Tom Veitch, author of Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi, has died

On February 18, Rich Veitch posted on Facebook that his brother, Tom Veitch, had passed away from COVID-19 at the age of 80.

A comic book writer for much of his career, Veitch played an instrumental role in the resurgence of Star Wars storytelling in the 1990s, helping to launch the Expanded Universe that is now Star Wars Legends. Veitch wrote the Dark Empire comic series and also worked extensively on the Tales of the Jedi series, both for Dark Horse Comics.

After the release of Return of the Jedi in 1983, there was a lull in Star Wars storytelling that’s nearly impossible for fans nowadays to imagine. There was a period where fans wondered if there would be any more Star Wars to come. There was the Ewoks series and films in the mid 1980s, and Droids was during that time as well. But then came 1991, and with it a spark for Star Wars storytelling that hasn’t died since. Timothy Zahn’s novel Heir to the Empire was released in May, and then months later, in December, came the Dark Empire comic series, written by Veitch. Together, these projects helped to kick off the expansive Star Wars universe and storytelling that we have grown so familiar with.

But Dark Empire not only set the stage for Star Wars publishing in general; it specifically set the stage for two monumental events that have been brought back in Star Wars canon in recent years. Dark Empire tells the story, set years after the Battle of Endor, of Emperor Palpatine’s return, who had managed to transfer his life force to a clone body. In the course of the story, Luke Skywalker briefly turns to the dark side but eventually fights back against Palpatine – and additionally, through the course of the story it’s revealed that Boba Fett actually survived the sarlacc pit. The return of both Palpatine and Boba became staples in Legends storytelling, and both are now canon as well, as The Rise of Skywalker confirmed Palpatine returned in a clone body, while The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett confirmed that Boba escaped the sarlacc.

A few years later, in 1993, the Tales of the Jedi comic series kicked off, with Veitch as the writer, and it jumped back to the Old Republic and was the first to really dive in and explore the era. Other writers would jump in and take over stories during the comic’s run, but Veitch was a pivotal part of the story.

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