Corroney & Carlisle Preview Federation
StarTrek.com's countdown to the release of Federation: The First 150 Years continues today as we talk with two more of the upcoming book's illustrators, Joe Corroney and Jeff Carlisle. Corroney is a veteran artist who has illustrated comic books, games, trading cards and more for Star Trek, Star Wars, True Blood, Doctor Who and Indiana Jones, among others. Carlisle, meanwhile, is an illustrator and concept designer who has worked on trading cards, posters, art prints, books, role-playing games and more for properties ranging from Dungeons & Dragons to The Guild to Star Wars. He also happens to be a lifelong Star Trek fan. StarTrek.com chatted with them about Federation: The First 150 Years, which becker&mayer! will release in November.
How much of a fan of Star Trek and its history are you?
Corroney: I'm a pretty big fan of Star Trek, honestly. I think that surprises a lot of people since I'm known primarily for my Star Wars artwork in my career. But I actually grew up watching the reruns of The Original Series as a kid in the late 70's and early 80's. My dad was a pretty big Star Trek fan too and I remember sitting at home with him every Sunday early afternoon and watching the show with him. And then by the time I got to college I was a pretty big TNG fan as well. Of course, when the films came out we saw every one of them together in the theater up to First Contact. That was one of the last movies I actually saw with him in a movie theater before he passed away. So Star Trek has a very special bond to me personally.
Carlisle: I had the exact reaction to Star Trek growing up as Joe did. Even though most people primarily think of me as a Star Wars artist, I have very vivid memories of watching Star Trek every Saturday night on Channel 43 out of Lorraine/Cleveland as a small child, loving the movies and looking forward to each new adventure of Kirk, Spock and McCoy -- and being terribly excited when TNG was set to premiere 25 years ago. My mother even told me stories about how she and my father actually saw the black and white presentation of "The Cage" at a Cleveland science fiction convention back in the late 1960s. I always like to say that the Star Wars films ignited my childhood imagination and that Star Trek kept that flame burning through my school years and into adulthood.
How did you come to be involved in Federation?
Carlisle: I had been working for becker&mayer! on their Jedi Path and Book of Sith books the last couple years and had heard rumblings that they were going to do more Star Trek work, when out of the blue the art director dropped me an email that they needed some late artwork for the book. This was Spring of this year. I was asked to submit some Star Trek artwork for approval, and as I hadn't done any licensed Star Trek artwork at the time, I had to submit some of my own personal Star Trek art, which were some starship designs I had made and some drawings of the cast. I was approved and got to work. At first it was just going to be two "tip-in" illustrations, the Trill Diagram and the Enterprise Schematic, but it quickly became four, including an interior spot illustration.
Corroney: I was asked to be a part of the project back in 2011, I believe. I was actually working on artwork for another Star Trek book proposal for becker&mayer! at the time called Stuck on Star Trek. So right after that initial artwork was completed for that proposal I was asked by my art director if I would like to contribute some illustrations to Federation. I was excited about this opportunity because most of my Trek work up to this point was for comic books and this project represented new territory for me. It allowed me to flex some different artistic muscles and experiment with different styles than I normally get to do in my usual artwork for Star Trek, which I enjoyed.
What was the mission statement when it came to Federation? In other words, what did the becker&mayer people say they wanted/needed?
Corroney: I think they pitched the book to me as an official, "real world"-type journal chronicling the history of the Federation that would make the reader feel like they are living in the Star Trek universe and reading a history book that actually existed for the characters. They wanted the book to feel as real as possible and I think they were hoping our artwork would lend an authenticity to it for that theme. Most of the art I was asked to contribute were illustrations rendered in a "field-guide" style for the book, as if a Starfleet historian was chronicling these historic events and documenting these important items as they were happening or being discovered. In fact, during the first round of approvals for these field-guide style pieces I was asked to make them look even "sketchier" and less refined. It was fun to kind of break down my style and attempt some different, quicker techniques with these pieces.
Carlisle: The word "real" was used a lot in our conversations. On the two Star Wars in-universe books we worked on, we wanted people to forget that it ties into movies; we wanted them to feel that somehow a door had opened up and these artifacts had just dropped to Earth. With this book, obviously it is some kind of transporter malfunction or subspace temporal anomaly... but the effect is the same. If we did our jobs right, people will forget that we did the work and just accept them as the work of the characters in the books.
Joe, what were you responsible for?
