Jason Aaron Interview, Part 2: On Star Wars, Southern Bastards And Writer’s Dens


Jason Aaron is a busy guy, but he recently took some time to talk to Bam Smack Pow about everything he’s got on his plate. In Part 1 of our interview, he talked about Thor and the big reveal of the Goddess of Thunder. In this installment, Aaron discusses his Image series Southern Bastards, what environment is most conducive to his writing process and what it’s like contributing to the Star Wars mythos.

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Bam Smack Pow: Another theme that comes up a lot in your books is the tension and drama of between fathers and sons … whether it’s Euless and his dad in Southern Bastards, Ira and Ruben in Men of Wrath, Thor and Odin or Luke and Vader. Many stories of men trying to come out of the father’s shadow. What’s the appeal of the these story for you?

Jason Aaron: It’s a good question. I guess I have, especially recently, spent a lot of time writing about really terrible fathers. All those you mentioned, from Odin to Euless’ dad to Vader. Seems like every book I’m doing right now has at least one terrible dad in it. But no, it’s not a matter of me using my writing to work out some sort of deep-seeded personal issue. I don’t write comics because it’s a cheap substitute for going to see a therapist (laughs). I get along with my dad just fine, and I hope I’m a better father to my kids than any of the ones I write about. I think it is just one of those simple themes that’s a great framework for building a story. No matter what sort of story you’re talking about. No matter what sort of genre or setting. A simple theme like family can resonate through any kind of story you’re telling. I also write a lot about issues of faith and have since I first started in comics, even though I’m not, in real life, a person of faith …

(hammering sounds)

At this point we are interrupted by workers building Jason’s new writer’s lair (4-6 weeks from completion).

BSP: I was going to ask you about your writing process because you recently posted pictures of your new writer’s den, and there’s a new Tumblr where other writers are posting their writer’s dens. Is there a zen to this when you write? Do you have to be in a specific area with candles burning, or do you just have your cool stuff around you and you just start going?

Aaron: I definitely prefer to work from home. I like to be in a place where I can close the door. Where it’s quiet. I have a hard time working in a coffee shop or any place like that. I work with no music or TV or anything on. So yeah, it’s nice to be surrounded by a bunch of books and toys, and I can just lock myself in and go wherever I need to go inside my own head.

BSP: Let’s go back to Southern Bastards. This last page on the last issue we see Bert getting ready to come home. You are big on the long game. The tension couldn’t be higher in this book. Clearly, there is a ton of emotion in this book for you knowing it’s set in an area you are very familiar with and a place you’ve spent a lot of time in. What’s the response been like?

Aaron: It’s been great! It’s been great to do a book that’s so close to home, that’s set kind of where I grew up. It’s been great to do something with Jason Latour, who’s a guy I’ve been friends with for a few years now. He’s probably the only guy I know in comics that I could do a book like this with and have it feel real, have it feel like it’s very much something we created together. That for me is the biggest part of doing creator-owned comics: the relationship. It’s very much like getting married to your artist. It’s a very different setup than a work-for-hire gig. If it’s creator-owned, you can work with whoever you want, so why not work with somebody you’re already friends with? Somebody who you know shares your sensibilities. In creator owned comics, you and the artist are basically starting a small business together. You’re building something from nothing. Creating something brand new. You’re pretty much getting married and having a baby together. I love the stuff I do for Marvel, and I’ve been very lucky with the artists I’ve gotten to work with. Especially right now. Right now at Marvel I’m working with an amazing line up of artists. But it’s always a little different when you collaborate on something that’s creator-owned, that you both build and own together.

BSP: What’s the contrast like to write a book like Southern Bastards then go to the other end of the spectrum and write a comic tied to one of the most beloved movie series of all time in Star Wars? Is it hard to transition from one to the other?

Aaron: They both have their challenges. I mean, you’re right, Star Wars couldn’t be more different from Southern Bastards in a lot of ways. Even more so than the stuff I usually do with Marvel. I mean, I’m getting to write the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader and all these characters that pick up right from the end of the original movie.  In many ways, I think fans are more precious with those characters than even Thor or Spider Man, because a lot of the characters at Marvel have been in continuous publication for over 50 years.

With Star Wars, there’s never really been as much done with those original characters in that specific part of the timeline. Yes, there was a lot of Expanded Universe stuff over the years, but now that’s not part of the canon anymore. And even then, a lot of the fans reading this new series have only seen the movies. So you’re dealing with characters whose every word has been poured over in a way that Spider-Man’s can’t be. Kieron Gillen and I were talking recently about writing Boba Fett. You could take every line of Fett’s dialogue from those original movies and fit it all in one tweet. So by nature, when I’m writing Boba Fett I’m writing more dialogue than he’s ever said aloud on screen.

It’s so strange in some ways, as someone who grew up on those movies. But ultimately for me as a fan, I want to see more of what I fell in love with from those original films. I want to see the next chapter of that story. And even though we’ve all seen the movies, there’s still a lot of story left to tell. There are lots of major beats that take place off-screen, between those films. As a creator, I’ve been incredibly excited to grab for as many of those big moments as I possibly can. That’s why coming right out of the gate, you had Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker face to face by the end of issue one. I wanted to show that this wasn’t going to be some small off the radar adventures for these characters. I want this to feel like a big important book. I want this to feel like it is the connective tissue between episodes 4 and 5. Like it’s the next chapter of the story we all first fell in love with.

BSP: Does pressure build for you even more knowing that there is a movie this year? Knowing the expectations and the interest couldn’t be higher?

Aaron: Sure, but I think that’s what helps make it exciting. I was already excited about doing Star Wars #1 because how many opportunities do you get to do that? I mean, to write these characters and have it be part of this brand new canon and have it kick off Marvel’s big return to Star Wars comics … all of that stuff. And then to have it sell a million copies and to have all the Star Wars books exploding the way they are exploding. As a creator, how can you not get excited about all that? You have to appreciate that it’s a good year to be doing anything Star Wars.

Next: Jason Aaron interview, Part 1: Thor and the big reveal

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