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Jedi Journals Interview: Tom Taylor

Posted By Jay on April 25, 2012

This week Jedi Journals had the pleasure of sitting down and getting an interview with Blood Ties and Darth Maul author, Tom Taylor! So without further aideu...

Jedi Journals: Tom, I've realized I only know of the work you have done with Star Wars. Can you give readers a little background of some of your other writing credits?

Tom Taylor: Sure, Iím the creator of the hit all-ages graphic novel The Deep: Here Be Dragons about a multiethnic family of underwater explorers who live on a submarine. Itís probably my favorite thing in the world to write and I would urge all Star Wars fans to pick it up. Iím also a screen writer and a multi-award-winning playwright (ooh, ahh). I write extensively for Dark Horse comics, DC comics and Gestalt Publishing and Iím the writer of the ongoing Star Wars: Invasion series, Star Wars: Blood Ties, Star Wars Adventures and the upcoming Darth Maul: Death Sentence. Iíve also written The Authority for DC, and other characters including Green Lantern and Batman. This week, I also have a story in Rocketeer Adventures with Star Wars: Invasion artist Colin Wilson. That story is actually getting a lot of good buzz today.

JJ: Given the range of your Star Wars titles (from Classic era characters, to the Yuuzhan Vong Invasion, to writing the new Darth Maul series), how big a Star Wars fan are you? What is your favorite era? Favorite film?

TT: My favorite era is the one I grew up with without a doubt but I have a lot of time for everything Star Wars. My favorite films are the original trilogy but I canít choose between them. Itís like being asked to choose between your legs and your arms. Iíd just like to keep all of them please. Donít make me choose between my legs and my arms, I need them for things!

JJ: Chris and I have discussed on the Jedi Journals podcast how the Invasion series got better with each issue and with each series. Revelations had amazing revelations every issue! How did you get the idea for these stories? Do you have more stories with Finn and his family that you'd like to tell?†

TT: Iím pleased to hear you say that, as I feel exactly the same way. Invasion was my first gig in mainstream comics and I think Iíve learned and grown with it. I was very happy with issue #0 but I think that was written by the playwright in me. Since then, I think our story has grown better and better and Colin and I have been very happy with it. Iíve had the whole thing planned out for a long time, I know how it ends and where. I know who survives and who falls. I know what happens on Artorias and I know full well what happens out there on the very edge of wild space. However, at this stage, I donít know when weíll get to tell those stories. Everythingís on hold at the moment. Somewhere, a prince is mourning and a princess is quietly tearing the heads off of stormtroopers with her bare hands.

JJ: You had the opportunity to write several characters from the films (Luke [at two points in his life], Vader, Boba & Jango, Maul); which of these characters is the most challenging to write? Is there one that you "get" the most? Who's your favorite original character you've created?

TT: Maul is probably the most challenging, simply because heís undergone this incredible transformation since we first saw him many years ago. His character has been changed completely and itís a little difficult to roll with that. Having said that, Iím having a great time writing him, and I think Darth Maul: Death Sentence is going to be a great read.

My favorite character is Luke and Iíve loved writing him, I would write him forever if given the chance, and I am about to pitch a new story centering around him. However, bizarrely, the one I immediately 'got' was Han Solo. His voice is so unique that, as soon as it came time to write him in the pages of Invasion, his voice just came naturally. I guess thatís what happens when a film lives in the back of your brain for so long.

Favorite character Iíve created? Agh! No oneís ever asked me that before. Donít make me choose between my children! Actually, joking aside, you are kind of asking me to choose between my children as Finn is named for my first child and Connor is named for my second.

My four favorite characters (again, donít make me choose between my arms and my legs) would be Connor in
Blood Ties, Luca in the Will of Darth Vader, Dray in Invasion and Kaye in Invasion. I love characters who speak the truth to power. The jester who will tell the emperor heís wearing no clothes. Connor Freeman in Blood Ties is absolutely one these. He speaks his mind and he does so in a cutting, funny, way most of the time. Luca even more so, heís responsible for a couple of my personal favorite lines. Dray is just off the wall crazy and I love him for it and Kaye, well, Kaye is just brilliant. I love how much sheís divided the fans on message boards. There are some who hate her and some who love her and I think thatís when you know youíve written a character well, when they get strong reactions from people. For my mind, I love her and Iím not just saying that because she could make me choose between my arms and legs after tearing them off.