Corroney: My work consisted primarily of illustrations depicting some important, iconic moments and historical objects throughout the years of the birth and development of the Federation. I also created artwork for things like Klingon weapons and armor, artifacts, Starfleet Academy, some starship diagrams and a Starfleet propaganda poster, too, which was especially fun to work on.
And Jeff, what were you responsible for?
Carlisle: My background in science-fiction illustration is mostly technical; robots, spaceships, architecture, so I was asked to work on some iconic illustrations that were right in my wheelhouse. The great thing is that most of them are of significant historical importance if you are a Star Trek fan: I created the Enterprise blueprints, The Trill Medical Diagram, an interior illustration of a Vulcan relic and some sketches/handwritten notes of Zefram Cochrane written on an envelope.
Joe, what's the trick to making black and white illustrations work effectively?
Corroney: One thing I learned with black and white illustration, which is something I use every day in my my comic book illustration work, is to have a good balance of dramatic lighting, which creates exciting black and white contrast, and the right amount of detail rendering to make the illustration dynamic and compelling. Some black and white illustration tends to be over-rendered or hyper-detailed, or perhaps not detailed enough, which means an artist might not have a good grasp or even be aware of focusing his light sources in their drawing. But having a strong, defined light source established for each illustration allows you control when and where you need to add the right amount of detail to lead the viewer's eye. I think this is usually key to a strong, graphic designed illustration or a pleasing drawing style that's successful for any artist.
Jeff, how cool was it to illustrate the Enterprise, the ship of ships?
Carlisle: It was seriously cool! Matt Jefferies' design for the Enterprise is so iconic, so balanced, so beautiful that it's a constant source of inspiration for me when I am thinking about spaceship design, especially the Refit Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I even have the 1996 SciPubTech Original Enterprise Cut-Away poster hanging above my desk. The first thing we had to decide was which version of the Enterprise we would be showing, and it was decided that it would be the original Enterprise from "The Cage" -- and that's when I went into research mode and learned everything I could from a variety of sources about the construction not only of the Enterprise but of the Constitution class itself. I gathered a lot of research, including Matt Jefferies' original sketches, various renderings and plan views of the ship, including the amazing cutaway designed by Doug Drexler that was used in the two Mirror Universe episodes of Enterprise. At one time I even wrote notes back and forth between the ship designers to be in the margins of the blueprint, but they ended up not using them. I just wanted people to understand that the Enterprise was itself a design revision from the Constitution... I guess I got a little excited!
Did the two of you touch base throughout to make sure what you were producing was in the same vein? And how much, if any, interaction did you have with Cat Staggs and Mark McHaley, the other illustrators on the project?
Corroney: I knew there were other artists involved on the project, but honestly I had no idea Jeff, Cat and Mark were the other contributors until the book was completed. I work pretty much on my own in my studio at home and just rely on whatever information my art director gives me to complete the project or task at hand. But they're all friends of mine, too, who I see on the convention circuit on a regular basis and Jeff and I worked together before on Star Wars projects. We're both from the central Ohio area, too, so I thought it was kind of cool they assembled all of us for this particular project even though I had no idea my work would be featured with theirs in the book.
Carlisle: I was brought on so late in the process I really only had any contact with the fine folks at becker&mayer!. I didn't even know that Joe was working on it, but that meant that I was just as bowled over as everyone else when I saw everyone's work in that first trailer that was made for Amazon.com... So many great people, so many friends have worked on this book! And to hear George Takei's voice... how wonderful was that?
For both of you, what iconic Trek images were you personally most excited to illustrate?
Carlisle: Well, the Enterprise was a real treat. And letting my handwriting stand in for Zefram Cochrane as well as create what will now be the first design of the warp five engine really made an impact. But for me, honestly, it was doing the medical diagram of how the Trill Host and Symbiont fit together. Of all the Star Trek shows, Deep Space Nine is my absolute favorite ... besides the Original, of course, and I love the Trill and the character of Dax, both Jadzia and Ezri. And at first the image was going to be a simple Starfleet medical scan with a little red blip showing the Symbiont inside of a Host, but then you have to figure out HOW they fit together. They enter through the abdomen, but there has to be a real link between their systems. The symbiont needs to get sustenance and expel waste as well as have the mental link. So I always thought that it would have to be somewhere between the liver and stomach, possibly connected to the intestines, possibly with tendrils connecting it to the spine of the Host. When the idea was pitched to CBS, the response was overwhelmingly positive. We also decided to turn the whole readout into a Trill diagram, basing our layout and the writing on one of the few Trill computer screens that was shown in the show... and in the end, think we succeeded. And made a contribution to Star Trek history at the same time... which is pretty fantastic.
