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terça-feira, 1 de abril de 2008

Undercity Interviews - Randy Stradley


Uma lufada de ar fresco numa altura em que as entrevistas entram no cliché de se falar do que já é banal ou já se falou tanto, a Fan Force Portugal conseguiu mais um verdadeiro exclusivo ao entrevistar, nem mais nem menos que o Editor da Dark Horse Comics, Randy Stradley.
Stradley concedeu-nos uma interessante entrevista onde conseguimos conhecer melhor o homem por detrás de alguns dos mais importantes projectos de Comics de Star Wars, entre os quais Star Wars: Vector.

Destacamos, logicamente a confirmação em primeiríssima mão da publicação de, não uma mas duas novas séries de comics de Clone Wars, uma edição de comics standard e outra em "digest-size", tal como na série anterior com o mesmo nome e que vai causar a paragem momentânea das séries Dark Times e Rebellion, logo após a sua contribuição para a story-arc Vector.

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A breath of fresh air in a time when the interviews fall into the cliché of talking about what's been said so many times, Fan Force Portugal managed to get another true exclusive interview with none other than the Editor of Dark Horse Comics, Randy Stradley.
Stradley granted us an interesting interview where we can get to know the man behind some of the most important projects of Star Wars comics, including Star Wars: Vector.

We logically highlight the confirmation in the very first hand of the publication of not one but TWO Clone Wars comic series, one in the standard comic format and another in digest-size, just like the previous series with the same title, and this will cause the brief interruption of the Dark Times and Rebellion series, right after their contribution to the story-arc Vector.

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Fan Force Portugal - Do you consider yourself a Star Wars fan? If so, how did it begin for you?

Randy Stradley - I’m a Star Wars fan, but not a fanatic. It started for me with the first film -- A New Hope. I went to see it sixteen times the summer of 1977. Interestingly though, as much as I loved the films, I never investigated any of the EU until I was hired to write an issue of the Marvel Star Wars series in 1983.

FFPT- When did your life crossed with Dark Horse Comics?

RS - I met Mike Richardson in 1980, I think, and we began talking about the kinds of comics that we, as older readers, would like to see. We worked on a couple of projects together that never got published -- including an early version of
The Mask. Then, in 1985, Mike called me and asked me if I wanted to be the editor for his new comics company, Dark Horse. I said, “yes,” and the rest is history.

FFPT - In your opinion, working with comics as a writer and editor for so much time, how did the comic world evolved? What were the goods and bads of such change?

RS- Several things have happened, some good, some not so good. First of all, I think the overall level of writing for comics has improved. I think that’s partially a function of the whole audience getting older. Comics used to be aimed at a kid audience, but fewer and fewer kids are reading comics these days -- and the ones who are reading comics are smarter than kids used to be (or at least we recognize that they’re smarter than people used to think they were). So, the writing has improved -- that’s a good thing.
Artwork has also improved. The level of drawing ability displayed by artists, and the level of detail they’re now required to put into their work, far exceeds (in many cases) what their predecessors produced.

One of the not-so-good things is that many artists these days seem less interested in telling stories than in drawing pretty pictures. This situation has gotten better in the last couple of years, but there’s still a big holdover effect from the days of the speculator boom (people buying comics as collectibles instead of to read) and the Image Comics boom. Both of those events coinciding as they did in the early 1990s put a premium on flashy art and fancy page layouts over clear visual storytelling, and I think that hurt comics. But, as I said, I think that situation is slowly improving.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that readers (American readers, anyway) have less patience than they used to. When I was growing up, nobody blinked an eye if a comic book fight scene had seven, eight, or even nine panels to a page. Now, with the emphasis on bigger, more exciting images, most action scenes are played out in three or four panels per page at most. As a writer (and as an editor overseeing other writer’s scripts) it has taken some effort to adjust to the new pacing, but ultimately I think it has made for more exciting comics and, in some ways, made comics more accessible to new readers.

FFPT - We've recently seen many artists come and go from series, like KotOR or Dark Times. Is there a reason?

