Joe Corroney has been providing Lucasfilm with official Star Wars artwork for books, games, trading cards, comic books, posters and magazines since 1997. Other comic books he’s illustrated include Star Trek, GI Joe, Fallen Angel, 24: Nightfall, Doctor WHO, Angel and Spike Vs. Dracula for IDW Publishing, Buckaroo Banzai, Kolchak The Night Stalker and The Phantom for Moonstone Books and Crimson Dynamo for Marvel Comics.
JN – Joe, welcome to Jedi News.
JC – Hi Mark, it’s great to be here and chatting with you again.
JN – It’s been five years since we last had the chance to chat with you. What have you been up to?
JC – Has it really been five years? Wow… it seems like it wasn’t that long actually. Like it was just a year or two ago really. I guess I’ve been pretty busy these last five years. I’ve been working on various Star Wars projects along with illustrating for a bunch of different comics books, primarily with IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios including True Blood, Star Trek, Farscape, Doctor WHO, G.I. Joe and so forth.
Read on for Mark’s full interview with Joe…
JN – Your profile is much higher than it was when we last spoke, and the spread of projects seems to be ever expanding. Do you find yourself turning down work, or are you able to cope with the jobs as they come to you?
JC – Honestly, since I illustrate for a living day in and day out I really don’t turn too much work down though I guess it happens on occasion when I’m really booked. I work with my friend Brian Miller, who’s a really talented colorist and illustrator as well, so there’s not much we can’t handle when a project comes our way we want to collaborate on. Just as long as we can fit it into the schedule and it’s something we can get excited about.
JN – You get out and about to conventions on a regular basis. This year has been a bumper year for big events, especially Celebration 5. How special was C5?
JC – I don’t get out to conventions as regularly as I used to. From 2001 to about 2008 I was doing about 7 or 10 shows a year all over the country. It really helped my career to get my name out there early on but as I got busier and busier, especially these last few years I really don’t have the time to travel to conventions and promote my work or whatever projects I’m working on like I used to. I still try to schedule some of the bigger events when I can like Comic-Con in San Diego or Star Wars Celebration because they really are special. Celebration 5 was great because of the huge turn out of Star Wars fans and all the special guests and events, not to mention the celebrating, which made it an even more memorable event. Getting to catch up with friends who make the long journey across the country or even overseas is special too. When I think about it really there aren’t too many things like a Star Wars Celebration that can bring people together from all over the world to one place. I’ve made some really good friends and met so many great fans over the years at these events too. Personally though, Celebration 5 was such a special event because I was able to bring along my mom and my twelve year old daughter with me. It was my daughter’s first big convention experience and she really enjoys Star Wars too. She got to meet some celebrities too so it was really exciting for her. Seeing her having such a great time made it all worth it honestly.
JN – Life must be hectic. How do you relax when away from the drawing board?
JC – Yeah, my work keeps my life pretty busy, to the point that I don’t really have much of a social life unless I attend the occasional comic book or sci-fi convention as a guest and I get to see my other friends in the industry. When I do get some free time away from my studio though I might go check out a new movie or I’ll jump on my X Box and just tune out the world for a few hours.
JN – When we last spoke you’d just started working for IDW, pencilling the covers to their Spike and Angel series. Since then you’ve worked on a multitude of covers, most noticeably their Star Trek line and issues of Fallen Angel and True Blood. With your trading card and covers career riding so high, do you still long for a regular stint on a series, or are you happy being as artistically eclectic as you are?
JC – That’s a good question. I love being diverse and working on different projects that I’m a fan of personally. It sometimes helps me to keep excited about the work I’m doing and the variety of material challenges me to try different approaches and techniques with my art. Actually as much as I love illustrating covers with Brian for all the various titles I’ve been really fortunate to work on I do miss having the opportunity to do some sequential storytelling too. In fact, I’m actually about to begin drawing interiors again for a new project coming up in my schedule so I’m really excited about that. I can’t really talk about it yet but the news will be released soon enough I’m sure. I began my career in comic books, it’s where my heart is and I love storytelling, whether it’s in films or comics. I try to make my artwork as cinematic as possible so when I get the chance to combine my love for the two mediums I usually jump on it, whether it’s comic book covers for a film or TV series I’m a fan of or if it’s interior work for a story I’m really excited about.
JN – Are there any projects out there that you would love to have a crack at? I remember you saying you’re a big Batman fan.
JC – Yeah, getting to draw Batman for DC Comics would be a real dream come true. I’m a huge fan of Chris Nolan’s Batman films, all of his films actually, Inception, Memento, The Prestige. I love sci-fi and fantasy too, it’s what I grew up on along with horror movies. But I always gravitate towards the more realistic, the darker, more realistic characters and storytelling in the different genres. So getting the chance to put my spin on any characters that fit that criteria would be really fun for me. I grew up reading Spider-Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Superman and so on but I also read a lot of grittier books, like The Punisher, Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, the DC horror titles and books like Swamp Thing and The Unknown Soldier. It was heavier, darker stuff that stuck with me more.
JN – The last few years has bought a multitude of Star Wars projects – The Clone Wars, Force Unleashed. One very special event was the return of the Star Wars Galaxy series from Topps. You’ve been heavily involved in the new sets. What can you tell us about your involvement with them?
