After Star Wars: The Clone Wars came to a bitter end last year, most fans have been eagerly waiting for the bonus content, which will tie up the loose threads for some characters and storylines, but where does that leave everything else? We recently discovered that Dark Horse Comics will be publishing a 4-issue comic book mini-series featuring Darth Maul later this year. What about other characters, though, like young Ahsoka Tano?
Thankfully, I know someone who’s whipping up a story with Ahsoka and a few other familiar faces. Her name is Elisa Ardell, and she’s taken up the task of writing and illustrating an online comic book based on her own ideas and imagination. Known as Star Wars Destinies, this online fan-made comic elaborates on the story of Ahsoka following the events of the series finale. She goes to–well, I can’t tell you or else I’ll ruin all the fun.
Since she is both the writer and artist of this brand new comic, set to debut on Tuesday, January 21, on the official Star Wars Destinies Tumblr, I approached Elisa for an interview. We talked about her inspirations, her favorites, and other details that help shed more light on her wonderful talents and the project she’s been developing since early August 2013.
TWG: Elisa, you were the first Star Wars fan artist to be highlighted on The Wookiee Gunner’s Star Wars Fan Artist Spotlight. Hooray! Since then, you’ve been working on a personal project called Star Wars Destinies. Tell us, what is the story about?
Elisa: I guess to put it simply; it’s about Ahsoka and her companions finding new lives after the ones they’ve known. They each had ideas of what the galaxy and their own lives were like and would be, and due to one thing or another, their beliefs were tested, confirmed, and in some cases, stripped away entirely.
TWG: So it’s based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. What inspired you to continue a Clone Wars storyline from your perspective?
Elisa: I, like many others, loved the Clone Wars. I fell in love with the characters, the setting and the era. I know I find myself still curious as to what things could have been. Then one day I got an idea, and I really loved this idea, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of it. Now here I am with a comic that’s ready to debut, and all I can hope is that my readers like my idea too.
TWG: One of the things that really stuck with me when you first told me about it was the title. How did you come up with the title, Star Wars Destinies?
Elisa: I kept looking back and thinking over what the story was going to be about. There were a few other titles that came to mind, but they were either already taken, or they didn’t convey the feel I wanted the title to have. I wanted something that could side more on positive and hopeful than something negative. Again, it came back to the characters, and for reasons that will hopefully become apparent, Destinies became the perfect word that encapsulated everything in my mind.
TWG: I had the privilege of watching you draw once, which was pretty awesome! What tools do you use to create your comic?
Elisa: As a completely digital artist, my tools are fairly straight forward. I draw on an Intuos3 tablet, and for my comic pages I use a combination of Paint Tool Sai, and Photoshop.
TWG: Okay, you are about to sit down and work on another page for Star Wars Destinies. What is your process, from warm-up to when you put down the tablet pen for the day?
Elisa: If I don’t have one set up and numbered already, I go to my pre-made comic page template and re-save it in the well named ‘Chapter 2’ folder. I then name it appropriately and open it up on Sai. I open the previous page I had been working on as a bit of a guide to help me get back into the flow the characters are having for the scene if I’m continuing one. Sometimes I open up a series of pages and read through them once or twice to make sure they still sound right and flow well after a day or more of not looking at them. I open up my script and scroll down to where I need it to be, and finally, I am set to draw.
It is at this point I’ll know if I need to do warm ups or not. Drawing the first panel or getting down that first line is enough for me to know that I’m going to need to possibly wake up some more or get my head more focused on what I’m doing. In this event I’ll open up another canvas and just draw things; poses, faces, and expressions of the characters that I’ll be drawing. It usually doesn’t take long to get into the groove or enough of a groove where I feel comfortable drawing my page out. These are roughs after all and don’t need to be perfect. (Something I have to tell myself often.)
If I’m actually doing a whole page in one sitting, I’ll then take it over to photoshop once the roughing is done or mostly done and fill in the words. Seeing the words on the page helps me see how they’ll fit and if I need to add in a line or not due to thinking of a change that could make the conversation flow more smoothly.
Once done roughing, I’ll re-type any dialogue I need to, either to make them fit better from what I originally had or to accommodate any alterations I’ve made to the script. Finally, with that done, I then do the bubbles. It’s a bit of a tedious thing since they’re not quite as straightforward as they probably should be, but I feel that they work.
Back to Sai, I line my artwork, I do character lines separate from my background lines, and once done, I move those into a combined folder for easy selection later. By this point, the panels are already cleaned up and finished.
I then make all the appropriate folders and layers I need, put down base colours for the characters and background, add shading to both layers, and then finally add highlights, any extra layers that the pages I’m working on specifically need, and after one more thorough check over of the page, I’ll save it. Then I save it as a PNG, save it again in a smaller format for posting (my full pages are 2100×3150 and my posted pages are 1050×1575), save it again as a 100px across image for my archive page, and then finally I’m done.
Depending on when I start and how ‘on my game’ I am, the length of time to do a full page can vary, especially due to what backgrounds may be occurring in shots. Overall, I’d like to say it takes between 9 and 10 hours to do an average page from start to finish, a time frame I hope to trim down once I get more used to my work schedule.
TWG: The Clone Wars had moments that appealed to both children and adults. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your online comic?
Elisa: My intended audience are people who like “What if?” stories. Also, people who are 17+ due to possible situations that might appear in the comic, haha!
Honestly, though, I will never say that my writing will ever be able to compare with what we would have gotten from TCW had we gotten the seasons that we would have gotten had it not been cancelled. What I can say, though, is that I will do my best to tell an entertaining story, one that will have various story lines and characters within it.
TWG: That sounds great! How far do you see your story going? What do you hope to accomplish?
Elisa: Let’s just say I know what the ending is and that I have plots during and after a big event we all know of. As for what I want to accomplish with my comic? I want to write about the characters I love while furthering and giving resolution to their stories.
TWG: Since we’re on the topic and it was your source of inspiration, what is your favorite Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode? Arc? Character?
Elisa: Oh my, haha! I had to think about this a bit.
My favourite episode would have to be “Bounty.” I’m a sucker for bounty hunters, and I loved all who were in this episode. It was also a fantastic Ventress episode.
Arc would have to be Umbara. It was dark, hard hitting, and did more than just touch upon difficult topics. We also saw the clones go through heartbreaking paces. It was a very telling arc, especially when it came to the clones. For as difficult as it was, that’s why it has to be my favourite.
Finally, my favourite character (this is so very tough to answer)–if we’re talking about Clone Wars created characters only–and I am very honest and don’t just say one of the clones or Ahsoka, I think I have to say I loved WAC the most. I fell in love with that little pit droid completely. If we’re talking about characters that appeared in the Clone Wars as a whole? I’m a total Boba fangirl. Though, just to clarify, he is not the reason I love the episode Bounty so much.
TWG: Talking about The Clone Wars always gets me choked up! But, what is the thing you miss most about the Emmy Award winning series?
Elisa: Can I say two things? Haha! I miss the characters and the stories, both of which helped lead me to what I’m doing here.
TWG: I can’t let you go without giving us an interesting fun fact about Star Wars Destinies. A spoiler, perhaps?
Elisa: I’m going to make you work for it a little bit. Storms and rain are the norm for this cold place that many call home…
TWG: Well, there you have it! Elisa’s Star Wars Destinies will debut on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, at swdestinies.tumblr.com. She will publish a new page every Tuesday and Thursday. Make sure to visit her About section for more information and leave her positive comments as we embark on this adventure she has dreamed up for us!