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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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November is going to be a big month for Star Wars book and comics. And while I don’t yet have any reviews, I have put together a complete guide of all the titles planned for November releases.

Most of the comics planned for November releases were released three days ago on November 3. These Dark Horse titles include Legacy #17, Claws of the Dragon pt. 4, Knights of the Old Republic #22, Knights of Suffering pt. 1, and the Knights of the Old Republic Handbook. Knights of the Old Republic: Knights of Suffering pt. 2 is planned for a November 28 release later this month.

There are also two trade paperbacks released to come out this month. We have the 9th volume in the 30th Anniversary comic collection series, Boba Fett: Death, Lies and Treachery, also already released on November 7. On November 21, we are going to see the Revenge of the Sith movie photo comic. Keep in mind that I am getting these release dates from Darkhorse.com, and sometimes (most of the time) things don’t come out when they are supposed to. I wouldn’t be suprised if most of these releases flowed into December.

We should also expect two books out this month. Legacy of the Force: Fury and Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force are both planned for November releases.

So, what do I suggest for this month? That’s hard, because I plan to pick up pretty much everything. I can’t suggest the current KOTOR comics highly enough. Though I probley won’t pick up the Handbook, I’ll definatly be picking up the two Knights of Suffering issues. I’ve taken a small break from Legacy, which is starting to let me down. But I know alot of people who still enjoy it, so I’m not sure what my overall opinion on Legacy is right now.

Definatly pick up Boba Fett: Death, Lies and Treachery. The comics included in it are all great, and the book looks really snazzy (That’s the only word I can find to describe it). The 30th Anniversary comics are really nice display peices. I’m not feelin’ the love for these photo comics. Not only is it another adaption of the movie, it’s actually using the images from the movie!

I plan to pick up Fury, but not until I read Inferno. If it’s anything like Allston’s stellar work in Betrayal and Exile, it should be good. I’ll be skipping the Essential Guide to the Force mostly because it isn’t any canon story; plus, as long as I have Wookieepedia, all the Essential Guides are pretty much obsolete to me. The artwork does seem pretty cool, though, so if you are into the Essential Guides, check that one out.
If you’re still wondering what today’s Book News subtitle means, I don’t really know myself. It just came to me while I typed, replacing a boring “Guide to November.”

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Marvel has it’s Civil War. Star Wars has… Vector?

Dark Horse recently released very limited details on an eight-part story arc that will span all four current comic book titles. To quote the Dark Horse press release:

When a terrible vision reaching more than 4,000 years into the future alerts
the secret Jedi Covenant to the importance of Taris, they activate an operative
already on this planet overrun by Mandalorians. There, in the deadly Undercity,
a monstrous, ancient threat is unleashed that plunges Zayne Carrick, the Padawan
accused of killing his fellow students, into an adventure which will eventually
span four thousand years and involve Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and the
principles of the Legacy series!

The “Vector” storyline will appear in Knights of the Old Republic #25-28, Dark Times #11-12, Rebellion #15-16, and Legacy #29-32.



I’m glad to hear that this crossover will not be involving time travel. I remember when rumors first surfaced about Vector, everyone was talking about the possibility of time travel in the Star Wars universe. I personally think that would ruin the Expanded Universe. If there was time travel, characters would be tempted to go back in time and change past events.

I know what all my fellow EU fanatics are saying right now: Time travel has technically happened before in Star Wars. In the Legacy of the Force book Bloodlines, Jacen “force walked” back in time and watched his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker, attack the Jedi Temple. If I’m not mistaken, he couldn’t actually have any effect on what was happening.

I remember the book Legacy of the Jedi, a young reader book written Jude Watson back in the days of Jedi Quest. The story, starting with Count Duko as a Jedi padawan, spanned four diffrent eras in which diffrent characters shared a commen enemy. I’m guessing that will be the case for this series.

As always, I’ll have more as we get more information on these comics. Stay tuned!

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Wow, we’re finally back into the swing of things. We’ve got a jam-packed book news for this week, with some juicy spoilers for the Legacy of the Force series and my reviews of all the comic book releases this month. As for the SWAN Book Club Update, discussion is now open for The Last Command, the last book in the Thrawn Trilogy. I do beleive signups are still open for a few more days, so go check out the forums. This is my third book in the club, and I just became a SWAN Sub-Luitenant!

A small note here: Remember those spoilers from Sacrifice I posted a couple weeks back? They were confirmed. Highlight this if you haven’t read it: Jacen kills Mara! I know a lot more, but I don’t want to spoil for you guys too much. No, I haven’t been able to pick it up yet, but of course I’ll have a full review of it when I do!

It’s been a while since I last updated, so I’ll go over all my finds of the past few weeks. I finished Tempest a few weeks back, and I’ll have a review of that up soon. I haven’t yet been able to pick up the rest of the Legacy of the Force books, but it’s been a busy month for comics. In June, I was able to pick up all of Dark Horse’s Star Wars releases: Legacy #13, Rebellion #7 and Dark Times #3. After a few stellar issues, Legacy #13 was a little dissapointing. The story shifted from Cade’s rescue mission to a short stand-alone story about an assasination attempt on the former Emperor Fel. I really enjoyed Rebellion #7. The last few Rebellion issues were a little lame (if I may say so), but the story is really picking up speed. Last but not least, fans were reminded that Dark Times still existed after their nearly four month hiatus. I know that stinks for the big fans of the comic, but I recently found out that is was because Doug Wheatley recently had a son and took a short leave of absense. As for the issue, it was ok. These are definatly the “dark times,” as the issue ended with Bomo discovering his wife was dead and his daughter was sold into slavery. Find the conclusion in issue #4, coming next January!

There aren’t any big releases this month, after we recover from the releases thrown at us in May and June. The only big peice of news for this week is some spoilers from Inferno, the next book in the Legacy of the Force series. If you don’t know, Inferno will be written by Aaron Allstron and is scheduled for release this fall. Ok, maybe it’s not a gigantic spoiler, but here’s the picture that was released on Starwars.com.

That’s it for this week’s Book News. Be sure to check in every day for this week’s Revenge of the Blogger post-a-thon!

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