The latest instalment of the Star Wars is coming up – for anyone who needs more back story Clone Wars is indispensable vi

Star Maker

Elise Harris talks to animation supremo Genndy Tartakovsky creator of Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory and director of Star Wars: Clone Wars

The latest instalment of the Star Wars is due this summer – for anyone who needs more back story the animated Clone Wars is indispensable viewing. Although whether it remaiins (or was ever) canopn is disputable.

 As a child, Russian-émigré to the US Genndy Tartakovsky was fascinated by Star Wars.

It came out at the same time as I came to the America – so it was kind of a huge eye-opening experience. It brought science fiction to a new level – I got toys and played with them, pretending to be Han Solo,’ he says.

He was understandably thrilled when approached to create a series that would fill in the gaps between George Lucas’ latest movies, but he was also determined to put his own stamp on the project.

Being Star Wars fans we always had to be sincere towards ourselves, towards the project. We put our own signature on it – we didn’t want to do Star Wars exactly the way it is, because it’s a different media and the media changes it slightly.

The team also tried to be respectful and not make fun of the material. ‘We had to be sincere about it and, loving the universe and loving the characters, it was hard to do something that was really broad and not insult those characters.’

The team was careful to portray the characters properly. ‘That’s one of the most important things especially with this story of Anakin becoming Darth Vader – you wanted to see his character grow so it makes sense of his transition. And we still wanted Obi-Wan and all the other characters – C-3PO and R2 act the way they are in the films.’

Genndy also made sure that the animated characters looked like the characters – rather than the actors who play them.

We started to worry less about how much they looked like the actors and more if they looked like the characters. We really wanted it to look like Obi-Wan, not so much like Ewan McGregor. If he’s a good enough actor, which he is you think of him as being Obi-Wan not Ewan Mcgregor.’

With 2D out of favour in the cinema, it’s up to TV to keep traditional animation from disappearing. Genndy says that despite its science fiction premise, Clone Wars is still made using what could be considered ‘old-fashioned’ techniques.

It’s all drawn on paper – nothing’s really changed since the forties except that when we do ink and paint it’s just sort of click and fill. And some of our space ships we create on the computer.’

He has nothing against computer animation, but doesn’t think that 2D should be abandoned.

I love 2D animation but as far as a movie goes it’s more difficult to sell right now. When I look at 3D there’s so much more to look at so I think it’s still a novelty – very fresh and very new. I think 2D will make a comeback when that becomes normal.

Disney is the father of animation and for then to abandon it is just horrible. They need to restructure and figure out who they are.’

Genndy says he is always looking for ways to push the boundaries, and wants to make animated shows that appeal to wider audiences – not just kids.

In Japan there’s so many different types of animation – most other countries animation is for kids. It’s starting to grow and there’s more animation for adults, but it’s usually crude with kind of cheap humour.’

He was influenced by Japanese anime when creating Samurai Jack – as you would expect – but also when he worked on Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls. Clone Wars also owes much to Japanese styles.

Genndy is looking towards the future. The success of Samurai Jack opened many doors for him. He says he would happily work on more Clone Wars if he was asked, but television is no longer his first priority

I had a great time, the relationship with Lucas and working on Star Wars has been a great thing – it’s truly difficult but a great experience and I’d like to know what the future holds. I know that personally I’d like to do my own movie.

Everything I’ve done is always first instinct – which is great, it feels really good and it’s sincere, but sometimes I want to think bout things a little bit more and get a chance to really develop it.’

In the UK Star Wars: Clone Wars premiered on Tonnami on March 21, 2005 at 4pm