The Darth Vader and Son author talks to StarWars.com about his new book, Rey and Pals, told in his uniquely adorable style.
StarWars.com: Fans were first introduced to your imaginative style with the Darth Vader and Son series. When you’re taking characters fans already know and love and restyling them as children, what do you define as the essential details and pieces to make sure that, for example, Rey still looks and feels like Rey? How do you capture the personality and costume details so the kid version is immediately recognizable?
Jeffrey Brown: The first step is to simplify, and boil the look of the character down to a few elements. Some of the costumes have a lot of detail, but if I draw too much detail in a costume, it doesn’t gel with the cartoony look of the characters’ faces — especially when I’m drawing Rey as a little kid. The other thing to focus on is body language and expressions. Rey is someone who dives right in, and can be very decisive and isn’t afraid to try and fail. So when I’m drawing her I’m imagining when kids are like that, trying to capture that feeling with how she stands or walks or gets into mischief. It also comes with time. I have to live with the characters quite a bit, watching the movies over and over while drawing and sketching them, so by the time I’m creating the final artwork, they’ve developed their own look and feel.
StarWars.com: Tell us a little about your process for writing one of these books, marrying some real-world scenarios children encounter everyday with Star Wars references and characters. What inspires the situations that you end up including in your stories?
Jeffrey Brown: It’s always a mix of starting with a character or scene I want to draw — or both, in the case of a giant spread set in Maz’s castle — or thinking of a real-life situation and finding the right Star Wars moment to filter that through. For example, I grew up playing role-playing games, and my older son has started playing them with friends now, so I came up with some of the characters playing something like Dungeons & Krayt Dragons. Overall, the process starts with coming up with a ton of ideas — almost 200 for this book! Some are clear from the start, some get re-worked and recycled, left for later. And some I know aren’t likely to make the cut, because they’re too dark or don’t have the right tone, but I draw them anyway. By the time I’m creating the final art, all the concepts seem obvious and immediate, and sometimes I forget just how much work it was for us (myself and the editors and Chronicle and Lucasfilm) to craft the ideas.
Read the interview in full here.