“Fearless and Inventive” – Making A Star Wars Comic #8 – “The Hunter”

September 2, 2017

Concept

Tatooine is the wild west. It’s a lawless wasteland punctuated by small redoubts of corrupted civilization. It’s a place where hard-skinned humanoids try to scrape out a life from barren rock and sand.  It’s a place where violence is as much a currency as credits and where a blaster is useful for any occupation. It’s a fairytale land of gunslingers, mercenaries, gamblers, crime lords, slicers, grifters, cantina bands, and…bounty hunters.

Our favorite.

I think it’s fair to say that Alex and I feel more comfortable telling stories on the seedier side of the galaxy. We love to climb into the unwashed durasteel gutters and see what we can find down there. There’s something about creating stories set in the neon punctuated shadows of backwater planets that just feels right.  Bounty hunters are the purveyors of that type of story. They allow for an amorality that is almost necessarily absent from most of Star Wars and it’s an amorality we love to experiment with.

I don’t know when we settled on doing a story about Boushh. I’m convinced most ideas originate in a creative fugue state with a definite before and after but a strange dream-like quality occupying that special middle time. Ideas tend to just come shouting out of the void of consciousness, demanding your attention and leave nothing for recollection. Trying to trace an idea is like playing connect the dots when the dots are unlabelled with no discernable pattern. 

I had this idea of doing a story around a Tatooine settlement at night: distantly lit windows set in the domed, sloping McQuarrie architecture silhouetted by a formless, black landscape. There was something romantic to me about that setting. It’s like something out of a pulp magazine from the 30’s or a matte painting from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I wanted to craft some story around that image even if it was just a fleeting one.

Boushh had been on my mind ever since a character named Eneb Ray appeared in the “Rebel Jail” arc of Jason Aaron’s Marvel Star Wars series.  The character has similar armor to our Ubese bounty hunter and it made me reevaluate how much I liked Boushh’s look. In the Expanded Universe, Boushh has a short backstory that’s introduced in the Shadows of the Empire novel which explained how Leia came to possess the bounty hunter’s armor. To shorten a relatively short story: Boushh double crosses some folks in the Black Sun syndicate and doesn’t walk away from it. His character is never really established outside of Leia’s interpretation in Return of the Jedi

With the new canon re-opening up the possibility of Boushh’s story to re-examination and Tatooine setting in mind, we set about creating our story.

Art

Alex is actually out of the country with his wife so they can visit Middle Earth and the adjoining mythical continent that gave us Crocodile Dundee. The burden is left to me to describe, in excruciatingly sentimental detail, my dear friend’s excellent work on this issue.

Let’s start with the header for this month. I’m lucky enough that Alex usually likes to include me in on the process and allows me to spitball a few ideas with him. My initial pitch to him was actually what I described above – a Tatooine city at night. Alex, and actually Alex’s wife Niki, had the idea to make it like an 30’s travelogue poster – an art-deco vista with bold aurebesh lettering advertising the thrills and natural splendor found on Tatooine. We eventually decided on what you see: a porous, sand colored wall with an old similar looking poster to what we described but eroded by time, wind, and the sun. The image Alex created carries with it the feeling of the comic as a whole as well as the issue.

I was looking at Alex’s thumbnails, a rough sketch of the images and layout on the page, and I noticed just how detailed they had become. If the script is the blueprints for a comic than the thumbnails are the superstructure. They hold the thing together and give it a solid shape. The thumbnailing stage is also where any problems of the script can really be ironed out; i.e., too much dialogue, what panels need to be emphasized to have the story flow better, are there too many panels on a page, etc. Alex really takes his time crafting each image at that stage, simplifying the inking and colorings stages. He’s able to work quickly without sacrificing the quality.


Conveying motion or having characters “act” is difficult when the artist has only a single image to do it. The job for an artist then becomes to animate the reader’s mind so they can immediately interpret the action. On page three, when Boushh draws down on the Bestine Night Watchmen, you know exactly what happened, even the movements that comprised the action off-panel. 180-degree180 degree turn, the drawing of the blaster, the crouch, and the two shots. All of that, and the deadly accuracy of Boushh, is interpreted in one image. It’s beautiful.

Also, just so you guys know: Alex did this issue in his mad dash so he could head out on his trip. He made sure that our sentimental love letter to Star Wars would go out on time and, as per usual, he killed it. The amount of work he puts into this comic is definitely perceptible and I, a fellow creator with no art skills whatsoever, appreciate the craftsmanship he brings every time.

 Script

After the last issue, which became some version of trench warfare around the third draft, this one appeared in a bright flash of creativity and seared itself onto the page, unchanging. Sometimes in writing you just get lucky and things come pouring out like “The Hunter” did. It’s a rare, comforting feeling seeing as the first casualty of a rough draft is often clarity. If I remember correctly, I think the only real rewriting that happened was shifting the “you know Boushh” line to a different panel so it hit harder with the character reveal.

Like I mentioned above, Boushh had a background story in the Expanded Universe that sort of indicated he was a fairly well-known and skilled bounty hunter. I changed that up and made him a relatively unknown, but still skilled, bounty hunter with a strong Ubesian case of narcissism. This decision also made it easier for me to utilize captions as a narrative device. I tend to avoid captions as I firmly believe that comics need to rest on the visual storytelling aspect; that being said, one of the biggest advantages of comics is the juxtaposition of words and pictures. In the case of “The Hunter”, they were pretty much necessary. Boushh’s consistent self-appraising and creepy inner monologue is why it’s so satisfying when Chewbacca casually clocks him over the head off-panel. 

 

Not all scripts can be as easy as “The Hunter” and I don’t really think they should. I love the process of writing, even its soul-crushing existential crisis aspects. It’s worth it. Every time a script is finalized, or a comic comes out, it’s good to feel the accomplishment that is completion and I try to take some pride in it. You can find the script for “The Hunter” below if that’s your sort of thing.

ASWC #8 – The Hunter Script

And with that, we are down to four comics left for the year. Four. More. Not so long ago we hadn’t even released our first comic and here we are almost completed. We hope you’ll stick around for the rest of the ride. 

113 days until Star Wars: The Last Jedi
24 days until A Star Wars Comic #9

– Jim