It’s the dawn of a new era in a Galaxy Far, Far Away with the introduction of Star Wars: The High Republic! Comic Watch was lucky enough to have an opportunity to catch up with Harvey Tolibao, one of the premiere artists tasked with bringing this initiative to life with IDW Publishing’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures comic series.
To say this is one of the most anticipated comic series of the year is an understatement. Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures follows an exciting new cast of Padawan and Jedi, thrilling new environments, dangerous new enemies such as the Nihil marauders and so much more all set in this new era, long before the Prequel Trilogy of films. Check out the full interview with artist Harvey Tolibao below to learn more about how he got started with the project, what some of the most influential inspirations were and what it feels like to carry the torch of one of the most beloved franchises in the world.
Comic Watch: First, thank you so much for joining us to talk about your work on Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures. It’s a project that we are all very excited about here at Comic Watch! Can you start by telling us a little about how you got started with Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures at IDW?
Harvey Talibao: Several months ago, I received email from IDW’s Elizabeth Brei and Riley Farmer, both amazing editors of Star Wars Adventures line of comics, and they asked if I would like to join a team that would create a new series in the Star Wars mythos.
Star Wars has always been close to my heart. One of the first projects that I worked on in my career was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, alongside John Jackson Miller.
Shortly after IDW’s outreach, I had a conversation with Daniel José Older, the writer for this new project, and he told me how much he loved my work, and that he’d really enjoy to working with me. Having a writer who trusts you to visualize his stories is a dream come true for an artist.
CW: The series is set long before the Prequel Era in what is already being described as a “golden age” for the Jedi, and it’s a time period that we haven’t really gotten to explore much in the new canon material. With that in mind, what are some of the things that you did to prepare for this project before getting started?
HT: The Star Wars films have always been an influence on my artwork, ever since I was young. My dad used to work as a painter for cinema posters (which were created on an 8-foot by 4-foot sheet of plywood), and I remember when he got the chance to paint a Star Wars poster with the Millennium Falcon on it. I asked him, “Why does the poster need to have an exact replica painted of the Falcon?” He replied that the spaceship should be treated with the same exactness of detail as the actors of the film; it’s just as much of an icon. It was then that I realized the importance of each visual detail in the Star Wars universe. I have all the art books for Star Wars Episodes I-III, and the illustrations of Iain McCaig and Doug Chiang are a huge influence on my work. I’ve also been re-watching all the films to immerse myself, to truly live in the world of Star Wars.
CW: There is some remarkable design that we’ve seen in the previews so far with new characters and even locations coming up that will bring life to this time in a galaxy far, far away. What was it like for you to be able to get hands on in designing both beloved and new areas of Star Wars?
HT: There’s something truly unique about the design of Star Wars that an artist always has to keep in mind. For example, when I first got the chance to design a speeder for the cover of The High Republic Adventures #1, I tried to capture the spirit of Anakin’s podracer from Episode I. Although that particular first design went through some changes, I still think that it had a phenomenal impact on those at IDW who initially saw it; people loved seeing three important new characters from the High Republic era on a vehicle designed with familiar aspects. I mean, when I was designing that cover, it gave me the same goosebumps that I felt when the Millennium Falcon triumphantly returned to the screen in Episode VII. Ultimately, the design evolved with some different elements into a new Jedi speeder, which is every bit as cool.
CW: The design of the Jedi — from classics like Master Yoda to newcomers like Lula Talisola — all have a distinct visual approach that stands out from what we’ve seen so far. Can you tell us a little about the process behind developing what the Jedi should look like in this bold new era filled with Jedi Knights?
HT: Oh, my. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of character designs and model sheets being provided by Lucasfilm on this one. It’s like having a Star Wars encyclopedia to work from. I’ve had the chance to design several characters, and they all need to capture the spirit, the look, the feel of the classic Jedi. I can’t believe that I’m at the drawing board, visualizing the cleanly dressed look of new Jedi for Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures.
CW: Star Wars The High Republic Adventures #1 follows Zeen and her best friend Krix facing destruction on Trymant IV while Master Yoda, Master Baro, and the padawans attempt a rescue mission. What can you tell us about pulling off these exciting dual narratives and how they set up what’s to come in the following issues?
