NYCC: Tom Taylor Leads "Star Wars: Invasion"

In 2008, Dark Horse Comics delivered readers a year-long crossover event, told within the pages of the publisher's four ongoing "Star Wars" comic book series.

With a boost in sales, and its entire "Star Wars" line hotter than ever, Dark Horse announced a fifth title for the franchise, "Star Wars: Invasion," Saturday at New York Comic Con.

"Star Wars: Invasion" launches on www.starwars.com in May with a web-only preview issue, followed by a second web-only preview issue in June. The series, set 25 years after the Battle of Yavin (the historic clash between the Rebels and the Empire that led to the destruction of the first Death Star), kicks off in traditional printed format on July 1.

In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, as chronicled not only in movies, but in comics, novels and video games too, the original trilogy ends in 4ABY (four years after the Battle of Yavin), and the New Republic Era begins and runs for the next two decades.

The New Jedi Order era begins in 25ABY with the start of the YuuzhanVong War. The invasion, and the basis of this comic, was previously chronicled in "New Jedi Order" series of books by Del Rey.

Award-winning Australian playwright Tom Taylor, a fresh face to American comics, is writing the new ongoing series and art is provided by his fellow countryman Colin Wilson ("Star Wars Legacy").

CBR News spoke with Taylor about the assignment, where the adventure is heading and his absolute adoration for the characters and planets of the Star Wars Expanded U.

CBR News: First and foremost, how did an Australian writer, known primarily for his award-winning plays, land a gig writing a "Star Wars" comic for Dark Horse?

Tom Taylor: It started with Colin Wilson's comic book adaptation of my play "The Example." The play has been on across four continents and has won a number of awards, but seeing it illustrated for the first time was the biggest thrill. Comic books are, hands down, my favorite story telling medium. I've always wanted to write for comics, more than theatre, more than TV and more than film.

Anyways, Colin saw some potential in me and suggested I contact [Dark Horse's Vice-President of Publishing and Star Wars Senior Editor] Randy Stradley. I did. Randy liked what I had to say, I guess, and the next thing I knew I was, unbelievably, working on a pitch for a "Star Wars" project for Dark Horse. That project didn't happen, so I ended up writing "Invasion."

Are you a long-time fan of the "Star Wars" franchise? Of course, who isn't? Bring them to me. I will make them see the error of their ways.

The original trilogy shaped my childhood just like most people my age. I still remember turning the lights out in my bedroom, getting out the torch and going, "Vroom... vroom!" I did it again when the contracts arrived.

Can you set up "Star Wars: Invasion" for us? What's the premise?

A galaxy far, far away is about to get some very unwelcome visitors. Twenty-five years after the Battle of Yavin, an armada of technology-hating, pain-loving freaks called the Yuuzhan Vong arrives at the edge of the galaxy. Their aim is to take the galaxy as their own. One of the first planets they attack is Artorias, a peace-loving planet with no defenses. Picture a T-Rex attacking a kitten. The planet is destroyed and the people are evacuated, enslaved, or killed.

Our focus is on one family, a special family, who are torn apart by the destruction of their homeworld. These refugees become our main characters. Young Finn Galfridian will be set on the Jedi path by Luke Skywalker. Things don't go so well for the rest of the family.

What makes the Yuuzhan Vong such a massive threat?

They are ruthless, single-minded warrior zealots with no qualms about dealing out death, even on a planetary scale. Their living technology is unlike anything anyone has ever seen, let alone attempted to counteract. On top of this, they are somehow outside the Force, meaning they are invisible to the Force, and Force powers have little effect on them. This makes them truly formidable opponents to the Jedi. They are very strong, very cruel and almost unstoppable. I guess what I'm saying is don't get too attached to any of the characters.

You mentioned Luke Skywalker plays a role. Is it a thrill scripting and plotting such an iconic character?

It's insane really. Luke Skywalker remains one of my two heroes (Superman is the other). I had all of the action figures when I was a kid, because you need Luke wearing white, orange and black, although I always lost the lightsabers. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker had a lot of lightsaber fights with colored matches. Honestly, it's about the biggest thrill of my life - take that, wedding and birth of son.

What other classic Star Wars characters are featured in "Invasion"? And what about Jacen Solo from the "New Jedi Order" novel?

Yes, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo all have large roles in the series, particularly being around the same age as Finn and his sister Kaye. A lot of the main characters from the original trilogy are still around except, tragically, for Chewy. Can you believe the Vong dropped a moon on him? It's certainly my intention to use as many of these characters as I'm allowed to play with. Wouldn't you?

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Chewbacca died in 1999's "Vector Prime," the first novel in the "New Jedi Order" series.)

Speaking of "New Jedi Order," does this series exist in the same continuity as the books of that era?

It does, but one of my hardest jobs is making sure this is its own beast. The novels are very comprehensive and have a huge set of fans. My aim is to respect those fans, while making sure it's accessible to everyone. I literally want my grandma to be able to pick up this book and say, "Tom, this kicks ass!"

How long do you plan to stay on "Invasion"? Or better yet, how far out do you have the series plotted?

The Yuuzhan Vong Invasion lasts a long time. I'd like to invade the Star Wars Universe and Dark Horse for far longer.

I've plotted a long way into the future, probably further than Randy Stradley realizes. On the surface, "Invasion" is going to seem fairly obvious, but there are a lot of surprises coming that, hopefully, no one will expect.

The only thing I will rule out is Han Solo traveling through a rift in space and time and meeting Barack Obama.

What can you say about the work of your pal, artist Colin Wilson's work on the series?

What do you need to say? He's done it all; flown through World War two skies with Garth Ennis, been involved in Covert Ops with Ed Brubaker and brought Nu Earth to life with Dave Gibbons. It's incredible heading around to Colin's for our weekly catch up and too-much-coffee and seeing the "Invasion" pages taking shape. The amount of detail and effort he is putting into this series is amazing. The planet we begin on, Artorias, is one of the most alive things I've seen in comics. The thought and planning that has gone into the architecture, the industry and populace is beyond belief, especially seeing as we know it all gets destroyed. Add Wes Dzioba's wonderful colors to this and... Grandma, you're going to like this.

What else are you working on these days?

I'm luckily a very busy guy, I'm working on a few TV, theatre, and film projects, all of which I would drop in a heartbeat for more comics work. Gestalt Comics is publishing my original graphic novel "Brief Cases," as well as a couple of my other stories in their beautiful anthology, "Flinch." You've got to check out the stunning Shaun Tan cover. I'm working on another comic book project with Colin, and one with Wayne Nichols ("Star Wars: Force Unleashed" OGN, and "Church of Hell") both of which will be taking shape soon.

I'm also working on a death-ray; I wouldn't print that if I were you though. But if you do, remember I'm working on a death ray.

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