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Wookieepedia > Wookieepedia:Interviews > Interview/Tom Veitch

The following questions and answers were the result of a series of emails between myself and author Tom Veitch, who is well known for his work on the Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi series of comics. I initially contacted Mr. Veitch on Tuesday 15/04/2008 regarding the possibility of conducting an interview or sorts with him in regards to his work on Tales of the Jedi. Following this initial contact, emails were sent back and forth to determine the scope and nature which this "interview" would take. The below Q&A combine the questions I sent to Mr. Veitch on Tuesday 22/04/2008, with the answers he provided on Sunday 27/04/2008. To those reading this, know that it was a special privilege to be able to communicate with Tom Veitch, and that I appreciate his willingness to discuss this time in his writing career. Greyman Jan.png (Talk) 03:46, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

The interview

  1. Greyman: Was Tales of the Jedi your creation, or original idea? Or was it a product of Lucasfilm Ltd. which they contracted out to you to write? What were your thoughts when you were first contacted about writing this series of comics?
    • Tom Veitch: I came up with the idea and I contacted them about doing it as a follow-up to Dark Empire. "Oh, George will never go for this," they said. Well, he loved the idea, of course, and gave us free-reign to imagine the Star Wars universe of 4000 years before Luke Skywalker. His only rule was that I had to submit my ideas to him for final o.k.
  2. GM: Likewise, were the core characters (and even secondary characters) your creation, or Lucasfilm's? I assume that you were allowed a certain degree of freedom in developing the said characters as you saw fit?
    • TV: See first answer. We made it all up, and Mr. Lucas gave his approval. I can't remember that he rejected anything, in fact. My first collaborator, Chris Gossett, had a lot to do with the first series, in that I talked over my story ideas with him and he did all the ship designs and so forth. I came up with the idea of a two-bladed lightsaber, which as I recall wasn't used until the third or fourth series. I also conceived the idea of a Jedi fighting with a lightsaber in each hand. Chris drew a wonderful realization of that.
  3. GM: Were you contracted to write Tales of the Jedi before or during your writing of the Dark Empire series of comics? What were your feelings about writing, and essentially pioneering, a yet-to-be-explored time period of the Star Wars universe? Are there any specific memories that stand out for you with regards to the conception and creation of Tales of the Jedi?
    • TV: See above answers. It was a lot of fun, but also a bit intimidating. I decided to focus in on a few characters and let the stories spin out from there. I think Master Arca was my first character. Then Ulic and his brother Cay. Strangely enough, I wrote a plot outline for the conclusion of Ulic's saga, but I was off the books before I could submit it. It was much better than what finally appeared in my opinion -- but then I am prejudiced in favor of my own work! ;-)
  4. GM: Do you happen to remember any sales figures for the three TotJ story arcs that you solo-wrote?
    • TV: All I remember is that the sales were great. The books are still selling well in collected form a decade later.
  5. GM: Were there any type of promotional events geared towards TotJ that you were directly involved in? Comic conventions? Star Wars events? What were they like? Did they appear to be successful in garnering attention for the comic series?
    • TV: Well, we did things at the San Diego con and in England. Also a few bookstore signings. Not much beyond that.
  6. GM: Was there a general story line that Lucasfilm wanted you to loosely follow? Or were you given free rein in developing interlocking storylines and characters?
    • TV: See above. I think you don't know that Lucasfilm didn't do a lot of dictating to creators in that period. They liked to see what you would come up with and then say "yes" or "no".
  7. GM: Was your version of TotJ along the same lines as what was eventually approved for publishing? Several differences exist in the endnotes for Dark Empire comics, where you first hinted at the characters and events that would eventually become Tales of the Jedi. Were the Dark Empire endnotes intended to be simply a basic layout of what was to come? Or did writing for TotJ intentionally deviate from what was laid down in the endnotes? If yes, what were the reasons for doing so?
    • TV: I can't help much on that question. Unfortunately I don't have time to go back and study the endnotes etc. I will tell you this, though: there was a vast story-web that was forming in my mind. I had several notebooks full of ideas. Some days I used to sit with a cup of coffee and just spin out the possibilities for hours. At that point in my life Star Wars was a big part of my thinking. I was a fan, of course. But it was more than that. I had this idea that because the Jedi were spiritual warriors, like ancient Japanese swordsmen, we could eventually balance off the "darkside of the force" with new exposition about what constituted the "lightside of the force". I used to dream about doing that at night. Maybe I was nuts!
