Star Wars is probably the most popular franchise on the planet. Since Disney purchased Lucasfilm there has been a renewed interest in the already beloved universe. However, with the sale of the studio and the acquisition of the rights, much of the expanded universe is now non-canon. That hasn’t stopped artists from making works of their own though. One such creator is the San Francisco based Dr. Popular, and his project Far Away. The comic is on Kickstarter, and it might be the most personal passion project Dr. Popular has ever created.
Known for his smaller, comedic works like the sarcastic God Hates Dinosaurs or The Order of the Snail, Dr. Popular takes a step in a different direction with Far Away. Ditching the jokes and social commentary, Far Away is a tale of a lone Imperial droid that has crashed on a remote planet. In the movies, Imperial droids are normally void of personality, but to Dr. Popular, the idea of these cold soulless machines in more human situations was a base idea that lead to a more in-depth story where the droid befriends a soon-to-be Jedi. Instead of a complete comedy, it explores the idea of friendship, and even loss. Without actually reading the comic, many could see this as a change of direction for the artist, but most of his style is still intact with a light-hearted tone and a less realistic art direction. In many ways, it blends what we’d expect from Dr. Popular with a cast of characters that you become attached to.
Normally, he works in a stream of consciousness style that leads to a more quirky tone, whereas this story had a plan from the beginning. He allocated an hour every day to work on it. Waking up early before work, he’d pen the pages of what is now a 28-page tale. Originally, Far Away was planned as an 8-page saga, keeping in line with most of Dr. Popular’s comics, which stem from 24-hour jams where a story is cranked out in a day. But as he completed a few pages, he found himself adding more.
“I started flushing out a story in my mind that was just about [the Imperial probe droids],” Dr. Popular said. “Then the story about the girl and everything evolved… that sort of happened organically.”
Eventually the rough work was complete, but there was still something missing. That’s when he spoke to Mike Hales to add colour. He worked with Hales during the creation of The Order of the Snail. To Dr. Popular, the stained pages added another layer to his story and brought everything to life. This time though, he wants to pay Hales more appropriately for his work. That’s why he set up a Kickstarter to fund the project with a majority of the proceeds going to Hales. The goal is to reach $3,200 by May 8 2016. Dr. Popular noted that if he reaches that minimum goal, he does not actually make a profit on this. In many ways, this is a passion project, with the Kickstarter going toward paying a colleague proper wage for his work.
“I actually lowered the…goal from $3,800 to $3,200, [that goes to] him, the Kickstarter and credit card fees,” he said. “If I meet my goal I don’t make anything for this comic, and I’m fine with that.”
This isn’t Dr. Popular’s first Kickstarter, but it is his most expensive. He’s gone to crowdfunding for a chip tune album for the Gameboy Advance, and to fund his comics God Hates Dinosaurs and The Order of the Snail. Since those campaigns, he’s learned what works and what doesn’t work with crowdfunding. So to encourage support, there are ten rewards for funding different amounts. These range from a PDF of the comic, a bundle including a comic written by Hales, a paper puppet video (min $150), and even a party in a secret alley (for $600).
Even though those rewards are unique, Far Away’s Kickstarter is more personal for Dr. Popular than any of his past projects. It’s a story that’s taken years to develop, and months to craft in the most beloved universe on the planet, with the proceeds going to an artist that’s helped him bring many of his works to life. For what is essentially really cool fan fiction, Dr. Popular brings a unique spin to the galaxy far, far away.