It’s yub nub time. And if you know what that means, you’re going to love the new graphic novel Dark Horse is releasing on October 16, 2013. It’s on that day that the Milwaukie-based publisher is releasing an all-new graphic novel by Zack Giallongo based on Star Wars’ lovable, quirky Ewoks.
Star Wars: Ewoks – Shadows Of Endor is an 80 page full color graphic novel by Giallongo which revisits the Ewoks and chronicles their first meeting with the Empire months before Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Pulling together the story and characters from Episode VI, the Ewoks cartoon and both of the Ewoks movies, Giallongo brings together the stories of this race and brings back some mostly-forgotten characters such as Wicket’s family and the evil Duloks
In this installment of our monthly Star Wars column A Galaxy Far Away, we chat with Zack Giallongo about his path from Star Wars fanboy to Star Wars creator, all thanks to his immense adoration for these diminutive furry aliens.
(And by the way, ‘yub nub’ means ‘celebration’ in Ewokese.)
Newsarama: We’re flying back into the second moon of Endor here with Star Wars; Ewoks – Shadows of Endor, Zack. Tell us what we can expect.
Zack Giallongo: The story centers around the Ewoks of Bright Tree Village and their first encounters with the Empire invading their home. In addition to this (or maybe even as a result of) a massive, gross creature called the Griagh has resurfaced and threatens the denizens of Endor.
Nrama:Which Ewoks are we seeing here? Wicket? Maybe some Kneesaa and Latara?
Giallongo: The main crew consists of the younger Ewoks: Wicket, Kneesaa, Latara, Paploo and Teebo. Logray is also a very prominent figure as well as Chief Chirpa. There are lots of cameos by other Ewoks as well, like Romba and Lumat and Wicket's brothers Widdle and Weechee.
Nrama: This ties in pretty directly to the beloved but lesser-known Ewoks movies and TV series; can you tell us how that works, and what people need to know to enjoy this?
Giallongo: Sure! In some ways, this story was an attempt to cohesify (I just made that up) the three sometimes disparate versions of the Ewoks from the cartoon, the TV movies, and of course, Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. In particular, Princess Kneesaa and Latara are part of the main cast of the cartoon and comics but appear nowhere else, which is a shame since they are both very strong and brave female characters. There was also a strange Paploo/Teebo conundrum. In the cartoon, Paploo is a large, older, gruff, elder warrior. But in Episode VI, he is the young Ewok who confiscates the Imperial speeder bike (an event that is foreshadowed in this book, too!). Likewise, Teebo is a young innocent Ewok in the cartoon, but a more grizzled warrior in Episode VI. For this book, I used Paploo and Teebo's persona from Return of the Jedi.
As far as the timeline goes, this story can be seen as taking place after the cartoon, but before the TV movies (Caravan of Courage and Battle for Endor), which in turn take place before Return of the Jedi. That's why we get to see Charal the Nightsister from Battle for Endor play one of the heavies in this tale as well.
Nrama: I also read that the Duloks from the Ewoksanimated series is showing up in some form or fashion.
Giallongo: Yes! The Duloks were the Ewoks' rivals in the cartoon series and some of the early books. I think they're great characters. The Ewoks represent a lot of the decent qualities that we ourselves strive for: love, loyalty, bravery, responsibility to the planet. The Duloks are the opposite. They are filthy, deceitful, cowardly and selfish.
In the cartoon, the Duloks were often pretty dumb and silly villains who weren't capable of much real harm. But in one of the early Ewok children's books, they are described as kidnapping young woklings to skin for clothing. I wanted the Duloks in this story to be capable of terrible things like that.
Nrama: As you said earlier, this takes place before Return of the Jedi chronicling the Ewoks’ first meeting with the Empire. How much before Episode VI?
Giallongo: Probably about 8 months. Familiar things are being built during the course of this story, and Lt. Renz is there ("You Rebel scum!").
Nrama: The Ewoks have a unique place in the Star Wars mythos and also in the hearts of Star Wars fans. How do the Ewoks rank to you?
Giallongo: Oh, I love them. I was born in 1979, so that puts me square in the sights of Ewok love. Some fans can't stand them and see them as cute, dumb, ineffectual teddy bears. But that simply just isn't the case! They are primitive warriors who try to slay and eat intruders, even after their supposed Golden One tells them not to! But it's like everything else; someone makes a joke or observation somewhere and it can become the truth that others hitch their wagons to. But thankfully, the response to this project has been so overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic from all corners of the galaxy that I think they've shed any negative preconceptions people may have had about them.
Interestingly, (well, to me anyways) the Ewoks are really the only native alien civilization we ever see in the original trilogy. I think that really helped set them firmly in my mind. I could see where they lived and how they behaved. And as a young kid, I could go out in the woods and make a spear with a stick and REALLY be an Ewok! It was easy to really feel like I was on the forest moon when I was surrounded by actual, natural forest. Spaceships and blasters and large technological corridors weren't available for me to play in.
Nrama: I may be getting my facts wrong, but this is the first appearance of these Ewoks in several decades – since those old Marvel Comics from the 1980s. Is that right?
Giallongo: As far as I know, yes. Other than the requisite reprints, I don't think any new Ewok comics or stories have been made since then. I think for a lot of kids, this will really be their first foray onto Endor, unless they've seen Episode VI. It's too bad that the TV movies aren't readily available, since they are quite good! If you have a chance to revisit them, I recommend you do so. Who doesn't love Wilford Brimley?
Nrama: This isn’t your first dalliance with Star Wars; you’ve drawn for several Star Wars card sets, and drew some work for the Star Wars Outsider fanzine. How deep does your Star Wars fanboy blood run?
Nrama: I love the movies and I absolutely worship the Clone Wars. I actually don't have too much experience with the Expanded Universe. I'm also a devoted listener of Rebel Force Radio and my toy and LEGO collections are a bit, well... hard to contain?
Nrama: An interesting thing I discovered is that you openly petitioned Dark Horse back in 2012 to let you do an Ewoks comic. Is that how this official book came about?
Giallongo: 'Petition' might be a bit strong of a term. On a whim, I did a character lineup of a bunch of Ewoks in my drawing style. I posted in online and somewhat facetiously said "Hey! I would totally do an Ewok comic!" The image got reblogged a bunch and through the magic of the internet was seen by Dave Marshall at Dark Horse. He asked to see some of my previous comic and graphic novel work and said, "so IF you were to do an Ewok comic, what would it be about?" and we pretty much just went from there!