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Face To Face With The Masters

Any citizen of the galaxy may be summoned to answer to the Jedi Council. Here you may read the transcripts of such sessions.

Cellblock 1138 - 1997-1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2003+

Joe Corroney

June 2001, by Jeff Boivin

When did you realize you wanted to become a professional artist?

Probably at a very young age, about four years old. I guess once I realized I could draw pretty well for a kid and color inside the lines. I never really thought about if I could make a living at it or if it was even a profession at such a young age. When I was that young I just enjoyed being told I was really good at something so the encouragement from family and friends throughout grade school and high school was definitely key. The decision to be an artist was kind of an ongoing thing ever since I could remember.

What was your first published art piece?

That would have probably been a comic book I illustrated during my sophomore year of college in 1993, when I was about twenty years old. The comic book was called 'Dead-Kid' and it was for a publisher called Sky Comics which eventually became Sacred Grounds Studios. I'm still collaborating with this company on comic book projects and as a writer for Sketch magazine.

Have you illustrated for other comic books?

I've illustrated some other comic books like 'Blood and Roses' for Sacred Grounds Studios. I'm currently penciling and co-writing a Blood and Roses "sequel" of sorts with its creator Bob Hickey. This book should come out soon sometime this year. It's a sci-fi/fantasy adventure book with a superhero edge to it and it should turn out to be a really cool book. I've also worked on my creator owned comic book, Death Avenger, for World Famous Comics. I'm still writing and drawing a new three issue mini-series for this to eventually be published once I complete it between my Star Wars projects and other assignments. I've also done some comic book work for DC and Image comics as well.

Who are your major influences?

A lot of comic book artists were my influences growing up. Artists like John Byrne, Mike Zeck, Alan Davis, Walt Simonson, Bernie Wrightson, John Buscema, the Romitas, Jim Aparo, Carmine Infantino, Howard Chaykin, Mike Mignola, Rick Leonardi, Frank Miller and George Perez all come to mind. Actually I still pay attention to a lot of these guys' art today including their newer work if they're still creating. My former comic book teacher, Darryl Banks, who illustrated Green Lantern for DC is someone I still really look up to. There are also illustrators like Ralph McQuarrie, Hugh Fleming, Dave Dorman and Drew Struzan who amaze me. I really like Jan Duursema's work for all the Star Wars books she's been doing. The Darth Maul series looked phenomenal. I'm looking forward to her art in the Episode II comic adaptation.

Who is your current favorite comic artist? And what is your favorite SW comic series or artist?

I have so many influences and artists I really admire right now, but my current favorite comic artist probably has to be Jan Duursema. Just about all I buy are Star Wars comics since I try to stay on top of continuity. It's also about all I can afford with my budget since there are so many Star Wars comics coming out.

My favorite Star Wars comic book series is a toss up between Dark Empire and the Heir to the Empire adaptation. I love the artwork and story for both and I've always enjoyed Cam Kennedy's work. The coloring for both series was really amazing. I also really anjoyed the Manga editions of Star Wars and Empire. The style really fit perfectly and it definitely gave a refreshing and unique look to a story everyone has seen a hundred times and knows so well.

I also really enjoy the art from the Blade of the Immortal series. Hiroaki Samura just does amazing work. Wow!

Have you ever considered doing Star Wars comics for Dark Horse Comics?

I've always considered doing artwork for Dark Horse's Star Wars comics. In fact, I've lost count as of how many submissions I've sent them over the years. Getting to illustrate for any of their Star Wars books or even just one short story for Star Wars Tales would be a dream come true. Comic books are and always will be my first love. Star Wars comics were what inspired me to be an artist as a kid in the first place. If I ever do receive a Star Wars assignment from Dark Horse I wouldn't give them anything less then the best artwork I could create possible. I plan on sending another portfolio their way in the near future so if Dark Horse is listening, I really hope they keep their eyes peeled for my work.

When did you become a Star Wars fan?

I saw the film in the theater when it opened in 1977. I was about four years old so Star Wars has always been kinda with me ever since I could remember. Even during the "dark times" when Star Wars fandom was low, from about 1984 to the early 90's, I was still buying the Marvel Star Wars comics and the WEG stuff. And eventually the Zahn novels and Dark Horse's Dark Empire comics as the fandom resurfaced. There were a few years of crossover and years in between reserved for collecting GI Joes and Transformers though.

