Mitchell Hallock: Well, first
off, can you tell folks a bit about yourself,
have you been drawing all your life?
Joe Corroney: I've been drawing
as far back as I can remember. One of my earliest
memories is standing in my bed at age two or three
and drawing on my bedroom wall at night with crayons
I snuck under my blanket. I started private art
lessons on Saturdays when I was in grade school,
probably around fourth fifth grade I think. So
when most kids were outside running around playing
tag or football I was inside happily drawing or
painting pictures all afternoon. After high school
I attended art school at the Columbus College
of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. Eventually
I became a part time instructor myself there,
teaching the Comic Book Illustration Course for
the last ten years.
Were there certain subjects
you were, excuse the pun, drawn to? Super heroes,
sports figures, movies, dinosaurs?
Darth Vader illustrated by Joe Corroney.
It all started with Star
Wars and super heroes for me. I grew up
with that stuff on a daily basis, watching the
movies, reading comic books, playing with the
actions figures, so it was also my favorite subject
matter to draw. I was never into sports too much
but I loved movies, not just Star
Wars, but Indiana Jones of course and lots
of science fiction, action and horror movies too.
So a lot of my artistic influences and inspirations
comes from film.
Now you have
done a lot of great Star
Does it help to be a fan of what you are doing?
It definitely helps being a fan.
Sometimes in this industry you take jobs because
you have to, because you have to pay the bills
and need to keep working and keep your name out
there. But it's always great when you're offered
work on material that you are already passionate
about and intimately familiar with. I'm always
thrilled and having the most fun possible when
I'm illustrating Star
Wars or Indiana Jones because I worshipped
and studied these films and all of the other related
media like the books, comics, games, toys and
so on all of my life. Nothing really beats being
able to put my name and stamp on something so
universally appealing and adored like Indy or
Star Wars especially
when I'm just a big a fan as everyone else.
What about Indiana Jones, part
of your latest assignment for the Topps Heritage
Indiana Jones trading cards, that include randomly
inserted one of a kind drawings by yourself and
other artists, are you a big fan as well?
sketch cards by Joe Corroney.
When I was a kid there was only
one other movie trilogy that mattered besides
Star Wars and
that was Indiana Jones. I've always been fascinated
with the character and all of the movies growing
up. I remember seeing Raiders
of the Lost Ark in 1981 and loving it so
much that my parents ended up taking me to see
it twice the same weekend. Throughout junior high
and high school I'd watch my VHS copies of the
Indy films over and over each day before and after
school, picking up where I left off of the day
before and then moving on to the next Indy or
Star Wars movie.
So I've been fan all of my life and getting the
opportunity to finally create some Indiana Jones
artwork for Topps and Lucasfilm has really been
a dream come true for me.
For the Indiana Jones Heritage
trading card series I illustrated 56 sketch cards
and it was some of the most fun I've had drawing
in a long time. They're definitely some of the
best sketch card artwork I've produced for any
property to date and I hope all of the fans out
there trying to collect them enjoy what they see.
I have seen
some of the drawings you have done, and they are
truly amazing! I have illustrated in the past
and always found it a great challenge when it
comes to knowing when to stop putting in too much
detail. The Indy Topps cards are about 21/2"
x 3", how do you work in so much on such
a small area?
For certain projects there can
never be enough detail and sometimes I don't know
when to stop either. With a photo-realistic style
like I usually like to work in more detail is
often necessary to portray a certain level of
believability and consistency in my art. When
you're telling a story as an artist, whether it's
one singular illustration or a twenty-two page
comic book, your trying to convey action, emotion,
or whatever the message might be to your audience
as clearly and efficiently as possible through
the style of your work. Movies are one of my main
influences as an artist so I try to make my artwork
as cinematic as possible, which means my style
ends up being very literal and very detailed to
the eye. But because I also love drawing comic
books and I was trained as a cartoonist I've been
able to find a balance in my style over the last
few years by using dynamic light and shade, over-simplifying
detail to degree and contrasting that approach
with realistic proportions and detail. It creates
a sort of hyper-realism in my work that a lot
of other comic book artists apply to the medium
Do you work off a lot of reference
photos from the films to get into the "Indy"
spirit or have John Williams music playing while
I have the soundtracks for the Indy
and Star Wars
films on my iPod so I'm always listening to John
Williams' music actually. Photo reference can
be an artist's best friend but it can also end
up being a crutch if not used properly. Every
artist should really just consider photo reference
as another tool like a pencil, a ruler, a computer,
etc. There's a careful balance when working from
photo reference because you don't want your work
to end up looking too stiff of static. Anybody
can copy a photo using a lightbox or a projector
but it's the amount of style, passion and imagination
you put into the interpretation of the photo that
elevates it from just being a traced image. I
probably spent a few hours on each portrait I
drew for the sketch card set so there's a lot
of technique and passion in each of those little
drawings. I basically just watched all three films
back to back a few times each while I was drawing
these Indy cards. I hadn't watched them in a number
of months so it was especially nice to revisit
them during this project.
Are there some Indy characters
that you like to draw more than others?
Indiana Jones was my favorite character
to draw. He's always been one of my heroes since
I was a kid and I've had plenty of practice drawing
Harrison as Han Solo over the years so I found
myself drawing lots of portraits of Indy for these
Is there a trick in getting
Harrison's famous scar right when you draw him?
There's no trick to it really,
as long as I have decent photo reference I'm always
good to go. After the first few sketches though
I'd find myself just eyeballing it, more or less
approximating the size and positioning of the
scar and it always seems to work out fine. I think
it was much trickier drawing the hat and getting
the size and curves of it just right.
