Tales from the Memory Bank: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Homecoming

http://bit.ly/TORMarv1In honor of the 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. 

The Old Republic Epic Collections are in stock again at my shop, and you can purchase signed copies directly while supplies last.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #9
Art by Brian Ching
Lettered by Michael Heisler
Colored by Michael Atiyeh
Cover by Brian Ching
Edited by Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall
Released October 20, 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.

When people have asked about my favorite characters in this series to write, I have often included Lucien Draay – perhaps a puzzle to those who only knew him from his earlier appearances. Following the release of “Homecoming,” essentially a solo Lucien tale, my preference may make more sense to some. He’s a very fun guy to write.

I had wanted to do a single issue focusing on Zayne’s pursuers in which he didn’t appear, and I wanted to do it right in the first year, putting a finer point on what they were about. A couple of previous comics served as mental models for this.

My favorite Archie Goodwin Star Wars story, Marvel’s Star Wars #29 (“Dark Encounter”), was a battle between the bad guys – and its drama gripped me more than the stories where the villains only appeared as antagonists. Here, we got a little insight into what Vader was thinking. (And when I did my own first Star Wars issue, I was glad it could be a Vader solo story.)

And one of my favorite comics stories of all time, period, is Neil Gaiman’s Hob Gadling story reprinted in Sandman: A Doll’s House. It’s a single issue which revisits the same characters in one time period after another, leaping years at a stretch. It’s an interesting device, and while the structure of “Homecoming” differs in that it’s a present-day drama interlaced with flashbacks moving forward in time, I enjoyed the opportunity to do something in a related vein.

And, indeed, it was of my favorite issues to write in the series to that point. But “Homecoming” nonetheless had its twists and turns behind the scenes.

The first twist related only to my own stupidity. I lost half the script in a foul-up with a new hard drive. Due to a power failure (I believe) both the file and its back-up were corrupted, and nothing I could hit it with – and believe me, I tried everything there was – could rescue it from being a file full of “@” signs. I figured that probably wouldn’t make for a good script. (Good call!)

While the Internet is generally an endless fountain of ideas about how to restore a document, there’s a moment at which – after enough hours of attempting to virus scans, file repairs, and deleted file searches proved fruitless – you’ve spent more time on that than you would just rewriting. So I did, meaning this puppy got more drafts than anything I had done to date for this series. So if the issue shows more reflection, it came by it the hard way! (And yes, immediately afterward I began backing up everything in octuplicate. There’s even a flash drive on the cat’s collar now…)

Another twist came long after my work was done. The plan had been for Dustin Weaver to work on #7-9, which Brian Ching worked ahead on #10 – which this issue was announced as. But when the scheduling situation meant that Brian got done first, we reversed the issues – which was fine, since there was little to change to make that happen. The two issues were essentially happening simultaneously on opposite sides of the galaxy. Ironically, I finished the script for #10 before #9 anyway, so this actually is reflected in the release order. We wound up titling it “Flashpoint Interlude: Homecoming” in the monthly comic book.

The #9-10 switch was a good, low-impact solution; low enough that readers didn’t always notice when we corrected the order. The first two Dark Horse reprintings put “Homecoming” after the end of “Flashpoint,” restoring the intended order — whereas Marvel put the pages in order of release when they did the Epic Collection in 2005.


• This issue marks the turning of the calendar from “approximately 3964 years before the Battle of Yavin” to “approximately 3963”; the Onslaught, taking several days, actually straddles the 3963-and-a-half year mark, so the whole battle is “on the cusp.” We didn’t deal in months in the KOTOR era, which can cause a bit of confusion, since people might have read the cover note and thought a full year has passed. I’m not sure it was a problem for most, though.

• Brian Ching has really crafted a KOTOR-era taste for really long stretch vehicles, from extremely long airspeeders to bikes. Figure it’s the era of Lincoln Continentals and choppers…
• Did you notice they let the woman with no eyes drive? “Sorry, officer. He was in my Force Sight Blind Spot.”
• Comlinks come in all shapes and sizes, as we see in the early pages. My first thought when I saw Lucien’s comlink was the “Flicker” women’s razors that have been around for years
• Krynda (rhymes with “Brenda”) ties up this series with the Tales of the Jedi era more tightly than ever before. Vodo, Exar Kun, the Miraluka, and more came from that line of comics.
• Haazen is pronounced “HAH-zen,” and someone in the design stage made the joke that his last name was “Daag.” Someone else read that, believed it for a moment, and wondered if we would get in trouble with the ice cream company. Relax – he’s not Haazen Daag, except in our imaginations!
• I decided after the release not to get into who’s sitting where in the High Council. Yes, as usual, we populated it with faces that fans may find familiar – but, as ever, with a few exceptions, if you didn’t hear the name in dialogue, I did not intend to provide the name in that issue. (I mean, we can hardly call the roll in a situation like that!
• On the other hand, we do name Master Vrook, voiced by Ed Asner in the games. I don’t mind if you hear his voice as you read his words – I certainly did!
• I was very pleased that Brian could work in the late Padawans into the “courtroom” scene, as I’d hoped. Imagine a trial where the accused has to stand there staring at the hologram of the victims!
• Several people noted the novelty of the word “revanchism,” but it was pretty familiar to me in my political science days. Related to the French word for “revenge,” it literally means a policy of trying to regain territory lost in war. It’s a shade different from another word, “irredentism,” which captures that meaning plus the idea of gaining control of areas not lost in war, but which are culturally or historically connected. (It’s based on the Italian word for “unredeemed,” referring to Italian-speaking areas in other countries.) You might say that Nazi Germany’s desire for Danzig was Revanchist, while its desire for, say, the Sudetenland, was irredentist.
• I didn’t put sound effects into the fight scene, but it plays pretty well without them. It’s always hard to tell when even a little “Biff! Pow! Oof!” is enough. I tend to be overly fond of “Gaaaah!”, as if you haven’t noticed by now.
• They always said I couldn’t see the writing on the wall. Look closely at the scene from Haazen’s chamber and see if you can. No, it’s not Artoo and Threepio there in the hieroglyphics – they’re busy in Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Well of Souls… but there is some grafitti there. I didn’t catch it at the time, but Brian worked in “John J. Miller” and “Jables McBeat,” (which I believe was the nickname of someone working on the title), into the wall design!

Next time: A return from our detour, back to the conclusion of “Flashpoint.” Or you can skip ahead and read all the notes for the series, though they’re only updated up through this issue.