JJ: Fans are terribly excited about the new Darth Maul-Death Sentence mini-series, given Maul's return at the end of The Clone Wars Season 4. How did this series come about?

TT: Honestly, this was one of those where my editor, Randy Stradley, came out and asked 'Do you want to write a Darth Maul story?' We were still waiting and seeing on Invasion and I was finishing up on Boba Fett is Dead and some DC comics work, and I immediately said yes. Iíve loved Maul since I first saw him in the trailer years ago. He was the only action figure I bought in the lead up to The Phantom Menace. From there, I shot through some ideas to Randy and eventually one was the right one. Soon, you will see the prophecy, Maulís army, and the Day of Three Suns.

JJ: When writing your comic scripts, what sort of writer are you? Do you give explicit breakdowns for the artist assigned to the book, or is more of a loose scripting? Also, are you able to work closely with your artists, or do they go off and do they're own thing?

TT: Yep. I describe every panel to the nth degree. I was a theatre/musical director as well as a playwright and, for me, the actors have to get everything right on the page. Itís up to me to convey everything correctly to avoid mistakes in the story. For me, comics writing is the same as writing a screenplay and then also describing the story board. I donít want to leave anything to chance. I work closely with almost all of my artists. I think Iím the only full-time mainstream comics writer in Australia and I happen to live about five minutes away from one of Australiaís best comics creators in Colin Wilson. Even when weíre not working together we still catch up every week. Chris Scalf and I chat every week via millions of emails and weíre always energizing each other about the next thing. James Brouwer, artist on The Deep, and I chatted for about an hour via Skype last night. Bruno Redondo, who will be illustrating Darth Maul, and I were chatting long into the night last night via email and facebook messaging, sometimes at the same time. He and I first worked together on a Green Lantern story for DCUO Legends and I loved the fact that his characters 'acted' so well. I was very happy when Randy agreed to have him on Darth Maul: Death Sentence. I like to work WITH an artist, not before one. I think you get a better book from this, and there are always ideas that come after youíve scripted. Randy, Bruno and I had a chat last night about changing a race of humans into a race of mole people. This will make a better book. Mole people make everything better.

JJ: Finally, if fans are interested in seeing some of your other work, can you recommend some of the other titles you have worked on, or let people know what you have coming out shortly?

TT: First up, The Deep: Here Be Dragons. This book is my biggest joy. Itís just been nominated for two Aurealis Awards (Australiaís biggest Science Fiction literary award) for Best Childrenís Picture Book AND Best Illustrated Work (the adult category) so it really is an all-ages book. If you like anything, youíll like The Deep. If you canít find it in a comic book store you can get it from Amazon or from Gestalt Publishing. Definitely check out all of my Star Wars work, especially the first Blood Ties to find out more about Fett and Connor and check out Rocketeer Adventures 2 #2. As far as whatís coming up, you have to check out Star Wars: Blood Ties - Boba Fett is Dead. Itís going to be huge. I have Darth Maul: Death Sentence, the next volume of The Deep, Rose and Thorn for DC and a short Batman story with my friend, and fellow Australian, Nicola Scott.

Yes. That Batman. As opposed to any other Batman you may be thinking of.

Our thanks goes out to Tom (website) for taking the time to answer our questions, as well as Jermey and Aub at Dark Horse Comics for setting up the interview. Be sure to check out issue #1 of Blood Ties: Boba Fett is Dead on sale today!

Related Stories

September 4, 2013   Jedi Journals: September 2013
August 14, 2013   Jedi Journals: August 2013
July 3, 2013   Jedi Journals: July 2013
May 1, 2013   Jedi Journals: May 2013
June 11, 2012   Jedi Journals: June 2012

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