Like a lot of creative people in the visual arts who grew up on the Star Wars movies, they definitely motivated me to draw as a child. Between the toys, coloring books, comic books and the model kits, there was all this cool Star Wars merchandising that made it easy for me to be inspired to create. I feel fortunate to have been just old enough to remember seeing the movie a handful of times that summer and during the rerelease later on. I'd come home and draw scenes in the movie from my head or trace pictures from the Marvel comic book adaptation my mom got me for my birthday that summer.

How did you get involved professionally with Star Wars, and why the Role-Playing Game?

Getting involved with Star Wars professionally happened in late 1996 for me. I had been out of college for about six months and was working on my portfolio trying to get more comic book work and fun freelance illustration jobs. I was currently working as an in-house illustrator for a company but wanted to do more creative things as an artist than what I was doing at my full-time job.

I had previously done some freelance artwork for the Champions role-playing game while still in college and decided to pursue some other gaming companies with my portfolio submissions. I already owned most of the Star Wars rpg books and miniatures from West End Games when I collected them during highschool and I had always been a big Star Wars fan.

Since my buddies and I used to play the rpg during highschool and early college I was constantly buying the current books and games they were producing too. I was very aware of the kind of material and artwork WEG was producing. I think this was helpful as I tailored my portfolio submission for them.

These books always have the names of art directors and editors in the contents or opening pages so I threw together some xeroxes and color prints of my work as samples and started mailing them to these people at WEG. Sometime soon after I got phone calls from Stephen Crane and Bill Smith there. They gave me my first Star Wars assignment doing interior illustrations for No Disentegrations, a bounty hunter rpg book, which came out in 1997.

WEG had me illustrating consistently for a variety of different Star Wars books as well as The Official Adventure Journal. I think I illustrated about eight or nine Star Wars books for them from 1997 to summer of 1998 and had done artwork for about four more. Those four never came out unfortunately because WEG lost the license before they could be printed.

My current association with the new Star Wars role-playing game from Wizards of the Coast came about in a similar way. It was more portfolio submissions, phone calls and making contacts. It was also really about listening to what the art directors were looking for in terms of style. Once I was approved as an artist by Wizards for the license I had to re-establish myself as an artist with Lucasfilm by getting their approval again. Last year I got my first Star Wars assignment from Wizards illustrating the 'Marvel Aliens' feature for Star Wars Gamer #1.

I've completed artwork for some more issues of Gamer and just recently did artwork for the role-playing game. Hopefully I'll continue illustrating Star Wars for Wizards as long as they will have me since I really enjoy working with everyone there. And I personally can't think of anything more fun for me than getting paid to draw Star Wars.

Do you actually play the RPG?

I haven't played it though I would like to if I ever find time in my schedule some day. I haven't played the D20 system yet actually but I used to play the old AD&D rules in college.

How was it like to work for West End Games?

I enjoyed the oppurtunity and trust WEG gave me as an artist to illustrate for Star Wars. They gave me a lot of free reign to create and I got to do some cool color work for the Star Wars license as well. One of my paintings they commissioned, Alien Scoundrels of Tatooine, was going to be my first cover for one of their books but it went unpublished due to the timing of them losing the license.

I actually have alot of unresolved issues with WEG's upper management that I'm not allowed to get into but I did enjoy working with the editors and art directors there. Eric Trautmann, Tim Bobko, Steve Miller, Pete Schweighofer and Craig Carey were really great guys to work for.

Have you met any of the Wizards of the Coast staff?

Last year at some conventions I got to meet some of the Wizards folks like Sean Glenn, Steve Miller, Bill Slaviseck and Lisa Stevens. Maybe one of these days I'll get to meet Kyle Hunter. He's the Star Wars Gamer art director. He's definitely the guy that I talk with the most. He's always keeping me busy on Gamer too so I'd like to thank him in person some day for all the cool oppurtunities he's given me to illustrate for Star Wars. Both Sean and Kyle have been really helpful with advice too. I'm enjoying the creative energy and feedback they offer because it really pushes me to become a better artist.

Tell us about some of your other work.

I've done work for WEG's unpublished Men In Black rpg books and for the Star Trek role-playing game. I find a lot of the work I'm attracted to has a sci-fi edge to it. Seeing Star Wars as a kid and watching Star Trek reruns with my dad Sunday mornings definitely got me hooked on science-fiction early.

I'm also a big horror movie buff so getting to illustrate for White Wolf Publishing is a blast as well. I get to draw everything from zombies to werewolves to magic-users so that's fun. I've illustrated a number of books and trading cards for them and recently illustrated some fantasty-themed artwork for the Age of Empires collectible card game. I also mentioned Sketch magazine earlier which is a comic book art tips and techniques magazine I write for. It's a good resource amateur and pro creators alike. I just finished writing a step by step article for Sketch #8 about the Marvel Aliens artwork I created for Star Wars Gamer #1. (NOTE: The issue should be available on newstands the week of June 18, 2001. It also contains an interview with Dave Dorman.)

