While he may be most well-known for his popular Twitter account, @badbanana, Tim Siedell has created quite a bit of well received writing that was not limited to 140 characters. Recently, Siedell brought his talents to the Star Wars universe with the excellent mini-series, Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin.
His follow up effort, Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows, is already off to a great start. With the second issue of that series coming out Wednesday, Siedell was kind enough to sit down with Adventures in Poor Taste and give us an overview of how he got involved in expanding Vader’s mythology.
AiPT: How did you initially get involved with writing Star Wars stories for Dark Horse?
Tim Siedell: I pitched an idea for a graphic novel to Dark Horse a while back and that started a conversation about comics and then the phrase “Darth Vader miniseries” was tossed out and then I peed a little.
AiPT: Not to sound too brown-nosey, but you seem incredibly comfortable and adept at playing in the Star Wars EU sandbox despite being very new to it. Are the stories you’re telling now based on ideas that have always been kicking around in your head, or did they start flowing once you began working on the scripts?
Tim Siedell: I’m glad to hear that. The first thing I said to Dark Horse was that I knew very little about the EU. I loved the movies. I loved the Clone Wars series. I played the video games. But that’s about it. Dark Horse didn’t see that as a liability. They were open to an outside perspective. The stories came when I sat down to write, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t draw upon some inspiration that went all the way back to me playing with Star Wars figures as a kid.
AiPT: What are some of the differences in the writing process you have with your Star Wars work compared to the more comedic material you’ve built such a large fanbase around?
Tim Siedell: In a way, it’s very similar. You look for something interesting and then you twist it. When you’re writing a joke, that’s about all you can do. When you’re writing a script, whether it’s for a comic book miniseries or a feature-length movie, your job is just beginning. I guess one big difference is knowing that a comic book reader will experience your script a certain way. I try really hard to tell my stories visually. I try to be really detailed in my panel descriptions, when it makes sense, in order to give the reader a sort of cinematic experience. I want the artwork to shine and tell a lot of the story. And I try really hard to have surprises and major reveals show up after a page flip. So that does make the comic book writing process a bit different, and a fun challenge.
AiPT: Like The Ninth Assassin, Cry of Shadows takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope. What draws you to write about this time period in the Star Wars universe?
Tim Siedell: Well, first off, that was Dark Horse’s idea. They picked the time period. They wanted stories that involved a freshly minted Vader. It’s an amazing time period, really, because who doesn’t want to see Vader earning his frightful reputation? All that chaos and turmoil in the galaxy. All that emotional turmoil under Vader’s helmet. Disney would be insane to not drop a movie or two into this time period, eventually.
AiPT: This might be hard to answer without spoiling too much, but is CT-5539 (a Clone Trooper active during the Clone Wars, and a main character in Cry of Shadows) different in some way from his other Kamino-born brethren?
Tim Siedell: Good question. And one that he’ll ponder himself throughout the series. To me, it’s the classic nature/nurture idea. Can experiences mold a clone’s personality? Can a clone change and become someone/something different? I’ll say this: in issue #2, we’ll return to Kamino to meet a clone who, even all the other clones agree, is most definitely an anomaly.
AiPT: How different is the Darth Vader we’re seeing in Cry of Shadows than the way that you portrayed him before?
Tim Siedell: In Ninth Assassin, I wanted to show a Vader that was terrifyingly efficient. An unstoppable killing machine. In Cry of Shadows, I wanted to take a broader view. Okay, maybe he’s unstoppable with a lightsaber in his hand. But does that Anakin cockiness create problems? We’re going to see Vader make some mistakes. And we’re going to see why he becomes the most feared individual in the galaxy.
AiPT: How will looking at Vader through the eyes of CT-5539 be different from other perspectives of The Dark Lord of the Sith that readers have seen before?
Tim Siedell: It’s the trooper’s story. It’s his perspective. His perception of Vader and the events to follow. His struggle with who he is and what he stands for. We know what happens to Vader, ultimately. We don’t know what will happen to our trooper.
AiPT: Will this story end up linking up with The Ninth Assassin at all?
Tim Siedell: No. These are just two stories among thousands during a time when a young Vader is at his energetic peak, whipping the galaxy into submission. But I certainly wrote the second series with an eye on the first. I think they compliment each other well and, together, offer a one-two punch.
In Ninth Assassin, I wanted some of that wonder and fun I associate with the original trilogy. Vader is the ultimate badass. He’s cool. Cry of Shadows picks up there, with Vader being a hero of sorts to our trooper. But the series ends up in a much darker place. There are a lot of badasses in the Star Wars universe. Only one strikes fear across the entire galaxy. We’ll see Vader take a big step towards that well-earned reputation.
AiPT: Do you have any other upcoming projects, both comic and non-comic related, that you can tell us about?
Tim Siedell: I would love to write more comics, but I’m not signed up to do any more at this point. So it’s back to the freelance lifestyle of pitching ideas and writing spec TV pilots for me.