Comics 101 for 04/17/2003 Thoughts From The Land Of Frost Interview
Last December I was interviewed by Alex Ness at RobinGoodfellow.com for his 'Thoughts from the Land of Frost' column. I discussed with him in depth my work and inspiration for Star Wars along with some of my past and current projects and future goals. If you missed it the first time around you can check out the interview reposted here. Enjoy!
THOUGHTS FROM THE LAND OF FROST
By ALEXANDER NESS
Volume 4, #6
December 3rd, 2002
Joe Corroney's work became known to me from e-mails from my friend Joe Frietze. Upon looking at Joe Corroney's web-site I became aware that this artist had a special ability. In addition to becoming aware of his fine work, I enjoyed a number of discussions with Mr Corroney on Tom Mandrake's message board and through e-mail.
I hope you'll enjoy this interview as much as I've enjoyed getting to know Joe Corroney, Star Wars Artist.
Hello Mr. Corroney and welcome to my column Thoughts From The Land Of Frost.
Hi Alex. Thanks for contacting me.
As a Space fiction/fantasy artist your work has appeared many places. Could you please tell my readers some of the places your work has appeared?
Let's see, I originally started out as a comic book penciler for a few independent publishers while I was still back in college as a sophomore. That was almost ten years ago so a lot of those comics, especially because they were independent, weren't widely seen or remembered. Perhaps I should keep it that way since I'm not a big fan of my work from that long ago and I was still in school and getting my feet wet as a published artist. But I was getting published and that was the most important thing for me that early. The following year in school I was published by Iron Crown Enterprises illustrating various books for their Champions Role-Playing Game so that was some more of my very first published work too.
Beyond that, right after I graduated, I began getting published doing Star Wars artwork for Lucasfilm books, games and magazines. I've been doing Star Wars art for probably about six years now. So the majority of my career has been focused on that though I've also illustrated for Star Trek books and games, White Wolf Publishing, some Men in Black projects that went unpublished and various gaming and comic book work here and there over the years.
Last summer, I landed a real dream project in illustrating Lucasfilm's official web site for Episode II, www.HoloNetNews.com. It was a real thrill to be a part of the excitement in helping shape the back story and the expanded universe aspect of Attack of the Clones. The schedule was really intense and I was required to do around 80 full color illustrations in a few months worth of time. I was able to make it out alive though and still really have the time of my life with that project. If Lucasfilm asked me to do something like it again, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If you missed Holonet News.com when Episode II was released this past May, you can actually view the web site and all of my illustrations as part of the 'special features' on the second disc of the Episode II DVD when it's released this November.
Tell us about yourself, where you grew up, went to school, and if you went, art school.
Well, I was born July 18th, 1973 and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Right now I'm living in Columbus, Ohio which really isn't any different than where I grew up in Indy.
Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be an artist, really ever since I can remember. The earliest memory I have of drawing was right after I saw Star Wars in the summer of 1977. I was four years old and I remember tracing pictures on cheap paper from the Marvel Comics adaptation of Star Wars. In fact, that was my very first comic book. I loved that comic so much I ended up wearing out the binding from looking at it all the time. I eventually replaced it with a better copy years later for my collection. Star Wars is the reason I really wanted to become an illustrator and a comic book artist in the first place.
My mom must have seen some potential I guess and put me in private art lessons at an early age. I really enjoyed drawing and painting whenever I could. A lot more than I enjoyed playing sports which my dad was hoping would really interest me. Sorry, dad. Later on in junior high and high school I was drawing my own comic books too. Comic books have always been an important part of my life and next to Star Wars, something I always wanted to illustrate professionally as well.
I lived in Indiana until I graduated high school and then moved to Columbus, Ohio for art college. I graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in the Winter of 1995 with a degree in Illustration and tackled an illustration career from there.
Your work has seemed to focus on Star Wars. Was it important as an influential or formative work, or is it simply that your artwork and style work best in that milieu?
I never thought that it was my style that was best suited for Star Wars and that had to dictate my direction in my career. It was more that I had been a big Star Wars fan my whole life, even when it wasn't popular in the mid to late 80's and early 90's. It was the story and characters that attracted me to pursue work for Lucasfilm. Because I've been so successful and happy illustrating Star Wars for Lucasfilm and their various licensees over the years it just happens to be the bulk of my published work. I've also been successful illustrating for other publishers like White Wolf, which is in a totally different genre.
Doing Star Wars art for plenty of projects over the years has also allowed me to experiment in a variety of styles as an illustrator too. I didn't allow myself to be satisfied or pigeon-holed with only learning the basics of drawing, technique or storytelling, but it's helped me learn color principles, digital medium and has taught me how to work with photo reference, even in my comic book work.
What characters in Star Wars are your favorites to illustrate? Are they also your favorite characters in general?
Darth Vader. My favorite character and the most fun to draw. I've recently done two different full color illustrations with him and really enjoy drawing and painting such an iconic, evil yet layered and fully developed character.
I'd also say I really enjoy creating and illustrating aliens in the Star Wars universe. I'm a big science fiction freak and whenever I think of the coolest looking aliens I think of Star Wars. So it's always fun and challenging to create new and also familiar looking characters that have that 'Star Wars' feel. Storm troopers and Jedi are really fun for me to draw too. I love illustrating Jedi with light sabers. Oh and Yoda. I love drawing Yoda too.
Has your reputation as an excellent Star Wars artist limited or enhanced your work opportunities in other venues like comics or other genres?
