It’s a big week for STAR WARS fans! Earlier this year Comic Watch’s own Ross Hutchinson got a chance to speak with artist Will Sliney at Comic-Con Africa 2019, where they discussed everything from working with Charles Soule on THE RISE OF KYLO REN, who his favorite Star Wars character is, to getting lost in Japan. Check out the full interview below!
Comic Watch: Hi Wil thanks for taking the time to talk to us
Will Sliney: Happy to talk to you.
CW: Let’s start with some con talk. what have you thought of South Africa so far
WS: This has been an incredibly busy and incredibly humbling experience being at this show, it really has. You can tell that everybody here is delighted to have a comic con here. I have been welcomed so well into the place and there is just a real hunger for this type of thing here so I would definitely encourage more people to come over to shows here like this. It’s been a fab experience it really has.
CW: Right lets jump into the work shall we? You’ve been drawing quite a few Star Wars comics. You did all the Galaxy’s Edge comics, you did the Han Solo film comic book adaption and you’ve got quite a big project coming up now. Can we talk about that a little bit?
WS: Sure We can. So I am working on The Rise Of Kylo Ren with Charles Soule writing it who I think is one of if not the best Star Wars writer out there with all the incredible stuff he has done. Basically it’s the story of how Ben Solo becomes Kylo Ren and the leader of the Knights of Ren. It comes out like two days before the new movie is released and it’s the first real time we have done a Star Wars comics where you going to want to read this book if you want to get the full experience of the movie I think. Star Wars are really paying big respect to comic books in doing a book like this and I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of that story.
CW: Is the book done already? (editors note: not at the time however the book is out this Wednesday)
CW: because we know you guys work ahead?
WS: What has been fab about this project and what doesn’t usually get to happen for me, is I have had a lot of time to prep, so I have had a lot of time to work on designs of characters, ships and environments and locations that we haven’t necessarily been to in Star Wars before and of course things you might have seen in the movies. It’s nice to be able to put the time into something like this because there’s going to have an awful lot of eyes on it. More people are going to see this than anything else I have done.
CW: Does that make you nervous at all?
WS:(chuckling) It makes me excited. it might have made me nervous a few years ago but like I feel like I am ready for it. If it was my first Star Wars project maybe that would have been tough but I had such a crazy experience on Galaxies edge and Solo, both were very different. Both were really brilliant experiences and they have really helped me be ready for this kind of magnitude.
CW: So let’s talk about collaborating with Charles Soule. Do you guys speak a lot? Is Charles the kind of writer that gives a lot of direction in terms of what he wants for the art or does he give more sort of basic direction and lets you do your thing?
WS: It’s been a brilliant experience. I’ve known Charles for I would say about 10 years now like before we both made our mark in comics we knew each other from hanging around in New York and things like that. Literally, for years, we had been talking about potential projects to do together so its really cool to do something that’s going to be one of both of our biggest ever books, to get to do that together as our first thing. So it’s been a great experience. Very collaborative in a way that I really enjoy where we have so much back and forth. we actually have a WhatsApp group which is like the next step up from email where we are constantly talking about the book. Charles is able to tell me what he has envisioned, the places we going to go and what we going to do with it but most of all it’s just been encouraging cause you can see how both of us are so excited. That’s coming across in it!
CW: That enthusiasm definitely comes across already in your social media. You are both huge Star Wars Fans and I suppose that is a massive help with a project like this?
WS: Yeah, Like Star Wars comics are without a doubt the most demanding comics. Galaxies Edge is probably the hardest book I ever drew because you can’t get away from drawing the details of the environments. You have to pay respect to all these brilliant designs that all the people at Walt Disney Imaginary did when they built the Galaxy’s Edge park and concepts done designing the park. Then as we were doing the book and seeing the park come together, all of that had to be represented well in the comic because that comic book is going to be brought around that land for the next 20 or 30 years you know and possibly beyond that so you really have to put in that extra amount of work that Star Wars really demands and to do that you need to love it, you need to love the stuff that you are drawing, I certainly do. When I was walking around there, I was like the biggest kid at Christmas (chuckles).
CW: So let’s talk a bit about Marvel. You’ve gotten to draw Spider-Man, Fearless Defenders and Star Wars. What’s next on your list of what you would like to do at the big two or Marvel?