Corroney: There were a few of the historic scenes I was really excited to draw, like the Vulcan ship landing in San Francisco at the site of the future Starfleet Headquarters and the meeting of the Starfleet engineers during the construction of the Enterprise. I included a nice nod to Gene Roddenberry in that illustration, actually, which I hope fans will appreciate. I knew the propaganda poster would be a lot of fun to illustrate since I designed some already for Star Wars and for covers for the new Star Trek comic books. So I was excited to tackle that one, too.
From start to finish, how long have you each worked on Federation?
Corroney: I can't recall exactly since I was working on a variety of other projects for different publishers at the time, but my series of illustrations took me maybe around two to three months off and on to complete. I'd maybe spend a week sketching, send in the artwork for approvals, then maybe a week or two later jump back on the project doing revisions or moving on to final art for other pieces. At that point I'd send it back in for further approvals or revisions until everything was approved by both CBS and the publisher.
Carlisle: I think in the end, I worked from April to June on this book, while also working on other projects as well. Since I was brought in near the end of the project, I didn't get to do as many illustrations as some of my friends, but the ones I did get to do were so wonderful, I couldn't have picked better!
How eager are you for fans to finally be able to get their hands on Federation?
Corroney: The packaging and design of the book looks extremely cool. I'm a big fan of becker&mayer's Book of the Sith and Jedi Path books and this one looks to be just as exciting. I'm pretty honored and thrilled to be working with a publisher that's putting some creative and innovative books out there for the fans of these classic franchises.
Carlisle: Eager doesn't quite cut it... I am ecstatic! Seeing as I am one of those fans who can't wait to get their hands on the book, November can't come soon enough! And I think the fans are going to love this book. It's made by fans for fans, and hopefully they will look at things in a new perspective -- and will go where they haven't gone before.
What else is each of you working on?
Corroney: I recently wrapped up artwork for the Star Wars: Essential Reader's Companion coming out from Random House next month. Also, Iron Gut Publishing, a UK licensee, is set to produce fine art prints of some of my Trek cover artwork I created with colorist Brian Miller for IDW's comic book line. I'm currently working on a lot of new Star Trek artwork which should be hitting shelves soon. I just finished work with my friends at Hi-Fi Color Design for the new Stuck on Star Trek sticker book, which is on sale this October from becker&mayer! as well. And I'm currently in the middle of illustrating the new Star Trek: The Next Generation/Hive comic book series co-written by Brannon Braga just in time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of TNG. I'm having so much fun drawing for this. It'll be an exciting series for the fans too since it continues the story of the Enterprise crew after the events of the last TNG film, Nemesis. The first issue is on sale this month from IDW Publishing and fans can check out previews of the artwork on my Facebook fan page (HERE) or at my official website, www.joecorroney.com.
Carlisle: 2012 has been a banner year for me. I had the Star Wars Folded Flyer paper airplane book come out, as well as Star Wars: Book of Sith and the "Under the Moons of Mars-New Adventures on Barsoom" anthology book that tells new stories set in the John Carter of Mars universe. And in early October the Star Wars Essential Reader's Companion is set to release. As to the future, I have a few personal projects in the works, a couple of children's books manuscripts that I have been working on and getting ready to shop around, some poster ideas that will hopefully see fruition, and I would love to do more Star Trek work. Yes, that is a shameless hint! You will be able to keep up with what I am doing on my official Facebook fan page (HERE) and my website, www.jeffcarlisle.com as well.
Federation: The First 150 Years is loaded with intelligence reports, treaty excerpts and letters documenting the historic moments that led to the formation of the United Federation of Planets. Author David A. Goodman will examine everything from First Contact to the Organian Peace Treaty, with the text complemented by color and black and white illustrations of epic battles, alien species and heretofore unseen ship designs, among them the Romulan attack on Starbase 1 and original blueprints for the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Xindi Avian. George Takei, of course, provides the voice of Sulu for the audio narration, and fans can expect to find such detachable documents as a hand-penned letter from a young Jim Kirk and Zefram Cochrane’s first sketch of the warp drive engine.
Click HERE to pre-order Federation: The First 150 Years exclusively at Amazon.com.