I’ve been highlighting books I’ve written, edited, or contributed to throughout my career, with a new entry posted most Thursdays. It’s “Throwbook Thursday,” ya’ll! (But please do not throw books. It can hurt someone and damage the books.)
Around twenty years ago, I sold my first comics work, thanks to editor Pete Janes at Dark Horse Comics, who’d invited me to cowrite a story with Darko Macan for the company’s Star Wars Tales anthology. I had met Pete while writing comics-related articles for Topps’ Star Wars Galaxy Collector magazine, and we’d hit it off. During this period, Marvel editor Archie Goodwin had passed away, which was such a huge loss to the industry and to readers. Pete, who knew I was well-acquainted with Archie’s Star Wars work from the 1970s and 1980s, asked me to contribute a sidebar to a piece he was writing to honor Archie’s career for Star Wars Insider magazine. I was thrilled to be asked.
Sometime later, Pete introduced me to Darko, who’d been scripting a miniseries for Dark Horse titled Star Wars: Vader’s Quest. That story, chronicling the Sith Lord’s efforts to find the hotshot pilot who’d destroyed the Death Star in A New Hope, had the potential to contradict other tales covering similar ground set in that same storytelling era, so Pete and Darko had hoped I might help them avoid having that happen with the scripts. I’d previously advised the late Ann C. Crispin on her incredible Han Solo Trilogy (a huge honor—Ann wasn’t just a great novelist, but also a great person), so I was delighted to contribute yet again to the world of licensed Star Wars fiction, even if only in a small way. Darko thanked me with a cameo… as a geeky Luke Skywalker fanboy named Rich.
By this point, I’d become a Star Wars author myself, thanks to Charlene Newcomb having invited me to cowrite a couple short stories with her for West End Games’ Star Wars Adventure Journal anthology line. Since I had that experience under my belt despite being a new writer, and since I had Pete’s ear, and since I’d gotten to know Darko, and since I was too young and stupid to realize I was probably being too pushy, I decided to make a longshot pitch and ask if I could cowrite Darko’s next Star Wars comic with him. (Heh heh. Oh, the arrogance of youth.) Thankfully, that ended up paying off instead of blowing up in my face.
To my surprise, Darko and Pete were both open to the idea, and Pete told me about an upcoming anthology comic line that was in the works called Star Wars Tales. Each issue, he explained, would contain multiple stories by different creative teams, covering various aspects of the Star Wars universe and utilizing multiple genres—comedy, drama, romance, you name it. He suggested Darko and I propose a story for issue #3, and “Lady Luck” was the result. So where did the idea for “Lady Luck” come from?
Well, I’d recently read a West End Games Star Wars RPG book which had mentioned that Lando Calrissian had won Cloud City from a man named Baron Raynor. Lando’s one of my favorite characters from the original Star Wars trilogy, so I was intrigued. The book didn’t provide a ton of information about Raynor, or about Lando’s acquisition of the city from him, but it did provide enough that I realized it could make for a great story told in a visual medium. Therefore, Darko and I crafted “Lady Luck,” a 16-page tale that ended up being illustrated by Chris Brunner, lettered by Steve Dutro, colored by Michelle Madsen and Dave Stewart, and co-edited by Pete with Dave Land.
I loved Brunner’s artwork, which perfectly captured what Darko and I had written. The plot was partly based around Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, in which James Bond bests a criminal kingpin at a high-stakes card game, and I styled the initial outline of “Lady Luck” as a Fleming pastiche—basically, Star Wars‘ version of a 1950s pulp novel. Chris had clearly picked up on this aspect without our having spoken to him about it, as he drew the titular “lady luck,” Ymile (named after my daughter Emily), as actress Marilyn Monroe, while Raynor was drawn to resemble Al Pacino from The Godfather Part III. It was just as pulp in illustration as it was in script, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Chris also did a great job of drawing Lando’s corpulent nemesis Drebble from the old Marvel line, whom I’d inserted into this story and given the first name Barpotomous. As a fan of (and recently a collaborator with) Drebble creator Jo Duffy, I was grateful when my suggestion to bring the character back into the fold, and to explain the reason Drebble had hated Lando so much in the Marvel saga, was approved. That decision proved popular with fans, and the story received a lot of positive feedback. In fact, even though many Star Wars Tales stories were deemed outside what was then Star Wars continuity, “Lady Luck” ended up canonized by such books as The New Essential Chronology, by Daniel Wallace and Kevin J. Anderson, and the Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide, by Ryder Windham. Again, a great honor.
“Lady Luck,” along with the other stories from Star Wars Tales #3, was collected in a trade paperback titled Star Wars Tales, Volume 1. Several years later, I penned a prose sequel, “Lando Calrissian: Idiot’s Array,” which had been slated to appear in Star Wars Insider magazine but instead ended up published first at Hyperspace.com, then at Suvudu, a subsidiary website of Random House. Sadly, “Lady Luck” was the only Star Wars comic I ever cowrote, though I did continue to write about Star Wars comics for various books and magazines, which I’ll cover in a future “Throwbook Thursday.” I would have loved to write another one, but sometimes the galaxy has other plans.