As someone who’s been watching cartoonist Jeffrey Brown’s career with great interest since he released such indie comics as Clumsy and Unlikely in the early aughts, it’s been fun to watch him take on Star Wars in such fun books as Darth Vader And Son and Vader’s Little Princess.
But he’s apparently now gotten himself a subscription to Disney+ because he’s taking on a certain rambunctious child, and his minder, in Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child (hardcover). In the following email interview, Brown talks about how tough it was to work with Din Djarin and Grogu on this new book of comics.
For people who haven’t read any of your Star Wars books, what are they all about, and what makes them different from, say, the Star Wars comics that Marvel and Dark Horse do?
My Star Wars books started with Darth Vader And Son, which reimagined scenes from Star Wars with Luke Skywalker as a four-year-old and Vader having to do the usual parenting chores like making pancakes or getting Luke to pick up his toys. It’s all the everyday moments of family life filtered through the characters and scenes of the Star Wars universe, with lots of humor. So, they’re less narrative than the comics that are part of the expanded universe.
One of the things I’ve always appreciated about your books — Star Wars or otherwise — is that they can be as entertaining for adults as they are for kids. Y’know, kind of like Star Wars. Is that hard to pull off, or is it just something you naturally do?
It kind of came about accidentally. I thought I was writing for adults, though I did mean to keep it all ages friendly. But then kids ended up liking the books as much (or more) than their parents. It might be that I’m just a big kid at heart.
So then, what is Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child all about?
This book is more a series of single page comics, each one capturing a moment, whether it’s roasting hot dogs or taking a nap. There’s no story beyond what you see in the TV series, but I tried to expand on the emotional side of Mando and Grogu, really capture the warm and fuzzy feelings while also making it funny.
When does Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child take place in relation to the show? Or is that not relevant?
The book touches on scenes from all three seasons — and The Book Of Boba Fett — so it’s really more of a companion than a story that fits into a particular chronological spot.
And do people need to have watched the show to understand Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child, or does it stand on their own?
I think anyone can appreciate it as long as they know the basics, like that the Mandalorian is a tough guy with a big heart and Grogu is a precocious kid with Jedi powers, and maybe a general sense of the Star Wars universe. But I also try to include little details so that if you’re a bigger fan, you’ll get a little more from the book.
So, is there a reason why the book is called Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child and not Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Grogu? Or, for that matter, Star Wars: Grogu And That Guy Who Always Tells Him What To Do?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure why we landed on that title, except that it felt right. I guess it was the power of The Force that guided us.
Grogu is adorable. How hard was it to get his look and mannerisms right?
The hardest part for me drawing Grogu was to stop drawing Yoda. So it just took some practice until I got the right sense of his chubby baby cheeks, and of course fewer wrinkles than Yoda.
And how did that compare to drawing Din Djarin or Darth Vader or the kid versions of Luke and Leia?
Drawing in a more cartoony style requires simplifying things quite a bit. So for Din Djarin, I can’t draw every detail of his armor and equipment, or it wouldn’t look right. So I had to come up with a streamlined version that is still recognizably the Mandalorian, but won’t take me years to draw.
Now, along with Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child, you also recently released Thor And Loki: Midgard Family Mayhem. What is that book about?
Thor And Loki takes Marvel’s Asgardian heroes and shows them as kid brothers, getting into the same kind of trouble my brothers and I got into as kids. Like the Star Wars books, it’s not a narrative but a collection of single page comics and jokes. And it includes lots of references to all kinds of Thor and Avengers comics.
Whose idea was it for you to do what you do to the Marvel world?
When I was a kid, it was my dream to work with Marvel, and I got to do a couple short stories for the Strange Tales anthology, but still wanted to do more. I think what happened finally was Steve Mockus, my editor at Chronicle Books [publisher of the Vader books and Thor And Loki], was talking to people at Marvel about potential projects, and my name came up. When he asked me if I was interested, I jumped at the chance.
Along with Thor and Loki, Midgard Family Mayhem also has appearances from Captain America, Black Widow, and other members of The Avengers. Of all those characters, who was the easiest to draw and who was the hardest, and why do you think that was?
I don’t know that any of the Avengers was particularly difficult. Maybe Iron Man or Black Widow, just because of costume details. I feel like Captain America was the easiest, since I’ve drawn him for fun and for friends quite a few times over the years.
So, did you work on Thor And Loki around the same time as Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child? I ask because I wonder how, if at all, they influenced each other, or if working on Thor was a nice break from all the Star Wars?
I finished Thor And Loki before starting The Mandalorian And Child, and it was indeed a nice break from all the Star Wars books — just to have some fun drawing new characters and costumes. I don’t know that they influenced each other, but maybe it helped to have a break from Star Wars and start the Mandalorian book from a bit of a fresh perspective.
Going back to Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child, Disney has done a ton of animated shows and shorts over the years. Have you ever talked to them about adapting one of your books into a show or some shorts?
It’s always fun to see my comics get animated. When the first few books came out we actually created some animated trailers, I’m not sure if those are still available to watch online somewhere.
And how often do you ask if you can be a Stormtrooper or freaky looking alien in one of the movies?
I’m ready for my cameo whenever they call me to the set! I’d probably make a better alien than a Stormtrooper, though. My posture isn’t great. Too much time hunched over at the drawing board.
So, is there anything else people need to know about Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child?
I’m pretty sure there’s no spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the show yet, don’t worry!
Finally, if someone enjoys Star Wars: The Mandalorian And Child, which of your other Star Wars books would you recommend they check out next, and once they’ve read that, which of your original books would you suggest they read?