They're finally back! No, this isn't about the Big Three in Episode VII but rather the cutest, furriest, most Han-eating creatures in all the galaxy: The Ewoks!
In anticipation of Shadows of Endor, the first new Ewok comic in a quarter century, we got in touch with writer/creator Zack Giallongo to talk about our furry favorites. Who, on second thought, aren't as cute as we always thought...:
Zack, before we jump to Endor, let's start with you: How did you get started as a comic artist and writer? And how did you get into the Star Wars sketch card line-up?
I went to college for Illustration and really got into making comics there. After graduating, I started making my own mini comics, which were just simple xeroxed and stapled affairs, and selling them at conventions and online. After that, I got noticed and picked up by Macmillan which published my first real graphic novel, Broxo, in 2012. During the time that I was producing my own mini comics, I got asked by a friend of a friend who happened to be working for Topps if I might be interested in doing sketch cards. The first set I did was actually for Lord of the Rings!
On How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson suggested that a person (or in Barney's case: girls) must be born after May 25th 1973 to love the Ewoks, because only then will Ewoks remind us of our beloved teddy bears. Does that theory hold true for you? And how did you become a fan of the Ewoks?
Nah, I don't think that's true at all. The Ewoks' teddy bear-ness isn't really what attracts me to them. People of all ages seem to like the Ewoks for much the same reason they like Hobbits; they are small and easy to underestimate. But due to their resilience and bravery, they persevere against huge odds. Who doesn't like an underdog story?
I was a huge fan of the Ewoks from the start. I love the woods, and I love their skulls and cool artillery that they made out of trees and rocks. I love characters that are low-tech.
Barney's presentation would make for a great convention panel
As much as we love the Ewoks, their golden age more or less ended 25 years ago with the cancellation of the Ewok animated show and the disappearance of the various lunchboxes, comic books, etc. Why bring them back now? And do you think the fan base is indeed ready for that much cuteness?
I'll address the second part of the question first. I actually don't think that the Ewoks are all that cute! At least, not their movie incarnations. They have matted fur, beady eyes, and are more than willing to eat sentient beings.
Okay, so they might not be that cute...
Editor Dave Marshall put the idea of an Ewoks comic into perspective for me quite well. The truth is that for a lot of kids, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and the rest are not really representative of 'Star Wars' for them. If you make a comic for readers 8 and up, they just see a bunch of adults running around that they don't necessarily have a deep connection to. They also have little connection to the Ewoks (who, as you said, have not been around for 25 + years), but sometimes small and furry characters can be easier to identify with. Certainly many of us loved the Ewoks through the cartoon and toys before we were able to see Return of the Jedi.
As we understand it, you weren't approached to write Shadows of Endor but instead social-networked (TM) Dark Horse into hiring you. What was their first reaction and how did you convince them to go along with your pitch?
That's more or less true. I posted a picture on Tumblr of an Ewok line up along with how much I would love to do an Ewok comic. It got reblogged enough times that Dark Horse saw it and seemed to really love it! After they approached me, we met and I told them my ideas and it really didn't take too much convincing on my part after that!
Zack's original concept art
Shadows of Endor will take place before Return of the Jedi. Where exactly does it fit into the overall continuity and what can we generally expect?
Are you asking for spoilers? The story takes place just before Return of the Jedi and shows the Ewoks beset on a couple of sides by different enemies, but also gearing up for their inevitable confrontation with the Empire. I shall say no more!
We read that you want Shadows of Endor to bridge the gap between the various characterizations and depictions of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, the live-action films, the animated series, etc. Can you give our readers who may not be that Ewok-savvy an idea of what those differences are and how Shadows of Endor will mediate between them?
Back in the olden days, there wasn't as tight a grip on the continuity of the world of Star Wars as there is now. As I understand it, the Ewoks animated series was being developed alongside Return of the Jedi, and thus a lot of things weren't communicated back and forth, or simply just hadn't been set in record yet.
The biggest example of this is the Paploo/Teebo conundrum. In the movie, Paploo is a young Ewok and Teebo is an older Ewok warrior. But in the cartoon, Teebo is portrayed as a starry eyed youngster and Paploo is a grizzled elder. For Shadows of Endor, I catered to my personal preferences. Paploo is the exact same young Ewok from Return of the Jedi that steals the Speederbike, and Teebo is a slightly older warrior. To me, those are the correct versions. I like to think of the cartoon as stories that later Ewoks may have told each other, but are not strictly canon.
There is also the case of Logray's fur in Jedi being tan and cream, and then being gray and black in Caravan of Courage. But I think that there's a story there!
Meet the Lograys..
The other main bridging elements are the inclusion of Kneesaa and Latara, two female Ewoks, and the Duloks. They all appeared in the cartoon, but never anywhere else and that's a shame! So they are here now as official canonical denizens of Endor.
Next to the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, the two Star Wars television shows of the 1980s - Ewoks and Droids - may be among the most obscure elements of the Star Wars universe, especially since they have more or less vanished from sight. Did you go back and re-watch the entire animated show for research? Can we perhaps even look forward to some eastereggs from the show in your comic book?
In all honesty, I did not. Partially because it is so hard to track down, and partially because I'm not sure it would be terribly useful. While the Ewok cartoon has some fantastic characters and great moments, it also has a lot of cringe-worthy bits. I know that might sound harsh, but as a lover of Ewoks, I feel like I can say that! And as far as Easter eggs, you have many to look forward to, primarily from Jedi and the two Ewok movies!
We can't help it: The German intro song has been stuck in our heads for 25 years!
Let's say (and hope) that Shadows of Endor is a major hit: Do you have plans for a sequel or maybe even an ongoing series?
Gosh, I would absolutely love to do more! I want to tell the story of Logray's fur-change, as mentioned above. I also have some ideas of what the Ewoks look like post-Jedi. Or maybe even a story of the older Ewoks, Chirpa and Logray, as young upstarts. Endor is a magical, fascinating place and I'd love to go back so long as people want me to!
Finally, let's try a quickfire round: Kneesaa or Latara?
Both! But I do love Latara's sense of fashion.
Charal or Morag?
Duloks or Yuzzums?
Duloks rule, Yuzzums drool!
Zack, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us!