UPDATE Thanks for the questions and compliments everyone, I really appreciate them all! That's all for this AMA, back to work drawing Jedi Academy book 3 now. Thanks for reading!

I'm the author of the NYTimes bestselling Star Wars books Darth Vader and Son, Vader's Little Princess, and Jedi Academy. My new Star Wars books are Goodnight Darth Vader and Jedi Academy 2: Return of the Padawan, so I must still like Star Wars. I've also co-wrote a film and drawn a lot of autobiographical comics. http://jeffreybrowncomics.blogspot.com/2014/07/ask-me-anything.html

Comments: 128 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

theothersteve727 karma

Wow, that's a nostalgia trip. Jedi Academy was a pretty big part of my childhood. Thank you.

I guess the obvious question is, how do you feel about the EU "reboot" as the new movies are being made? Any intention to write for the new universe?

jeffreybrownrq19 karma

I should say that this is the middle grade illustrated Jedi Academy, not the prose series (by Kevin J. Anderson). Personally, I think the EU, the reboot, what's cannon isn't as important to me as great stories, and I think there's plenty of room for all kinds of versions in the Star Wars universe. I hope Kevin J. Anderson writes more, his Star Wars novels are among my favorites from the EU.

theothersteve76 karma

Ah, sorry! I wasn't familiar.

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

No worries! It should be interesting to see what happens with the books - there's a ton of possibilities for what can happen now.

tyereliusprime-8 karma


jeffreybrownrq3 karma

Admittedly, I haven't read a ton of EU. Maybe being younger plays a role in my taste, after all, I really liked the Ewoks in ROTJ.

tyereliusprime0 karma


jeffreybrownrq1 karma

I've wanted to read more of the EU, but it ends up being overwhelming - there's so much! I finally bought and read the Han Solo novels (my brother would never let me bother them when I was a kid, my hands tended to be too grubby) a couple years ago, so someday...

tyereliusprime2 karma


jeffreybrownrq2 karma

I should really get Pablo Hidalgo's 'Essential Reader's Companion'. Or maybe I'll have to wait until they do a new edition.

kingvicarious14 karma

When I first read Darth Vader and Son it reminded me a lot of Calvin and Hobbes. Did C & H have any influence on the way you create your work?

jeffreybrownrq11 karma

I loved reading Calvin and Hobbes when I was growing up - there's definitely some influence there, though it wasn't necessarily a conscious effect.

elf_in_a_shoebox8 karma

Have you ever met anyone that didn't really respect fantasy or science fiction as genres? How do you respond to that if so?

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

Not that I can think of, fortunately. I can understand not being into something, but it doesn't really benefit anyone to not respect that other people have different tastes. I would probably just ignore them, I'd rather spend my time engaging with the people who are interested.

elf_in_a_shoebox1 karma

That's really good to hear. I'd like to be a writer myself, but the few elitists I've met marginalized my interest in scifi/fantasy. I pretend like it doesn't bother me, but my feelings. They sensitive.

Keep doing what you do. Admittedly, I haven't read your books, but that's changing soon. And thanks for the reply.

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

I think it's silly to not think there's a place or role for different genres. Certainly, there's mediocre science fiction, and there's bad science fiction, but there's mediocre and bad everything, it's not inherent to the genre. And even something that isn't great can end up entertaining someone, or meaning something to someone who reads it at the right time.

SnowmanOHSnowman8 karma

I don't have any questions, I just wanted to express my sincere appreciation for your autobiographical and fiction comics outside of the Star Wars stuff. I've been following your writing for the past few years, starting all the way with Clumsy. I picked up your book at a small comic book shop in NYC and I just fell in love with your style and honesty.

I recently became a father for the second time, but I picked up A Matter of Life around the time my son turned 3. The small interactions I have with him remind me of the moments you collect in AMOL.

