In case you didn’t know by now, I’m a big Star Wars fan. Have been since I first saw the original “Star Wars” in the theater back in 1977. My dad took my sisters and I to see it at the Whitehaven Twin Cinema (yep- a theater with TWO screens!) just down the street from Graceland in Memphis, TN. I’d later see it there again with some friends when it was re-released for it’s 10 year anniversary. The theater is no longer there, and come to think of it none of the theaters I saw the original trilogy in are still standing- but my memories of that theater and seeing Star Wars in it are still there.

Like many of the folks in the audience I’d never seen anything like it and would be forever changed after reading, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” I sat with my jaw wide open after that first title crawl and opening space battle scene as the huge star destroyer chased down and ate the smaller rebel blockade runner. I’d seen movies on the big screen before, but mostly Disney flicks at drive-ins or at school in the auditorium/lunchroom. This was a completely different experience, and now every time I hear the 20th Century Fox opening fanfare I always get a bit excited and remember being 10 years old and blown away by Star Wars.

I collected just about anything Star Wars I could get my hands on- toys, comics, trading cards, books, magazines, records, etc. I joined the official Star Wars fan club. I would sit for hours drawing Star Wars characters from those comics, book, and mags. I loved drawing other things like superheroes and monsters, but Star Wars was my favorite to put pencil to paper. The one above I did back when I was around 13-14 after “The Empire Strikes Back” came out- my favorite episode of the whole Star Wars saga.

Fast forward a little over 30 or so years into the future. My buddy Steve Stanley tells me Topps is looking for artists to work on Star Wars sketch cards, and not just Star Wars- but “The Empire Strikes Back”. One problem- I’d sent Topps samples of my work before and had never heard anything back. Steve had introduced me to sketch cards and told me Topps really needs new artists for this upcoming Empire 30th anniversary set and encourages me to contact them again. I’d been playing more with markers since we’d attended a marker demo at Binders in Atlanta by Adam Hughes and Allison Sohn – doing my own sketch cards for Bushi Tales and having fun with other subjects, and felt a bit more confident about my ability to do sketch cards. This time I put in the subject line, “Have markers- can hit deadlines!” It worked- I got an invite to join in on that set, and later the Star Wars Galaxy 6 card set!

For those of you who may not be familiar with sketch cards, they are hand drawn trading cards done in pencil, inks, markers, or just about any medium on cardstock. Most are 2.5″x3.5″ in size, but can vary. The ones I did for Empire (above photo) were widescreen ones, and I’ve seen other sketchcards postcard size.

Cards like the ones I do for Topps get randomly inserted into trading card packs and sold in hobby and retail stores. I start off by sketching them  out in pencil, then color with markers (Copics and Prismacolors), ink with disposable tech pens (Sakura Pigma Microns or Staedtler pigment liners), and finally highlight them with Copic white and a brush. Each is a unique hand made piece of art.

I do 106 cards for each set, but did almost 50 more sketchagraphs for the G6 set which were autographed by some of the stars like Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Ray Park, and Jake Lloyd (above). I usually get 6 artist returns out of each 106 I do back for me to keep/sell.

I’m about halfway finished with the 106 for the G7 set. You can see more of them in my sketch card gallery on my site.

I’m a happy fanboy these days- not only do I get paid to draw Star Wars, but I’m married to a Star Wars fangirl. Thanks, George!