HT: Zeen and Krix are characters close to my heart; when I got the chance to design Krix, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. See, Daniel really envisions these characters as if they’re real life; the descriptions in his script are so alive that I really get into his mind, and his words live through my art. I’m so thrilled that readers will soon be able to experience this story much in the same way!
For Yoda, I re-watched his fight with Count Dooku from Attack of the Clones over and over again. I really hope that I pulled off what I needed to in High Republic Adventures: namely, to bring that feeling back to readers from when they first experienced the amazing universe of Star Wars.
CW: Lula Talisola looks to be a mysterious but interesting new Jedi for us to follow even from seeing her on the cover art, but there is also a Jedi character named Farzala alongside Lula. What can you tell us about these characters and their role in this series?
HT: Star Wars always evokes a strong feeling of friendship. I love Anakin’s friendship with Obi-Wan, and the relationship of Rey, Finn, and Poe. There’s always something lovely to feel when you watch these films over again. When I got the chance to work on this book, my recipe for its success would require that we fall in love with these friendships. When it comes to Lula, Farzala, and Qort, you will love the magic between these Padawans. I know I do – I am excited every time these three amazing friends are on a page together.
With Daniel Jose Older writing, Rebecca Nalty coloring, and Jake Wood lettering, the creative team is certainly packed with talent. How has the collaborative process been with everyone involved in Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1?
HT: Daniel is certainly the conductor of the whole story; the story flows from him. Rebecca breathes life into every page, every panel. The whole team flows together under the guidance of our editors like music. I like to think that, as a team, we’ve got the potential of creating true art that future generations can look up to. I’m so lucky to be working with IDW and Lucasfilm on this dream project.
Oh, and I’ve been happy working with my brother Kevin, who has supplied the colors for my High Republic Adventures covers!
CW: The High Republic is a grand storytelling initiative for Star Wars, including novels and even comics from Marvel. What do you feel this series at IDW brings to the table to separate it from the other exciting projects while also staying true to how this new era feels?
HT: With Star Wars, I think that every film, episode, book, and comic can take the audience to a universe far, far away. Star Wars is not only entertainment; it can be a source of inspiration, especially for children. It can teach them how to have faith in themselves. Young readers can see a little bit of themselves in any number of unique characters spread out across the saga, many overcoming huge challenges by believing that the Force is strong in them. Our story in The High Republic Adventures is a unique chapter in a larger connected saga, and we feel it will ignite something special in readers of all ages that they might never forget.
CW: It is obviously a great time to be a Star Wars fan with the remarkable second season of The Mandalorian, a new wave of announced projects from Disney, and (of course) The High Republic initiative. How has it been for you as both a fan and a creator to be a part of such an important time for the Star Wars franchise?
HT: I’ve always been a fan of George Lucas, the Jedi Master and genius who created this universe. The world that he created has inspired millions, and has welcomed so many creative people to be part of the journey. I just want to always do my part in making this world amazing for fans to experience. We are fortunate to live at the time when sci-fi is at its finest, with new Star Wars films and The Mandalorian opening the door for new audiences to feel the pull of a strong force which can’t be explained. Perhaps all our work will bring inspiration to a new generation of creatives, awakening their imagination and bring balance to the Force!
Official Synopsis for Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1
In the days of the High Republic a team of inexperienced Padawans race to Trymant IV to aid its citizens after an attack by the Nihil, a band of dangerous marauders, leaves the city on fire. Padawans Lula, Farzal, and Qort do their best to help as many people as they can. Meanwhile, Zeen and Kriz, part of a group that resents and fears the Jedi, must decide whether they can accept their help or try to save the day on their own.
On sale February 3rd, 2021
Written by Daniel José Older, art by Harvey Tolibao, colors by Rebecca Nalty, character designs by Max Dunbar & Harvey Tolibao, letters by Jake M. Wood, edited by Elizabeth Brei with assistant editor Riley Farmer
There you have it Star Wars fans! Be sure to grab your copy of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1 when it hits your Local Comic Shop and Digital Platforms on February 3rd and don’t forget to stay tuned to Comic Watch for all your fandom news and reviews like this exciting first look at Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1!
Special thanks to the teams at IDW Publishing and Lucasfilm for the remarkable opportunity!
The Spirit, the Look, the Feel of the Classic Jedi: An Interview with Artist Harvey Tolibao of IDW’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures
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