TWG interviewed Martin Fisher, the writer of the comic series from the Star Wars Rebels Magazine.
Centered around the popular Disney XD animated series, the Rebels magazine is an ongoing, monthly publication by Egmont UK Ltd., and its comic follows the crew of the Ghost in new and exciting adventures outside of what’s seen on the television screen.
I recently caught up with Martin to talk about how he got the opportunity and his experience writing Star Wars Rebels comics.
I became a Star Wars fan at a young age and fell in love with it more when Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels came out. How did you come to be a Star Wars fan and what about the universe makes it so appealing to you?
My initial memory of Star Wars is being 4 years old in 1981. For my 4th birthday, my parents brought me an X-Wing Fighter and a Millennium Falcon and not long after that I saw the first Star Wars on Betamax for the first time. I had no idea at this time that The Empire Strikes Back even existed. From that point on I was hooked. At that age the appeal of it for me was visual–the action sequences, the ship designs, the sound effects, the whole package. It wasn’t until I was older that I could appreciate the characters and the story that was being told. It’s just such an amazing galaxy to see and it feels so real, even though it’s not. The point where Star Wars was never going to let go was when my parents took me to see Return of the Jedi at the Dominion Theatre Cinema in London. That is a day I have never forgotten.
Martin as a child with his Millennium Falcon (on the left) and Return of the Jedi shirt (on the right). (Photos: Martin Fisher)
I remember being really excited when a new Star Wars Rebels Magazine was announced for Germany and the UK. How did you get the opportunity to write the comic strip for the magazine?
I was already working with Titan Comics on their Star Wars title, I was part of a team of 4 writers. I got that opportunity when I met the then Editor Mark Mackenzie Ray at a London convention, told him of my deep interest of writing for Star Wars and he kept me on file. Mark left Titan and Jon Chapple came in as editor and when another writer left, I was next on the list and got that life changing email not long after coming back from San Diego Comic Con.
The opportunity to write for Rebels came about through pure dumb luck. I knew Titan were ending their Star Wars title and it was going elsewhere, but I didn’t know who had the rights. Again, last year after coming back from SDCC, I got a message from my dear friend Tanya Roberts (who also drew Clone Wars at Titan) that Panini Germany were looking for a writer on their new Rebels title and she had recommended me. Not long after I emailed Gunther [Nickel, editor] at Panini, we talked and he asked if I wanted to write for the title. Obviously the answer was a big fat yes!
It’s fun exploring the Ghost crew’s side adventures and seeing them in situations that are more personal. How do you go about discovering and developing new stories? Where do you find the inspiration for them?
Ideas for stories come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes I see something on the news or something else in an episode and think of an idea from there. You never know when an idea is going to come up, but it all starts with the characters and the challenges they face that make them see the Galaxy in different ways.
I love the length of the comics, particularly how they’re short and sweet. Do you find it difficult to write a story that will only be a few pages long?
I find it to be a good challenge because panel time counts when you have 12 pages to work with. It helps you to tell the story quicker rather than pace it out if you have more pages to play with. Sometimes I think about what more could have been done with an extra page or two, but it’s a good length and I’m happy with it.
You work with a handful of other people, including artists Ingo Römling and Bob Molesworth as well as editor Gunther Nickel. Describe what that process is like. Do you interact with the Lucasfilm Story Group?
Every story we do is read and approved by the Lucasfilm Story Group. They know the Star Wars universe better than I do, so their input is always valuable and appreciated. I was lucky enough to visit the LFL offices at the Presidio in San Francisco this year where I met Pablo Hidalgo and Leland Chee. They’re both great and fun guys. Firstly, I’ll send a page worth of story ideas to Gunther. These will get sent through to the story group and some will get approved and others won’t for a variety of reasons. Once we have the go ahead, I’ll write page by page outlines for each story which the story group will comment on, and I’ll make changes based on their notes. Once the outline is approved the script gets written and again, we get feedback for the story group, change whatever is needed to be changed and make sure they are happy. Once it’s all set, the script goes to either Bob or Ingo and they work the magic and bring the stories to life. It’s always exciting to see new pages come in.
