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.
Some 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.
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!
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.
And some were a little too non-canon: R2-D2 zapping a trooper off a cloud city roof—nope, too out of character.
But we could still be silly, so long as it stayed Star Wars.
And in the lead-up to the release of Rogue One, we saw opportunities to add some new gags tied to the movie.
And adapt a few to fit the galaxy better.
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.
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!
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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.
Latest posts by Greg Stones (see all)
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- Greg Stones: How Mixing Humor and Art Changed Everything - October 28, 2014
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