It hasn't limited me at all. It's just that I haven't until only just recently been pursuing projects other than Star Wars a lot more. Even though I really want to try my hand at more sequential art and have a shot at other characters and stories in comic books, I wouldn't mind either if I was remembered primarily or constantly associated for my contribution to Star Wars years from now. Since I've truly enjoyed and loved the material so far and it's a been mainstay for me the past 6 years I wouldn't hold it against anyone, maybe except editors, if they typecasted me.
I'd say working on a high profile project like Star Wars has definitely been important and influential for me as formative work. Being associated as a Star Wars artist has actually opened a lot of doors for me to other projects and publishers.
You've worked for WHITE WOLF. Does the 'World of Darkness' as published appeal to you as an artist. The talented Tim Bradstreet worked in that venue and really became popular as a result. Where do you see your place in the horror genre?
My work for White Wolf is nowhere near as prestigious or as prophetic as Tim's. His work has been so popular since it's so photo-realistic and accessible and his technique is so amazing. Tim really went to a new level with his work for them and when I was doing my work for White Wolf it was still in my early formative years which really wasn't that long ago I feel. Actually I hope I'm always learning and growing in my work but only lately have I felt more 'consistent'. I was still finding my voice I think and doing more cartoon type work for them at the time, not the more hyper real style I've been pushing for lately.
It's been a few years since I last did work for White Wolf so I'm not on the up and up with their 'World of Darkness' material right now.
I had a lot of hit and miss projects for them over a two year run but I really had fun regardless since I loved doing horror for White Wolf. Now that it's been a few years and I've advanced a lot more as an artist I feel, I'd actually like to go back and do some more work for White Wolf sometime since I really love working in the horror genre.
What artists, film directors or writers have most influenced your work?
Wow...this could be a really long list. Film directors first and foremost begin with George Lucas, not for his style of direction but his overall vision and imagination. That is very inspirational to me. Spielberg for his storytelling chops comes in second. From there it's James Cameron for his attention to detail and adherence to perfection, someone always pushing himself and others to do better and better each time in his craft and never doing anything short of amazing with his work. Sam Raimi for his exaggerated style, comic timing and controlled chaos in his films. John McTiernan for his slickness and attitude in his work and John Carpenter for his mastery of suspense and horror. I also really like that fact that he can combine genres so well and seamlessly like Raimi, Cameron and McTiernan.
As far as influential writers go, they're all most likely working in the comics field. Frank Miller and Alan Moore are probably two of the most influential for me. Then there's Chris Claremont's run on the X-Men and John Ostrander's and Jan Duursema's work on writing and plotting Star Wars that I truly admire. Larry Hama's GI Joe was really great stuff too.
Your work in SKETCH Magazine and COMICS 101 at www.WorldFamousComics.com focus upon teaching art principles. Do you wish to eventually teach art full-time or does it just bubble forth from you naturally?
Well, I actually do teach art at the Columbus College of Art and Design here in Columbus, Ohio. A few years after I graduated from the school, my former mentor Darryl Banks, artist on DC's Green Lantern, asked me to take over for him as the teacher for the Comic Book Illustration class since DC was keeping him really busy. I've been teaching that class and a computer illustration techniques course using Freehand, Photoshop and Painter for a few years now. That's really where my contributions to Sketch and my regular column, Comics 101 stem from.
I really just stumbled into the teaching thing accidentally through Darryl and really learned a lot from him since he was a great teacher. I tell people I teach because it supports my 'freelance' habit, allowing me to have a little extra money on the side working in a sometimes tricky field like illustration.
Though, part of me does enjoy breaking down the barriers and sharing steps for other artists still learning in the field. I feel like I'll always be a student and will always be learning myself so it might come naturally for me. I've always been truly grateful for what others have shared, taught and shown me since without their help I wouldn't be where I am in my career today. If I can return that favor to others, I feel validated and worthy for what others gave me, even if I'm still learning myself.
Well JoeCorroney.com is my official site designed by myself and Justin from www.worldfamouscomics.com and www.comicscommunity.com. I really needed a web site for three reasons. One, to always get work by letting prospective clients and publishers view my portfolio and bio online at any given time. That's probably the most important function of the site for me. Reason two, to make money by selling books, original art or prints of my work and supporting myself with the illustration work I produce. And three, to just interact with fans and keep them up to date with my current and upcoming projects and let them know where I'll be appearing at various shows in the country throughout the year.
So far, my official site has been really instrumental in my career and successful for me since it's lead to art directors and editors contacting me for work numerous times.
The Comics 101 idea was more of a secondary idea to my site which was added later and has turned out to be moderately successful or gradually accepted by folks it seems. It's gotten me positive feedback along with a little extra exposure on the web and that's good for my career since I'm still trying to get my name out there and my voice heard with comic book work.
Whether you're a fan of my art or you've stumbled across my little corner of cyberspace by accident, hopefully it's a place where you can enjoy my work and see where my imagination is leading me lately. If you like Star Wars art or artwork for horror, sci-fi, fantasy, role-playing games comic books or movies you should definitely check it out.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I just finished a project for Star Wars Insider that will be appearing in issue 65, due out in January I believe. I'm hoping to do some more work for Insider and possibly have another project lined up there soon with my art director. I'm also getting ready to do something for New Line Cinema on the new Lord of the Rings movie. That's *really* top secret right now but I'm really excited about the project. I've got a few comic book prospects that might happen including a personal project. I'm also chasing down some other comic book work for various companies currently like doing a Star Wars story for Dark Horse Comics. That would be a dream come true.
See ya next week for a new Comics 101 feature!