So basically, I wanted to thank you for writing these. Most of the things you've shared in your books have hit home for me - particularly the relationships and the awkwardness. It made me feel less alone at times :) Even though I'm married now and have children, I still find myself re-reading Clumsy, Unlikely, AEIOU, Every Girl Is The End Of The World For Me, etc. I even suggested for my wife, who is also a painter, to read Funny Misshapen Body and see how your experience with art school was and how you found your own voice.

Since I DO have an opportunity to ask something, I always wondered if you ever continued to paint pieces like the ones you did at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago? Do you find yourself exclusively doing the comicbook/ink style drawings or do you find the time to create other pieces in different mediums?

So, again, thank you! I'm excited to continue reading your work for many years to come.

jeffreybrownrq5 karma

Thanks so much! One reason I started writing those autobio books was to feel less alone - seeing all these other relationships that seem so perfect (especially in TV and film) and wanting to commiserate about the awkward, stupid things that come with being young and in love. I haven't really painted since art school - time-wise, I can barely keep up with all the comics projects I want to do. I've managed to dabble in film, and may do some TV animation at some point, and I'm sure I'll go back and do some painting someday too.

SnowmanOHSnowman3 karma

I really enjoyed Save the Date! It was simple and heartfelt. It seemed to capture more authentically the 20-something life in love and marriage - more so than a show like Girls, at least. How was that experience? Did you get to be involved in the production much?

jeffreybrownrq4 karma

Thanks, I had a great time with it, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I visited the set for a couple days, and Mike Mohan (the director) was sending updates pretty much daily to me and our co-screenwriter, Egan Reich. We would chime in with thoughts and support, so it felt like we were still pretty involved even though our parts were mostly done. I learned a ton just talking with everyone on set and spending time with the producers.

oceanlab478 karma

Hey Jeffrey. What's your favorite Dave Matthews Band song?

jeffreybrownrq8 karma

Ants Marching. Wait, no, Satellite. Crash Into Me?

Royal_Hofner7 karma

Good god I love your Vader comics, they make me so happy. Do you have any more plans to do more comics with the same theme, possibly with a different parent-child? I feel like you could do an amazing Boba and Jango!

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

Thanks! I thought about more Bob and Jango, but it didn't feel just right. The book I'm working on now should include a bunch of different characters, though still a lot of Vader, Luke and Leia.

NorbitGorbit7 karma

What editorial restrictions came down from Lucas re: the star wars books?

jeffreybrownrq7 karma

I've never been given any set of specific restrictions, I think I've just always been on the same page. Sometimes there's jokes I like but don't seriously consider them being right for the tone of the books (like the competitive dad soccer joke where Vader tells Luke 'no hands'). Once in a while there's some minor Star Wars detail that they want me to change, but it's never been something that made a big difference in the story.

MrSpite6 karma

Hey! My seven-year-old daughter LOVES Jedi Academy and can't wait for me to pick her up a copy of Return of the Padawan. Your Star Wars books are seriously some of the best (for lack of a better term) "media tie-in kids' books" I've ever read. They have great characters, a fantastic homemade feel... there's soul in those books, which is AWESOME to stumble upon, as a parent who finds himself reading your books to his kid at bedtime pretty often.

I have to say - My daughter demanded that I buy her a copy of Kids Are Weird when we saw it at the bookstore. I balked (wasn't sure if it was for kids or parents), but I bought it anyway and she adores it. It makes her cackle like a madwoman. Kids, apparently, love reading about other kids' hilarious non-sequitirs. So my question is - do you plan on doing any more all-ages autobiographical comics about your son?

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

Thanks! Yeah, Kids Are Weird has had a similar response to the Vader books - written for adults, but kids find them totally funny for some reason. I don't have more plans for anything along the lines of KAW currently, but now I have a one year old son also, so I'm not sure if I can get away with not giving him his own book someday, too!

MrSpite2 karma

Awesome. My daughter seriously drops quotes form KAW all the time. We were at our local ice cream shop, my daughter got a sample, and said out loud "This tastes like human feet." The owner was all "Oh, it does? I'm sorry, I don't know why..." and I had explain "She's just quoting from a book she reads. Tell the man it tastes good."

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

That's awesome!

