CCI: Randy Stradley on "Star Wars: Empire" for iPhone

Dark Horse has announced their next foray into publishing comics for iPhone and iPod Touch devices in the form of three distinct Star Wars titles. "Star Wars Empire: Betrayal," the first four issue arc of the "Empire" series set shortly before "Star Wars: A New Hope," will be offered alongside the two-chapter "Star Wars Legacy: Broken" and the one-shot "Star Wars Clone Wars: Shipyards of Doom." CBR News spoke with Dark Horse's Star Wars editor Randy Stradley about the publishers latest offerings in the iTunes store.

As to why each series was chosen for adaptation, Stradley began with "Empire," saying, "It's an easy point of entrance for fans who may only be familiar with the films, plus it features all of the best 'bad guy' characters, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the Emperor. Also, the fact that the 'Empire: Betrayal' story actually begins a few weeks before the events in 'A New Hope' will intrigue readers who aren't familiar with the width and breadth of the Expanded Universe."

Debuting simultaneously with "Empire: Betrayal," Dark Horse will offer the "Clone Wars" and "Legacy" comics for the iPhone. "We'll be covering three important eras of Star Wars history: the events from the Clone Wars, the Classic era, and the far future of the galaxy far, far away," Stradley said.

"To start things out, 'Empire: Betrayal' will be released as four chapters, 'Legacy: Broken' will be released in two chapters, and 'The Clone Wars: Shipyards of Doom' will be released as one big chunk," the editor continued. "We're still feeling our way as far as future releases, but I would count on additional stories from each of these eras, plus the comics adaptation of 'The Force Unleashed.'"

These Star Wars releases are Dark Horse's second foray into iPhone-formatted comics, following their "Terminator" miniseries from earlier this year. "Mike Denning, who has been primarily responsible for reformatting the printed comics into something that works on the iPhone, has done a brilliant job," Stradley said. "I was not easily sold on the idea that those stories could make the transition from one medium to another, but after seeing what Mike has done, I'm a believer."

Stradley said, though, that there were challenges associated with the format. "Obviously, certain things that work in one medium don't work in another. For instance, tall vertical panels don't work as well in the iPhone's 'widescreen' format, and careful editing is required to make sure visual story information isn't compromised," the editor said. "On the other hand, wordy panels can sometimes be split into two or more separate screens to actually improve the pacing of the story and the ratio of text-to-art. It sorta needs to be seen to be fully understood, but I have been extremely happy with the results."

And, of course, each story is unique, adding to the number of factors that must be taken into consideration when developing iPhone comics. "Because every artist tells their stories differently in the print versions -- varying the size and shape of panels, etc., -- each story we do for the iPhone requires different considerations on how to transition the storytelling from one medium to another. There's no set formula like 'one print panel equals one iPhone screen' -- every image is a judgment call," Stradley said. "Every new story is a new challenge, but I think we've come up with some satisfying solutions."

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