FANDOM


Wookieepedia > Wookieepedia:Interviews > Interview/Jeffrey Brown

Interview request by ProfessorToftyEdit

Submitted on: 14:36, October 29, 2014 (UTC)
Purpose: We now have a number of articles on Jeffrey Brown's Darth Vader and Son and Jedi Academy books, thanks to myself and other editors here. However, we don't have a lot of background info on the books, and it would be great to find out more by going direct to the source. This interview would help to find out more about the background of these non-canon but highly entertaining stories. ProfessorTofty (talk) 14:36, October 29, 2014 (UTC)

DiscussionEdit

  • It's been a long time since we've done one of these interviews, so the process has gotten a bit rusty. Still, I see no reason not to give it a go. ProfessorTofty (talk) 14:36, October 29, 2014 (UTC)
    • Update: Mr. Brown has agreed to be interviewed! I will send him the questions later this evening and I will post the interview as soon as it is ready. He mentioned that he comes here fairly regularly, for reference and information. ProfessorTofty (talk) 21:11, October 29, 2014 (UTC)
      • P.S.: Sorry that I didn't follow the stated process on the interview page regarding gathering of questions, but given that I'm really the only regular here that adds information about the series, I think the question set I submitted will be good at getting to the heart of things that people want to know about his books. And, well, also, I missed that part. ProfessorTofty (talk) 03:18, October 30, 2014 (UTC)

Submitted interview requestEdit

To: jeffreybrownrq at hotmail.com (Publicly available on official website)
From: REDACTED
Subject: Interview request

Dear Mr. Brown:

My name is REDACTED and I'm a member of the Star Wars online encyclopedia Wookieepedia (http://starwars.wikia.com). Our encyclopedia contains over 100,000 articles about topics from the worlds of "Star Wars," including those of your "Darth Vader and Son" and "Jedi Academy" books, and even one about you. (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jeffrey_Brown) I've enjoyed reading about some of the background of your books at your website, but I and the other readers here are eager to know more about these non-canon but still fun titles. We hope you will agree to an e-mail interview.

You are free to choose to omit or reject any question that is asked, for whatever reason. We understand that there are some topics that may need to be saved for future stories or that you otherwise aren't at liberty to answer. The contents of the interview, simply the questions and answers, would be considered as licensed as licensed by CC-BY-SA. You can find more at community.wikia.com/wiki/Community_Central:Licensing. I would also ask that should any answers need clarification or lend to other questions, one round of follow-ups be permitted, but this is up to you.

We hope that you will agree to this interview and look forward to learning more about the exciting stories of the Darth Vader and Son and Jedi Academy series titles.

In care of the Wookieepedia community,

REDACTED "ProfessorTofty" REDACTED
Wookieepedia Member
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/User:ProfessorTofty

The interviewEdit

Jeffrey Brown's Darth Vader and Son and Star Wars: Jedi Academy books, though not part of the official Star Wars canon, are books that I have found highly entertaining and ones I've been working to add information about at Wookieepedia. Recently, I had the opportunity to conduct an e-mail interview with Jeffrey Brown. For those that don't know, Jeffrey Brown is comics artist whose other works include Kids Are Weird and the Incredible Change-Bots series. The Darth Vader and Son titles also include Vader's Little Princess, which features both a young Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker being raised by Vader as a loving parent, and Goodnight Darth Vader, which has him reading them a bedtime story. The Jedi Academy series currently has two books, also including Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan and focuses on the adventures of a young boy named Roan Novachez, who is selected to attend Jedi academy at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.

A few months ago, Brown hosted an open question-and-answer session at Reddit. This interview makes a number of references to material posted at that question-and-answer session, so it's available here for those who wish to read it. Also, readers should be warned that the interview contains heavy spoilers for both the Darth Vader and Son and Jedi Academy titles, so it is not recommended for those that still wish to read the books and don't want to be spoiled.


