Star Wars: Infiltrator, 1983

This was the tenth Star Wars fanzine comic I drew since jumping into the pool in late 1981, and the first to sort of get me into trouble.

Since I had Star Wars on the brain all the time, just about anything could inspire a Star Wars story for me. This time it was the word “infiltrator.” When I learned what it meant, the gears started turning and I imagined an Imperial infiltrator in the rebel fleet.

I also had an interest in exploring a sub-genre that I hadn’t delved into yet: courtroom drama. I thought it could be interesting to see how the rebel alliance, patterned after the Republic and vying to one day put it back in place, would handle an internal dispute. We already knew how things went down on the Empire side (apology accepted, Captain Needa), so this had to be the opposite of that. A defendant would be given their say. The two ideas together added up to this story.

At one of the SF conventions I went to, I identified a Star Wars ‘zine called Imperium that leaned toward the Empire side. The editor walked around in Imperial officer uniforms, which I thought was pretty interesting. Like seeing a movie costume close up, even though it was homemade. I described the premise of Infiltrator to the editor and she liked it, so I got started. I drew the first part in about two weeks and sent it in. I assume it got published, but I don’t have a copy of the ‘zine it supposedly appeared in.

Then the problem emerged: I didn’t have the second half of the story figured out. To be honest, it interested me a lot less than other projects, so it fell off my agenda. Months later I started getting angry letters from the Imperium editor demanding the second half. All I could tell her was, “I’ll get to it at some point.” But the temperature just kept going up. I remember running into her (and her “enforcers”) at a later SF convention and being physically confronted about it. Again, all I could say was, “I’ll get to it at some point.” But I never did.

It was hard to figure out how to feel about all this. I didn’t know whether to be flattered that they wanted to see more of my work, or annoyed that they were dialing up the heat. It was all voluntary labor with no legal obligation. Sure, it’s a matter of honor to follow through on promises, but I hadn’t made any. So that was that.

What I learned in the actual drawing of the story is that when you’re stuck with people sitting in a room, you need superb storytelling skills to keep it from getting dull. You need to know a lot more than I did at the time about varying camera angles and page layouts to carry readers through heavy dialogue. But I was just 17, with a lot of experience still ahead of me.

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