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Nerdlocker Interview: Timothy Anderson – Episode II

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Not all that long ago, on the internet near you, we interviewed Nerdy artist extraordinaire Tim Anderson. You can read it – HERE. As we came to know him, we found out he’s a huge Star Wars fan. Given his latest project and of course all the new films coming out, we had to reach out to Tim and find out his thoughts on the latest from the world of Star Wars.

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Nerdlocker (NL): Let’s get right to the heart of it, what’s your favorite Star Wars movie?

Timothy Anderson (TA): Without a doubt, The Empire Strikes Back, and I feel like the reason for that has changed over the years. Growing up, I always felt like that one elicited the most emotional response from me, even as a kid. I don’t know that I understood why at the time, but that one engaged me the most, emotionally speaking. Over the years that impression hasn’t changed, but I’ve learned to appreciate the more technical aspects of it also. I think my favorite thing about it these days– especially in a climate of CGI-saturation– is its amazing cinematography. Those sets are so beautifully lit, and maybe with the exception of Luke’s battle with Vader in the throne room during the finale of RotJ, no other Star Wars movie has come close to ESB lighting-wise.

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NL: Which do you like more The Ewok Adventure or Ewoks: The Battle for Endor?

TA: I honestly haven’t seen either one since I was little, and I don’t remember enough about either of them to know which is which. I have really vague memories of those films, and frankly those memories might even be of dreams I had after watching the movies, haha, so I can’t really say.

NL: You started a massive project recently, 300 Days of Star Wars. Tell us about it.

TA: In the past, I’ve set goals for myself to draw more, on good old-fashioned pen and paper. I usually run out of steam pretty quickly, because it’s been hard for me to stay motivated or accountable. So this project began as a way to motivate myself to draw something every day. I thought about it and realized that coming up with one Star Wars-related thing every day would not only be a fun challenge, but might also motivate some folks to pay attention to it and thus provide the accountability that can be lacking in personal challenges. I’ve had a few people tell me that they look forward to seeing each day’s sketch, and just hearing that has gotten me back out of bed a couple times when I’ve forgotten or been too busy during the day, haha.

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NL: Have you found it to be more difficult than you first imagined?

TA: The challenge has mostly been in finding time some days. Usually if I do something really simple, it’s because I didn’t have much time that day, haha. I joke with a friend of mine that I’m keeping the Death Star in my back pocket for one of those days. I’ll just bust out the ol’ circle template and crank that out before passing out at my drawing table, haha. The Mouse Droid sketch I did a couple months back was one such day.

People have asked me if I have a hard time coming up with ideas, and that hasn’t really been too much of a challenge so far. It’s such rich source material, and I honestly spend an embarrassingly high percentage of my waking hours thinking about Star Wars anyway, so I don’t really see ideas running dry.

NL: Did you realize there would be such a demand to buy these daily originals when you first started?

TA: No, I certainly didn’t. I thought it would be fun to scan them all and compile them into a book once it’s all over– and I need to look into options for that at some point– but I realized that the originals would start to pile up and clutter up my workspace, so I might as well try to find them new homes. I have been overwhelmed by the response, and I’m still flattered and grateful that anyone ever wants to spend money on stuff that I create.

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NL: Who is your favorite Star Wars character?

TA: Vader, man, Vader. I’m not a particularly dark person, but I love me a good villain, and Vader is one of the best! He’s just so cool-looking, and he has the greatest voice. And his very own theme music! You can’t beat that!

NL: I’ve analyzed this question over and over and I still don’t have a definitive answer. Why is Boba Fett so cool?

TA: To me, it’s just the mystique of the character as he appeared in the Classic Trilogy. He has so few lines, but he carries himself with such swagger that you know he’s got to be able to back it up. I’m sure it was intentional– in fact, Jeremy Bulloch has said as much– but he has that great Clint Eastwood/Man with No Name vibe. In fact, I worry that a Fett-focused film may undo some of that mystique.

NL: What are your hopes with the release of The Force Awakens?

TA: Well, like any other fan, I want a film that feels like Star Wars. I understand that’s a tall order, because I’ve certainly changed as a person over the last 30-odd years, and my point-of-view is different from when I first watched Star Wars, but I do think it’s possible. This will arguably be the first Star Wars film made by a Star Wars fan since The Empire Strikes Back, so I’m pretty hopeful.

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NL: What were your first thoughts when it was announced Disney was buying Lucasfilm?

TA: I think my knee-jerk reaction was “Oh great, the Evil Empire is going to assimilate yet another franchise,” but I think that’s mostly a result of having grown up during the Eisner years of Disney when the Suits ran things and homogenized and over-marketed everything into a mushy mess. I soon realized, however, that there has been a shifting tide at Disney over the last decade, and they’ve been taking pretty good care of several beloved institutions. I’m a huge Pixar fan, and seeing them thrive under the Mouse has been encouraging. Plus, their work with Marvel has also been amazing. If those same folks can respect rather than exploit Star Wars, then I think the franchise could be okay.

And when it comes right down to it, nothing can be worse than the prequels.

NL: What are your thoughts on the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas?

TA: Man, this is like a therapist asking, “How do you feel about your father/mother?,” followed by years of unarticulated feelings pouring out. I’ve spent so much time thinking about this question and attempting to identify and articulate my thoughts, haha.

