Charles Soule and Phil Noto kick off an ongoing series with one of Star Wars' newest breakout characters!
Neither movie ticket nor comic sales records can stand before the power of Star Wars! And beginning this April, fans get the chance to learn more about one of the breakout characters from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Poe Dameron, in his very own ongoing series!
Industry veterans Phil Noto and Charles Soule will be leading the charge into this unexplored space, and we wanted to see what this creative team has in store for General Organa’s favorite ace pilot!
Marvel.com: Charles and Phil, before we get underway discussing your work on the upcoming series, STAR WARS: POE DAMERON, I’m curious: How many times have you seen “The Force Awakens” and what did you think of it? Any parts of it that you enjoyed the most?
Phil Noto: I’ve seen it four times now. I loved it. Honestly I think my favorite parts are the introductions to the new characters. They were so exciting and real.
Charles Soule: So far, only twice, but I expect I’ll have seen it a third time by the time this interview goes live. I planned to use my second viewing as my “research” watch—you know, take notes and so on—and then I just got wrapped up in the story and didn’t write anything down. We’ll see what happens next time, maybe the third time’s the charm. I’m with Phil on the new characters, but I also have to say that it was amazing to see Harrison Ford bringing Han Solo to life with that much verve and vigor again. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed him until I saw him again.
Marvel.com: When did you first become aware of STAR WARS: POE DAMERON, and how did you come onto the project?
Phil Noto: I was actually in LAX waiting to fly home after doing some Force Friday promotional stuff for the YA novels I had worked on and [editor] Jordan [White] emailed me about working on another [Star Wars] project at Marvel. I was sold right there.
Charles Soule: I feel like it was a while back; in the summer, at least as far as being aware that there might be a Force Awakens-related project in the offing. I didn’t have any specifics at that point, and didn’t know it would be about Poe; all that came later. But I really didn’t need to know anything beyond the basics. I was on board from the jump.
Marvel.com: How much access were you provided with as you began your work developing this series? Phil, how much of the film’s concept and design work were you able to get ahold of, and how have you added your own flair to it?
Phil Noto: I’ve been soaking up the aesthetic of the new movie for a while as I was given a bunch of reference for the bookends of the character novels. Seeing the movie definitely helped picturing more of the universe and what I could use and/or redesign.
Charles Soule: Honestly, much more than I would have thought! Phil and I got to learn a bunch about the film’s story ahead of time, we saw a bunch of imagery, we got some of the tie-in materials early, and best of all, we got to go out to Lucasfilm ourselves with esteemed Star Wars editor Jordan D. White to meet members of the Story Group and discuss the story in person. That was a pretty incredible day; they’re all great people, and the key across all the Star Wars projects seems to be great storytelling. We’ve all got the same goal.
Marvel.com: Now, this won’t be the first time either of you have worked on a Star Wars comic series between Charles writing LANDO and OBI-WAN & ANAKIN and Phil handling art on CHEWBACCA. However, it seems fair to say you both are working in fairly known territory with those titles in the sense that everyone knows these characters and at least the major aspects of who they are and why they’re significant to the Star Wars universe. With Poe Dameron, we have a character that even the most devout fans are only just getting to know. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like working in this relatively new and unfamiliar territory?
Phil Noto: It’s a bigger sandbox to play in since there’s less known about this version of Star Wars. It’s nice that Oscar Isaac is an amazing actor who’s been in a lot of films. It makes it much easier to get into character in terms of his mannerisms and expressions art-wise.
Charles Soule: The biggest difference here is that I’ve had the “old” characters in my head for decades, in many cases. I don’t have to think about their voices all that much. The new guys are trickier, since it’s really been just the few viewings of the films that have let me understand the kind of characters I’m dealing with. That’s also sort of an opportunity though, because it means there’s a lot of shading I can help with, and fewer preconceived notions about things Poe is “supposed” to do or not do. Mostly, it’s a great excuse to see the movie a bunch of times.