T-Durka6 karma

Will you do a book for episode 7? How excited are you for the new movie?

jeffreybrownrq11 karma

I'm pretty excited for the new movie, no matter what you think about the films later, seeing a new Star Wars film in the theater for the first time is always great. I am working on one more book in the Vader series right now, but no plans for anything Episode 7 yet...

strozykowski5 karma

Are there any other Sci-Fi franchises that you would like to adapt in your own writing style?

I can imagine an epic storybook in the Dune universe.

jeffreybrownrq4 karma

There's lots I'd like to do, someday, though I'd also like to do more of my own material again. The original Star Trek series would be fun to take on, and I love Dune, both the novels and David Lynch's film version. I'm getting ready to watch the 'Jodorowsky's Dune' documentary sometime soon.

staypuft853 karma

Will there ever be more Incredible Change-Bots?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

Yes - later this year actually! Incredible Change Bots Two Point Something Something will collect all the odds and ends from over the years, lots of short stories and bonus art and things. Someday, I'll write the official book 3, which will wrap up their story, more or less.

Stoooooooo3 karma

What authors have inspired you/do you love to read?

jeffreybrownrq8 karma

So many, so I'll list the ones I've read recently and am looking forward to reading: Lydia Davis, whose short stories are perfect. Haruki Murakami is another I really enjoy. As for cartoonists, I really like Pascal Girard, whose new book 'Petty Theft' I just read. There's a ton of cartoonists - Chris Ware, Julie Doucet, Genevieve Castree, Dan Clowes. Eleanor Davis has a new book out this week, and I've loved her work for a long time.

strozykowski3 karma

Of all of the characters you've included in your writing, which do you identify with the most?

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

Probably Roan from Jedi Academy - a lot of the stories are based or inspired by real events from my own years in middle and high school, and I try to tap into the feelings and emotions from those years.

PimpSanders3 karma

My daughter loves the Darth Vader and Son book. She is two and has no idea what is going on, but now calls anything brown and furry a "wooo-key."

Has George Lucas or anyone from the, I guess, "behind-the-scenes" Star Wars universe ever given you any feedback or their opinion of your work?

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

Not specifically, although everyone I've talked to at Lucasfilm has been overwhelmingly positive. They've let me do so much at this point, I figure they must like them!

TheXenophobe2 karma

Lets say Ive been writing a star wars book for about... 6 years, and have no idea as to what to do from there. Things like getting the license to actually have permission to sell my book and such, how does that all work?

jeffreybrownrq4 karma

From what I understand, for most of the Star Wars books it's Lucasfilm approaching the authors, and they don't generally accept pitches or submissions. I lucked out with Vader and Son as a kind of unique situation - the idea had started as a possible Google doodle, which Lucasfilm was on board with if it had happened; my publisher, Chronicle Books, had not only published other work of mine, but also a lot of other Star Wars books; and at least one person at Lucasfilm at the time knew and liked my previous comics work. I suspect the best way to go is to establish yourself with other writing, and work your way toward it - I don't know, for example, how Star Wars Insider picks their original short fiction authors for the magazine, but that may be a possible venue.

scgreg2 karma

Holy shit, I just bought Jedi Academy and Darth Vader and Son on Friday, received them yesterday, and read them both last night! What great timing!

Firstly, thanks - I loved the books. I have my first boy on the way and being the huge Star Wars fan I am I couldn't resist Vader and Son!

Secondly, I'm considering a new tattoo to mark the birth of my son and love your art style (and subject material obviously!). How much must I pay you to help me with a design incorporating his name and Star Wars in some way?!? :)

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

Thanks! Unfortunately, with the projects I'm already committed to, it may be years before I can do another commission - I've only had time to do a couple since I started drawing the Star Wars books. My personal philosophy on tattoos is that I don't mind people using my art from my books... I don't know what Lucasfilm/Disney's policy is, though!

newera142 karma

First off, I just discovered your stuff and love em. My kids and wife love Darth Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess. Ok the question; When you were writing your more autobiographical stuff did you ever consider writing it as a fiction or was your own story always the intention?

