I’m constantly checking out news sites online to see what’s new in comics, movie, television, celebrity gossip (oh admit it, we all do it!), and digital technology. So it’s rare when things get past me in pop culture.
I was on my honeymoon in November 2012 in beautiful London, England. (Quick side note, I got to see Skyfall in England before it came out in the states!) My lovely wife and I were happily walking hand-in-hand and we went into several bookstores. Two things shocked me. One was the popularity of Where’s Waldo? and its many published imitators. But in London, where the book series originated, it was called Where’s Wally? So I ask you all, why did the American publishers decide to change the name of the main character from Wally to Waldo? I’ve never met a Waldo and I don’t think I ever will. Sorry, a minor gripe.
But what really caught my attention was a “children’s book” by Jeffrey Brown called Darth Vader and Son. The premise of the book was simple: what if Darth Vader was a good father and raised a young Luke Skywalker. I opened the small, square bound book, amazed by the stunning visuals and humor. Each page consisted of one large drawing, with Darth Vader and Luke (as well as other characters in the verse), containing a damn funny punch-line. And the best part of this book was that for the more hardcore Star Wars fans like myself, there were special in-jokes that others wouldn’t understand.
Anyway, I bought that book and soon afterwards came out a sequel, Vader’s Little Princess. It was the same premise as before, but it focused more on his raising of a young Princess Leia. Both books were equally delightful!
Last month the third book in the series came out, which was called Goodnight Darth Vader. I expected the same formula as the first two, only to find that Jeffrey Brown had tweaked it a bit. Instead of one-page gags, the book consisted of two-page jokes, with the image on the left page setting up the punch-line on the right. On the bottom of pages Brown included rhyming related to the image. There wasn’t nearly the same amount of word balloons in Jeffrey Brown’s previous entries in the series.
So does this book work as well in this no format? No. But it is still absolutely fantastic. The art is done in a wash-style seemingly colored by watercolor paint. Brown has the ability to make Luke and Leia so cartoony; same with all the li’l versions of these characters such as Lando Calrissian. But then he contrasts these characters with an old Ben Kenobi, who is drawn slightly more detailed than the kids, which makes the children really stand-out in the book.
There are more problems with the book, but it is only minor gripes on my end. If Disney is trying to get away from the prequel trilogy, then shouldn’t most of the jokes contain characters from the original trilogy? It seems to me that Jeffrey Brown is so successful that he could do whatever he wanted, with no editorial interference. This isn’t a bad thing, I just expected more of the original versions of the characters.
And then there’s the prose. Sometimes Jeffrey was REALLY pushing it with trying to make his sentences rhyme. I read the book aloud to my wife (cute, right?) and there were a lot of times where I had to pause, because these sentences didn’t have the necessary cadence that they should have had.
But do I recommend this book? YES! Aside from my minor gripes, I encourage all Star Wars fans to pick up not just this book, but the entire series! If book one and two were a New Hope and Empire, this book was a Jedi. They are all still masterful reads!