I want to be clear that I mean no disrespect to the man in saying this, but George Lucas is probably the least qualified person in the world to make Star Wars films, at least from the perspective of a fan. There is a trilogy of prequels that proves that. He is paradoxically the person closest to, yet farthest from, the Star Wars franchise. He himself is not a fan and therefore does not share the reverence or love that his fans have for the very franchise that he created.

And again, I mean no disrespect. Knowing what he went through to make the Classic Trilogy and his personal disappointment in how they turned out, I can’t blame him for not being a fan. He looks at the films and sees only the gap between his original vision and the final product on screen. Unfortunately, rather than trying to understand the appeal that the films have for fans, he has spent decades trying to close that gap. The closer he comes to closing that gap, the worse the franchise is for it.

When Irvin Kirshner took on ESB, he did so as an admirer of Star Wars and of his interpretation of the vision that Lucas had. His objective was to stay true to the vision that was actually portrayed in the first film, rather than seeking to capture the vision that Lucas felt he had failed to properly bring to life. Because Kirshner could see Star Wars as the fans did, I feel like his perspective allowed him to make the first– and until now, the last– truly fan-made Star Wars film. It’s no coincidence that it’s also the best one.

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NL: What do you think of Lucasfilm’s decision on the new Star Wars canon?

TA: I’ve always been kind of a Classic Trilogy purist. For me, nothing but those three films was canon. The Expanded Universe was just too much to take in. It felt too open. I don’t need to know the names and backstories of everyone at the Mos Eisley Cantina. I definitely understand the appeal, but I just didn’t want to have to keep track of so much information, haha, especially when any and all of it could be wiped away by any other work that would be deemed higher on the canonical hierarchy.

The streamlining has actually made me want to get more into the non-film stuff. I’ve started reading the comics and the newer novels. Now that there’s a story group to keep track of continuity, I can be confident in reading these new stories that I won’t have to force myself to forget certain events or characters because someone else wants to arbitrarily ret-con a bunch of stuff.

NL: Do you think J.J. Abrams can save the movie franchise aspect of the Star Wars universe?

TA: Going back to my thoughts on Kirshner’s approach to ESB, I feel like this is the first time since that film that a fan is taking the helm on a Star Wars movie, and that alone is encouraging. I would hope that any fan will have an appropriate level of reverence and respect for the franchise. And I really do like Abrams’ films. With Super 8, he set out to make an 80’s-esque homage to Spielberg, and he succeeded admirably. If he can take that same approach to making a Star Wars movie feel like Star Wars, it’ll be great! And just seeing how much he has built physically (sets, costumes, creatures, etc…), it looks way more Star Wars-y than anything we’ve seen in decades, so he’s definitely taking the right approach.

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NL: What are your thoughts on Star Wars leaving Dark Horse Comics to join Marvel Comics?

TA: Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve never really been that attached to the Expanded Universe, so the switch back to Marvel for the comics didn’t really affect me too much. I am just glad that it’s all under the same story group, and if the cost of that is to lose some of that “independent” feel, I’m okay with that. I’ve been reading the new comics, and for the most part, they’re pretty good. I have no beef with that.

NL: Do you like the idea that Disney will release movies outside of the Skywalker storyline, starting with Rogue One?

TA: Man, what an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan! Yeah, I’m really excited to get some more films. It’s hard not to compare their approach to Star Wars to what they’re doing with Marvel, and for the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the MCU films. They’re not all perfect, but if the Star Wars franchise winds up fleshing out that galaxy as well as the MCU stuff, then I think it’ll be awesome!

The Clone Wars series grew on me, and I’m really enjoying Star Wars Rebels, too. Those have been great examples of how skillful storytelling and characterization can do a lot to enhance that universe.

NL: Who is the goofiest character in the Star Wars universe (you can’t say Jar Jar Binks)?

TA: Jar-who now? Never heard of him… I guess it depends on how you’d define “goofy.” I think Threepio walked that fine line between annoying and comic relief-esque in the Classic Trilogy, and I always enjoyed that. His relationship with Artoo provided solid comedy without tipping into slapstick too often, and it’s easy to grow emotionally invested in them as characters in the Classic Trilogy.

If you mean “goofy” as in “what were they smoking?” then I’d probably have to choose one of any dozens of background characters in the cantina or in Jabba’s palace. I mean, Yak-Face? Yikes!

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NL: Where did you get the inspiration to sketch Star Wars characters with a hipster flair?

TA: Haha, well, now that I’m a dad, all sorts of puns and plays-on-words just come to me, and that’s an idea I had several months ago, long before my “300 Days of Star Wars” project. Sometimes “genius” just comes unbidden, and I am the vessel through which it must gain life.

There you have it, Timothy Anderson’s thoughts on Star Wars!

If you’re interested in learning more about Tim’s process, check out this video he put together.

Stay tuned to Tim on Facebook and Twitter for announcements on sales of his sketches! He also still has sketches available for sale in his shop – HERE. Check it out now before they’re gone!

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I'm a true child of the 80s from a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. My all time favorite topics are Star Wars, slasher films and Cleveland sports (despite the misery it causes). I narrowly avoided law school, instead choosing film school. I have been accused of being a walking IMDB, but I take it as a compliment!