While his time with the force pales in comparison to Jedi Knights like Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, John Jackson Miller is certainly no stranger to the expanded Star Wars Universe.
With his 50-issue run on "Knights of the Old Republic" coming to an end last month, it comes to no surprise that as Dark Horse begins a new chapter of the Star Wars mythos with its newly announced comic book series, "Knight Errant," Miller would be placed at the helm.
"Knight Errant" introduces readers to Kerra Holt, "a young Jedi who's about to realize that her role in the galaxy is far more important, and vastly different, than she could have ever imagined."
Set 1,000 years before Episode I, in a time referred to as the Dark Age of the Republic, Kerra's story takes place in an era when the Sith were legion and the Republic was strained to the breaking point, leaving large swaths of the galaxy with no one to turn to. This pivotal time in the history of Star Wars has been largely unexplored, until now.
For the first time ever in the history of Star Wars publishing, Miller will not only be writing the comic, but a novel for Del Rey Books, as well, set in the same era and involving the same cast of characters in an all-new adventure.
With "Knight Errant" expected this fall, CBR News spoke with Miller about both projects, who some of the major players are during the era in question and more importantly, the ominous what it means to be a Jedi outside the Republic, in a time and place where no other hope exists.
CBR News: The term "knight errant" has historically been used for legendary characters like Sir Gawain, Sir Lancelot and Don Quixote. What can you tell us about the lead of your new series and what makes her a knight errant?
John Jackson Miller: Webster defines a "knight-errant" as a knight traveling in search of adventures. The young Jedi Kerra Holt does initially travel into Sith-controlled space on a mission - but after that, all the adventures have no trouble finding her. She's living in a time, a thousand years before Episode I, in which the Sith Lords are numerous and running rampant - at war with each other as much as they are with the Republic. That makes large swaths of the galaxy a bad place to be - and it gives a lone Jedi in these territories a pretty busy schedule.
In the initial press release, you're quoted as saying that "Knight Errant" asks what it means to be a Jedi outside the Republic, in a time and place where no other hope exists. What does it mean be a Jedi outside the Republic, in a time and place where no other hope exists?
It's an important question, because Jedi play several roles. They're supposed to keep peace and order - but this is a place of war and chaos, where the Republic has long since abandoned. They're also supposed to battle the Sith - but that's difficult so far behind the lines, where they can't rely on the Republic's navy. And they're also supposed to provide an example, to inspire hope.
Is there any hope – perhaps a new hope – for the Jedi in "Knight Errant?"
It's a challenge to find hope. This is referred to as the Dark Age of the Republic with good reason. But that's part of the conflict. Do the people living under the Sith heel need hope, or do they need actual help? Is it more important simply to be seen to be defying the Sith, or is it more important to do something less visible, but something that actually helps someone? There's a constant tension between the pragmatic and the ideal, and it confronts Kerra at every turn.
Again, from the press release, we learn the Sith will also play a primary role in this series with many competing for supremacy. Are these all new Sith and what if anything can you share about the main players? Is this a family of Sith we're dealing with?
There are a lot of different factions that we're designing, and yes, there are family connections between some of them. I began dealing with the concept of Sith families in my "Lost Tribe of the Sith" e-book series for Del Rey. It's a very interesting topic because the Sith are about the glorification of self and the subjugation of others, and their familial feelings would also need to be seen through that prism. Vader certainly cares what happens to Luke, for example - but that doesn't stop him from doing what he does in Episode V. "Tough love" in the Sith mindset is pretty tough indeed - and not all Sith parents and siblings are going to be as caring even as Vader was.
We'll get into more detail about the major players later, but what I saw was a lot of players jostling for position, all wanting to be the Sith Lord who leads the final takedown of the Republic.
When scripting the Sith, how do you find a different voice from, say, Darth Sidious, Darth Vader or from your previous series, Lucien Draay?
Since we have multiple villains, I wanted to find unique voices for them all. Part of it stems from that ultimate goal that I just mentioned. They all think that they, like the Lord Kaan and Darth Bane characters from decades later, have the perfect strategy for doing so. They all have their own concept for what the ideal Sith should be, what an ultimate Sith Empire should look like. Naturally, many of these visions conflict - and being Sith, they don't take conflict well.
But we're working to make the individual factions very recognizable. We should be able to see each Sith Lord's worldview and particular madnesses playing out everywhere in the places under their command, from the technology their minions use to how their subjects are treated.
Are than any new lightsaber types that the Sith and Jedi featured in this series will be wielding?
We're still at the design stage on a lot of things, but one of our villains will have a lightsaber unlike anything we've seen before.
"Knights of the Old Republic" ran for an impressive 50 issues. Have you plotted out a 50-issue story for the characters and events involved in "Knight Errant?"
We certainly didn't approach "Knights of the Old Republic" with the idea that it'd run 50 issues, although we tried to approach that series with enough ideas to mine for a good while. "Knight Errant" will be to a degree more episodic in nature; since we've got the situation where we have both comics and a novel, I'll be looking to tell tight, stand-alone stories that nonetheless build on each other to make a larger world.
"Knights of the Old Republic" was also tied to a fan favorite video game series. Any plans for a "Knight Errant" video game series, and if so, will you be involved? Or will it perhaps be tied to the Star Wars television series currently in production?
Not that I'm aware of, but I'm just the piano player.
"Star Wars: Knight Errant" is set in a previously unexplored timeframe. Beyond it obviously being virgin territory, what does that allow you as a writer versus writing about an era in Star Wars lore that has already been heavily explored?
We set the "Knights of the Old Republic" series seven years before the video games, and while that gave us some fun opportunities, it also created an expectations game with people who were heavily invested in learning more about the video game characters. We made it pretty clear the video game territory was the backdrop and not the star of our show, but every time we did go near that material, it just started the speculation again.
So we deliberately chose to set "Knight Errant" much further away from the Bane novels and Jedi Vs. Sith. The important characters of those stories either haven't been born yet, or are too young to be major players. And in a third of a century, everything from the political landscape to fashions will have changed many, many times. Just compare the 1960s to the Depression Era. Sure, some of the places are the same, but most of the faces aren't. It's a whole new ballgame.
This story begins as an ongoing comic series published by Dark Horse Comics later this year, but next year, Del Rey is publishing a "Knight Errant" novel, and you're writing them both. How will the two projects be tied and what, if anything, can you share about the novel?
The novel is not an adaptation of the comics, but an original story starring Kerra Holt in the situation introduced in the comics - and it'll be introduced afresh for the novel reader. You won't have to have read one to read the other, although we'll make it so you'll really want to - the novel reader can get a picture of what people look like in action, whereas the comics reader can find more background. I'm really excited about the opportunity.
We'll get more into exactly how the comics and novel interrelate, timewise, as we get closer.
Can you speak about who you will be working with in terms of the artist?
I'm guessing Dark Horse will be the ones to make that specific announcement. But what I've seen so far has been spectacular.