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Tuesday September 2, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday September 2, 2014 MYT 2:46:20 PM
by michael cheang
Kids say the darnedest things: Doesn't Luke know that ruling the galaxy IS a treat?
Ever wondered what it would be like if Darth Vader had to raise Luke and Leia by himself?
Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, leads the Galactic Empire against the heroic Rebel Alliance. But before he can take care of the Rebels, Lord Vader must first take care of his son – four-year-old Luke Skywalker…
Wait, what? Darth Vader as a father, raising Luke Skywalker? Well, yeah. That’s the premise of cartoonist Jeffrey Brown’s series of Star Wars cartoon books, which revolve around Darth Vader being pretty much hands-on as a parent for the Skywalker twins, Luke and Leia. Brown adapts iconic scenes and dialogues from all the Star Wars movies to suit the everyday humdrum life of a Sith Lord who has to take care of the kids, and a father who cheats while playing hide and seek (“You cannot hide forever, Luke. Your thoughts betray you.”), and has to answer awkward questions such as “Why is it called a Death Star?”
According to Brown, the initial idea for Vader And Son came when he was asked to sketch a possible Google doodle for Father’s Day. “They (Google) wanted something about how awkward an everyday moment would be between Luke and Vader,” he explained in an e-mail interview.
“I immediately thought it’d be fun to make Luke four years old and put Vader in the situations I was experiencing as a parent. Google decided not to use the idea, so I was able to take it and turn it into a book.”
Unlike his earlier Incredible Change-Bots books, which parodied the Transformers, Brown wanted the Darth Vader books to use the original Star Wars characters. “I didn’t want to make it parody or have to change the names and appearances. I wanted to use the real Star Wars characters, scenes and quotes,” he said.
With licensing and copyright a potential stumbling block, he took the idea to his publishers, Chronicle, who worked out the deal with Lucasfilm to make it an official Star Wars book.
As a result, Brown got to work with Lucasfilm on the development of the books, from concept to final artwork.
“It’s been a good working relationship, because they always seem to understand what I’m trying to do. I’ve never had them make me change something I didn’t want to change, and actually they’ve had lots of helpful suggestions that have made the books better,” he said.
“Beyond that, everyone I meet from Lucasfilm has been overwhelmingly positive in their response to the books, which is very gratifying.”
Vader And Son was published in April 2012, and the response was so good that Brown has since followed it up with Vader’s Little Princess in 2013 (which focused on Leia); and the recent Goodnight Darth Vader, which has Vader telling his twins a bedtime story that features some familiar faces from the Star Wars Universe.
Besides the Vader books, he has also published Star Wars: Jedi Academy, which is an original story set in a “middle school in a galaxy far, far away”.
Brown said he is still surprised at how popular his Star Wars books have been. “I’m still surprised, mostly by how much kids like the books, since I initially wrote Vader And Son for parents,” he said. “I put my love of Star Wars into every page, and I figured there’d be some positive response from other fans, but how much people have responded to the books is something I didn’t expect. My favourite responses are always when kids make their own drawings from looking at the books.”
Vader’s Little Princess recently won Brown the Eisner Award (the comics industry’s version of the Oscars) for Best Humour Publication, an accolade he never imagined he would end up winning.
“I never imagined that once I started drawing comics, I would someday get to work with Star Wars, let alone have this kind of success drawing them. Winning the Eisner is still a surreal experience, I feel really honoured to have received it,” said Brown, whose Star Wars: Jedi Academy was also nominated for Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12), but lost out to The Adventures Of Superhero Girl, by Faith Erin Hicks.
Before the Star Wars books, the Michigan-born cartoonist was best known for books like Clumsy (which told the story of a long-distance relationship), Unlikely (the bittersweet story of how he lost his virginity); and the aforementioned Incredible Change-Bots (a hilarious parody of the Transformers).
One book he would like more people to know about, however, would be his original graphic novel A Matter Of Life. “It’s about fatherhood and religion, and growing up with my dad being a minister, and it is one of my books that I’m most proud of. It’s another book that has really connected with people, although on a much smaller scale than the Star Wars books,” he said.
He has also produced memoirs and books based on his experiences as a parent, including Kids Are Weird, based on actual quotes by his son Oscar, who is also one of the inspirations for his portrayal of Luke in Vader And Son.
“How I draw Luke is just a slight change from how I draw Oscar. I think that’s part of why these books have connected so well with people; they’re as much about real life as they are about Star Wars,” he said.
> Jeffrey Brown’s books are available at Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC. Call 03-2164 8133 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit kinokuniya.com/my.
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Lifestyle, Books, Comics, Jeffery Brown, Star Wars, Darth Vader, Vader And Son, Graphic novels, comics, cartoons
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