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

I didn't think of it as fiction, but the point was also never about it being 'my story'. What I was interested in was using my own life and experiences to write about finding meaning in everyday life. My first book 'Clumsy' wasn't meant to be about me and a girlfriend, I wanted to make a book that showed how relationships aren't always grand romances or horrible disasters, there's good and bad things and that's what makes them meaningful.

newera141 karma

Ah! Well you did a good job then! There's some universality in your work ( at least from my perspective becoming an adult and then having my own kids) that I really enjoy. Thanks!

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

One of my professors at art school asked me why I was drawing these generic bald guys in my sketchbooks and I gave some lazy answer about how they were a more universal depiction, a kind of all encompassing icon or something. My professor said that I should start drawing hair on them, that really the more specific you make your art, the more universal it will become. When you make it so general, it just ends up not representing anyone.

newera141 karma

Ha! As a generic bald guy I can say we are less universal than might be supposed. I've heard the more specific/ less specific thing before. Honestly I think with the superhero type comics less specific faces is a benefit as far as universality because well, they are heroes and everyone want to be one. For the more personal stories I think the reader likes someone who is different but similar enough to relate to (but don't necessarily have the urge to subconsciously want to be).

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

I also find that as unique as any of us think our story is, it's not - with some of the most specific details in my autobio books, I've been told things like 'my boyfriend and I had that exact conversation, word for word!'

Racist_Godzilla2 karma

Love your work! I have a young blonde son named Luke. Your book was his first introduction to Star Wars and he loves it because he believes the young Luke is himself. I would love to have a print of a few pages from the book to frame for his room. Any plans to sell them as larger prints?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

Not at this point; there was the Vader and Son calendar last year, an dthe Vader's little princess calendar is out this year, but that's about the only equivalent to prints.

UnfortunateFlux2 karma

Your books make my kids want to read more! Thank you. Any plans for a Storm Trooper or Fett family books?

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

Not at this point. There will be some more stormtrooper jokes in the next Vader book, though, and some clone troopers!

pencilman40k1 karma

Have you read Darth Plagueis? If did, what are your thoughts on it?

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

I haven't yet - I'm way behind on my EU reading. The only series I've read all of are the X-Wing books.

lnuave1 karma

Do you have a specific process before starting a project? Or do you just jump right into it?

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

I do - I usually plan each project out to a big extent before I start drawing. For Jedi Academy, we go through 4 or 5 outline drafts, then two complete book rough drafts with corrections, and then the final art. The Vader book I'm working on now involved sketching out almost 140 ideas, whereas the book is only 64 pages long. I work with my editors to whittle down the selection as well as refining concepts to make them as good as possible.

BrutallyHonestDude1 karma


jeffreybrownrq3 karma

Maybe one of the stand alone films Disney does can be a Jar Jar solo adventure that gives him a shot at redemption.

JDBlackLabel1 karma

Where do you sit as it pertains to the episode 1-3 argument? Love or hate?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

Neither. There's definitely parts I love, but I don't hate them - I don't feel like they take away what the original trilogy means to me. They've grown on me, I think they're entertaining, and suffer from the weight of incredible expectations.

okaywithgray1 karma

Will you be at SPX this year? I must have missed you last year -- were you tucked away in some corner?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

I won't unfortunately - too much travel already this year. I love SPX, though. I was at the Top Shelf booth last year, but I also tried to spend a lot of time walking around and looking, because there's always so much good stuff at SPX.

lethargicpoison1 karma

Jeff, just wanted to thank you for inspiring me in HS. You were a major reason I went to art school for comics! While it didn't work out (damn is school expensive), Zak Sally was an amazing teacher and loved to torment me with stories about chilling with you. ;___;

Also, any tips for getting published besides self publishing?