The questions and answers of the interview folllow:

1. "Return of the Padawan" was noted for its coverage of the topic of cyberbullying through the messages posted on "Holobook," a "Star Wars" version of Facebook. How do feel about the way that Roan handled being bullied in this manner? What would you recommend for someone that might be going through something like this?

Answer: I wanted to show Roan handle it okay, but also show him struggle - I think dealing with internet abuse is hard even for adults, and I wanted to connect with kids on that level of shared difficulty. I think ignoring bullies should be the first step, resisting the urge for snappy comebacks especially. I think it should also be a community response, and you should always stand up for others you see being bullied online, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Finally, I think you should remember that it may seem like everyone is online and that it’s absolutely necessary, but you can really get by with less of an online presence. I’m still not on Facebook, or Twitter, and as hard as it is I try to always take the high road when it comes to online aggression, the same way that I always try to behave in physical life.


2. I think readers of the Harry Potter books will recognize something of the character of Severus Snape in Mr. Garfield, the sort of cruel, sarcastic teacher who seems to take a dislike to the hero character, but in a twisted way still seems to be trying to get him to give his best effort. Was Mr. Garfield inspired by Snape, or is this just a coincidence? And should we worry for Roan now that Mr. Garfield has been assigned as his personal Jedi Master? Oh, and "Mr. Garfield"-- is this your tribute as a comics artist to one of the comic character greats?

Answer: I was definitely inspired by Snape, though you’ll have to wait for book 3 to see how his relationship with Roan play out. But Mr. G. is mainly inspired by one of my 6th grade teachers, Mr. H., who was very stern, with an incredibly dry sense of humor, who often left me feeling like he was terribly disappointed by my work and then later would have the biggest smile at something I did. I still remember drawing diagrams of atoms, and having him take over showing me how to make the circle more perfect. A slight blow to my young ego and self image as The Artist. And yes, he is named after Garfield the cat. Garfield was the first comic I really loved and read religiously. I can still draw Garfield from memory.


3. One of my favorite characters in Return of the Padawan was Voorpee, the voorpak on loan from the Naboo Zoo. I'm a sucker for small, cute, furry creatures. Please tell me that Voorpee's being bullied and stuffed in a locker doesn't mean the end of class pets at the Jedi academy. (Sorry, I guess that's not quite a question, but I'd love to either see Voorpee again, or more class pets.)

Answer: There will be more pets in book 3, yes! My class pets in real life weren’t so cute - we had a toad, a newt, and a gecko. They did also eat bugs, though, and I have a bit of an insect phobia myself.


4. I understand you have a son. I imagine he's an inspiration for things that happen in the Darth Vader and Son books. What about Jedi Academy? Feel free to be a specific or vague as you like.

Answer: Four-year-old Luke is totally based on my son Oscar, who was four whenI first started working on Darth Vader and Son. In fact, I draw them the same, except Luke has the feathery seventies haircut. Much of Jedi Academy is based on my own experiences - especially that awkward feeling of being out of place and having everyone seem to know more about what’s going on than you. I still feel like that, now that I think about it. I also sprinkle in lots of specific events that really happened - like the time my friends put a jalapeno pepper in my sandwich!


5. Roan Novachez seems to have been inspired to some degree by Anakin and/or Luke Skywalker-- young boy born on Tatooine, accepted as a Jedi despite being apparently too old, doomed to a life of farming if he wasn't accepted. Yet Roan lives in a somewhat unexplored era of Star Wars, a time in which the Jedi were peacekeepers, trained in lightsaber combat, but largely working through diplomacy and negotiation. At least, with Yoda being about 700 years old. What's the future like for a Jedi training in the academy of his time?