RS - Mostly it’s the result of one of the factors I mentioned above: better art, with more detail in it. In the old days, artists were expected to draw a book a month, every month. Some of them drew more than a book per month. But if you compare the level of draftsmanship and detail that you’re seeing now with what came before, it becomes obvious why someone like, say, Jan Duursema, can’t draw every single issue of
Legacy. The only way she’d be able to do it is to sacrifice quality and detail. It’s to the artists’ credit that so many of them are unwilling to take shortcuts with their art.

FFPT - What is the progress of a young talent who wishes to enter the world of comic illustration and writing?

RS - Artists (if they’re good) will have an easier time breaking in than writers. My suggestion is to draw a minimum of six consecutive pages, showing your characters moving from a quiet scene to an action scene. Draw something with an modern day earthly setting. Show the editor that you can draw buildings, cars, trees, every day people in everyday clothing -- all of the things that each person would see every single day. Getting those “normal” things right is the most difficult part of any artist’s job. Lots of artists spend all of their time drawing superheroes and fantastic characters, only to discover they have no idea what a regular guy in jeans and a T-shirt looks like. Remember this: if you can’t make the reader believe in the normal, everyday stuff you draw, they’re not going to believe in your fantastic characters when they show up in the story.

For writers, like I said, it’s tough breaking in. An editor can look at an artist’s work and in two seconds know if they’re any good. It takes a lot longer to know if a writer has what it takes. Never forget that it’s story, story, story. Think of it this way: the plot is what happens to your characters, but the story is why it matters to your characters (and, by extension, why it matters to your readers). Also, learn to tell your story in a way that’s fun to read. Editors will like any story more if you can manage to entertain them while you’re telling your tale.


FFPT - We noticed you're an active participant of the Dark Horse SW Forums. How do fans participate in the events of the comics?

RS - We love to get feedback from readers -- as long as they have something intelligent to say. I don’t have much patience for people who just sign on to say, “Good job!” (boring), or “It sucked!” (insulting). If fans like something, I hope they tell us why. Likewise, if they don’t like something we’ve done, I want to know why they don’t like it. Every comment, to a small extent, helps to shape what we do with the comics. Though posters should keep in mind that when they’re commenting on the issue that came out this month, we’re usually already working on the issue that’s coming out three months later, so our reaction to their comments isn’t instantaneous.


FFPT - We're sure that Lucasfilm keeps a close attention to the outcome of the stories, how far can you go in your creative margin?

RS - In the six or so years that I’ve been running our
Star Wars line, Lucasfilm has only said no to two stories that we have proposed. One they rejected because somebody else was already working on a similar story, and the other was put on hold because at the time nobody was certain just what the “story landscape” would look like after Episode III. We have quite a bit of freedom, but I do strive to have my writers hold true to what we’ve seen in the films and not go too far afield.
FFPT - Do you follow any Star Wars comic series with special interest? If so, why that one?
RS - I’m sorry to say, but my interest in any of the various stories is purely professional. One of the drawbacks to working for a long time with any franchise is that eventually you’re forced to lose your “fan love” for the details and focus on the long-term health and overall direction of the whole universe.

FFPT - You're pointed out as the "mentor" of Chewbacca's death. Why did one of the Star Wars key characters, and part of one of the most influential duo, had to die?

RS - Well, from what I know, the Del Rey writers and editorial team had already decided that somebody important needed to die in order to shake up the fan base and alert them to the fact that the status quo was not always assured. Originally they wanted to kill Luke, but that idea was rejected by Lucasfilm. I suggested Chewbacca’s death because he was a beloved character, and his death would affect readers; but also because he had never been a major force in moving the “big story” forward, his passing would not derail the momentum of the whole
Star Wars saga. It was purely strategic thinking -- I didn’t (and don’t) have anything against Chewie.

FFPT - "Vector" is the biggest event of Star Wars comics this year. What can fans expect?

RS - The plan is to tell an exciting story within the twelve issues of “Vector,” but to also have the events that happen in each chapter directly affect the subsequent events in that series. After issue #28, you’ll see how the events in “Vector” almost immediately spur new action in
Knights of the Old Republic. Zayne Carrick will emerge from the “Vector” story a changed man, with a renewed determination to carry his fight to clear his name to the Masters who framed him.

