Today’s Guest: Jeffrey Brown, cartoonist, Darth Vader & Son, Vader’s Little Princess, Jedi Academy, Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, Clumsy, Funny Misshapen Body
Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with Jeffrey Brown by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience full of Gungans from the planet Naboo who hope that Jar Jar Binks didn’t make it impossible for them to be featured in a future Jeffrey Brown book… in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
It was probably about two years ago when my family gave me a copy of Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown for my birthday.
I will admit that I thought it was a gag gift, a trifle, something that was an after thought. The cover features Darth Vader participating in a tea party with Princess Leia and an Ewok, for cryin’ out loud!
Then I start reading it.
JEFFREY BROWN podcast excerpt: “Google thought of me for this idea they had: they would do an everyday father and son moment between Darth Vader and Luke. My autobiographical work dealt with awkward, everyday moments. And they knew I was a dad. My immediate reaction was to think of Luke as four years old, because that’s how old my son was. I did a bunch of sketches, but in the end, they decided not to use the idea. But my publisher, Chronicle Books, had done a lot of work with LucasFilm and I thought maybe they could take the idea to them. That became the first book, ‘Darth Vader & Son.'”
Oh, my goodness, folks, I don’t care how old you are, if you’ve ever seen a film in the original Star Wars trilogy, you will adore this book. Every page is a unique nugget of whimsy and delight that will have you laughing and crying as Brown looks at life with Leia from adolescence to teenage rebellion. (Literally.)
The book has been proudly displayed on our living room coffeetable ever since, always on the top of the pile. And I’ve since read the other titles in the series, including Darth Vader and Son, Darth Vader and Friends, and Goodnight Darth Vader.
I have wanted to have Brown as a guest here ever since, and publication of the second edition of the Random House graphic novel short story series Comics Squad opened the door.
JEFFREY BROWN podcast excerpt: “I have a book called ‘Funny Misshapen Body’ that tells about art school and how I met Chris Ware and having these key moments. His work and seeing what he was doing with comics was a big inspiration.”
Brown’s latest series couldn’t be more different from his venture with the children of Anakin Skywalker, and yet it isn’t a stretch to recognize the parallels.
In the story of “Lucy and Andy Neanderthal,” we enter the world of two cave children from a long-ago era, far, far away from the galaxy scorching stories of Star Wars. But we again find ourselves immersed in the adventures of a clever, somewhat mischievious brother and sister, this time set against a backdrop where the most advanced technology is cooking soup inside animal skin.
Brown is one of several top contributors to Comics Squad #2, the theme of which is Lunch! Sharing the pages are Cece Bell, Cecil Castellucci & Sara Varon, Nathan Hale, Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Vicki Scott, and Jason Shiga.
Key interview moments:
• 4:15 Jeffrey Brown explains how the Vader and children idea actually came from Google but, after Brown offered several concepts for gags, the search giant passed;
• 17:30 Brown talks about naming the characters in his newest children’s series, Lucy & Andy Neanderthal;
• 36:45 Meeting graphic novelist Chris Ware was a big moment in Brown’s development as a cartoonist; he talks about other influences as well.