Answer: Part of the enduring appeal of Star Wars is the mythology, so I try to tap into that with parallels - Roan’s history, the temptation to the dark side, the appeal of Ewoks to kids. As for the future of Jedi training, I don’t really know! I’m having to carefully avoid being too specific about what’s next, but my feeling is that instead of high school, all the Jedi Academy kids get to start training with real Jedi in the field. It’s also something that needs to bend a little with these books, so they can walk the line between the Star Wars universe and the real world. We intentionally set the books in that time period so we could focus purely on the characters and their middle school experience, without being distracted by grander events and galaxy-wide drama.


6. Roan seems to have a little crush on Gaiana and his friend Pasha is dating Shi-Fara. But attachment is forbidden. Is there a protocol at the Jedi academy regarding such relationships? :D

Answer: I think most Jedi understand that it’s not attachment that’s a problem, but letting attachment cloud judgement or create problems. Obi Wan deals with it in the Clone Wars, and Yoda is basically giving everybody hugs in Episode III. I see it as being allowed at Jedi Academy so that when they’re Jedi, the students will understand that aspect of humanity better, and the school operated with the understanding that the kids will grow out of it eventually. Then again, it’s one of those things that I try not to overthink, and let it go without nailing down the specifics too much.


7. Your works enjoy a rather unusual place in the Star Wars universe. I like to imagine that even though they're not part of the official Star Wars continuity, somewhere the stories still happened in a Star Wars galaxy in an alternate dimension. How familiar are you with other non-canon Star Wars works, such as Lego Star Wars, Angry Birds Star Wars, or the Star Wars Infinities works? And can you imagine the idea of the feared Sith Lord Darth Vader raising his children Luke and Leia ever really working? Perhaps he's raising them on the Emperor's orders to make it easier to somebody twist them to Sith? ;)

Answer: I feel like my books do operate in this weird space between parody, pastiche, fan fiction, and canon, and that’s probably why I’ve enjoyed making them so much. I’m pretty familiar with Lego Star Wars, and I’ve played Angry Birds Star Wars as well. I think the end result of Vader raising the kids would be pretty much the same as it ended up in the movies - the kids beat the Empire, don’t follow in their father’s footsteps, and dad eventually comes back around to good. There would just be more tantrums and time-outs.


8. The title of your Goodnight Darth Vader is evocative of the classic Goodnight Moon. I saw in your Reddit interview that you were inspired by Calvin and Hobbes, which I enjoyed reading too growing up. Outside of the realm of comics, what are some other children's books or authors that may have inspired you? (i.e. The Chronicles of Narnia, Watership Down, E. Nesbit, Roald Dahl, etc.)

Answer: The biggest influence was Mark Alan Stamaty, specifically his (unfortunately now out-of-print) book Small In The Saddle. I love Roald Dahl, and a lot of fantasy - J.R.R. Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander. Ed Emberly, Edward Gorey… I’d probably need to go through all my bookshelves to remember them all.


#8. Follow-up: Could you tell us a bit more about Mark Alan Stamaty and how he influenced you, for those that might also have trouble finding his books, such as the one that you mentioned?

Answer: Small In The Saddle was a short picture book, about a tiny cowboy, that used some of the formal elements of comics (like speech bubbles). Each page is insanely detailed with tons of little jokes, as well as strange, imaginative details. His more well-known book, Who Needs Donuts? is maybe even more detailed and just as funny.


9. While your stories clearly not meant to be considered canon in any fashion, it does seem clear that the situations and characters featured are drawn from material of what is now known as Star Wars Legends. Does the recent canon announcement in any way affect your stories and is it possible we might be seeing material in the future from you based on the new continuity?

Answer: I think there’s one tiny detail in book 3 I have to change, but other than that there isn’t a huge impact. As much as I make it sound like I just don’t worry about it and do whatever feels right for the books, I think we’ve also been careful about not painting ourselves into corners with Jedi Academy so that we can go any number of directions. I don’t have any plans right now… I think I’m content to wait for Episode VII and see what inspirations come after that.


10. Someone asked this at your last Reddit session, but the question was posted after the session was over and so it wasn't answered. So, I'll ask it. Are you familiar with the Origami Yoda books by Tom Angleberger, who has also been tapped to write upcoming novelization of "Return of the Jedi" within the new canon continuity?