Having done Harrison Ford drawings
as Han Solo as well as, Indiana Jones, have you
ever had some fun combing the two worlds for a
secret portfolio or just for fun? Say Marion with
Salacious Crumb rather than that little Nazi monkey,
Indiana Jones being chased by Stormtroopers or
a Golden Idol shaped like C-3PO instead of the
fertility Goddess in Raiders?
I wish I had time to draw for myself
but I never draw for fun anymore. Just kidding.
Seriously, everything I do is usually for both
work and fun but that's the tricky balance of
the business. It's not too often I find time to
just draw for myself, I miss that. Fortunately
though, I'm a fan of most of the projects I'm
offered so it never feels like work at all anyway.
Most of my portfolio is actually for published
projects since I'm working all of the time to
make a living with my artwork. When I'm not working,
I want a break from drawing so that's when I'm
usually playing video games or going to the movies.
Jones Heritage sketch cards by Joe Corroney.
What's up next that you can
tell our Indy fans about? Any Indiana
Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I've just completed fifty-six more
sketch cards for Topps upcoming Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull trading card set and
those were really fun to draw also. I worked non-stop
on them for about a week and half but they're
pretty much the same quality, consistency and
style as my cards I drew for the Indiana Jones
Heritage set. I hope all of the fans and collectors
who see them soon enjoy those cards too.
We have been all dying to see
images of Indiana Jones
and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. What
type of secrecy is involved when you get information
and images on Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull?
sketch cards by Joe Corroney.
Most of us artists out there who
have been doing Star
Wars art for years already had our bodies
surgically altered with the "Lucasfilm implant".
Right after I signed the contract for my very
first Star Wars
project about twelve years ago all I can remember
are a couple of guys in stormtrooper armor showing
up at my apartment and abducting me in the middle
of the night and then waking up at Skywalker Ranch
the next day wandering around Lake Ewok in my
pajamas with some fresh stitches in the back of
my head. The implant keeps us from talking about
scripts, sharing photographs and exposing other
top secret information about their movies before
they are released for fear of our heads exploding.
So drawing Star Wars and Indiana
Jones just isn't about reliving the magic as an
adult that I experienced as a child, it's also
about keeping my head on my shoulders.
As an Indyfan yourself, did getting
any of this information ruin the movie for you?
Honestly, Spielberg and company
have kept the secrecy on this film so tight that
even people working on the licensed tie-in projects
probably still have no idea how the story goes
from A to B to C. Of course some of the writers
and artists who are working on the direct adaptations
of the movie like the novels, storybooks, comic
books, etc. know everything but only being able
to participate on Indy
4 through Topps has
only really allowed me to be involved behind the
scenes in more of an ancillary way as an artist.
With the Star
Wars prequels I was much more involved
as an artist working on a variety of projects
that allowed me access to more sensitive material
like scripts and top secret images and so on which
was really exciting. But with either film series,
it still didn't ruin the experience for me because
as much of the story you may already know or as
many photos or clips from the films you may have
seen privately on your computer, nothing compares
to experiencing the actual film and the visceral
bonding experience that comes with it in a dark
theater full of hundreds of strangers. It's the
signature Lucas and Spielberg style of filmmaking
that you can only truly experience as the finished
product that makes it all so exciting.
Was there a certain Indy from
a particular movie you liked drawing more than
the others - Young Indy from Last
Crusade, playboy/tux Indy in Temple
of Doom, or the older Indy from Crystal
sketch cards by Joe.
I have to admit drawing older
Indy was really fun and even a bit of challenge
sometimes. If I put too many lines in his face
he'd end up looking a little older than her really
does and he already looks great for his age. So
it was just a matter of pulling back a little
bit and adjusting the shape of his jaw line or
eyes that have only changed somewhat over the
years. I've drawn Han Solo and younger Indy so
many times over the years that it was refreshing
to tackle Harrison as this older version of the
character. I hope everyone likes what they see
that I came up with.
Will you be doing work for the
planned Topps Indy Masterpiece series later in
Yes I will. I'm really looking
forward to that project and I'm excited to see
what I end up coming up with for it. Any excuse
to draw the further adventures of Indiana Jones
is a good excuse for me, no matter how busy I
may happen to be with other projects.
to future artists out there reading this?
If there artists out there interested
in drawing Indiana Jones or Star
Wars or pursuing other licensed work then
I'd suggest get your portfolio approved by a publisher
who has that license, someone who is producing
Star Wars or Indy
material for Lucasfilm for example. It's just
like sending a portfolio to any editor at a comic
book company. Send your best stuff to them in
the mail either on disc or as high quality print
outs. Perhaps email them small jepgs directly
or, even better, links to your best pieces in
an online portfolio or personal website. It wouldn't
hurt to have a few of your art pieces related
to their property to show them how you can handle
their characters and are familiar with the content
they are producing. Just don't let it all be the
same material. Showing them a variety of styles,
themes and compositions will present to them how
flexible and versatile you can be and will hopefully
entice them to call on you to adapt your unique
vision to their projects. Sometimes at comic book
conventions publishers, editors and art directors
will review portfolios personally and those are
good opportunities to get your work seen by the
If I had any more advice it would
be to find what it is that drives you, what inspires
you and what you're passionate about and pursue
it at any cost. For me it's always been Star
Wars, Indiana Jones and comic books, all
the fun stuff I loved as a kid. Because those
things inspired me at such an early age and I
never lost sight of them it's allowed me to be
successful in a career as an artist. I'm really
grateful for that.
of the Crystal Skull
sketch cards by Joe.
Thanks Joe and if Indy fans or
art lovers want to see more of Joe's great work
simply head on over to his official website, www.JoeCorroney.com
or pay a visit to his MySpace