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How This Humorous Star Wars Book Got Published

Greg Stones is the author of six illustrated books, his latest being 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Stones brings a playful wit and sympathy for the plight of the troops as they meet their amusing ends.

Here, he discusses the intricacies of getting a funny Star Wars book published.

In 1978, when I was four years old, my dad took me to see Star Wars in a second-run theater near our house. From there on in, it was all Star Wars all the time.

Greg StonesSome of my early work

I had the Star Wars sleeping bag. I had the Millennium Falcon. I had the big Darth Vader action figure carrying case. I even colored a piece of wood with crayons to turn it into a lightsaber. I grew up with Star Wars, and I never really grew out of it.

Flash forward through hyperspace to 2012. In the intervening years, I worked hard to carve out a life for myself as an artist. My work often featured recurring characters (penguins, zombies) in funny situations, and that March I had just published my first illustrated humor book with Chronicle Books, Zombies Hate Stuff. Then, one month after my book came out, Jeffrey Brown’s amazing Darth Vader and Son hit bookstores, also from Chronicle Books. I did not know that funny Star Wars books could be a thing, but from that moment on, my dream would be to try to make a book that could be a part of that thing.

I would dream and scheme and occasionally send my editor ideas, but nothing was really clicking.

Greg StonesNope.

99 StormtroopersMeh.

Again through hyperspace to 2015. Freshly stricken with Star Wars fever after seeing the first teaser trailer for The Force Awakens (I may or may not have actually wept a few small tears of joy when I saw the Millennium Falcon flying upside down), I had an idea! I’d always been sort of fascinated by Stormtroopers, and seeing them in the new trailer again, I wondered, in the way my imagination works, what kind of silly/tragic things might happen to them after they join the Empire—what were the fates of the ones we don’t see onscreen? I did some paintings and sent them along to my editor, and he thought I might be on to something!

99 StormtroopersFour Stormtroopers are put on garbage duty.

We worked up a few more, and he brought the idea to Lucasfilm, who also thought we might be onto something, and after reviewing APPROVED THE PROJECT!

It was now called 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire, after that bottles of beer song that counts down to the last one. So we had 99 troopers to count down and have meet funny ends in creative Star Wars ways. My editor and I pitched ideas to the Lucasfilm editor and their Story Group, who have the immense task of keeping Star Wars in all its myriad forms straight and true. Some of our ideas were just too goofy, such as a Stormtrooper washing windows on a Star Destroyer.

99 StormtroopersNope.

And some were a little too non-canon: R2-D2 zapping a trooper off a cloud city roof—nope, too out of character.

99 StormtroopersNope.

But we could still be silly, so long as it stayed Star Wars.

99 StormtroopersFive Stormtroopers join a band.

99 StormtroopersOne Stormtrooper never learns how to swim.

And in the lead-up to the release of Rogue One, we saw opportunities to add some new gags tied to the movie.

99 StormtroopersTwo Stormtroopers think the security droid is on their side.

And adapt a few to fit the galaxy better.

99 StormtroopersOne Stormtrooper gets a pebble in his boot.

99 Stormtroopers(Now on Scarif!)

At the end of the process we added a visual joke to the front cover art (do you see it?) and then sent it off to press. The book was released in time to make its debut at San Diego Comic-Con, which I attended for the first time—another dream of mine.

99 StormtroopersMe.

Star Wars continues to inspire me, and I’m excited for more. Ok, I’m off now to re-watch the trailer for The Last Jedi. May the Force Be With You!

– – –

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED

In celebration of the release of The Last Jedi, you could win a copy of 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire! To enter, comment below with which Star Wars movie is your favorite and why. Giveaway closes 1/2/18 (extended!) at midnight PT. USA-only.

99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire

Greg Stones

Greg Stones is the author of several books, including 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire, Zombies Hate Stuff, Zombies Have Issues, Penguins Hate Stuff, and Sock Monkeys Have Issues. He lives and works in Rhode Island, and hasn’t dressed as a ninja since the mid-eighties.
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17 Comments

  • Miriam Tessmer December 12, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Favorite: Episode III
    Anakin is the heart of the whole thing and seeing his battle with Obi-Wan at the end always stirs my emotions!!

    Reply

  • Joseph Brumm December 12, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I loved Rogue One. Great plot and lots of fast moving stories. Star Wars theme, but whole new story and plot.

    Reply

  • Ben Barrett December 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Rogue One! I love how it’s a darker story, and the references it makes to the other movies

    Reply

  • Michelle Theodorou December 12, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite, because it was the first one I ever watched as a child. I’ve been hooked ever since then.

    Reply

  • Danielle Janda December 13, 2017 at 1:40 am

    My favorite Star Wars movie is Return of the Jedi, controversial I know but I heart the Ewoks. I love a lot more about that movie but I’m keeping it simple. Glad I happened across this book because it is perfect for my trooping husband for Christmas this year.

    Reply

  • Elliot Rauscher December 13, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    The original, A New Hope, is my favorite. It brings the viewer in to this existing, deep, lived-in universe without any explanation other than the opening crawl. From jump, it is a nonstop visual/audio feast ending as a triumph for the heroes, the audience, and for film itself!

    Reply

  • Dawn Adams December 14, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Empire Strikes back because it has a great good vs. evil storyline. We meet Yoda, learn about the force and find out who Luke’s Dad is. Holy Smokes!

    Reply

  • Joshua Ross December 15, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    My favorite Star Wars movie would probably have to be Episode III because of the simultaneous battles between Yoda and Sidious and Obi-Wan and Anakin. I enjoy watching Anakin’s fall from greatness into evil. It also has the only live action appearance of one of my favorite villains, General Grievous, as well as everyone’s favorite clone trooper Commander Cody, and some of the coolest planets (Mustafar, Kashyyyk). It also doesn’t hurt that almost every single line in that movie can be made into a meme.

    Reply

  • Christine December 18, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Rogue One was fantastic – just might be my favorite now (though I haven’t seen the new one…)

    Reply

  • Tom Trudeau December 20, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I loved rogue one because it was great seeing all of the old characters in the x-wings and it was nice to see everything that lead up the the original movies

    Reply

  • Ed Purchase December 20, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    The Last Jedi. It hits all the right notes and really sticks it to Folks who pretend their fan theories hold Meaning in the real world.

    Reply

  • Richard Nakai December 21, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Return of the Jedi because you see the whole resolution of the tragic hero in Anakin Skywalker and that the love that a father has for his children can overcome many things such as hatred and for me as a person with Aspergers Syndrome I identified with Darth Vader in the fact that I was like him and he lost his struggles with his darkness and it inspired me to overcome my own darkness

    Reply

  • Dany audet December 21, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Episode 5 the empire strikes back is the best mostly for the hoth battle.

    Reply

  • Jennifer Bardwell December 21, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Rogue One- because it’s all new “nobodies” who band together and do what rebel scum do best.. steal important things against the authorities wishes which is a huge turning point for taking down the empire.

    Reply

  • Jess December 21, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Return of the Jedi… cmon, ewoks!

    Reply

  • Elizabeth Jaeger December 22, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Nothing can touch the sheer joy of a 13 year old experiencing the original Star Wars.

    Reply

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