‘Darth Vader’s Little Princess': Sith Lord no match for teen Leia

April 19, 2013 | 5:23 p.m.

What if Darth Vader had been a loving and devoted father? Comic writer and artist Jeffrey Brown answered that question last year with his charming book “Darth Vader and Son,” which imagined the endearing Sith Lord’s struggles and tender moments with young Luke Skywalker. Now Princess Leia is getting the same treatment in “Vader’s Little Princess,” due out Tuesday.

Brown, whose previous work includes “Clumsy,” “Bighead” and two adorable cat books, received an Eisner Award nomination for best humor publication for “Vader and Son.” Unlike that book, which focused on Luke’s early childhood years, “Vader’s Little Princess” follows Leia through her adolescence and rebellious teen years, leaving Vader to worry about his daughter’s wardrobe, driving (should we say piloting?) abilities and boyfriends, including one scruffy-looking Han Solo.

“I think part of what was so fun about this idea is like, as a parent, there’s things you just kind of have to put up with,” Brown told Hero Complex last year. “They can be really frustrating. So the idea of this dark master, lord of the Sith, having all that power, and in the end, here’s this 4-year-old who can be, ‘Eh, no Dad. I don’t want to do it.’ And he’s powerless against it. He’s gotta maintain that presence of power in the universe, but when it’s his own son, he has to rein it in a little bit. That tension is what was fun to play with.”

Brown and “Book of Sith” author Daniel Wallace are answering questions over on the Star Wars blog and publisher Chronicle Books’ blog on Wednesday, May 1, at noon PDT. Fans can submit their questions for the authors in the comments of the announcement blog post.

In the meantime, Hero Complex caught up with Brown to talk about the inspiration behind “Vader’s Little Princess.” Read the interview below, and click through the gallery above for a peek at both books.

HC: Congrats on the Eisner nomination. How does that feel?

JB: It’s pretty exciting. It’s my first nomination, and I’m really happy to be recognized for humor.

HC: When we last spoke, you mentioned that you drew inspiration for Luke’s relationship with Vader from your 4-year-old son. Where did you find inspiration for Leia?

JB: I managed to look to a lot of places. I have a few friends with teenage daughters,who provided some observations, and I also thought back on my own teenage years and what I saw from the girls around me. Listening to stories from my wife has also helped, and even my editor from Lucasfilm, J.W. Rinzler, chipped in with a few real-life situations inspired by his daughters. It was a challenge to keep it from being clichéd while not having a daughter, but hopefully it works.

A page from "Vader's Little Princess." (Jeffrey Brown / Chronicle Books)

A page from “Vader’s Little Princess.” (Jeffrey Brown / Chronicle Books)

HC:  In “Darth Vader and Son,” we saw only a pint-sized Luke. What made you decide to depict Leia through her adolescent and teen years as well?

JB: Part of it was that I’d used so much of the prime 4-year-old material, so I had to change the age for new material. Especially with Leia, there was a lot more unexplored territory with parenthood, particularly with the issue of dating and watching your child grow up and head out into the world.

HC: You have some really fun gags with the Ewoks and with Leia’s relationship with Han. Did you go back and rewatch the movies to find these moments for humor? What’s your favorite little inside joke in the book?

JB: I re-watched the movies multiple times, at first taking notes and then just as background while I worked. Sometimes I was looking for the right scene in the movies to pair with an idea I had, and sometimes re-watching a scene while thinking about the book would spark some new thought for a gag. I think my favorite inside joke is when Vader sees Leia and Han kiss.

HC: What’s next for you?

JB: I’ve got another graphic novel about parenting coming out this summer, albeit in a much different vein — “A Matter Of Life,” which is an autobiographical look at fatherhood and religion. And this fall will see the release of my next Star Wars book “Jedi Academy,” a book from Scholastic that’s part comics, part illustrated text and takes a look at middle school as it would be in the Star Wars universe.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark

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