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Return of the Vader Pitches

We’re excited to have author and illustrator Jeffrey Brown guest posting on the blog today. His newest Darth Vader book, Darth Vader and Friends, is out today!

One of the most common responses to my first two Star Wars books—Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princesswas from parents who told me the books were a favorite of their children at bedtime. Seeing a photo of a little kid who fell asleep clutching their toy lightsaber in one hand and one of my books in the other hand? Never gets old. It always struck me as funny though, because I figured humorous books about aliens and spaceships don’t seem like the most calming subject matter. Then I thought, why isn’t there a proper Star Wars bedtime book? I should make one! I also thought it’d be a nice change of format to work with. The uncompleted Death Star II always looked like a crescent moon, so I made up a quick sketch of the concept to pitch.

GNDV pitch
There’s more than enough Goodnight Moon parodies, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just mimicking the style and rhythm of that book. We also changed the title to Goodnight Darth Vader, to keep it in line with the way we established the series. That idea also played into a change in title for Darth Vader and Friends, which I initially pitched at the same time as the bedtime book.
DVAF Pitch 1
My initial idea was to do a whole book of C-3PO and R2-D2, which began with what I thought was a great title: LOLR2D2C3POBFF. Steve Mockus, my editor at Chronicle, wondered if the book wouldn’t be better if it included all the other great friendships in Star Wars—Han and Chewie, Vader and the Emperor, Lando and Lobot. That totally made sense, especially when I realized how problematic doing a whole book of R2 and 3PO would be. After all, they’re already so comedic in the films, I’d essentially have to make new jokes out of their jokes! I actually already had some ideas for jokes with other characters, so I added a selection of non-droid ideas to the pitch, which became titled Darth Vader and Friends to match the other titles.
DVAF Pitch 2
For the first two Vader books, I came up with around 100 ideas for each, which were narrowed down to a selection that fit the 64 page format. Coming up with that many ideas was a challenge at times, partially because of my self-imposed rule of not re-using quotes or scenes. Otherwise, I could just end up with a series of books about things the lack of which Darth Vader finds disturbing. For the Friends book, I came up with between 130 and 140 ideas, and getting to use so many more scenes and characters (including  from the prequels and Clone Wars) really freed me up to draw some new things. At the same time, I was still able to include enough Vader, Luke, and Leia to keep the book in the same… family.

Copyright © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown is a two-time Eisner Award–winning artist and writer of Darth Vader™ and Son, Vader's™ Little Princess, Goodnight Darth Vader™, and numerous graphic novels and comics. A lifelong Star Wars fan, he lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.
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