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

Thanks, Zak's great! I have four main pieces of advice for anyone who wants to get into writing comics. First, read everything you can - absorb it all, stuff you like, and stuff you don't like. Stuff that's good and stuff that's bad, popular as well as unknown. Second, meet authors and talk to them. Go to book signings and conventions and talks. If you can't meet them in person, read interviews with them (or AMAs!). Third, send your work out and get feedback, not just from friends and family. Publishers, editors, other writers. Finally, make the work! Practice, get better, be in it for the long haul. Make the work because you believe in the work, worry about publishing later.

One1QuestionMan1 karma



jeffreybrownrq2 karma

That's one book from the EU I don't want to read. Chewbacca lives!

MyBoysNeedAHouse1 karma

Hello Jeffrey, I have a young daughter and son and they both love the two Vader books -- we have read them many times; but, when we picked up the Jedi Academy book a few months ago, I couldn't tell you how many times we have read it. I pre-ordered the second year of Jedi Academy a few weeks ago and I've very excited that it will be showing up today. I'm going to surprise my kids tonight with it. If this does well, how many years do you have outlined for Roan? Also, I want to thank you because the first Jedi Academy book has inspired my kids to start journaling. They started a few months ago and make entries nearly every day. This will be a wonderful keepsake when they're older. Wish you all the best!

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

That's the best! Star Wars was a big part of inspiring me to write and draw when I was growing up, so I'm happy my books can carry on that tradition. I'm working on book 3 now and that's all we have planned. After that I think the characters would need to grow up some, and anything with them would become a different kind of book. But maybe a new class of kids could arrive - I don't know if I'd be the person to draw it, I actually wonder what another cartoonist could do with the series.

Jake_19871 karma

How does it feel to have made major contributions to one of the biggest franchises in the world?

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

I'm not sure how big my contributions are, really, but I'm really happy to have been able to be a part of it. It still feels a little surreal, actually, after spending so much time drawing Star Wars as a kid and dreaming of being one of the official artists (I thought maybe I could be one of the concept artists).

psynobi91 karma

Hi Jeffrey! I was fortunate enough to meet you years ago when I bought a copy of AEIOU at the Olympia Comics Festival. You've been a great source of inspiration for me during my interminable tenure as a comics hobbyist. I was wondering if you have found yourself with more time and desire to do autobiographical stuff as your Star Wars and Changebots comics have found a large audience, or has the autobiographical material been either back-burnered or incorporated into more of your work?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

Part of it is natural - I've covered so much of my life already in my autobiographical comics, that there isn't much left that I'm really itching to write about. The autobiographical elements are still present in the Star Wars books, too, whether it's Jedi Academy drawing on my middle school years or 4 year old Luke being based on my own son. I think someday I'll do more autobiographical work, but I'm happy to just follow where my interests go and let it come organically.

ryanoh1 karma

Hey Jeffery!

I have a question about your autobio comics. They're all very personal and explore things like experimenting with drugs and intimate encounters with girls and your religious beliefs, or I guess the lack there of. So my question is this - did you ever worry about how your parents would react to finding out things like that, or have you just always had an open relationship with them? I think one of the biggest fears I have about doing anything similar is how my mom and dad would react to things like that they don't know about. Any advice?

Also, I love your work, and you seem like an awesome guy. You hand wrote me a postcard in response to a letter I wrote you once, and I still have it hanging on my fridge.

jeffreybrownrq3 karma

I've been blessed with incredibly supportive, understanding parents - they actually helped fund my self published first printing of Clumsy, and even if they don't give feedback to each book, they still want to have a copy and tell all their friends. I'm really lucky. I worried a lot about my last autobio book, 'A Matter Of Life', and what my Dad and Mom would think, but I also know that I've always tried to be honest, sincere, and respectful in what I write. They've been able to appreciate where I'm coming from. My advice, then, would be to just be as open and up front as possible, and never write for an ulterior motive, like getting revenge, showing someone up. Make the work about the ideas you're interested in, try to be fair and objective, be honest and sincere, and just think about what you're writing. That doesn't mean don't write it, but just stay aware of what you're doing.

kersplash1 karma

Thanks for writing some of my favorite comics ever. Did any of the people you wrote about ever Contact you after?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

Thanks! I've been in and out of touch with some of them at various points... I've never been great at the 'staying friends' thing, although I'm old enough now to wish them all the best and hope they understand what I've tried to express with the autobiographical comics.

