Star Wars Rebels doesn't premiere for several more months, but you can get an early look at the series in Adam Bray's new book Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide, which was published yesterday by DK. Within its pages are descriptions of the series' main characters, the Empire and its war machine, and the situation on Lothal, where the series' main action takes place. To mark the book's release, I spoke to Bray to find out what it was like writing the visual guide in collaboration with Lucasfilm and what he thinks about Star Wars Rebels.
How did you get started writing Star Wars books?
I started out updating guidebooks for DK Eyewitness Travel, which was a lot of fun. As a life-long Star Wars fan though, I always hoped that one day I could make the transition to DK Star Wars. My first Star Wars book for DK finally came in the form of “Star Wars: What Makes a Monster?” earlier this year.
It’s a good less for people who would like to work for Lucasfilm or contribute to the Star Wars universe in some way--sometimes you have to come through a back door! If that is your goal, it helps to determine what you enjoy doing and what you can become good at, then try to figure out how you can use that in reaching your goals. With persistence, you can eventually get there, though the road may be long.
What did you think of Rebels' predecessor series, The Clone Wars?
The Clone Wars is amazing. The visuals were really good to begin with, but over the 6 season they morphed into something simply breathtaking. Similarly, Dave and the crew took a new padawan that was, admittedly, mildly obnoxious at first, and matured her into the heart of the entire series, finally breaking all of our hearts when she left. Lucasfilm Animation proved that Star Wars’ most important characters and stories are not all limited to just the episodic films. I think all of that demonstrates how remarkable The Clone Wars is .
Tell me about your collaboration with Dave Filoni and others at Lucasfilm Animation for this book. How did you start working on it and what kinds of resources and support did Lucasfilm provide along the way?
Production of the series was still well underway while I was working on this book. So my first and primary resources were images of characters, vehicles, weapons and ships, concept art and the scripts. Leland Chee was very helpful with continuity questions and the fine details. I had an opportunity to interview Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg and Joel Aron at length as well, and ask them almost anything about the series.
What are your general thoughts about the new inter-trilogy era of Star Wars that this show is opening up?
I think it’s very exciting. Unlike The Clone Wars, we really have no idea what will happen to any of these characters. They are completely new to us, and this is an unexplored corner of the galaxy. It isn’t like The Clone Wars, which were sandwiched between two previous movies and we knew all the backstories and exactly what would happen to Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme and a whole bunch of other characters. Absolutely anything can happen in Rebels, and I find that very exciting! We haven’t had a situation like this within Star Wars since the original trilogy first screened in theaters.
What do you think of Rebels based on the material you've seen so far?
Happy! Happy! Happy! I’m so excited about Star Wars Rebels! It’s terribly selfish of me, but I’d like to claim the title of Rebels’ biggest fan at the moment. But it does really make me feel like a kid again—like I’m in a Lionel Kiddie City, looking up with awe at that very first wave of Kenner’s Return of the Jedi figures hanging on the pegs, and refusing to walk out of the store without a Chief Chirpa, Emperor’s Royal Guard, Biker Scout, Bib Fortuna and a Gamorrean Guard! It’s that good.
What excites you the most about exploring the arrival of the Empire?
Oooh. What’s not exciting about the return of stormtroopers and TIE fighters, Star Destroyers and Imperial walkers?!? That being said, this Inquisitor character is outstanding. He’s a completely new class of dark side villain—a new animal altogether. He’s one scary guy—and it is always exciting to have a new and really well-crafted villain in a story.
Who is your favorite member of the rebel crew?
That is a really hard choice. I like all of the characters so much. Such an incredible amount of thought went into the development of each one. And not just the designs, but also their backstories and personalities, their strengths, flaws, and mannerisms, how they relate to each other and the directions they each might be headed. And then there is the life that each of the actors (and the animators) all breathe into then.
But if I had to pick one, Chopper is near the top. I’m admittedly partial to the droids of Star Wars and his design is just so cool. And the writing for Chopper’s character is just hilarious. I totally love that little stinker!
We know that the series takes certain details, like the Imperial Security Bureau, from the Expanded Universe. But there are many more EU elements in this book than just the ISB. Was it your idea to preserve those EU details and make them canon, or did that come from Lucasfilm?
It’s well known of course that Dave Filoni drew many ideas, stories and characters from the Expanded Universe in developing The Clone Wars. The team at Lucasfilm all advertised that they are fans of the EU even during the announcement about shifting the EU to “Star Wars Legends.” After all, some of them had a hand in shepherding, if not actively creating, portions of the EU. So I’m not surprised that Dave Filoni incorporated the ISB, Sienar Fleet Systems or other familiar elements into Star Wars Rebels.
For my part, I was given a lot of freedom to fill in certain background details, which I based on existing premises from all over the Star Wars universe. Lucasfilm didn’t place any particular constraints upon me while I wrote. However, all of what we see in the final book had to be eventually approved by Lucasfilm, of course.
Was there anything that got left on the cutting-room floor that you really wish you'd been able to include?
I am very happy with the editing of the book. I think the images and text fit together very well. Of course all books must end somewhere, and there are definitely many stories in Rebels yet to tell, so I hope there will be other books to follow-up as the series progresses. I did definitely have much more behind-the-scenes material and interviews than we were able to use, due to space constraints. I’m hopeful that I can make use of that more in the future, because it is absolutely fascinating stuff.
What other projects are you working on right now?
It’s a secret... But Star Wars fans will really like it, I’m sure...
How can people follow your work online?
The best place to follow me is on Twitter: @AuthorAdamBray. I tweet often about Star Wars and Hobbit news, and I post links to my projects and international travels there. I have a website at www.AdamBray.com as well--there isn’t much there right now but it will get an overhaul eventually. Also, keep an eye on StarWars.com...
Thanks to Adam Bray for taking the time to answer my questions. Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide is on sale now. You can learn more about it in this StarWars.com post.
TFN Review: Star Wars Rebels - The Visual Guide From DK