In a time when Star Wars had all but faded away, Tom Veitch helped keep the Force alive. Veitch was one of the leading comic book writers for the Star Wars Dark Horse line in the 1990s and introduced stories and concepts that still resonate today. In sad news for Star Wars fans everywhere though, the author passed away recently at the age of 80, according to Wookieepedia.
After Return of the Jedi was released in 1983, Star Wars largely left the mainstream for almost a decade. Without future movies, most people minus the hardcore fans just stopped caring. A few key publications appeared in the ‘80s, including Marvel’s Star Wars comic, but it would take until the early ‘90s to see material released that begin to reinvigorate the franchise by continuing the story forward, with the first major launches in what would become known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe. In novels, there was Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire released in the summer of 1991. In the comics, there was Star Wars: Dark Empire, written by Tom Veitch. In it, Veitch came up with many of the ideas that eventually came to fruition decades later on the big screen, even after the end of the EU, chief among them the resurrection of Emperor Palpatine in clone form. The series, which was illustrated by Cam Kennedy, was a smash and was followed by two sequel series: Star Wars: Dark Empire II and Star Wars: Empire’s End, all of which were written by Veitch.
But while his and Zahn’s works were simultaneously exploring a post-Return of the Jedi world, Veitch had his most genius and far-reaching idea yet. What if things went not forward, but backward? And so, long before George Lucas released a prequel or gamers were wowed by Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Veitch wrote Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, first released in fall of 1993. With stories set thousands upon thousands of years before Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, or Princess Leia, Veitch’s work exploring the history of Star Wars with new characters inspired a whole new chapter of the franchise. It’s an idea that still lives on today, not just in Knights of the Old Republic, but in Star Wars: The High Republic.
And while Veitch’s career came to be defined by his landmark work in a galaxy far, far, away, it was far, far, away from the only thing he did. He lived for several years as a Benedictine monk and wrote a book about the experiences called The Visions of Elias. He worked for both Marvel and DC doing creator-owned graphic novels such as The Light and the Darkness as well as My Name Is Chaos. He did superhero work for DC too, including Superman and Animal Man, and was an accomplished poet as well. But for Star Wars fans, he’ll always be one of the people who, without many knowing it, kept Star Wars alive long enough for it to become what it is today.