Tom Veitch, the writer who was instrumental in launching the Star Wars Expanded Universe, has died aged 80. Star Wars almost ended with Return of the Jediin 1983. While West End Games’ Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game developed on the lore of the Star Wars universe beginning in 1987, there were no fully formed new official stories in the Star Wars universe until 1991, when Timothy Zahn heir to the empire novel and by Veitch and Cam Kennedy dark empire the two continued the story of the Star Wars saga after the events of Return of the Jedi for the first time.
The expanded universe saga continued until Disney decided to reboot the Star Wars prop after buying Lucasfilm in 2012. Still, the continuity that Veitch helped find remains influential in the current canon of Star Wars, with some specific characters making the leap from a version of Star Wars. universe to another. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker even mirrored specific story beats from Veitch and Kennedy’s Dark Empire trilogy.
Star Wars: Dark Empire and its two suites, Star Wars: Dark Empire 2 and Star Wars: Empire’s End, will probably remain Veitch’s best-known work in the Star Wars universe. Although originally published by Dark Horse Comics, Marvel Comics has since reprinted the entire trilogy as a single volume in its Star Wars: Legends: The Epic Collection series. In a 2018 interview with StarWars.com, Veitch recalled the low expectations for a comic book based on the franchise at the time. “I remember a comic book pro saying to me at the time, ‘Why do you want to do Star Wars? Star Wars is dead!'”
In addition to continuing the story of Luke Skywalker after the Return of the JediVeitch helped lay the groundwork for the Old Republic era, delving deep into Jedi and Sith mythology in his Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi series. In this series, Veitch and his collaborators would establish the mythology later used in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and even influence George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy. Today, Disney is revisiting Veitch’s idea in the Star Wars: The High Republic publishing initiative.
Prior to his contributions to the Star Wars universe, Veitch was a monk at the Benedictine in Weston, Vermont for several years. He started writing comics in the 1970s. In 1988, he and future dark empire contributor Cam Kennedy released the fantasy/war comic The War of Light and Darkness via the Epic Comics imprint owned by the creator of Marvel Comics.
Veitch’s death comes as a result of contracting COVID-19. He is survived by his wife and daughter.