Marvel.com: My understanding of STAR WARS: POE DAMERON is that it’s going to be a character study along the lines of the aforementioned series both of you are already working on. Even in the “The Force Awakens,” we see much less of Poe than Rey or Finn. Does this present a unique challenge for you given how much less you have to go on compared to the characters from your other series?
Phil Noto: Even though he doesn’t have that much screen time, he’s really fleshed out as a character. It’s really kind of nice to have the opportunity to add some details to him in this series.
Charles Soule: Poe actually has a fair amount of storytelling across the various Star Wars projects; we get some of his backstory in the SHATTERED EMPIRE comic from Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto, and the “Before the Awakening novel”—also from Greg Rucka—has an entire section dealing with how Poe joined the Resistance. Maybe I should just give Greg Rucka a call.
We have enough, I think. I feel like I know how Poe would react to a number of scenarios, and from there, it’s about letting the story do its work. I’m really looking forward to it.
Poe Dameron by Phil Noto
Marvel.com: Any movie or book about a hero is really only as good as the villain whom the hero faces off against. “The Force Awakens” had a host of supporting villains and leading bad guy, Kylo Ren. Any clues as to who you’ll be introducing to square off against the Resistance’s best fighter pilot and special operations officer?
Phil Noto: He’s going to have a great First Order nemesis who I think the readers will love.
Charles Soule: I spent a lot of time on the bad guy. I wanted someone who would feel new and fresh within the Star Wars universe, with a backstory that would make sense within the larger saga, but who could also stand up alongside Phasma and Hux and Kylo Ren and the other new antagonists we’ve seen. I don’t want to say too much, but while he’s new, he has a long history with dastardly deeds in the Star Wars galaxy, and should give Poe and [company] a run for their money. He’s one of my favorite parts of the whole thing.
Marvel.com: Looking at Poe’s distant past, Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto’s STAR WARS: SHATTERED EMPIRE seems to provide some interesting hints about Poe’s heritage and who he could be. Is there anything you can say about that?
Phil Noto: I think that’s all de-classified at this point. With his parents both being in the Rebellion, I think it adds a cool dimension to his character and his relationship with Leia as she knew his parents.
Charles Soule: Agreed. We’re lucky to be building off storytelling from some of the very best in the business. All of it’s in play, and hopefully our stories will add some cool dimensions to the Star Wars universe that other creators can use down the road.
Marvel.com: The story itself is meant to pick up shortly before the events of “The Force Awakens.” What sort of stories will you be telling us about General Leia Organa’s star covert pilot?
Phil Noto: It’s going to be a story of him and his squadron at the start of their search for the whereabouts of Lor Sen Tekka, who they hope will lead them to Luke Skywalker.
Charles Soule: It’s not just one thing. It’s a series of stories that all link together to make a larger whole, related to Poe’s mission to track down Lor San Tekka, but that lets us go to some really interesting places. The Star Wars galaxy is a big place, with some weird corners—that’s part of why it’s so much fun.
Marvel.com: Phil, it seems like sci-fi comics can prove a difficult landscape for creating a believable and natural feel when the setting is anything but. I’m curious about how you plan to approach this series to “sell” it to readers?
Phil Noto: I’ve been in Star Wars mode for a while now working on CHEWBACCA and the YA character novels so it’s going to be more of seeing what I can borrow from the films and what I need/get to design outside of that while staying true to the look of the [Star Wars] universe.
Marvel.com: Additionally, there seems to be an added challenge given the strong visual associations readers and fans have with the world of Star Wars. How do you strike the balance of rendering characters that have living counterparts so that it looks pleasing to the eye without being overly beholden to the actor’s countenance?
Phil Noto: The actors have really become the characters in most people’s eyes so if I can get close to the likenesses, I think the readers will connect with the ones they know and by association, the ones they don’t.
Charles Soule: Just to add, I think Phil is absolutely amazing at doing exactly this. Everything feels like it should, but it’s also artistic and very much Phil’s. I couldn’t be more excited that we get to go on this journey together.