Answer: I know Tom’s books, and met him at Celebration - he’s great! I think anytime you can get an established, experienced writer involved to bring new voice to the Star Wars universe, it's good. I’ll always love all of Alan Dean Foster’s Star Wars novels.


11. Perhaps the most burning question. Currently, there haven't yet been any new titles listed on Amazon for either the Darth Vader and Son or the Jedi Academy books, though I did see in your Reddit interview that you're working on drawing the third Jedi Academy book. Anything you can share with us about the future of these series?

Answer: The next Vader book is finished and will be out in the spring - I had a tougher time getting started on it, since it moves away from the focus on parenting, but the more I worked on it, the more ideas I had. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, and can’t wait for people to see it. And I’ve actually been answering these questions in between scanning pages of final art from Jedi Academy 3! I’m hoping to have the art (minus corrections and changes) finished by Thanksgiving. I think it wraps up Roan’s time at Jedi Academy nicely, and hopefully readers think so as well.


12. I've been excited recently by the decision of Disney to have top children's authors such as Tony DiTerlizzi and R.J. Palacio create books for the new Star Wars canon. Any chance that's something you might be a part of sometime? I saw also on your Reddit interview that you're interested in possibly doing TV animation. Any chance of maybe seeing you credited on Star Wars Rebels?

Answer: I’ve really enjoyed the freedom of working outside and on the fringe of canon, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I like not having to worry about things like canon, and my first priority will always be to make the best books, tell the best stories, and draw the best pictures that I can. I don’t think you’ll see me work on Rebels, but I would really love to see a Jedi Academy cartoon happen. One of the downsides to the books is that it’s always Roan’s story, and there’s a lot of characters that I haven’t gotten to explore as much as I’d like, and just a ton of unexplained territory to explore.


#12 Follow-up: Can you think of any favorite thing or moment that writing on the fringe of canon has allowed you to do that's something that wouldn't have been possible in a more serious Star Wars book? (For example, I enjoyed Roan imagining Yoda in the bath.)

Answer: Having a Wookiee gym teacher and Gamorrean lunch lady (well, maybe lady - hard to tell with the Gammoreans) has been a lot of fun. One little detail I really loved coming up with the video game that Roan plays with Cyrus and Cronah - it’s called Gundark Trainer, the original drawing of which was the game cover, but the final drawing is a screen shot of the game.

(Interviewer's note: Gammy is a male Gamorrean, per Return of the Padawan, but Jeffrey Brown feels that "lunch lady" sounds right for him, and I agree.)


Bonus Question 13.: For those of us that might be interested in checking out your other works, what can you tell us about your upcoming title Incredible Change Bots Two Point Something Something, due out November 18?

Answer: Incredible Change-Bots is my parody of the Transformers. There’s two books out already and I had the third one plotted out before writing and drawing Star Wars books took over my life. This one is actually a collection of all the odds and ends I did over the years - artwork created for members of the Change-Bots fan club, material from the fan club newsletters, and a ton of other short stories previously published in magazines, mini-comics, and online. It’s a humorous, nostalgic romp through 1980’s cartoons and toys. It’s also a little more adult, though still kid friendly - I tried to keep the humor at a level where kids will still think it’s funny even when they don’t get all of the meanings in the jokes.


Thanks again to Jeffrey Brown for taking the time to share this information with his readers! Here's looking forward to the next installments of both Darth Vader and Son and Jedi Academy.


If any Wookieepedia admins are reading, just an F.Y.I. that I will shortly be forwarding a copy of the original e-mail to one or two for verification. Also, I have secured Mr. Brown's permission to post this on Fanpedia as well. ProfessorTofty (talk) 00:53, November 1, 2014 (UTC)

Update! This has now been done; this interview is now certified official. ProfessorTofty (talk) 14:24, November 5, 2014 (UTC)

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.