  8. GM: When you originally write the first five Tales of the Jedi comics, did you envision that the stories of Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider would eventually span an additional four story arcs (The Freedon Nadd Uprising, Dark Lords of the Sith, The Sith War, and Redemption)?
    • TV: Not exactly. What happened was I was introduced to Kevin Anderson and invited him on board, so that we could merge the characters from his novels into the series, especially this Exar Kun character. Then Kevin and I worked together, meeting at his house in California and having great back-and-forth sessions for over a year.
  9. GM: When did planning and writing begin for the original five TotJ comics? What about The Freedon Nadd Uprising and Dark Lords of the Sith? Who were you working with from Lucasfilm, if anyone? What was their specific role in the development of TotJ?
    • TV: I think this is mostly answered above. The Freedon Nadd story was a one-shot. Dark Horse wanted to do a 48-page Tales of the Jedi graphic novel, and I gave them Freedon Nadd. Our editor, Dan Thorsland, found Tony Atkins to pencil it, and I brought in Denis Rodier as inker. I was working with Denis on a horror-tale for Steve Bissette's "Taboo" magazine. (Taboo went defunct before the story could be published, unfortunately.) One of my specialties has always been finding artists. With my editor Barbara Kesel's blessing, I came up with a three-page sample TOTJ script. I would then give this script to artists I met at conventions and they would do sketches and test pages for us. (Barbara was the editor on Dark Empire, and the first editor on Tales of the Jedi.)
  10. GM: Who for you was the most interesting character, or characters, to write and develop? Were there any specific challenges or obstacles in writing their stories?
    • TV: I had a soft spot for Nomi Sunrider and Master Thon, who's a four-legged beast. There are challenges in writing any story, you know. I used to think that writers have always been taken for granted in the comicbook business. Fortunately some of the artists understand that the secrets of imagination aren't granted to everybody. Cam Kennedy is one of those. I loved how receptive and respectful he was to writers. Very inspirational to work with such a man.
  11. GM: Did you and the comic artists (Chris Gossett, etc.) work closely on how you wanted the characters, planets, etc., to look? Or, was that mainly left to artist discretion?
    • TV: See above. The only way I liked to do comics was with lots of back-and-forth and give-and-take. For the best results, I needed to be friends with the artist, and I wanted the artist to be happy in what he or she was doing.
  12. GM: What led you to co-author Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith with Kevin J. Anderson? Was it difficult to incorporate Anderson’s character of Exar Kun into the overall story? Likewise, did adding the addition of Kun drastically alter the storyline, if any, that you have previously envisioned for Ulic Qel-Droma?
    • TV: See answers above. Adding Kun definitely altered the storyline, for the better I thought. It gave us a chance to dig into the ancient history of the Sith. Together Kevin and I suggested to Lucasfilm that we explore the history of the Sith. They said "George will never go for this." He loved the idea, of course.
  13. GM: In your opinion, what were the major advantages of inviting another author to help write the TotJ series? Were there any challenges that you remember encountering through this process?
    • TV: It was a great learning experience. The phone bills were pretty steep, though.
  14. GM: Following the conclusion of writing Dark Lords of the Sith, what led you to make the decision to hand over control of writing Tales of the Jedi to Kevin J. Anderson? Looking back on your time with TotJ, is there anything that you would have liked to continue running with? Any characters or events? Which? Why?
    • TV: Well, that's a long story. Ultimately, in any collective business enterprise, the creative side begins to suffer, in one way or another. Let me sum it up by saying, "As Star Wars once again became a cultural phenomenon, I felt my freedom begin to slip away, and so it was time to do other things."
  15. GM: In closing, what are your thoughts on Tales of the Jedi and the comic’s place within Star Wars continuity? How do you feel about being the first author to write a story taking place so long before the original Star Wars movies, especially stories which have had such long-lasting effects on Star Wars as a whole?
    • TV: I feel pretty good about it. It was an opportunity that arose, and I proposed it, found the artists, and pretty much put the whole thing together myself. It was a great time to be doing Star Wars.
May the Force Be With You!
Tom Veitch
I'd like to thank Mr. Tom Veitch again for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions for me. MTFBWY. Greyman Jan.png (Talk) 03:46, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

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