NYCC 2018: Interview With ‘Star Wars: Kanan’ Artist Pepe Larraz

Back in 2015, Marvel published a comic book series centered around Kanan Jarrus, one of the main characters in the Star Wars Rebels animated series.

Star Wars: Kanan featured two arcs, The Last Padawan and First Blood, written by Greg Weisman, pencilled by Pepe Larraz, and colored by David Curiel.

We may be biased, but Star Wars: Kanan is one of the best comic book series to come out of this new era of Star Wars storytelling. It’s also one of the most beautifully illustrated comics, so we reached out to Pepe Larraz at this year’s New York Comic Con to briefly talk about his experience working on the comic.

We kicked off the interview by asking him what he thought about Kanan’s fate in the final season of the series.

“I felt a real sympathy for the guy. I mean, for the kid and the guy he became,” he said. Since he wasn’t following the show closely due to his busy schedule as a professional artist, he mentioned he heard about the death through social media instead of watching it. Regardless, it had an effect him. “I was pretty sad, but at the same time, I understood it was fate.”

He also mentioned how it was cyclical because Depa Billaba had sacrificed herself for Kanan when he was younger, so it was interesting to Larraz how Kanan did the same years later.

On a happier note, we also couldn’t help but ask him about Kanan’s hair. Larraz is known for his smooth and fluid style and it comes through exceptionally well in the hair department. He said it’s more beautiful to do hair in such a flowing way. Larraz added, “It’s complicated, but it’s very rewarding.”

One of our favorite characters to come out of the comic book series is Janus Kasmir. He’s such a memorable character both in terms of personality and design.

“I tried to make a design that was easy [for] my hand to draw, so that’s why he’s very fluid, curvy. The shape of the face was very important to me. And there was something I tried to avoid [and] that was making the aliens human-shaped.”

Even more interesting is the fictional character Larraz thought about while designing Kasmir.

“I wanted more a pirate,” said Larraz, stating how Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was the visual inspiration for Kasmir. Larraz imagined him less as a smuggler and more as a pirate who would go to Singapore.

The Kasmiri, Kasmir’s ship, also had some of those influences incorporated into the design. He even jokingly said that drawing the Kasmiri felt like he was “losing years of his life” because of the complex shape and details. The Escape, Kanan’s ship, had a simpler design with straight and geometrical lines.

He also spoke very highly of his collaboration with writer Greg Weisman.

“It was fantastic, he’s so good,” he said. “You get this fear when you work with someone that comes from television that maybe he doesn’t understand the language of comic books, like one action is one panel and that’s it, but no… he understood it perfectly.”

Something else he and the rest of the audience appreciated is Weisman’s clear understanding on how to write children.

“He writes kids very well. Usually—I don’t know if it happens to you, but it happens to me—when I read a novel or watch a movie that [has] a kid but it’s written by an adult, automatically I think that the kid is stupid because he’s too composed or pedant… but with Greg, it was fantastic.”

We couldn’t help but agree with him because Caleb Dume acted as a child his age would. Sometimes, writers tend to go on the other extreme and write children characters with exaggerative traits that make them annoying to the audience because they’re being written from an adult’s point of view instead of a child’s point of view. It’s a delicate balance that most writers don’t get, but Weisman wrote young Caleb perfectly.

We finished the conversation off by asking him what character or time period in Star Wars he’d like to draw, if given the chance. His answer?

“I actually told Marvel that I would love to do a comic about a tour of the Cantina band, like a jazz band with a lot of travel.” Sadly, it’s not the direction Marvel wants to go in, but Larraz is totally up for it.

Listen to the full 9-minute interview below.

Download (right-click and save)

4 comments on “NYCC 2018: Interview With ‘Star Wars: Kanan’ Artist Pepe Larraz

  1. Rendezvous

    I’m hoping that the next Star Wars animated series about Ezra, Sabine and Ahsoka would be set between a ANH and ESB. So that Larraz and David Curiel can do the art and illustrations of a companion comic that details what Ezra and Thrawn were up to in during the OT.

    • Agreed. The artwork as well as the storyline held me intrigued all the way and I rank it up there with the recent “Vader” comic series. Although I can imagine unless you’ve watched “Rebels” if it will make as much sense. Most of the story is in Kanan’s flashbacks so you don’t have to know about the Ghost crew.

      *Very* cool to know Kasmir was inspired by Jack Sparrow who had his hair decor with the braids and ornaments. Kasmir wearing similar ornaments around his head bring that to mind. I hope we get to see that character again in another story. But what I’d really like to see is Larraz and Curiel illustrate the Chiss, their worlds, and ships because that’s a part of this canon we haven’t seen yet visually on-screen or in a comic. But who gets to give the green-light on that project: Timothy Zahn, Marvel, or Lucasfilm?

  2. Love that guy! Met him at NYCC with my Kanan copy and he signed Kanan’s bare chest for me.

    • Johnamarie Macias

      That is too awesome! I’m so happy he came to NYCC. I remember trying to look for his name in past years, but he was never part of the Artist Alley list. The one year I don’t check is the year he pops up, haha!

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