I saw on your website JoeCorroney.com that you're attending quite a few conventions this summer. How is it like meeting the fans? Meeting fellow artists?

I love meeting fans. Anybody that takes time to notice or support my work and hands me a compliments always makes my day. And I enjoy talking with new people at these shows who are as passionate about Star Wars as I am. I'm still just a fan who is lucky to get paid to draw this stuff. I'm really looking forward to meeting more people at these conventions this summer.

Meeting other artists is fun too and I like going to these shows and supporting their work especially if I'm a fan. The best part is whenever I get to meet one of my idols. When I meet a Star Wars artist or comic book illustrator who I admire I'm usually humbled just like anyone else.

Do you still own some of your original pieces? Are you going to keep putting some of them up for auction on eBay?

I own most if not all of my original artwork unless I sell it or give it away to friends or family. You can always keep an eye out on eBay through my official site since anything I'm currently selling can be seen through a link there on my homepage. Definitely count on me selling more originals in the near future.

What other assignments do you currently have, aside from your work for SW Gamer? And what upcoming SW RPG projects can you tell us about?

Currently I'm working on a few different comic book projects like 'Blood and Rose: Time Lords' and 'Death Avenger'. I'm also illustrating for White Wolf occasionally. I'm hoping to do some artwork for Decipher's upcoming Lord of the Rings rpg and maybe do some full color work for their new Star Trek RPG as well.

What I have on the horizon for Star Wars is currently for Gamer. I just finished illustrating an adventure called 'Kashyyyk in Flames' for #4. I'm about to illustrate a 'dark side' feature for issue five and I just did some artwork for the Rebellion Era Sourcebook.

I'd love to illustrate even more for the rpg. This summer I'm looking forward to doing as much Star Wars art that Wizards hands me as possible. I'm really just enjoying having the chance to draw for such a cool company like Wizards and creating for Star Wars. Getting to illustrate something as much as I enjoy Star Wars has pushed me to become a better artist and makes me try to outdo myself with each project.

What kind of tools do you use for inking/coloring?

I usually ink with a Hunt's 102 dip pen and use Speedball India ink. Sometimes I break out the brush though and I often use tech pens for straight edges. Anybody that's proficient inking with a brush has my respect. I just sometimes don't have the patience for it. For coloring it just depends on the piece. If it's my traditional comic style art I do like the Marvel Aliens art or a piece I just did for the Rebellion Era Sourcebook then I rely on my trusty Macintosh programs. Photoshop and Painter are the industry standards and are what I use. I teach these programs for a class at the Columbus College of Art and Design where I previously earned my degree. I also teach a Comic Book Illustration course at this school here in Ohio. If it's traditional color work like painting on board or canvas than I use acrylics and sometimes watercolors. I play around with an airbrush too but mainly I use acrylics and a variety of Windsor-Newton brushes.

Which of the four Star Wars movies is your favorite and why?

Hmmm... tough, tough question. They're all so good it's hard to pick a favorite cause I like them all for different reasons. The first Star Wars film will always have a special place in my heart since I have the fondest memories growing up with that movie. It's also probably the most balanced in terms of storytelling I guess. It's got everything.

The first 20 to 30 minutes of Return of the Jedi are great too because we finally get to see Luke as a Jedi kicking a lot of butt. Especially during the skiff battle. I also really enjoy all the overlapping final battles for the finale of that movie. The editing and pacing there are superb. The Vader/Luke duel and the Death Star space battle are some really powerful scenes.

Empire is probably my favorite movie though on an artistic level. It had the best everything - acting, writing, and even lighting. It had lots of texture visually and great backdrops for the environments. It also had a lot of grey area with the characters and relationships that made it real interesting. Especially with Han, Luke and Lando. Though I've probably been watching The Phantom Menace the most lately since it's the newest one so that might be my current favorite.

What are you going to do when Episode II opens? Are you going to be standing in line for tickets?

I'll be in the trenches with the rest of the Star Wars fans. I camped out for a day with some of my comic book students to buy tickets for Episode I here in Columbus. That was a good time. Luckily I only lived a few blocks away from the theater so it wasn't difficult to do. It'll probably be the same case come summer 2002. It's really an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan. I loved The Phantom Menace and I'm looking forward to the next movies for sure.

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