Big news, “Star Wars” fans: Marvel Comics is spinning the galaxy’s biggest, baddest fuzzball off into his own, limited series. That’s right, “Chewbacca” will join “Star Wars,” “Darth Vader” and more in the publisher’s ever expanding line of comics based on the classic film series — and set directly after “A New Hope.”
The series, written by Gerry Duggan (“Deadpool”) with art by Phil Noto (“Black Widow”), finds Han’s best buddy crash-landing on a strange planet, teaming up with new allies — and maybe bumping into some old acquaintances. To find out more, MTV News hopped on the phone with Duggan.
MTV News: So first of all, how did it actually come about? How did the idea first get thrown out there?
Gerry Duggan: I have a pretty good relationship with Jordan D. White, the “Star Wars” editor. We’ve been collaborating on “Deadpool” with a lot of other great folks for a while now, and [then] he became the “Star Wars” editor… I would pitch him all sorts of stories, big and small, and some jokes just to make him laugh, others kind of deadly serious.
And then he basically just said the word, “Chewbacca…” And I was like, “of course!” I’ve been very lucky in a short amount of time to be able to play in that sandbox.
MTV: But did the idea come from you, LucasFilm… Where did it start?
Duggan: He was an important character that they had sort of marked for this honor. It was Leia, Lando and now Chewie from the old cast that were getting their turns in the spotlight — and I couldn’t be more delighted about helping bring this story out into the world.
MTV: There’s certain challenges that a “Chewbacca” book lends itself to, particularly dialogue. How are you handling a character who basically just says, “Arraahahahahaharahah?”
Duggan: It’s one of the first things we talked about. That we were going to let Chewie be Chewie and not try and change anything that’s on the internal [dialogue], the caption boxes or anything like that.
But you know, a little bit of good news here is that Phil Noto is my collaborator on this book, and he’s gonna be able to tell the story whether or not there are any balloons or boxes at all.
Chewie is on a very important mission when we first meet him, and you’ll be able to tell that right away without hearing him speak. But script wise, what’s been very fun for me, I’ve been writing each roar and yell twice. Once for the letterer, to be printed exactly as it is on the page and then once in parentheses for the team that basically is Chewie’s whine in English.
And that’s just for internal use. That’s just so that everyone can be on the same page and know that, hey, we’re telling this story visually and anything that we do need to know… He’s got a friend on this planet, a young woman and she speaks the basic language — so we won’t be in the dark.
MTV: Well let’s talk about the story a little bit. What is Chewie’s mission, what’s going on with him — and what is the general character arc for our favorite fuzzball?
Duggan: Chewie is on an important mission when we first meet him. He would not use the term crash-landed, but Han would disagree. He’s obviously been marooned on this planet at least temporarily, with a loaner ship that he got from the rebellion. And their roadside service is not great, so he’s got a little bit of work to do there to get the ship back up and running.
This planet is at a crossroads. There are forces there that want — like the Empire — to strip it of its resources. And obviously [there] would be some people that would be very opposed to that, and Chewie throws in with, with the good guys. He’s gonna set aside his mission for the greater good of this planet, and this new friend.
MTV: This is going to sound very esoteric, but who is Chewie? I feel like through the movies and cartoons and everything else, we’ve really only seen him in relation to other characters. Specifically Han, but even C-3PO and everything else. So when you put him into a situation where he is the lead of the book, how do you explore him psychologically? What’s going on behind the fuzz?
Duggan: I think our Chewbacca is… He’s got the warrior soul. He’s maybe a former Ronin that has a new master in Han. But he’s doing this for the greater good. He’s set aside his own ambitions to join the fight. And the best thing about Chewbacca is that he is a character that gets you out of trouble in “Star Wars,” and not into trouble in “Star Wars.”
There are plenty of characters who can get you into trouble. When the chips are down, people start yelling, “Chewie get us out of here, Chewie we’ve got to get out and dodge,” just a moment before it’s too late.
MTV: I’m sure you can’t talk too much about this, but beyond the new planet and new allies, will we see any old friends or locations?
Duggan: Well, what have we here, a rebel spy trying to steal all of our secrets… You know what, this is a story that really focuses on Chewbacca, but I never say never. You never know who might turn up or what might turn up.
MTV: You touched on this a little earlier, but you’ve gone from getting a chance to co-write “Deadpool,” to — in a relatively short time — writing one of the few “Star Wars” comics being published. What’s the journey been like?
Duggan: I wake up sometimes feeling like it’s all a big prank. I never dreamed that I could make a living doing something that I loved so much. And I’ve been a “Star Wars” fan since the beginning. Some of my earliest memories are seeing “Star Wars” in a drive-in theater. And, I was hooked right then.
So to be able to participate now, especially on the eve of getting a new movie and one that I can take my son to, is just amazing. I’m very grateful to Marvel and to LucasFilm and to Disney and to Jordan for the opportunity — and I think “Chewbacca” will be special. He has always been special to me, and we have a real neat story that Phil Noto is basically painting the hell out of us. So it will be worth it for his contribution alone. But I could not be happier or more lucky.
MTV: And have you gotten any complaints from Phil where he’s like, “oh great, I get to draw ’Star Wars’ and it’s the character totally covered in hair.”
Duggan: [Laughs] I got this note with the first page of art a while back. “I feel like my entire life has been leading up to this moment,” and I wrote back, and I said, “I know,” triple exclamation point.
We’re both married with kids, it’s not like we haven’t had other sort of big [events] in our world, it’s just this feels like the biggest one. My mom didn’t know who “Deadpool” was… She knows now, but she knows who Chewbacca is.
And it’s fun to have my son ask me what Chewbacca is up to today. It’s neat. It’s been a real special experience.
“Chewbacca #1” hits stores from Marvel in October.