Interview with John Ostrander

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Wow, do we have a treat for you comic fans. We had the lovely honor of interviewing John Ostrander, comic book writer of such series as Star Wars: Legacy, Star Wars: Republic, and now Star Wars: Agent of the Empire and oh so many more.

WPR: What made you get into comic book writing?

JO: I was long a comic book fan and was already a playwright in Chicago. Mike Gold, an old friend, was starting up First Comics and knew of my interest in the medium. He wanted to see what I would do
with it. So he gave me my shot and the rest, as the say, is hysteria.

WPR: How did you get the chance to write Star Wars comics?

JO: Another friend. (See a pattern here? Secret to getting a ahead in comics – make good friends who are very talented) Tim Truman and I had worked on GRIMJACK together and he was writing STAR WARS for Dark Horse. He needed time off for a special project and recommended me. He opted not to return later and I got a chance to stay on and the rest, as they say, is hysteria.

WPR: Which is your favorite comic book series you’ve written and why?

JO: It’s usually the one I’m currently working on, in this case AGENT OF THE EMPIRE and also DAWN OF THE JEDI (which I’m doing with Jan Duursema). Almost all of the series I’ve worked on have special moments for me. If I had to pick just one, it would probably be the aforementioned GRIMJACK but that’s because it’s my and Tim’s character.

WPR: How do you come up with the ideas for the comics?

JO: I used to joke that there was a subscription service in Poughkeepsie that mails plot ideas to professional once a month. We’d check off the ones we wanted to use and get billed. One poor
young fan believed me and asked how to get on the subscription list. I told him/her that you were signed up when you got your artistic license. It went downhill from there. I’m a baaaad man sometimes.

Seriously? Ideas can come from anywhere and everyone gets them. I’ve had any number of people approach me over the years with a plan; they have an idea and I turn it into a story and then we split the money. Such a deal! Problem is – I’d be doing all the heavy lifting (i.e. the actual writing) and I have plenty of ideas of my own. More than I could ever do. I don’t need any one else’s ideas.

When I’m writing for a specific character or series, the ideas usually are related to the character. You want to put them in a situation that reveals more of who they are, how they react. That’s what’s
interesting – to me, at least.

WPR: Is there a lot that has to be cleared by George Lucas/Industrial Light & Magic or are you free to explore with the universe as you can?

JO: Everything I do, from concept to finished script, has to be approved by Lucas Film Licensing. The good thing is that I’ve been working with them so long that they I’ve earned their trust. And I’ve learned how to make things work so that it is Star Wars.

WPR: Was it a good feeling seeing your wife and yours character the Oracle in some of the best DCU games made, like most recently Batman: Arkham City?

JO: I don’t play many online games (if I did, my deadlines would never get made). But it was cool to see Jan’s and my SW character Aayla Secure make it into the movies or to see my character Amanda
Waller wind up in Smallville or the Green Lantern movie.

WPR: No way around it, name one Star Wars movie that you prefer above all and why?

JO: Probably A NEW HOPE because it was the first one I saw and it blew my freaking mind.

WPR: Were you upset when they decided to redo Oracle/Batgirl in September 2011?

JO: Oracle, Batgirl, and Barbara Gordon are all properties of DC Comics, just as everything I do on Star Wars is property of Lucas Film Licensing. I don’t own any of these characters. I am happy to
have had my chance to write as I did with them and I wish the best of luck to those who write them now. Gail Simone, who is writing Batgirl, is a good friend and a great writer. She’s doing aces. No complaints here.

WPR: Where do you see the future of comic books going?

JO: More and more I expect the initial appearances going digital and then gathered together in print form for trade paperbacks. I also expect that more and more young creators will publish their own
work digitally which means, I think, you’ll see more variety in graphic storytelling. It could be very cool.

WPR: R.A. Salvatore was told he had to kill Chewbacca when he wrote the Vector Prime novel and it seems to haunt him to this day. Is there one *notable* character from the movies that you would kill off if you had a chance or is that the point you would back off to not draw the scorn that is Star Wars Fandom?

JO: I’m not afraid to kill of characters as I go in my stories but it depends on the story and the reason. As for, say, killing any of the “Big Three”? I don’t need the death threats, thank you.

WPR: Where do you see yourself going in the future after Star Wars: Agent of the Empire series?

JO: Into a rest home as I hope to be very very old before the series is finished.

WPR: Thank you for your time John, it’s been a real pleasure reading your works, I know I can’t wait to see what you do in future issues and series.

JO: Thanks.

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