WS: Haha. A lot of people have asked me that recently but because this project (Rise of Kylo Ren) is so big I can’t see anything past it right now. I mean I do think about but I definitely want to stay in Star Wars for a while. I have a great relationship with the team inside there, like the editorial team. Mark Paniccia kinda hand-picked me from Spider-Man office over there so first of all that’s really awesome when someone does that for you. I have a brilliant working experience with Mark and Tom Groneman over there. Mark is an artist himself and he is really encouraging me to move art in directions I want to move it in to so it’s exciting working with him for that reason, I have an awful lot of respect for him because of the way he is able to do that. There is also just a ton of Star Wars stuff coming out that I just want to be a part of. I’d love to do something Mandalorian related, I would love to do anything Kenobi related too. The properties are going to be there, I have no idea but I would assume there are going to be comics because that’s the kind of relationship Marvel and Lucasfilm publishing have. I want to be the one to draw Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s my favorite Star Wars character but I also want to be the one that draws the Mandalorian too.
CW: Are you Marvel exclusive at this point?
WS: No but at the same time I actually haven’t been for years, I was but I might as well be because I’m doing at least 12 books a year every year for the last seven years now so they’re definitely keeping me busy.
CW: Any Plans for any creator-owned work?
WS: I’m definitely too busy for it now but that isn’t to say I am not talking to people about it all the time, like different ideas floating around with different writers I have really enjoy working with. That’s the key for me. I ‘ve actually done some of my own creator stuff privately that I haven’t got published but they’ve been in the film world and stuff like that which has been an enjoyable process and I have been doing that for a couple of years. I think doing a new creator-owned work would be just an excuse for me to work with more writers that I really enjoy working with. I’ve been really blessed at Marvel getting to work with the writers I have been working with like Robbie Thompson who wrote Solo was literally the nicest man on the planet and I got to hang out with Ethan (Sacks) who was at Galaxies Edge and the two of us were running around like happy little children there, I’ve known
Charles for so long so that’s been awesome to do. Even Peter David who I worked with for years, who I am a massive fan of, it was amazing to go from like fan to friend with someone like Peter because for years we got to table next to each other at conventions and got to know him and his family over the years. So yeah the motivation to do creator-owned stuff would definitely be to do more work with the people I enjoy hanging out with.
CW: Outside of Marvel, if DC had to say hey come draw something for us, your choice. What would it be and would it be Batman because everyone always says, Batman?
WS: Everyone says Batman don’t they, funnily enough, I wouldn’t say Batman because of that. I’d love to say make a statement on Nightwing which would be awesome to do. To be honest with you I think the character that would suit my style the most would be Superman because my stuff can be quite clean. So yeah I’d love to do Superman or Nightwing.
CW: Some quickfire questions Wil to round off the interview.
CW: Favorite comic books?
WS: Any of the Joe Madureira X-Men stuff has a big nostalgic tie for me because I used to redraw all those pages for practice which was a lot of fun. The ultimate Spider-Man was the first time I could properly chronologically collect an American superhero comic book so that had a big impact on me so those two are right at the top. Mainly now I collect stuff for the artists mainly. So like Stuart Immonen on X-Men, Falcon and his Star Wars run especially was amazing.
CW: Favorite movie?
WS: The one I’ve seen the most is probably The Matrix because it was the first DVD I ever got.
CW: So what are your favorite Star Wars movies of the ones we have seen?
WS: Empire obviously, Revenge of the Sith I loved that one, I love Rogue One, A New Hope for setting it all up. I have different reasons for liking the different eras. I love all the clone wars cartoons and Rebels and stuff like that. For me, I loved the prequels because they took Star Wars from what it was and made it a much larger giant world that absolutely anyone can play in. I love the Prequels art books, those are stunning.
CW: The best meal you’ve ever eaten?
WS: I went to Japan on holiday. I am not the best eater, I am a bit of a picky eater and I was worried about what I would be able to eat. I arrived and got completely lost going to my friend’s house, wrong train, wrong direction the whole bit, Eventually, I arrived at his place. I was so tired that I just ate and my expectation versus what I got was so different. I just remember it being the most beautiful food that I ate everything that was there. So my first Okonomiyaki is probably the nicest I have ever had.
CW: You’ve done some traveling. What would you say are some of your favorite places you have seen?
WS: There’s a few New York is always great. I love Ireland of course, the west coast of Ireland is some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. The nicest place in the world I have ever been to is in Ireland. It’s the Skelligs where they filmed a lot of
The Last Jedi. It’s just the most incredible place you can ever go to. I love Thailand and there’s Pileh lagoon I think its called, there’s no beach its all high rocks on every side and the water is so deep but so calm you can just float away there for hours and look up at the cliff walls beside you.
CW: Thank you, Will, for your time and we look forward to seeing more of your Star Wars work later this year.
You can read the preview of STAR WARS THE KNIGHTS OF REN #1 (of 4) by clicking HERE which is in stores this Wednesday 18 December Just ahead of the STAR WARS: THE LAST SKYWALKER’s arrival in cinemas on December 20th!
A Force To Be Reckoned With. An Interview With Will Sliney
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