When working with Jeffrey Brown and Lucasfilm on the cover for Darth Vader and Son, we all honed in pretty quickly on an image Jeff had done of the characters eating ice cream (though Vader can only just sort of peer at it through his mask). The main question was then one of how to refine their posture and the tilt of their heads, and whether Vader’s ice cream should be red, Sith-colored (these things matter!). Vader’s mint chip on the final cover is a flavor Jeff and his dad enjoyed together.
For the cover of Vader’s Little Princess, Jeff’s forthcoming book testing Vader’s parenting skills as he raises Leia, the field of possibilities was more wide open. Jeff sent a few candidates with his interior sketch delivery, and we identified a couple that were fun possibilities.
One of the new questions for this cover was at what age to portray Leia, as in the book we see her as a little girl (about the age of Luke in the first book) and then later for much of the book as a rebellious teenager.
Jeff developed more ideas, some from panels in the book, some just to try out for cover potential—happily, anything we fell in love with that wasn’t quite right for the cover found a home inside the book if it wasn’t already represented. We were looking for something with a sense of affectionate connection that’s also true to the characters and their relationship as Jeff imagines it inside the book, but wouldn’t overemphasize a single aspect (we love Vader as a nervous dad faced with the prospect of Leia dating Han Solo, for instance, but that seemed to us to overemphasize that particular aspect a bit much for the cover.)
It was interesting to see Jeff address teenage Leia on the phone, which of course she would be, but what would her phone possibly look like? Jeff came up with a fun idea for the interior, but again, it didn’t seem like the right cover direction, and the scene didn’t give Vader much to do.
When Jeff sent little Leia with Vader at a tea party, though, it felt like he’d cracked the code.
It was adorable. Lucasfilm said—“that’s the one! No question about it.” It’s fun to see Dad Vader sweetly joining in, even while it’s unclear (as it was with the ice cream) just how he’s going to drink the tea. And the Ewok teddy bear! The search was over.
Finally, we addressed the idea of communicating Leia’s range of ages by featuring one of our favorite teenage moments on the back cover.
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