WWC Interview: John Jackson Miller on ‘Star Wars’ and Webcomics
Writer and comics authority John Jackson Miller probably has one of the most enviable jobs in comics today. Starting off in the early ’90s as editor of Comics Retailer magazine, Miller went on to edit various other publications including Scrye and the Comics Buyer’s Guide. Later, stints on Marvel’s Crimson Dynamo and Iron Man led to his working for Dark Horse comics.
Once at Dark Horse, Miller helped re-launch the company’s Star Wars comics with his work on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Recently, he also wrote the comic book adaptation of the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull film and launched his own webcomic called Sword & Sarcasm. I caught up with Miller at Wizard World Chicago to discuss Star Wars comics, webcomics and the first time he ever saw Star Wars.
COMICMIX: John, thanks for your time. Having a good show?
JOHN JACKSON MILLER: Yes, a wonderful Chicago con as always.
CMix: So, tell me about why you’re here?
JJM: Well, I’m here to sign and talk about Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, our ongoing series now at issue 30 and still going strong. It’s a big year for us because we had the "Vector" crossover. We’ve also had some major events with Zayne Carrick, our figitive Jedi who’s finally getting his taste of justice with a big showdown about to come up.
Those big events will take us through issue 33 at least. It should be pretty interesting what happens.
It may not be the big showdown that people expect because we also want to make sure we keep people guessing a bit and not always do what people might be expecting. We don’t want readers to get too comfortable with what’s going on and we want to keep it interesting.
CMix: Excellent. You also involved with Wizards of the Coast on some projects as well, right?
JJM: Yes. They are coming out with a series of minatures for the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic board game. I helped design some of those characters because several of them are from the comic. I was also a co-author of the Campaign Guide for the game as well, which contains information from all the comics and the two videogames.
CMix: You also did the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull adaptation as well?
JJM: I did. It was fun to know about the story of the film about a year ago while I was working on the comic. I got to imagine how the movie would look and who would be doing what and put it all together.
CMix: Did knowing the story ruin the film for you?
JJM: No, you tend to watch films differently. At least I do. When I do the comic I imagine what everyting will be like, what direction things will go in, that kind of thing. When I watch the movie I get to just watch it and enjoy the expeience and not think about it.
Although, at some points I did think about a scene or something where I had the characters going right to left or something and in the movie they go the opposite way.
CMix: As you know, we publish webcomics at ComicMix and you recently launched your own webcomic. Do you think there will ever come a time when we will read everything on the web and printed comics will be no more?
JJM: I get asked that quite a bit. There was a trend about ten years ago when everyone was saying that the Internet was coming and it would either save or destroy comics. It was either one or the other. Also back then people were still hoping that customers would end up paying for comics online but that doesn’t seem to be working out.
It seems like the internet is still mostly a promotional tool for print comics. I think that it would be folly for me to say that people of the future won’t adapt to reading them on some other format. Personally, I think that so much of what is special about comics is tied up with the two-dimensional format on a piece of paper.
I think the comics will always be with us in some form, even if they are only a luxury item and a purchase for people who have everything.
CMix: Okay, John, last question: What do you remember about the first time you saw Star Wars?
JJM: Actually, its funny, I ended up reading the Star Wars comic before I even saw the movie. I remember my friends talking about it and we even tried to "play" Star Wars when I was a kid and my friends wanted me to be Darth Vader. As I hadn’t seen the movie I kept correcting them and insisting the character was named Dark Invader.
I finally saw the film very late in 1977, it was probably sometime in November. It took a long time I think because every time we went to the theater to try and see the movie it was always sold out. I remember, in fact, one of the worst days of my childhood when we went all the way to the theater to see the movie and I thought this time would finally be it. I would get to see Star Wars.
Unfortunately, it was sold out again and instead, I ended up having to see Pete’s Dragon. Because of that, to this day I can’t stand Helen Reddy. She may light up some people’s lives but she sure didn’t light up mine.
Issue #30 of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is on stands now. Issue #31 hits stands on July 23. Also, be sure to check out Miller’s webcomic Sword & Sarcasm.