FAN EXPO 15: Marvel's "Star Wars" Line Expands With "Chewbacca" & "Vader Down" Event

Whether your first exposure came from a drive-in movie theatre in Texas or your dad telling you his own sequels at bedtime, the Force will always steer you in the right direction.

That was the message of Marvel's Star Wars-focused "The Path of the Jedi" panel at the 2015 Fan Expo Canada in Toronto. Moderated by Marvel talent coordinator C.B. Cebulski, the panel lineup consisting of alternating "Star Wars" artists Stuart Immonen and John Cassaday alongside "Lando" writer Charles Soule shared their experiences working with the Star Wars franchise. During the discussion, they went into detail on the incoming "Chewbacca" solo comic and expanded on the "Vader Down" crossover between and the main "Star Wars" comic and "Darth Vader" later this year.

But for most of the panel, behind the scenes stories of the creative launch of the new Marvel Star Wars canon was the topic most heavily discussed.

Immonen recalled what it was like to see the rollout of the many variant covers for "Star Wars" #1 from a creator's perspective. At first, he thought it was cool that they're going to do 10 or so. "Then they were going to do 20... and now they are doing 72 covers. I thought 'Man, I guess they don't like my stuff because they didn't ask me to do one' and little did I know that plans were afoot to actually have me draw the series," he laughed.

When drawing the launch issues of the "Star Wars" comic for writer Jason Aaron, Cassaday wanted to stick as close as he could to the original concepts. "We wanted to have the flavor of the films," the artist said. "We wanted them to feel like movies in between the movies. So it was wide-screen filming all the way, we wanted to have that tone right from the beginning."

Soule said whether it's superheroes or any story you are working on, you should try to work to your artist because it would be foolish not to. "If everyone is playing to his or her strengths, it just ends up being a better book," he said. "What I usually do when I first work with a new person, I ask them what do they like to draw, what are their meat and potatoes as far as what kind of scenes can you nail, and I try to put those in."

Although writing and drawing the comics were a passion for the panel, they traced their love all the way back to the first time they saw the George Lucas films of franchise.

"It all started with Jar Jar," said Cassaday, jokingly. "I saw the first Star Wars movie at a drive-in movie theatre in Texas when I was just five years old, and it was just life changing in a way. 'Star Wars' was a big part of my life even more so after the second movie. The time in between 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi' were really formative years for me in terms of creativity because the second movie left me with a cliffhanger, and I had to wait three years. And when you're a kid, three years is an eternity."

During those three years, Cassaday said he made his own stories, drew his own comics even adapted "The Empire Strikes Back" into his own comic on notebook paper four times over.

Soule said his experience with the franchise was similar, but with "A New Hope" and "Empire" instead. "I have three siblings. We were all equally into it, " he said. "And since there was no new movie and no extended universe, my dad created his own sequels and would tell them to us as bedtime stories. It took over families in a very cool way."

When he got offered to work on the Lando Calrissian comic, Soule said he tried to call his older brother when he got the news but didn't pick up the phone. "So I called my younger brother, and he lost out on the big announcement! But he's been very interested in everything. He thinks I've seen Episode VIII already."

Cebulski asked if there were any characters the team hasn't worked with yet but would like to. Soule thought Obi-Wan was "super cool" and was due for something neat. Immonen hasn't felt like it was "Star Wars" for him yet since he hasn't drawn Vader or any Stormtroopers so far. And Cassaday felt "Yoda-less" since he can't draw the Jedi master due to the timeline of the comics.

The panel was also asked which character they related to the most, and even though most of them wanted to be Han Solo, they felt most connected to Luke Skywalker. Soule also had a connection to Palpatine, surprisingly.

When CBR asked about the future of the Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca comics, Cassaday took over and delivered the news."The sex is hot. It's smooth," he joked.

As for Chewbacca, the panel noted he would be getting his own mini series from writer Gerry Duggan and artist Phil Noto which would include his very own companion, Zarro. "There comes a time right after 'Star Wars' where Chewie goes off of on his own mission," said Soule. "I don't want to spoil it for you guys, but things don't always go so good for Chewie, and he crosses paths with this girl named Zarro and has to take the main role. He is always used to being the sidekick, and now he has someone take care of and helps him different and cool ways."

"Can I add two words? 'Holiday Special,'" Cassaday intervened.

According to Soule, the "Lando" comic so far deals with the title anti-hero as a gambler. He's in debt to everyone in the galaxy, he is desperate to get out of debt, and so he takes a job to take a super valuable ship, which turns out to be the Emperor's personal space yacht. Things are going south really, really fast for him. He is scrambling, trying to act like he is in control of everything, and he is obviously not.

"In issues #4 and 5, we get more and more complications as bad things start happening on that ship," said Soule. "He really wants to get off that ship, but it is very difficult to do so. There's also lots more of LoBot action."

Although they spoke to the "Vader Down" crossover in the main Star Wars comics, the creators didn't give too much detail other than it would be the first time Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker would meet one another in the new canon.

When asked about drawing inspiration from the Star Wars Expanded Universe (which is not branded as the Star Wars Legends line), the panel said they did not have any plans to write about fan favorites like Admiral Thrawn or Mara Jade. However, they were in talks of making comics leading to "The Force Awakens." The goal for Marvel is trying to create a new mythos instead of going back.

The "Chewbacca" mini series will be released in October, and the crossover between "Darth Vader" and "Star Wars" will start in December of this year.

Stay tuned for more from Fan Expo this weekend and beyond on CBR.

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