While most comic book fans would be content to write the adventures of the their favorite comic book heroes and work with one of their favorite writers, some other fans are just more ambitious and fan favorite fan-turned-writer Jim Beard is one of them. The man behind the Young Justice story in last year's "JLA/JSA Secret Files & Origins" special was thrilled to work with some of his favorite characters from the titular teams and with his mentor, Geoff Johns, but he told CBR News that now he's tackling a different cast of characters… in a galaxy far, far away. On March 12th, fans will see the release of "Star Wars Tales #15" and Beard's next fulfillment of a lifelong dream- contributing to the Star Wars mythos in his own way.
"The story is about Luke Skywalker at age 12 and what all too often happens to one's dreams," explains Beard. "When you get right down to it, Luke's a pretty tragic character and that's what I find interesting about him."
While many may think that Beard's high profile debut in conjunction with the mega-successful "JLA/JSA" hardcover last year catapulted his career skyward, when asked about his inspiration for this "Star Wars" story, he explained that isn't the case. " I was inspired by disappointment and defeat! I had pitched ideas to Dark Horse for 3 months and finally hit upon one that editor Dave Land liked enough to send it on to Lucasfilm for approval. Everything looked real good, but then news came back that for various reasons Lucasfilm passed on the story...I was crushed. Thought I'd never get a story through. Sitting there moping, an idea jumped into my head and I wrote it down and then sent it to Dark Horse. It went through the approval chain almost immediately and I got my sale. Then I looked at the pitch again and realized I had written about my disappointment, using Luke as my stand-in. As to continuity, yeah, it fits. There's even a little 'Easter Egg' in there for those who look carefully."
While Jim Beard is known to most in the fan community as "JSA Jim," he's also a longtime fan of the Star Wars mythos and says it's influenced his life greatly. "I almost flunked the 7th grade because of 'Star Wars,'" laughs Beard, with the cheer of a Wookie. "Always wanted to tell George Lucas that. When 'Star Wars' came along, it blew me away. I liked scifi but there was nuthin' like that before! It caught my imagination like nothing ever had and maybe nothing ever will. I think the thing that appeals to me the most is the illusion of a 'complete universe.' I could turn any corner on any frame of film and there'd be another area to explore. 'Star Wars' makes you want to explore that galaxy."
Something else that Beard would like to explore is the opportunity to do more work at Dark Horse and he explains that they are really a great company. "In my experience, they're fun people who seem to want to work with other fun people. They also take their charge as holders of the Star Wars license very seriously and want to match Lucasfilm's level of quality. So, there you have it: the Horse is a balance of fun and seriousness :-}"
If JSA fans are wondering if that means "JSA Jim" is now "Grand Moff Beard," fear not- Beard's just working where he can get the work. "I've pitched some things and am being patient on future prospects with DC. It's where my true comic book fanboy heart lies. I want to show DC that they can entrust their characters to me again and get some good stories from it. Time will tell, hopefully."
To that end, the writer hopes that DC looks at fan reaction to his story last year and says that reaction was almost universally positive. "Hey, there's some Red Tornado fans out there!" remarks Beard. "They like that android, really, really like him! That was the most gratifying part of it for me, to hear people tell me they were glad to see Reddy again and to know he was truly a JSAer, once upon a time in current continuity. I think DC may want to let him slip back into Limbo for a while and let him percolate but I'm hoping that a miniseries or something similar will be a better thing for him right now then hibernation.
"Let me take the opportunity to thank everyone who had kind words for me and the story from the bottom of my heart. The experience has been wonderful and if this is the extent of my comic career then they made it wonderful for me."
For those who might be thinking of breaking into the industry, Beard has some tips and tells people not to get discouraged too easily. "The industry is soft, to be sure, and editors are being very careful about who and what they take on. I don't blame them. When you have to deliver to that bottom line you will go with what you know will work. Here I am, an over-enthusiastic fanboy yelling 'me, me, me!' and probably making a few eyes roll. I'm working on that professionalism thing...
"What people need to know when trying to break into the mainstream is to start small, be polite, ask if you may send pitches in, and generally know the market and what each company produces. Other than that, you need to be ready for huge disappointment and to grow a thick-skin. Don't fall so in love with one idea that you crumble when it's shot down. Move on immediately. The next idea may be the one that works, or the next, orthe next."