Artist Joe Hogan Discusses Webcomic, Clone Wars: Resolutions
“We want more Clone Wars!”
Hearing that and the crowds cheering at the unfinished and never-before-seen Clone Wars content unveiled at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim simply took my breath away. It’s one thing to see the hashtag #SaveTheCloneWars on Twitter and another to experience the overwhelmingly positive response in person. The fans aren’t afraid to show their undying passion for a series that kept Star Wars going after Revenge of the Sith, expanded the universe for several years, and introduced us to fan favorite characters like Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex.
Every Clone Wars fan will tell you that they want closure, but some fans took it upon themselves to resolve the story lines they loved through the method they knew best: a webcomic.
Clone Wars: Resolutions is a collaborative fan project involving a team of talented artists and writers. The stories may not be official, but they’re exceptionally crafted by fans for the fans.
I recently caught up with Joe Hogan, a freelance artist and one of the many creative minds involved in this project, and he discusses how the webcomic came about, the collaboration process, and much more.
First off, since the webcomic you’re working on is based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars; what was your favorite Clone Wars episode, arc and character?
Starting off with a tough one! Hm, I think my favorites have to be… “Ambush” (episode), Geonosis (arc), and Obi-Wan (character)! I did love the later stuff, but I got hooked from the start and loved getting more character development, from Obi-Wan especially!
When The Clone Wars ended, I remember joining millions of others in asking what happened to certain characters and storylines. How would you describe Clone Wars: Resolutions (CWR) for new readers? Who initially came up with the concept and how did the collaboration come about?
CWR is basically a huge unofficial fan collaboration of web comics, created by six writers and 18 artists… all of us HUGE Clone Wars fans! It’s totally free to read and it’s entirely a labor of love dedicated to bringing fellow TCW fans closure to many of our favorite characters. The concept actually came about when TheForce.net’s message board user SgtCrowfield joked with me that Lucasfilm should hire me to complete the series in comic form, as I guess I’m notorious for my webcomics and motion comics. I laughed at first, but thought about it, and then reached out to all the folks I knew could help me get the job done. Here we are, 25 vignettes later!
Writing, drawing, collaborating–there’s so much creativity and effort that goes into compiling and publishing a webcomic, especially on a daily basis. Saying that, what was your favorite experience working on Resolutions?
I think my favorite experience so far has been the week after handing off all of the completed scripts to the artists, almost a year ago. All of them are good friends and colleagues in the Star Wars art scene, but I still felt guilty asking them to participate in so much unpaid work. For many of us illustrators, free work (especially this quantity) means losing out on a paycheck, and we have trouble making ends meet to begin with. So, I knew I was asking for a really big favor, but the fact that so many of them sacrificed their time and energy, our most precious commodities as commercial artists, really resonated with me about how much The Clone Wars series meant to us.
After they all read their claimed scripts, they immediately started sharing a huge stream of concept art for the project in droves, and everyone was getting super inspired from each other. When I saw everyone getting to work so quickly and enthusiastically, I knew we were going to have something really special by the end product. I felt really proud to be part of that. We’re actually going to release a bunch of our favorite concept art at the end, once all our spoilers are out in the open!
The collection of vignettes kicks of with “Hope”: Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Tale, a story you wrote and illustrated. It was beautiful from beginning to end. What inspired you to continue that particular thread of Obi-Wan and Satine’s story?
Thank you so much for the kind words! As I mentioned earlier, I was a huge fan of seeing Obi-Wan’s character develop further throughout the series and to learn that he had a love interest, just like Anakin did. I really wanted to see a quiet moment of Obi-Wan just coming to terms with everything that happened to Satine and to show the stark contrast between Anakin and him. If you think about it, they’re opposites as far as Jedi go, because Anakin chose to give in to his feelings for Padmé, while Obi-Wan didn’t. When Anakin lost Padmé, he had little trouble embracing the dark side for vengeance, and I doubt Obi-Wan would ever do that, even in a moment of grief like that. Obi-Wan has his flaws, but that isn’t one of them, and I wanted to highlight that.
In some of Dave Filoni’s sketches from the unfinished arcs, we saw Ahsoka and Bo-Katan talking to the Jedi Order. The second vignette written by Chris Dee and illustrated by Kaela Croft sees Bo-Katan making the decision to reclaim Mandalore as a True Mandalorian. Do you think that’s where Filoni and the crew would have taken the story had the series continued?
