Face To Face With The Masters
Any citizen of the galaxy may be summoned to answer to the Jedi Council. Here you may read the transcripts of such sessions.
Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+
In a Comic Far, Far Away...
An Interview with TFN Humor's newest writers, Mike Russell and David Stroup
Micheal Russell and David Stroup... mystery surrounds which is which.
The writers of the new online comic "Jaxxon's 11" give their take on Star Wars history - by Chris Hanel
To say that the supposed
timeline of Starwars is a coherent one would be akin to saying
that the tax system is a quick read. Throughout the twists and
turns of the galaxy far, far away, strange things have arisen
from the cracks. Some amusing, some not so amusing, and some are
just downright baffling. The character of Jaxxon, the focus of
TFN Humor's new comic, "Jaxxon's 11, definitely falls under
the latter. TFN's Chris Hanel got a chance to quiz the duo behind
the comic strip for the benefit of what must be a rather confused
CHRIS HANEL: Jaxxon?
Out of all the characters in the SW universe, why Jaxxon? And
who exactly is he anyways? Maybe a brief explanation of where
all the cast comes from?
RUSSELL: Jaxxon was a seven-foot-tall green rabbit
that fought alongside Han Solo and Chewie in a few of the early
issues of Marvel's "Star Wars" comic book in the 1970s.
(The Marvel issues are all being collected right now in an awesome
seven-volume collection by Dark Horse, BTW. The first five volumes
are out now, and I own them all.) Jaxxon was a mercenary like
Han, had a ship called the "Rabbit's Foot," wore a bright-red
spacesuit, ate meat, flirted with this female human called Amaiza,
and hated being called a "rabbit" like it was some kind
of racist epithet.
I had the idea of writing
a comic-book story about Jaxxon simply because (a) the character
stuck in my head -- as a large, green, mildly terrifying rabbit
will tend to do when you're 8 years old and obsessed with all
things "Star Wars" -- and (b) Jaxxon is without a doubt
the goofiest character EVER in the history of "Star Wars,"
and one must never turn down an opportunity to blight the eyeballs
of younger SW fans with images of a large, talking bunny the color
of split-pea soup.
STROUP: I'm actually a bit mortified to discover that
there is, in fact, information on Jaxxon on the official Star
Wars site; I'll leave finding it as an exercise for the individual
fanatic. Apparently we're not the only people who remember him.
I've got to admit I only vaguely remember him from those days,
but when Dark Horse started reissuing those old comics, there
was just something about him that immediately struck a chord of
memory -- him and all of the other goofy alternate universe of
"Star Wars" kitsch that Marvel created. Bringing back
a whole bunch of those wacky characters seemed like the perfect
way to have a little fun with the canon.
Another (sinister) agenda of mine
is just to spoof what's happened to the "Star Wars"
universe (our version of it, anyway). I mean, now that the war's
won and the main characters are all heroes, where does it go from
there? All downhill, of course.
CHRIS: Where did
the "Ocean's 11" parody storyline come from?
By way of answering that, I'll tell you the history of the project:
David and I work as journalists, covering the same town that's
home to Dark Horse Comics headquarters -- and I have a friend
who works there as an editor on their "Star Wars" comics.
One day I was joking with this guy that I wanted to write a story
for "Star Wars Tales" involving Jaxxon; David and I
started riffing on the idea afterward -- and somewhere along the
way, it sort of ceased to be a joke.
I knew I wanted to do a
story where Jaxxon got together a bunch of old Marvel characters
for "one last job" -- but David broke it wide open when
he said, "They should steal something from Jabba's Palace
Hotel and Casino," I remembered the Kaiburr Crystal from
"Splinter of the Mind's Eye," and suggested that they
try to steal that -- and it sort of snowballed with terrifying
speed from there.
The real key isn't a "Ocean's 11" parody specifically
-- but it's a "caper" movie, like all of those stories.
It's the formula I want to parody: a bunch of friends, a juicy
target, an overly elaborate plot that's destined to go awry, a
certain sense of thief-cool to the whole thing.
While we were brainstorming, David sort of effortlessly conceived
this hilariously elaborate heist scenario on the spot. It was
kind of terrifying, actually -- like he'd been carrying it around
in his head for a while.
CHRIS: Have you
two done comic strips in the past?
MIKE: I drew
a comic strip called "Hudson Van Curen" for two years
in college, I've done some comic-book short stories, and several
years ago I illustrated an unbelievably mean-spirited spoof of
Christmas fables written by Greg Dorr called "Santa's
Lil' Gimp," which you can read online in its entirety.
I've been doing my own strip, "Yossarian," on and off
since high school; I'm doing it now for the newspaper Mike and
I work for. "Yossarian's" on the Web now (on a badly
out-of-date Web page), and I'll be posting links to my site when
I get it a bit more up to date.
you're both "Star Wars" fans. Do you count any other
influences when it comes to the strip?
Well, the story you'll be reading in the coming weeks owes a hell
of a lot to bad heist movies, "Bloom County," the MAD
and CRACKED "Star Wars" spoofs, and, um, I don't know...
"Tag and Bink Are Dead"? "Troops"?