JC – It’s been a real thrill working with Topps on the revival of the Star Wars Galaxy trading card series. I remember collecting the cards from the previous series as a fan myself years earlier back in college. Beyond just illustrating sketch cards for the new sets I’ve been asked to create new artwork for the base cards along with getting to illustrate the foil puzzle card sets for the series which are really popular with the fans and collectors. It’s an honor following in the footsteps of Star Wars artist greats like Walt Simonson and Jan Duursema who illustrated the previous foil puzzle sets over the years. They’ve both been huge influences from early on in my career as a Star Wars illustrator and a comic book artist. I’m glad to see the Star Wars Galaxy trading card series come back because it’s a great showcase for artists from all kinds of genres and different styles to let their imaginations go crazy and put their personal trademark spin on the galaxy far, far away. I especially like seeing scenes realized from the Expanded Universe which we normally wouldn’t have gotten to see or would have never even thought of if it weren’t for the Galaxy series. And I’ve recently contributed new artwork for Star Wars Galaxy Six, which will be released early in 2011, so I’m looking forward to seeing that come out soon.
JN – The Clone Wars has really lit a fire under the franchise and clearly brought a renewed energy to the saga. How do you feel about the Clone Wars series and it’s place in the larger Star Wars story?
JC – Yeah, Clone Wars has been really great hasn’t it? I’m enjoying the series immensely. Each season Dave Filoni and his crew keep raising the bar and upping the quality of the storytelling and the animation. It just gets better and better. From a visual storytelling standpoint the rise in the level of detail in the animation alone from Season One to Season Two and now in Season Three has been exponential. It’s just so excellent. There were some really incredible and intense episodes and action sequences in Season Two that just blew me away. Some of the ones that really stand out are the Geonosis episodes like “Landing at Point Rain”, the Mandalorian episodes, and the Zillo Beast and Boba Fett episodes. I really love how The Clone Wars furthers the mythology of characters or events from the films and the Expanded Universe that we as fans have only get bits and pieces of before or how the series shows other sides or facets to these characters or stories we thought we already thought we knew. In the larger tapestry of the Star Wars, The Clone Wars isn’t just an animation showcase to keep the franchise alive for kids, its too easy to simply dismiss it as a cartoon. It’s a great storytelling platform for the saga too and works on different levels for it’s audiences. Just like the comic books or the novels, it fleshes out the mythology we’ve grown up with as older fans while adding more exciting layers to the Star Wars universe for the newer generation as it goes along.
JN – Your current crop of work outside of Star Wars has been at IDW. They seem to have a great thing going, very much in the vein of what Dark Horse did in the early 90’s when they were hoovering up film and television licences. How exciting is it to be there, working on such high-quality product?
JC – IDW really has come far in the last five years since I’ve begun working for them. Their books and creators have won plenty of awards and they’ve picked up some great licenses that have some pretty great fan bases so it’s been an honor to be a contributor for them and to be part of their creative team. I’ve been really fortunate so far to make a living as an artist with them and working on so many projects and properties that I love and can get excited about. I’m really happy they keep me busy and I’m able to keep giving the readers enjoyment with my work through them as often as possible.
JN – With the live action series on the way, what would you like to see firstly as a fan and secondly as someone who may well be involved in the project in some professional manner?
JC – That’s another great question. There’s so many things I’d love to see the live action series do. There’s just so much potential for Star Wars in a weekly serial format. I’m sure it’s not going to disappoint. I think the live action show would serve as a nice counterweight to The Clone Wars for more old school fans by focusing on new characters closer to the timeline of the Classic Trilogy era while the bigger events of the Galactic Civil War unfold around them. Throw in Boba Fett and some other occasional guest appearances by Darth Vader for example and it’s like a weekend with the old West End Games Star Wars Role-Playing Game with your friends all over again but only better. I’d love to be involved artistically with Lucasfilm for the live action series as a concept artist for characters, costumes, aliens, whatever they’d have me do. I’ve been involved with some high profile tie-in projects with Lucasfilm in the past with the prequels and that was really exciting. It didn’t dilute or spoil my enthusiasm at all for the films either before seeing them. Even though I had access to scripts, outlines or behind the scenes material for these projects I was still just as excited as the rest of the fans to watch them in the theater and waited in the lines with everyone for the premieres too. But whether or not I was involved in some artistic capacity for the TV show I’ll be really excited to see it all unfold on screen.
JN – With your past connections to the red hot Iron Man franchise in Crimson Dynamo would you relish the chance to go to Marvel again and do a follow up?
JC – Of course, I’d love to work with Marvel again and revisit Crimson Dynamo along with Iron Man, who really was only just a guest star in that series I drew. So my connection with the character is minimal at best. But I’d love to take more substantial crack with the character any day. I love the new films from Jon Favreau and Marvel has been working with some great creators on the comic series over the last few years too. In fact, my writer on Crimson Dynamo, John Jackson Miller, had a great run on the Iron Man title in the years leading up to the film and has since made a great name for himself on Knights of the Old Republic for Dark Horse Comics following that. So if our paths ever crossed again professionally, whether it’s Crimson Dynamo, Iron Man or Star Wars, it would be a lot fun to work with him again too.
JN – Final question. Yoda, Indiana Jones and Spock are abseiling down a mountain when suddenly there’s an avalanche. Yoda has the force, Indy his survival skills and Spock his logic, but who manages to get off the mountain intact first?
JC – Well, the wise, pointy eared alien characters pretty much cancel each other out and Indy has the patented “Indiana Jones luck” which has been shown in all the films to defy logic, the supernatural or even extra-terrestrials. So Indy outwits Yoda and the Vulcan hands down regardless and survives the avalanche. Besides who needs the Force when you have Short Round and a trusty whip by your side?
We’re really grateful to Joe for taking time out of his schedule to talk to us. Joe runs a full-time illustration studio and can be commissioned or contracted for work. You can contact him at here and also visit his website here.
Joe Corroney Interview: Copyright 2010 Jedi News. No part of this interview can be reproduced without prior written consent from Jedi News.