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Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+

Colin Wilson is a comic-book artist with over 25 years of experience in the genre. To fans here, he's probably best known for his work on Star Wars: Legacy and Republic, and now he's taking the lead on launching Star Wars: Invasion, a new series with scripter Tom Taylor.

In conjunction with Mike Cooper's interview with Mr. Taylor on our message-boards, we caught up with him recently to ask a few questions.

TheForce.Net: Star Wars: Invasion seems to have been very enthusiastically received by a lot of fans. How did you get involved with this new title, and did you expect the reaction that itís getting?

Colin Wilson: The reception so far has been terrific, and almost universally positive. When Tom and I first starting talking together about doing Invasion together, we knew that the fans would be looking at every little detail, trying to anticipate where we are going with the new series, what existing characters will make an appearance etc. But I certainly had no idea of the level of interest that weíve so far seen.

TFN: The new series takes place in a part of the Star Wars timeline where thereís a detailed story in the ďNew Jedi OrderĒ novels, but relatively limited visual material. With that in mind, can you tell us how you approached the established characters and technology for this series, such as an older Luke Skywalker, the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia, and the new-generation X-wings?

CW: You're telling me that Han Solo and Princess Leia had children?!! Seriously though... visual continuity is really important to me as a Star Wars artist, and I know that the fans demand it. While its great to be able to invent the occasional new alien, or some never-before-seen spacecraft, I can manage stuff like that because Iíve been such a huge fan of the whole SW ďlookĒ myself, ever since I saw the original film. I immediately went out and tracked down as many of those original ďArt of Star WarsĒ books that I could afford at the time. Still got Ďem too. Existing characters are OK, thereís so much material available, but for Invasion Iíve got to portray much older versions of those same characters, and their children. Thereís not a lot of existing visual material for this stuff.... book covers, some (beautifully painted) Japanese illustrations.... Iíve researched what I can and tried to synthesize my own take on these characters as they start to appear in Invasion. Letís hope I can keep the fans happy.....

TFN: Was there a difference between that part of the series, and the demands of developing the new heroes created for the comic, the Galfridian family, and their homeworld, Artorias?

CW: Visually, our new characters present a whole different set of†criteria. Tom and I talked this through in great detail, and Tomís stage experience helped out a lot here and probably kept me from falling back on too many comic character cliches. Because its important not to.... these characters are going to be around for a while, and Iíve got to really know them well. Weíve found a local stage actor that weíve been able to photograph too, and although he probably doesnít directly resemble Finn Galfridian, Iíve been able to use the pictures to stretch my own drawing skills to visually create a new Star Wars character that Iím very happy with.

TFN: The other major factor in this setting are the antagonists: the alien Yuuzhan Vong. Did you know much about them before you began work on this project, and how are you finding them as you work on the series?

CW: Visually the†Yuuzhan Vong present an artist with a whole different set of problems.†It has already been established that the Vong, while resembling human form, are a terrifying, fearless species originating from outside of the galaxy... the technology they use is genetically engineered and purely organic. All good stuff for a comic artist, and my job is to visualize this, make it all look real, and yet still retain a sense of menace and†unpredictability about everything Vong. No problem!

TFN: A comic is a strongly visual means of storytelling: the pictures are about tone and narrative as well as just images. Have you found any specific insights or surprises in this new series - in particular, any differences of approach to your other Star Wars work?

And, what is it like working with series writer Tom Taylor: is it a straight divide between script and visuals, or is it more complicated than that?

CW: Working on Invasion, the new factor that makes this project really exciting for me is that Iíve been involved with the project from the very beginning. Initially it was Tom and I just knocking around ideas, but it was ideas that we cared about, things that we wanted to see in a Star Wars series. So from itís inception, Iíve felt that Iíve had an input, and not just on the visuals. The characters and story have evolved over countless cups of coffee, and I think by collaborating this closely weíve been able to establish a rapport that allows us to contribute suggestions on each others specialties.... Iíve been able to work on the plotting and dialogue, and Tom keeps me honest with my visuals.

Iíve never had the opportunity to collaborate this closely with a co-author before, and Iím sure the†benefits†will be obvious to the readers of Invasion.

TFN: You mentioned recently on your blog that you donít ďfeelĒ much from most current superheroes, but your own work includes French-language Western series (including some writing), and some very iconic UK strips. Is there anything specific that draws you to a subject, and where does Star Wars fit in?

CW: Itís always interesting to work with different genres, and Iíve been lucky enough to work on stories in several. But be it a Western, Crime, a War story, or Science Fiction, Iíve always thought my goal as the artist was to make the stories as real and as†visually†convincing as possible. And this was one of the central reasons why the original†Star Wars film had such an impact on me, and Iím sure the same applies for most of the fans. George Lucas hired some very talented artists and special effects people on that one, everyone went to tremendous lengths to make every little detail as convincing as possible, and Iím sure that same attention to detail works on the actors as well.

I try to approach drawing comic stories in the same way. Get the locations correct, all the visual detail convincing, and then I can bring out the required emotions and expressions in the characters. For some reason I doubt if I could manage this successfully in superhero comics.... because Iím not a believer. Iíve just never learned the language.....

TFN: Lastly, a specific question to resolve something that Iíve been wondering about: is the blue-skinned girl in the preview material a Chiss?

CW: Maybe. Or perhaps sheís something else... Find out in May!

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