early days, there weren’t so many throwbacks and references to the movies that it started to get old. And while the Kalibur Crystal is a bit out there for Star Wars as it goes, the overall story was fast-paced and entertaining.

The art was reminiscent of the old days of Marvel, but overall Chris Sprouse did a good job portraying our original characters. It fit the feel of the story perfectly, and Sprouse does a wonderful job designing the world origanally created in the novel.

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My Brother, My Enemy begins after the explosive events of Empire’s last arc, The Wrong Side of the War, in which Luke discovers his childhood friend Janek Sunber is enlisted in the Imperial armed forces patrolling a prison colony on Kalist v1. In My Brother, My Enemy, Luke receives a message from Janek claiming that he wants to desert the Imperials and join the Rebellion.

When the Rebel team makes it back to the fleet after a narrow escape from Kalist V1 with Rebel tactician Jorin Sol, they discover that the Imperials have brainwashed Sol into a saboteur after he breaks out of his bacta tube and trys to murder Deena Shan. After Sol returns to his former self, the rebels deem him cure of his brainwashing and let him return to duty.

Against the orders of Princess Leah, Luke and Deena Shan go to the cordinates provided anf find themselves in a ship junkyard. They dock with Tank’s ship and find him strapped to a torture device. While in the process of leaving, Luke, Deena and Tank are ambushed by a shuttle full of Imperial stormtroopers. After an intense firefight, the three escape using the Rebellion’s limpet ship and receive a mixed welcome on their return to the Rebel fleet.

After being investigated and interrogated, Sunber is allowed to join the Rebellion under the careful eye of Tung Li. Shortly afterwards, the Rebel Fleet is ambushed by an Imperial battle group. After the Rebel’s flag ship is pounded by the Imperials, Tank reveals himself to be an Imperial agent,  stopping the Rebels from jumping to hyperspace. After a fist-fight with Luke, tank saves the incapacitated Leah from falling down into the burning hull of the rebel flagship, sacrificing his life for her’s.

Jorin sol, still under the influence of his Imperial brainwashing, manages to pilot the flagship into a hyperspace jump, saving everyone onboard. In the hours afterward, the Imperials find an escape pod floating in the wreckage that is rumoured to be Tank’s.

Though some aspects of this arc’s story were un-logical and confusing, what really made this arc for me was the amazing art by Brandon Badeaux. While his exaggerated muscle structure on was annoying at times, the overall design of  My Brother, My Enemy’s characters and locations was amazing. My favorite piece of art in this entire series would have to be the Tatooine sunset on the first page of the first issue.  Small gripes would include the really, really long stormtrooper neck behind Tank in Issue #1 (believe me, you’ll see it) and some other minor proportional issues.

Storywise, I would have really enjoyed seeing Han Solo in this arc. While I’m sure there is some explanation for his absence that I’ve forgotten about from the Empire comics, there seemed to be a lack of character development for anyone but Tank and Deena Shan. There wasn’t really anyone we could relate to in the story.

Overly-buff Luke and absence of character development aside, this was an enjoyable read that can speak to expanded universe fans as well as people getting into Star Wars comics.

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