In honor of the July 1 rerelease by Marvel of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic comics, I’m revising and updating my production notes here on what I hope will be a weekly basis. You can get Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1 from your local comic shop, from Things from Another World or from Amazon. You can also purchase signed copies directly from my shop while supplies last.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #1
“COMMENCEMENT” PART 1
Art by Brian Ching
Lettered by Michael Heisler
Colored by Michael Atiyeh
Cover by Travis Charest
Edited by Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall
Released January 25, 2006 by Dark Horse Comics
Story licensed and © Lucasfilm Ltd.
As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.
Long before I came into the picture, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic began as a video game series – and before that, a sub-genre of Star Wars comics from Dark Horse under the Tales of the Jedi label. My involvement began in early 2005, when editor Randy Stradley and I began discussing some of the features we liked seeing in Star Wars comics: camaraderie, humanity (even among aliens), and drama, among other things. That conversation led to my putting together some thoughts for a series to be launched during Dark Horse’s 20th anniversary in 2006 – and, indeed, KOTOR became the first big event of that anniversary celebration.
As my plans for the series grew in detail, I changed little from my initial pitch for Randy and my eventual editors, Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall (except for a bit about Gryph, below). After approval, I turned in the first script and Brian Ching, who had recently drawn Star Wars: Obsession, went to work.
Brian and colorist Michael Atiyeh developed detailed visuals for the series characters – including a lot of important characters that we see in the first issue but that don’t have speaking parts there. By Comic-Con International: San Diego in August 2005, when Dark Horse announced the series, much of the first issue was done – and I had already scripted well beyond that.
The lead time allowed me to concentrate much more on story flow and pacing than I’ve had the opportunity to do in the past. For the most part, Knights of the Old Republic is told as economically as I can manage, with very little “flab” – most every detail included either means something or is deliberately in there because it doesn’t. I was also able to work out much broader plans for how this series fits into the overarching continuity, which readers will be able to better see as we go forward.
After what felt like a long wait, the first issue released exactly on schedule: Jan. 25, 2006, 363 days after Randy and I had that initial conversation. Amazingly, we managed to keep the particulars of this issue’s surprise ending secret almost up until the release. Initial sales were brisk with wonderful reactions from fans to the mysteries the issue posed.
In 2007, the issue was reprinted in Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 1 from Dark Horse; in 2013, it became part of the first Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Omnibus. The cover from this issue would become the cover for both of those. On July 1, 2015, Zayne Carrick made his first appearance at Marvel as the publisher released the issue as part of its Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1.
• In my first draft, Gryph was a member of the Ortolan species, the same as blue-elephant Max Rebo from Return of the Jedi. Clever crooks are supposed to be fairly rare for that race, giving Gryph an opportunity to play against type.
But Brian Ching quickly realized it would be hard for Gryph to convey the many expressions my story required without a visible mouth, so I went back to the casting room. I’d always liked the Snaggletooth action figure from the first movie, so it took me less than an hour to suggest that Gryph be a Snivvian. It turned out to be great move for all involved, and a good example of how collaboration in comics works.
• Attentive readers may have noticed that the Jedi Tower, as it appears later in the story, appears in the very first panel. Detail-oriented, that Brian…
|The very first Gryph drawing, by Brian Ching. Not an Ortolan!|
• If you read closely, you can see how out of step the honest citizens of Taris are. The businessman refers to the Highport area remaining safe, when in fact we’ve just seen what Gryph is doing there!
• Reading between the lines, we also see how Gryph never misses an opportunity. The same warehouse full of busted ale drums and broken droids he tries to sell later as intact droids with drums of machine lubricant…
• I considered the double-page scene that preceded it — the one with the Padawans’ deaths — so hot for the fan press that I deleted Brian’s preliminary drawing from my hard drive, in case I accidentally e-mailed that image by mistake!
• We worked hard to get Zayne’s and Lucien’s expressions just right for the final page. I think Brian managed to hit just the right notes – because there are several there.
• I managed to get the start date of the Mandalorian Wars wrong by a year, a consequence of my misreading something in one of the game files. We wound up working that into the story, and it became the “False War” period when we described it in the 2008 Campaign Guide.
• There is no scene in the comic book like what we see on the cover of this issue, but it was drawn a good bit before the rest of the comic book was. It was a fine piece of artwork, in any event — and it makes Zayne seem a lot more competent than he actually was!
Next week: Read about issue #2’s opening action scene—and my choice to avoid omniscient narrators. Or you can skip ahead and read all the notes for the series, though they’re only updated up through this issue.