While at San Diego Comic-Con 2001, Jade Crusade’s very own Mazzic had the privilege to interview Star Wars artist Matt Busch. Busch's artwork has been seen in such publications as Star Wars Insider and West End Games' Adventure Journal.
So, are you a Mara Jade fan?
Jumping right to the point; are the images on your website from the short story Jade Solitaire the only illustrations of the Emperor's Hand you have created?
No. There are, to my recollection, about twelve. One color, and about twelve black and white pieces. Not all of them are on my website. If I can dig them up, I'll be sending them to you for exclusives.
Thank you very much! But the only Mara illustrations are from Jade Solitaire?
They're from Jade Solitaire. There was also a Talon Karrde story that I illustrated, that had a few cameos of Mara Jade as well.
You don't happen to know who wrote that story, or what it was called?
I don't, but I think it was a story that was either written by Mike Stackpole or he and Timothy Zahn. I can't really remember. It was for an issue of the Star Wars Adventure Journal that never came out. So, yeah, it's a shame.
Are you familiar with Mara's character?
Absolutely I am. I was a really big Star Wars fan before I - I still am - but before I started doing official work in ‘94, I was a huge Star Wars buff. In fact, I've got a Darth Vader tattoo—
*Lifts up sleeve to show Vader's mask inked onto his arm*
But before I was doing official work, I had time to read all the books, so obviously I read Timothy Zahn's trilogy and all the way up past the Jedi Academy series.
Have you been keeping up with the New Jedi Order series?
No. I've read almost all the books that Bantam used to do, and also illustrated the Tales from the Empire novel. But I haven't had a chance to read anything from Del Rey. I did read one chapter from Vector Prime because I had to illustrate Chewbacca when he dies, for the Star Wars Insider.
Great piece, by the way.
What preparations did you go through before producing the Jade Solitaire pictures?
Well, at that time, there wasn't an official Mara Jade model. So I had a friend who is a model in mind. Her name is Andi Ficara, and she really had this unique look. At least, what I had read from novels and stuff, I thought she was the perfect character. So I took all the photographs, and did some preliminary sketches first just to send to West End Games. They sent it to Lucasfilm to make sure she was, you know, a good-looking Mara. They loved the preliminary sketches, and she worked out great. She really got into character. I actually had her read the first Timothy Zahn novel, just to kind of get it. I filled her in with all the future, and she was really into it and did a really good job.
Do you plan on producing other Mara images in the future?
I would like to. Usually for the Star Wars stuff, if I get hooked up with a job that involves Mara, I'm into it. It's not really a situation where I can just propose, "Hey, I want to do a Mara Jade comic book." If they ask me to do it, I say "yes," basically.
So no Mara Wizards of the Coast material yet?
No, not that I know of yet. I wish though. I think she's fascinating.
What is your favorite art medium to use?
My favorite to do my paintings in is acrylic with colored pencil. I use a little bit of airbrush in my work, just for highlights and filling in large areas of colors, but it's actually mostly hand painted.
How long have you been a Star Wars fan?
Since the first day I saw the movies. Actually, it's funny. When I was a kid, I wasn't allowed to see Star Wars. My parents saw it first and they thought it was too violent for me. You know, cause Luke's parents get slaughtered, Obi Wan Kenobi dies, and I was 4 years old when it first came out. So I actually tricked my grandparents into taking me.
So I saw it for the first time with my grandparents, and it was really cool. I've been hooked ever since.
Well, thank you very much for letting me conduct this interview with you.
You're very welcome.
If you are interested in seeing more of Matt Busch’s art, check out his section at Jade Crusades' Art of Mara Jade, or to see more of his Star Wars art (as well as others) head on over to his website at www.MattBusch.com!