3scores_hattrick1 karma

Why would Lord Vader, in his infinite wisdom, give Luke a Lightsaber to play Baseball?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

Because he hates baseballs? I mean, actual baseballs, not the sport.

chenofzurenarrh1 karma

Hey, Jeffrey!

I've only just finished reading the Girlfriend Trilogy books. I read Clumsy back in the day, but just got the rest and blitzed through them. It was all wonderful. Thanks so very much.

Since /r/iama won't let me just comment without asking a question, What were some of the autobio comics that inspired you? and what are some of your favorite comics these days?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

The autobio comics that inspired me a lot were the ones by John Porcellino, Chester Brown, Julie Doucet, Phoebe Gloeckner, Debbie Dreschler, Joe Matt, and James Kochalka. To keep it short, I'll list some of my favorite current autobio cartoonists: Genevieve Castree, Gabrielle Bell, Noah VanSciver, Pascal Girard... that's who I can think of without looking at my bookshelf, I'm sure there's more!

rkt88edmo1 karma

Jedi Academy was the first non Icanread/kiddy books that my son read on his own. Thanks!!!

Look forward to checking out your other work.

How much has digital publishing affected you?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

Thanks! I'm still on the fringe of digital, so the effect hasn't been too much; the Vader books, for example, have a particular kind of coloring that has a warmth and texture that changes when it's printed versus displayed on a screen. I think while much of publishing will someday turn to digital, there's still a place for print, especially with a visual medium like comics. There's a different kind of experience you get reading in print.

daedricparadox1 karma

When writing star wars books / drawing your comics did you need to get them proof read by George Lucas before publishing. In case it didn't fit in with his vision?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

I don't know that George looked at the books, but I work closely with editors at Lucasfilm on each book. Fortunately, my vision for these books has been right in line with what Lucasfilm has envisioned, and they've really made the books better.

DroDro1 karma

Just picked up Return of the Padawan and there was great joy and acclaim when my son saw it (and when I did), so thanks for inspiring those kinds of reactions.

We love the Ewok Pilot strips! And Yoda chuckling! And little details like the facial expressions on the front packs on the friends from Tatooine!

We read up to the kickball scene before bedtime and my kids pummeled me for 10 minutes straight demanding to know how that is going to affect things at the school dance. But I left them with that cliffhanger.

My question is--did you know from the start this was going to be a "Star Wars" book or did you have a storyline (going to new school, making friends) floating around in your mind for a while before deciding to mash-up with these well-known characters?

jeffreybrownrq1 karma

The genesis for the series came from Scholastic - they approached Lucasfilm with the idea of doing a heavily illustrated middle school Star Wars book. J.W.Rinzler, my editor for Darth Vader and Son, suggested they talk to me, and after about 30 seconds of skepticism, it all came together in my head pretty quickly and I knew I wanted to do it.

montyberns1 karma

So obviously your work is much more lighthearted and not necessarily in the same vein as the long continuous story arcs in the expanded universe, but what are your thoughts on the change in the structure of the canon and where that places the work of your fellow authors that have built up the current storyline of the last several decades?

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

On the one hand, I understand it - the desire for cleaning up, streamlining, simplifying with a big reset. But I also think that there's room for all the stories, without worrying about canon or continuity. I like the idea from Lucas - that the films are the only 'true' canon, and everything else is malleable. In mythology, stories mutate and have different versions, I think, and I feel like that would work for Star Wars too.

Sirusavath1 karma

I love your stuff. Darth Vader and Song and Vader's Little Princess have become favorites of my children to be read before bedtime. I can't wait to get my hands on the new book.

What do you think of the "William Shakespeare's Star Wars" trilogy that Ian Doescher has released?

jeffreybrownrq2 karma

I think it's a lot of fun - I only have the 'Empire' one. My only wish is for more illustrations, I love the feel of those. I'd also like to know when the stage productions will happen.