NYCC 2016: Interview with Charles Soule

poe dameron cover 2I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Charles Soule for a few minutes at New York Comic Con. Since we last talked at Baltimore Comic Con last year, he’s finished his run on Lando, written the Obi-Wan and Anakin series, and is currently writing the ongoing Poe Dameron series for Marvel Comics. (And that’s in addition to all the other books he writes for Marvel and all his creator owned work.) Needless, to say, he’s stayed busy.

Bria for Tosche Station: Thank you again for talking with me this morning and congratulations on conquering the world of Star Wars Comics.

Charles Soule: It has been an incredibly ride. Doing a series set in Prequel time, doing a series set in Original series time, and new era time? I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.

TS: I think you might actually be the first person to have written in all three eras in the new canon.

CS: I guess the dream’s achieved. I can retire now. It’s all happened.

TS: I think it was at NYCC last year that the Obi-Wan and Anakin book was announced which I loved by the way. What was it like getting to delve into another era and its characters since before that you’d been working on Lando?

CS: The thing that I really liked about it was that not only was it a Prequel Era story which is sort of unexplored to begin with but it was in the unexplored—no one has written anything between Episode I and Episode II as far as I know other than this.

TS: One or two Legends books but not much.

CS: So it was very cool to be able to look at a time when the Jedi were… they weren’t ascended but they were certainly powerful and their infrastructure was in place and all that. Palpatine was active but hadn’t yet revealed himself as Sidious. The relationship with Anakin was really developing. There were all these really potent, dramatic things I could do with the Obi-Wan series that aren’t available in other parts of the timeline so I was really thrilled to get a chance to take a crack at it.

TS: I had a feeling you were pretty excited to write more Palpatine.

CS: Yes, as we’ve discussed before, Palpatine is probably my favorite character in the entire Star Wars galaxy although that’s evolving. I’m really enjoying writing Poe. Poe is great. I like Agent Terex who’s the bad guy in the Poe series. He’s really turned into a real person for me and I’m kinda almost rooting for him so I guess that’s my thing. I like to root for the bad guys.

TS: I have to say that the Palpatine scenes were some of my favorites in that book.

CS: Thank you very much.

TS: Were there any other Prequel Trilogy characters that you want a chance to write but haven’t gotten to yet?

CS: I only wrote a little of Mace Windu. I think Mace Windu’s a cool character and I’d love to do a little more with him. Darth Maul would be fun. Someday maybe… Those are probably my main wish list people but I’m sure I could make something cool out almost any of them but with a few notable exceptions that I’m not going to say in this interview.

TS: Okay so switching over to Poe Dameron. It’s obviously a very different book from Lando and a very different book from Obi-Wan and Anakin. How did that gig end up happening for you?

CS: Well they asked and I said yes and that was pretty much it. No, it happened because I was really fortunate to be approached. Obviously with Phil Noto on the art it’s a homerun. They came to both of us and said ‘We’re thinking of doing something in the Episode VII zone’ and we didn’t know it was Poe at that time and they didn’t know it was Poe at that time. We went out to Lucasfilm and got a preview of everything that was going to be happening in Episode VII. We sort of saw the film early in this slideshow version. It was really, really cool.

So in the morning, we go to Lucasfilm, they give us this download of what everything’s going to be, and it was the first time I ever really knew who Poe was because we’d seen action figures and images of him but we had no idea what was going on, no synopsis, no nothing. I learned who all these characters were. I learned where Luke was and where all this stuff was going on and I got the slideshow and then that afternoon, it was like “pitch us your story!” I had three hours to absorb all of this but we hashed some stuff out in the room and it just became pretty clear that a Poe book would be something that would be very fun to do; like the Rogue Squadron model with a bunch of pilots going around the galaxy doing secret missions and all that.

TS: There was actually a little bit of a Twitter campaign going on (probably before you guys went out to Lucasfilm) trying to get a new X-Wing books because obviously those books with the Rogues and the Wraiths were pretty well-beloved. So once the film came out, did that just shoot the pressure level up for you as a writer since everyone immediately fell in love with Poe Dameron the minute he came on screen?

