The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Handbook #1

“Always in motion is the future. So is a fugitive Jedi — if he wants to live!” — from the introduction (and also the first page of the series pitch in 2005)

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Handbook

Your guide to the world of Zayne Carrick!
Published by Dark Horse • November 7, 2007
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, Harvey Tolibao, and Dustin Weaver

Lettered by Michael Heisler

Colored by Michael Atiyeh

Cover by Dustin Weaver

Edited by Jeremy Barlow and Dave Marshall

Comics-sized guidebooks are a format that provides a snapshot — a yearbook, if you will, of the state of things in the comics as of that instant. Almost exactly 25 years after one of the first, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, came out, Dark Horse released a similar edition for Knights of the Old Republic.

I suggested the handbook in late 2006, figuring that by the time of its release, there would be plenty of information to fill it with. That proved to be true, although we had a generous amount of space to fill. It also proved an interesting change of pace for me: Where much of the verbiage of a comic book script goes into the descriptions for the artist, here, 95% of what I wrote was intended for the page. It was a little like writing the text pages for the regular issues — 28 of them!

In addition to recapping the series, we tried to get new information into as may entries as we could. Zayne’s homeworld appears for the first time, as did his age and birth order. Much of Gryph and the Moomo Brothers’ history is new. And we also were able to craft the entries with future events in mind: namely, “Vector.”

Dustin Weaver had drawn “just for fun” cross-sections of the Last Resort and the Moomo Williwaw — and they were so cool I suggested including them in the book. I was glad it worked out. Dustin also contributed the two other original illustrations in the edition, a Jarael sketch and the wonderful cover.

Several of the stock images appearing in the volume were Brian Ching’s original character designs, both colored and as raw pencils. Dark Horse’s designer Krystal Hennes did a great job of putting it all together into a great, colorful package.

I really enjoyed the Handbook; it gave us the chance to fill in some blanks that we might not have otherwise gotten to in a reasonable period of time. And crafting the descriptions of such things as the history of the Moomo Williwaw felt like writing little short stories.

Dark Horse never reprinted the work, but Marvel included it in its 2017 Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 2.

“They both think they’re the ‘smart one.’ They’re both wrong.” — Gryph, of the Moomo Brothers

The Handbook came out the same day as #22 of the regular series — and covers events right up to that issue. So it’s the rare resource that’s up to the minute as soon as you read it!

While Harvey Tolibao is credited in the inside front cover, none of his art appears in the issue.  I think it somehow just worked out that way once all the text was in. Certainly Harvey helped establish the interior looks of the Arkanian Legacy and the Moomo Williwaw.

The concluding line in the introduction (“Always in motion is the future. So is a fugitive Jedi — if he wants to live!”) was my proposed slogan for the series, appearing on the front page of the original pitch. This is the first time it’s appeared in print.

Minor Correction Dept.: A snippet of a line dropped out of the Rohlan entry, conflating the first two sentences; the entry should read “…joined in his day. He fought battles…”

Updated, corrected: When sending around his amazing cross-section of the Moomo Williwaw, artist Dustin Weaver noted that it included a bathroom. I suggested that we not mention it, because I was pretty sure Moomo hygiene was a subject best not contemplated.

A miscommunication resulted in some confusion over “The Onslaught,” coined by the Republic media back in the text page of #13 to refer to the Mandalorians’ sneak attack on the Republic — the three-pronged assault of video game fame. Some entries refer to the Onslaught as involving Serroco, which was some weeks afterward. But just as “The Blitz” takes in a larger period of time than a single engagement, perhaps the term used here can be regarded as similarly broad.

We finally sort out the confusion over Elbee’s series name here. It should be clear now he holds no relationship to any later T1 models from Duwani — and equally clear that, yes, LB is the name given to all droids of the series. There are oodles of T1-LBs and none of them have specific designations; there might be hundreds of them on any loading dock, and you’d no sooner personalize one than you would a forklift. Our Elbee, of course, is different.

The Culu Center reference takes us back all the way to the Tales of the Jedi comics.

The Handbook establishes for the first time which Padawans were the apprentices of which Masters. We’d known a couple of them before, but not all.

The Last Resort appears here with the article italicized as part of the name of the ship; that is my intention, but I admit that I have been lax in italicizing the article in references to it elsewhere. It’s one of those things that looks one way in type, and another way in a word balloon.

I was able to draw on some of the background from the old West End role-playing game — including the Player’s Guide to Tapani — in working up the Moomo Williwaw’s history.

The class name for the Courageous doesn’t read the way it appears — partially inspiring the short form, “Inexie” mentioned later. They apparently used a short form when referring to a lot of British vessels with tongue-twisting names. Horatio Hornblower was midshipman on the Indefatigable and in the BBC movies you can hear that basically everyone but Captain Pellew calls it “the Indy.” (The people who serve on the ship also refer to themselves by the short name of their ship — they’re the Indies.) As a fan of the Napoleonic-era Royal Navy, I don’t mind borrowing bits from history when they make sense. No prize money for captured vessels here, though…

I also brought a little more Royal Navy into the other ship names. As I mentioned elsewhere, the Leviathan — a 74-gun ship — and several other ships of its class were direct copies of the French Courageaux, taken in 1761. Video gamers will see the Karath connection between those names. Tremendous and Swiftsure were also 74s. (Alas, it ends there — Indefatigable was a 44, although I read that it was cut down from a 64 to add carronades and long guns. And I think I just made up Reliance, mentioned earlier in the series.)

The peak occupancy of the Arkanian Legacy just happens to be the peak occupancy (at least, before they added the club seats) of Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee. I used to work in an office across the street!

Alek’s long-promised surname is a sesquipedalian, sure enough. (But while it shares many of the letters, it’s not an anagram.) I came to regret including it in this edition, since it wasn’t really intended to be his last name — just a last bit of misdirection over whether he might become Malak. We wouldn’t really give him that name, would we? Well, no — it was expected to leave the continuity fairly quickly, just after Vector. But it was around just long enough for the book to turn up in several other licensed products. Whoops!

Speaking of long names, I spelled Vanjervalis two different ways. Doggoned made-up homonyms! Vanjervalis is the intended spelling.

The handling of Cassus Fett’s appearance was clever, I thought. His appearance in #8 wasn’t large enough for reproduction and I don’t think his appearance in #23 was available yet. So what you see is a recoloring of a figure from #20 (though Cassus was not in that issue).

The map in the back was based on my own markings on Dark Horse’s star map, a giveaway at San Diego in 2006.

Latest edition

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 2

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 2

After Zayne Carrick is framed for the murder of his fellow Jedi in training, his poor luck prevents him from clearing his name and throws him into dangerous situations all over the galaxy, leading to his final confrontation with the Jedi Masters who massacred their own Padawans!

More info →
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