Jedi Or Sith? An Interview With John J. Miller
Writer John Jackson Miller has worked on many different works for quite a number of years. Most notably the ongoing novel series Lost Tribe of the Sith and the Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic comic series, which is finally returning January 11th. In support of the launch of the new series we were lucky enough to commandeer an X-Wing (T-65), traverse to deepest realms of the galaxy to interview the famed Jedi/Sith foreseer in human form.
Comic Book Therapy: You’ve been writing Star Wars fiction for over half a decade now and your work is still as interesting as ever. Where do you continually draw your Star Wars creative mojo in continually fleshing out new character development aspects for fan favorite Zayne Carrick?
John Jackson Miller: I read a lot and watch a lot of movies and classic TV, as followers of my Facebook page updates will tell you. The first KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC series, which ran 50 issues and is available in nine trade paperbacks from Dark Horse, sought to capture the feel from STAR WARS, of course, but also drew upon other things as well. Some would say KOTOR started out as STAR WARS meets THE FUGITIVE — and thereafter visited THE STING and MAVERICK, with lots of stops along the way.
KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC – WAR brings Zayne into a new military setting as a draftee into the Republic’s war against the armored Mandalorians, so you might expect it to tromp through some familiar military tropes. But, in fact, I think readers will be surprised at the direction it goes in. This isn’t just a war story, it’s a Zayne Carrick war story — so it’s going to be uniquely his.
CBT: The new “War” series seems to be aimed towards new readers to the series with its minimized references to past events in the first issue. Was this done intentionally to attract new readers or more so to branch away from older story elements?
JJM: “War” is absolutely the KOTOR story I intended to tell following the events of “Demon”, which concluded the previous run of comics. I took a break for two years to get the STAR WARS: KNIGHT ERRANT comics and novel and STAR WARS: LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH fiction going, but that turns out to work very well with the storyline. At the opening, several weeks have passed since the end of the previous series, and the reader is only sure where Zayne Carrick is. I think that makes it work well as a jumping-on point.
If you think about it, we did the same thing with the first issue of “Vector,” which fell right in the middle of the previous series. A month had passed and we had no idea where Zayne and Gryph’s friends were. It makes it possible to set the scene and characters up for the new readers and veteran readers at the same time.
CBT: By the way, where Zayne’s babe, Jarael?
JJM: Okay, I’m going to duck under the table now, in case she heard that description! Heh. Seriously, we will find out what’s going on with other characters as the story goes along, Jarael included.
CBT: The Knights of the Old Republic is still a fresh idea in comparison to the original 70’s Star Wars timeframe. If you were to introduce a new reader to the KOTOR storyline, where would you feel most comfortable having him or her start? Game, comic or novel?
JJM: There have actually been a lot of starting points, going all the way back to the TALES OF THE JEDI comics thate stablished the “Knights of the Old Republic” name — but people have tended to find their way around. I think WAR is a good starting place on its own, and that it’ll inspire readers to check out the previous comics and look ahead to the games — but I think that all the pieces in the puzzle are probably designed with that in mind as well.
My aim has always been to tell a good story first, and figure out how it fits into the timeline later.
CBT: Even though you have been writing for Knights, you’re no stranger to for writing for the Sith. Do you have a particular favorite side to write for?
JJM: You know, it’s been fun to swing-shift. I’ve written the multiple Sith Lords of the STAR WARS: KNIGHT ERRANT comics and novel, and their very different takes to Sith philosophy — and then the LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH stories, which are collected with my new novella in a print book in July and which is really sort of a Sith sociological experiment, with a bunch of them stranded on a planet for generations.
That uses completely different mental muscles than writing the Republic or the Mandalorians, but I enjoy that, too. I wrote the Republic and Mandalorian sections of the KOTOR Campaign Guide for the old role-playing game a few years ago, and some of what happens in WAR draws upon some of the thinking I did for those. Unfortunately, that book is out of print and selling for triple digits on Amazon — but those who’ve read it will see that WAR was always a story I intended to tell. I’m glad we got to it.
CBT: As we all know, Mass Effect 3 is releasing in March and Star Wars The Old Republic just launched, while writing for both KOTOR and Mass Effect are you going to be able to find anytime in your busy schedule to play Star Wars The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3? If so, Republic or Empire and which Mass Effect character class are you most fond of?
JJM: Heh! To tell you the truth, I just got the kids a Wii for Christmas and so my very next game will be playing Augusta National on TIGER WOODS 2012 — that is, if I ever get time to take the wrapping off the box. But in general, I find the industrious characters — scoundrels and such — to be the most interesting to play in games. It’s just a matter of finding time to play!
Readers can find out more about the series at the official Dark Horse site (http://www.darkhorse.com) and also my own website (http://www.farawaypress.com), where I maintain a behind-the-scenes page for every comic book I’ve ever done. There’s a lot of fun background there. Readers can also follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/