With any luck, your readers will find amusement in the notion
of Han, Jaxxon and Chewie sitting in the Mos Eisley Cantina after
it's been converted into a T.G.I. Friday's-style family restaurant.
Definitely MAD... the classic MAD, back when it had teeth.
The original Jaxxon, gracing the pages of Marvel Comics.
CHRIS: What's your
process for working on the strip?
I'm laying out the panels and dialogue in QuarkXPress; David offers
his two cents on the dialogue and fills those panels with delightful
We'll see how this works out in practice. I can't stand the look
of computer-drawn panel borders and (ick) dialog balloons, and
I'll be hand-rendering sound effects and the like; on the other
hand, my own lettering leaves something to be desired, and Mike
will have the final say on dialog and layout as he lays in the
lettering with a custom font in Quark.
from the strip to you guys, what do you guys do during the day
when not debating about Midichlorian counts?
I'm the editor of two community newspapers, the Clackamas Review
and Oregon City News, in the lovely Pacific Northwest; I also
interview writers and directors for a Los Angeles film magazine
called In Focus.
I'm "associate editor" at those papers -- read "glorified
reporter/photog/etc." And I do my comic strip, a little other
writing on the side, etc. In the meantime, my wife Barbara and
I are raising two lovely kids, and I try to get in a little RPG
action on the side.
David's being WAY too modest. The guy writes at least half to
two-thirds of our newspapers every week. He's a machine, and a
damned talented one.
I understand you are a newlywed, congrats! Is the wife understanding
of Star Wars, or even a fan herself?
My utterly fantastic wife has no interest in "Star Wars"
whatsoever, God bless her -- but she's very much a supporter of
creative enterprise, which is VASTLY more important.
I don't know how those two got together....
Um, I was living in her cousin's basement, actually.
Mike's new stepdaughter has more interest in all things geeky
than his wife does. Now, I met my wife many, many moons ago when
she joined my D&D group, so we have fairly compatible interests.
Have you enjoyed Episode I and II so far? Or are you Original
Trilogy die-hards like some other fans?
To me, "Empire Strikes Back" is pretty much the greatest
movie ever made - with the best film score of all time. Though
visually gobsmacking, the prequel trilogy hasn't QUITE grabbed
me like the O.T. did -- but then again, I no longer wear Underoos.
ruled, "Jedi" was great if you could sort of squint
and ignore the Ewoks.... It's really been all downhill since the
"Great Ewok Adventure" though, hasn't it?
I've enjoyed the political
machinations in the last two prequels; I think that's really the
story that Lucas has to tell, that and young Darth's slow slide
into, well, Darthyness. He's just felt compelled to dress it up
with so much utter crap on the side. The whole "We've got
to win this race to get out spaceship repaired" plot point
of Episode I was on par with a slow ep of "ST: Voyager";
Ep. II was better, but still uneven, with that whole droid factory
chase/fight thingy that looked like an ad for a video game dropped
into the middle of the movie.
Actually, looking at everything
Lucas has done since "Empire" -- "Jedi," "Ewok
Adventure," Ep. I and II -- makes you wonder how badly he
would have botched the first two if he'd had the budget.
What's your perspective on the status of online comics today?
And speaking of which, any personal favorites our readers should
Online comics look great; they glow from underneath, after all.
I love all the usual suspects, especially "PvP"; I'm
also a regular reader of "Sluggy Freelance," Chris Baldwin's
"Bruno," "Scary Go Round," "Dork Tower,"
and "Commander Kitty." David has more varied and rarified
tastes than I do in this arena.
The best, funniest comics going aren't in newspapers (with the
possible exception of "Get Fuzzy") -- they're on the
web. Read "Sluggy", "Schlock Mercenary", "It's
Walky", "Goats", "Sinfest", "PvP",
... and look up a little-seen thing called "Bottom
of the Food Chain" while you're at it -- it's by a college
cartoonist who shows tremendous promise and talent, Alex Thomas.
Final question isn't a question... I'll give you a chance to say
whatever you want to your new screaming horde of fans. Go ahead,
After what David said about the prequels? Put down your pitchforks!
I think y'all are in for a pretty good time: There will be surprises,
romance, Vegas-style showtunes, Bib Fortuna with a missing head
tentacle, and giant animatronic Rancor Pit Beasts. All that and
the ineffable melancholy of revisiting old "Return of the
Jedi" haunts and seeing what's changed. Also, we should warn
you in advance that this story hews about as closely to the official
Lucasfilm canon as the Marvel comics did -- which is to say, they
hew about as closely as the average episode of "Joe Millionaire."
We're planning to release
two comic-book sized pages a week -- which fans can either read
online or download as high-rez PDFs. Please keep in mind that
this is comic-BOOK paced -- which means you shouldn't expect the
setup-setup-pause-punchline format of a lot of online comics.
And we've written far enough ahead that I can confidently say
this is one online comic that will actually be FINISHED.
CHRIS: David, anything to
To the hard-core "Star Wars" fans, I'd say: We're not
laughing at you, we're laughing with you. To George Lucas, I'd
say: We're not laughing with you, we're laughing at you.