The Star Wars galaxy is about to expand in a big, unprecedented way with the impending opening of Disney's Galaxy's Edge theme park area, and to set the stage ahead of the opening, writer Ethan Sacks and artist Will Sliney are creating Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, a five-issue title that tells the backstory of Batuu and its inhabitants.
For Sliney, no stranger to the world of Star Wars thanks to his work on the comic book adaptation of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the unique challenge is rendering a world and a story that readers will soon be able to experience firsthand.
Newsarama spoke to Sliney ahead of the April 24 release of Galaxy's Edge #1 to get a closer look at what the process of capturing Batuu is like, and how the most classic parts of the Star Wars mythos inform this new tale.
Newsarama: Will, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be many fans’ first look at the new Disney theme park area. What did it take to accurately render this immersive world?
Will Sliney: A lot of help and reference from the teams over at Disneyland and Lucasfilm as well as my editors Tom Brevoort and Mark Paniccia who really have been pulling out all the stops for this book.
It was one of the most important aspects of this comic for me. People are dying to see what this park looks like, so for many, this story will be their first glimpse into what the world of Batuu looks like. So I wanted to make sure that reading the comic is a very accurate and authentic representation of that.
Hopefully looking at the pages here will add to the excitement. Galaxy's Edge is just going to be incredible to visit. I'm lucky to have a peek behind the curtain before it opens but equally I can not wait to actually go there.
Nrama: What can you tell us about Dok-Ondar and the Black Spire Outpost?
Sliney: He's the most interesting character I've seen in Star Wars. An Ithorian that has had a front row seat to so much lore that we have seen before, and some that we are about to see for the first time.
He is pretty great to draw too.
Nrama: Galaxy’s Edge spans multiple Star Wars eras in its five issues. Is there a particular character or time that you’re most excited to tackle?
Sliney: It was nice to start off with Han Solo and Chewie as I was very familiar with them coming right off of Solo: A Star Wars Story. What I'm enjoying the most though is flashing between all theses eras. This book can and does go anywhere. A turn of the page, like an object in Dok's den, can transport you to any time in Star Wars, so I am really having fun with the mix of it all.
Nrama: Galaxy’s Edge is unique in that readers could actually physically experience parts of it while visiting the park. What’s it like having that resource while working on a story like this?
Sliney: It's the weirdest thing, drawing all these locations, buildings and objects, knowing that one day I will go and visit them and see them for real. I have a feeling it will be a very surreal experience whenever I get there. Of course, having a team of Star Wars concept artists behind some of the characters and locations is an amazing resource to have as an artist for a new book. It's a challenge for me to keep that really high standard when I have to concept up some new characters and places. There is no higher bar in concept art than Star Wars. So it's a brilliant challenge to try to match up.
Nrama: Is there a different approach to telling a story that’s more focused on a specific location than on a set of characters moving from place to place?
Sliney: Even though we are spending a bit of time in Batuu, the book follows a group of characters first and foremost.
Nrama: You’re working with Ethan Sacks here. What’s your favorite thing he’s had you draw so far?
Sliney: You could ask that question about each issue to be honest. I'm plotting one right now from an issue later on in the series that I am massively excited about as it's a great moment with a character I am very fond of. There are too much to mention and honestly I can't say any for risk of spoilers.
It's great working with Ethan as he is as big a Star Wars fan as I am and the enthusiasm he has for the lore just jumps off of every page. Each issue is both challenging and fun thanks to him.
Nrama: There are some specific visual elements that really bring Star Wars together. Are there any special techniques you’re using here to capture that feel?
Sliney: Funnily enough, the biggest change for me work wise going from five years of Spider-Man to Star Wars was that my son was born just as I started my first Star Wars issue, so that made me tighten up my process.
Seriously though, Star Wars is a unique challenge because of the existing character designs, likeness to actors, and the wealth of incredible designs that exist. It's really important to me to get that aspect of it right, while trying to bring as much life to the page as possible.
With the huge amount of design involved in Batuu, there tends to be so much stuff on each page, making it more labour intensive than any project I've ever worked on. But I really want to capture the depth of detail within the world itself.
Nrama: Bottom line, what can Star Wars fans expect from Galaxy’s Edge?
Sliney: An adventure that I hope will be as intriguing and interesting as the great Dok-Ondar himself. There is a lot for Star Wars fans to learn within these five issues.
An era spanning adventure that adds to the lore of Star Wars. This story isn't just about Batuu, it introduces some new characters, while adding a lot to some old favorites.