One of my new favorite characters is Mindiz, a friend of Zeb’s who appeared in the comic strip “Sabotaged Supplies” in issue #7. How does it feel creating new characters and adding to the growing universe?
When you create a new character, you don’t think of it in terms of creating someone new for Star Wars. It’s just something you have to do for the story. It feels good when someone says they really enjoyed the character and want to see more of them. Then, that’s the way you think about it and enjoy the process that little bit more.
You broke away from the rebel crew a bit and focused on Agent Kallus in “Kallus’ Hunt” in issue #4. What are some other stories and characters you’d like to explore and write about?
I think it’s good to show what’s going on with the Imperials as they’re just as much a part of the show as our Rebel characters. I always have to be careful and try to not do anything that’s in upcoming episodes, so it’s not always easy to find gaps to expand on some things as the show could re-explore them at any time.
You brought back some familiar faces from The Clone Wars, like the Zygerrians. What other species, characters, or elements from that television series would you like to bring into your stories?
There’s just so much in Clone Wars, the list is endless. I’d like to see some more Twi’leks, other Zilkins, maybe see what happened to Iego after Obi-Wan and Anakin left in season 1. Some more of the Nightsisters and if any of them are left as the Empire rose up. And not to mention those races that allied themselves with the Separatists. The possibilities are endless and you never know when some of them will show up.
What’s your favorite part about working on this comic, and of the comics you have written, which one was your favorite to write and why?
Getting to write the story and having the characters act it out on paper is a ton of fun, but seeing the art as it comes in, those are exciting moments.
My favorite story hasn’t even come out yet. It’s called “Senate Perspective” and I think it comes out in issue 9. It’s a very political story, but in it, we were allowed to take an unused character design by Ralph McQuarrie and draw them into the story as one of the actual characters, very much like they do on Rebels. That was an incredibly exciting thing to happen.
We’re all craving a side story about what happened to Ahsoka Tano between The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. If you were given the task to write a one-shot adventure of her during this block of time, what would it be?
It would be tough to do a one-shot with Ahsoka and really do her justice, you’d need an entire mini-series to give an impression of what she was up to after leaving the Jedi. 15 years is a long time and tons of stuff has happened, but I’d probably do something as she is assuming her identity as Fulcrum and starting to pull her own group of Rebels together there. I’m hoping that someone someday does a comic with Ahsoka, even if I’m not the one writing it.
On Twitter, you stated that you’ve started work on comics related to the second season. Is there anything you can tease about what’s upcoming for the comic? If your hands are tied and you’re unable to reveal anything, as a fan of the series, what do you hope to see during the next season?
Maybe I can give you one tiny tease for our first season 2 related comic story: water.
I’m lucky enough to have seen the first 11 scripts from season 2, so I know where things are going. Since I like to tie the comic adventures in with the series episodes when possible, I make sure we don’t contradict anything you’ll see on the screen. The stories are reading great on the page and I have no doubt it’ll be another great year for Rebels, even better than season 1 which was a ton of fun.
Finally, we’re both fans of Tron, so in a light cycle challenge between Darth Vader and Ahsoka on the Game Grid, who do you think would triumph?
Light cycle battle, tricky…Maybe Vader would have the edge because you have to be ruthless and take no prisoners in that game. So yeah, Vader would just win on this occasion.
Many thanks to Martin for taking the time to answer our questions! You can find him on Twitter.
If you’re interested in reading the Star Wars Rebels Magazine, I recently discovered Unique Magazines, a company based in England and Wales, has single issues and multiple-issue subscriptions and they deliver magazines to more than 100 countries around the world.
Star Wars Rebels returns Wednesday, October 14, at 9:30pm ET/PT on Disney XD.