Hard to say! Filoni knows about the outcry of fans from making Mandalore neutral and pacifists in general, so I have a feeling he probably would have tried to curve their story back to the Mandalore we knew from the Expanded Universe (EU), if possible. We considered approaching it from the concept art’s angle, with Ahsoka, but ultimately decided against involving her past a small cameo at the very end of the project, because we were sure even a year ago we’d see her again in Rebels. Lo and behold! But we also decided to include a really awesome story a friend of ours had already done, “Repent,” which has Ahsoka a bit more in the spotlight than we originally intended. It didn’t contradict anything, so we asked Fausto Montano, the writer and artist, if we could include it in our vignettes.
We’re slowly but surely seeing bits of unfinished Clone Wars content making its way out to the fans. “The Bad Batch” arc is currently available online and Dark Disciple will be released in July. How has the continued canon affected your views on the story or your storytelling process? Have they deterred you from writing a story a certain way or inspired you to pursue your own vision?
That’s been a pretty double-edged sword for us. As you mentioned, we took a lot of that concept art released in 2013 and began brainstorming then. We wanted to stay away from Maul and, like I said, Ahsoka. We did it to avoid any immediate contradictions with any new canon that might surface in the near future, but we had no idea how many contradictions would surface during the two years we’ve been working.
Dark Disciple will definitely contradict our Ventress/Vos vignette, “Better Left Forgotten,” and “The Bad Batch” arc and appearance of you-know-who in the Rebels Season 2 trailer also threw a wrench in some of our stories. That’s been frustrating, but we’re still ecstatic to get some more official canon Clone Wars content! The way we’re trying to look at it is that CWR is sort of like the Legends canon and the EU in general. If you enjoy the content and connected with it, there’s no reason to appreciate it any less. All EU has essentially been glorified fan work anyway, right?
Not all of the vignettes have been released, since you plan to publish a new story every weekday until June 4th, 2015, but do you have a favorite one so far or maybe one that you can tease about?
Actually, we decided yesterday, for the sake of making our finale event as awesome as we can, starting this week, that we’re only going to release four vignettes per week leading up to Final Resolutions, the five-part story that the entire project is essentially laying foundation work towards. “Final Resolutions I” will then begin on June 1st and conclude with “Final Resolutions V” on June 5th. We’ll then have two remaining stand-alone ones, finishing the last vignette on June 9th. There will still be little cool surprises for the weekdays that won’t get actual vignettes posted, though!
To answer your question, the one I’m most excited about and terrified for is another one that I wrote and am still illustrating myself, “Final Resolutions IV”. If we compared Clone Wars Resolutions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, our vignettes would be the stand-alone films, and Final Resolutions would be The Avengers, with part IV being the final chaotic battle. We’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it and it gets messy. Part IV is 21 pages by itself and a lot happens. So, it’s my job to make sure all the action is clear, effective, and purposeful to the reader. I hope it does the project justice!
I like to create my own stories within the Star Wars universe and I also know a lot of fan artists who love to do the same. What advice would you offer to budding webcomic writers and artists?
I hate to sound like an old Nike ad, but, just do it. While I think taking constructive criticism and learning to be honest with yourself about your artistic strengths/weaknesses is crucial to growing in your craft, always do work that is important to you. Don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment in your work, just do the stuff you’re inspired to do. If it sucks, who cares? You did it and you learned something, and now you know it didn’t work. Now you’re a better artist or writer by that much. A lot of the (paid!) work I do now is a result of me doing personal projects I loved and made them available to the public, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! And while sure, knowing your audience is important, you’re doomed to fail if you aren’t creating something you’re passionate about. I always try to create stuff that I would be psyched out of my mind to see, as a viewer, and I think a lot of that has had to do with the notoriety I’ve received from my past projects!
Finally, are there any ideas currently about continuing Resolutions, if you find that you or some of the other collaborators have more stories to tell?
One project at a time! In all honesty, we’ve been floating the idea out there. It probably wouldn’t be a Clone Wars-themed one, but something more along the lines of the old Dark Horse series, Star Wars Tales. Each artist would just create whatever short-form vignettes they wanted from all over the saga, featuring whatever characters they wanted to. We’re not sure how writing would work (maybe let the artists write if they like, or ask a writer to work with them), but it’s an idea we’re playing with for a possibly end of 2016 release.
Awesome! Thank you so much, Joe, for taking the time to share your thoughts and more information about the project. I look forward to future updates, but if you’re looking to catch up with the latest vignettes, visit the Clone Wars: Resolutions production blog below.