CS: I felt pretty lucky, right? Because I didn’t know… that was something that Phil and I talked about with our editors because we didn’t know if Poe Dameron was going to be Jar Jar (who is obviously a valuable character in many ways but he’s not as embraced as some) or if he was going to be middle of the road or if he was going to be this guy that everybody loved. It could not have worked out better because Poe was the breakout really. When all that stuff sort of started to spiral around and we knew what we were doing but no one else did, Phil and I were like “This is going to be good. This is going to be good.”

TS: Was it hard to sit on [the book] for a few weeks?

CS: From the day it broke, my Twitter feed just melted. It was amazing.

TS: That’s how it is with Star Wars.

CS: Yup, it was cool.

TS: With Agent Terex, he’s got this sort of old-timey villain feel to him. A little bit of me wants to root for him too because I don’t want him to get killed because he’s just so much fun.

CS: Listen, nobody wants Terex to be killed. Unless they’re lying to me, Lucasfilm likes him a lot. The other writers like him a lot. I was actually on a writers panel this weekend for New York Comic Con where I got to meet Chuck Wendig, Tim Zahn, Jim Luceno, E.K. Johnston and a lot of really amazing people and we talked about trying to get Terex into the timeline in another spot. Other people know him and like him as much as you and I do apparently which is great because when you make somebody that’s new, he’s immediately held up against every other character in the Star Wars world. I really wanted to make him… everything in the Episode VII timeline is so new and feels almost… not exactly cut off because Han and Leia are around and there are connections but I wanted to make something that really could call back to Original Trilogy stuff in a very direct way. As we see Terex’s backstory revealed which is going to be a big part of Issues #8-10 arc, we’ll get to see why he’s the way he is, why everyone thinks about him the way they do, and why he feels about himself the way he does with some really cool… we’ll see the Battle of Jakku a little bit.

TS: Oh!

CS: Yup, so there’s some big stuff coming up in Poe.

TS: So you’ve been talking to Chuck Wendig a little about this since he’s…

CS: Maybe!

TS: Although! You did mention at the panel that you guys had just talked about and gotten some approval for a certain droid…

CS: Mister Bones!

TS: Anything else you can tell us about that?

CS: No because I really don’t want to spoil it or how it works or how it happens but that was something I wanted to do. Mister Bones is a standout, he’s great and Snap Wexley is in both Chuck’s books and in Poe so it seemed like…you know, they were best friends back then so why would you get rid of your best friend forever?

TS: Who doesn’t love a homicidal droid? In regards to the other pilots, we don’t really know the other pilots except for Poe. We don’t really get to know Jessika, we don’t really get to know Snap very well in the films so what was it like for you getting to flesh them out (or in Snap’s case) build upon what we have seen?

CS: It’s great. It’s one of those things where it’s a little bit of a tightrope walk because you don’t want to put a pin in something for these characters who might hypothetically be showing up in future films. With the different pilots in the squadron, some of their backstories have been established, some of them haven’t. Karé Kun is a veteran of the Navy with Poe so you can give her interesting issues and high points and low points related to that. Snap, we’ve seen a lot of his life so there are some interesting things you can call back to. We know a little about L’ulo and there’s obviously Jessika as you mentioned. One of the things I really want to do as the series continues is to flesh them out in more ways whether it’s backstory stuff or direct moves within the story that we’re telling. We know that Jessika seems to have some issues with control and things like that which is something I’m planning to do more with. We’ve got the relationship between Karé Kun and Snap, which is fun. And then L’ulo is just kind of the grizzled veteran. He’s a total cliché, right? But there are still some fun things you can do with that. He’s kinda “I’m an old guy. I know what I’m doing. Don’t tell me what to do.” but that’s a fun trope to do.

TS: I know you won’t answer but I figure it’s worth a shot so… who’s the spy?

CS: I’m not going to answer that; why would I spoil it?

TS: I thought it was worth asking.

CS: But that is cool. I’ve known how that whole story is going to play out since the earliest outlines and it’s pretty cool.

Thank you again to Charles for taking to time to talk Star Wars comics with me! The collected trade paperbacks for both Lando and Obi-Wan and Anakin are available now and the first trade of Poe Dameron will be available on December 6, 2016.

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