Author Tim Siedell is a relative newcomer to the Star Wars writing galaxy, but he's certainly made an impact in his first year. His first series, Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin, was well received critically and was a major hit for Dark Horse Comics.
He returned in December for a second series heavily featuring the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows. Issue #2 will be released this Wednesday.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Tim some questions about his work on Star Wars, Darth Vader, and his Twitter popularity. Our conversation appears below.
You're a man of many talents, having been a writer, professor, advertising agency creative director, and producer. I see you characterized most often as a funnyman or comedian, which may surprise those who are only familiar with your Star Wars work, which has been pretty dark. How would you characterize yourself?
I struggle with that sometimes, myself. I certainly embrace the creative generalist lifestyle. Ultimately, I'm a writer. I play around with ideas and words and sometimes that comes out as jokes and sometimes it comes out as ad campaigns or comic books. I'm still best known for my Twitter feed, which is a fact I find somewhat embarrassing.
What attracts you to Star Wars?
I've been a Star Wars fan since 1977. I saw A New Hope in the theater. I played with the action figures. The Star Wars theme played on repeat in my brain as I ran around the playground at recess.
So, as a writer, there's a ton of fun already built into Star Wars for me. But beyond that, it's such a massive and well-defined universe. For any creative professional, it's an amazing sandbox to be asked to play in. It can be a bit daunting, because there's so much that has already been established. But the possibilities still remain endless.
I love that practically everyone knows the overarching storyline. It has seeped into our culture at the bedrock level. So to write a story that takes place between the two trilogies, when everybody knows how events shake out... there's so much that doesn't need to be said. People know. So then you can start playing with that.
What's the genesis of Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows? How did you come up with the story?
I wanted to get inside the head of a clone. That seemed interesting to me, especially during this time period. Imagine the confusion that must have existed throughout the galaxy. We know the reality, because we know things that the characters at the time wouldn't know. But what's the perception? When you're in the middle of something, it's not always easy to know. I thought it would be interesting to explore this at a time when the legend of Vader was growing.
The first issue gave me a very post-Vietnam kind of feeling as The Trooper dealt with some lingering demons after serving in a proxy war. Am I crazy, or was that intentional?
Maybe only a little crazy. I don't think you need to go all the way back to Vietnam. The Gulf War. Iraq. Afghanistan. Drill down into any war and you'll find plenty of demons.
Good point. What can you tell us about the upcoming issues of Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows?
It's going to get dark.
We're going to meet some new characters and we're going to see Vader in action, but this is ultimately the story of one trooper. His perceptions. His reality.
Your Star Wars contributions so far have focused heavily on Darth Vader. Is there another Star Wars character you'd like to have the opportunity to write a series about?
Oh, boy. Let's see. If I had a choice? Han Solo, probably. Writing dialogue for him would be a blast. But, really, any character in this universe would be a lot of fun. Jabba the Hutt. Lando Calrissian. How about a Titanic-style love story involving two characters working on the construction of the Death Star?
Your stories take place not long after the events of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and lean heavily towards some of the darker aspects of the galaxy far, far away. The prequels have been criticized by some as being too childish. What's your take on them?
I don't know about childish. But there's a sense of fun in the original trilogy that, for me, didn't shine through as much in the prequels. Maybe it was my age at the time each trilogy came out. Maybe it was the need to do a lot of explaining in the prequels. But when you go back and watch A New Hope, especially, it's striking how simple the storyline is. How effective it is. How much fun it is.
That was my goal with Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin. Be fun. Stay simple. Don't try to explain everything. Capture some of that wonder from the original trilogy. Let's see young Vader turning into the galaxy's biggest badass. By definition, that's going to skew dark. I tried to continue that with Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows, but the morality gets even murkier with this story.
As mentioned earlier, you've worked as the creative director for an advertising agency. What Star Wars character would you like to design an ad campaign for and what would it look like?
Instead of a character, how about a place? Imagine a cheesy tourism poster that you might find hanging up in a space port somewhere. We see the distinctive shape of a floating city, poking through puffy white clouds. Headline: "Everyone's a High Roller at Cloud City Resort & Casino."
Okay, that was terrible. I assure you, my ideas are much better when I'm being paid.
Your hilarious Tweets have led to you being placed on numerous "must follow" lists by such publications as Time, Paste Magazine, and Maxim. Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin has been praised as being among the best storytelling in Star Wars. I wonder if you'd be kind enough to, in character as Darth Vader, compose a Tweet from a point during any one of the Star Wars films. I leave the moment completely up to you, sir.
I don't see Vader tweeting. For one thing, it's hard to type on a phone when you're wearing gloves. But if Twitter existed then, I could maybe, just maybe, see Vader live tweeting one important event:
@darthvader: Alderaan, lol. #BOOM
My thanks to Tim Siedell for a fun and informative interview! Be sure to check out Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows Issue #2 this Wednesday, and come back to TheForce.Net for my review on the same day!