We have similar plans for all of the series, though something has come up which will put some of the “new directions” temporarily on hold. See, we knew that the new
Clone Wars TV show was likely to debut in the Fall of this year. But we didn’t know until quite recently that there was going to be a theatrical film to launch the series, or that Clone Wars would receive quite the promotional push that it is. This turn of events has required us to retool some of our plans. Instead of continuing the Dark Times and Rebellion series immediately following their “Vector” issues, those series are going on hiatus so that we can roll out a new Clone Wars comics series -- and a new Clone Wars digest-sized series (similar to the Clone Wars Adventures books, but with full-length stories in each volume).

Dark Times
and Rebellion will probably return early next year. In the meantime, KotOR and Legacy will carry on the momentum generated by “Vector.”

FFPT - How did the whole concept of "Vector" come up?

RS - I came up with the basic concept. It was my version of “killing Chewbacca” -- a way to attract attention to what was going on in each of our
Star Wars series. John Ostrander, Jan Duursema, John Jackson Miller, Mick Harrison, Jeremy Barlow, Rob Williams, and Dave Marshall all had a hand in fleshing out the story and working the bugs out of the plot, so it truly is a group effort. The “event” has garnered a lot of attention, but it has also been a lot of work. Don’t look for us to do something like this on a yearly basis!

FFPT - We noticed some stories touch other parts of the Star Wars galaxy, like KotOR reaching some game characters (KotOR I and II) or Legacy having some references of the Legacy of the Force books. Some fans feel divided whether or not the game characters should be part of the comics. Do you feel this is necessary for the comics stories, or that's just a sort of tribute?

RS - In KotOR, we always wanted to touch on events and characters from the games, but we never wanted the series to be bound by their confines. Look for Zayne and company to move further and further away from the Mandalorian invasion and other key events from the game as the series continues.
With Legacy, it’s natural that there would be ties to the events in Legacy of the Force and other stories that have come before, but we definitely intend to move forward from our starting point, not backwards toward LotF.

FPPT - What is the future of Dark Horse Comics, especially Star Wars?

RS - Impossible to see, the future is. Right now, the future looks bright, and we have lots of stories we’d like to tell with
Star Wars. As I mentioned, the increased profile of the new Clone Wars series has redirected some of our energies and forced us to push off some things we had planned. But I’ve learned that any publishing schedule has to be flexible, and I know whatever happens, the best of Star Wars comics is yet to come.

FFPT - Would you like to leave a word to Dark Horse readers in Portugal?

RS - Yes! Thank you for reading our comics, and thank you for your support! The one thing I never forget is that with Star Wars our audience is never just the readers in North America, but readers and fans all over the world. May the Force be with all of us!

Exclusive - Fan Force Portugal, April 2008

4 Mensagens:

Admiral Tina disse...

Excelente!!!!

Realmente se mudam por causa da qualidade, porque é que se têm visto artistas péssimos? Ai, ai, este pessoal ainda não sabe onde procurar... ;)

As dicas são muito interessantes, já tinha lido uma parte no site da Dark Horse! ;)

_lordmaul disse...

Muito bom! Grande entrevista! Acho que tenho a coragem para dizer que o Randy Stradley foi o melhor 'entrevistado' que já passou aqui pela FFPT, do meu ponto de vista. Isto porque as respostas foram bastantes completas e muito interessantes, revelando um extremo respeito por nós, FanForcers portugueses.

Esta entrevista foi perfeita, porque ajudou-me a conhecer e a perceber o que a Dark Horse sente em relação ao mundo dos fãs e como reagem à pressão vinda dos mesmos fãs.

Bom trabalho!

_lordmaul disse...

Ah! E fomos destacados all over the net com a notícia do Stradley sobre a pausa de Rebellion e Dark Times, para dar lugar a séries de Clone Wars.

(check TheForce.net guys)

Fan Force Portugal rules!

Obrigado mais uma vez a quem colabora!

jf disse...

Entrevistas significativas. É disto que precisamos... Não queremos cá figurantes desta cena, queremos protagonistas. Boa Fan Force!

JF