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Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our thirty-ninth guest draws for the official Star Wars site and is the creator, writer and artist of Oddly Normal – Otis Frampton.

Lightsabre – Otis, welcome to Lightsabre.

OF – Thanks for having me! 🙂

Lightsabre – During your career you’ve drawn superheroes, G.I Joe and the many characters of your webstrip and comic Oddly Normal but you have swiftly become best known for your artwork in the Star Wars universe. How exciting is that?

OF – Well, it wasn’t swift, let me tell you. It took years of toiling away on fan forums, getting my work seen by fans and pros alike and finally getting the nod of approval from the people in the loop. But to answer your question, it feels great! It was wonderful to be finally a part of something officially Star Wars, after being known as a fan artist for so long.

Lightsabre – Tell us something of your career. How and where did you begin in art and what led you to where you are today?

OF – I’ve drawn all my life, pretty much self-taught (except for the few public school art classes) and I spent most of my life until my late 20s working in pencil and ink. I didn’t start using color until I bought my first computer in 1999. Before I had the “undo” option, I was deathly afraid of color. But through experimentation, I’ve come to see it as a solid arrow in my quiver, and my experience using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet even gave me the confidence to start using markers for color work in my sketch card commissions.

Since buying that first PC, it’s been a slow road to doing things mostly digital. And that’s where I am today, predominantly in the world of ones and zeros when it comes to creating images. The exception to that is when I’m doing the sketch cards, of course.

Lightsabre – You’ve had your work appearing on the official site this past Halloween with a fantastic mask of Emperor Palpatine. How fulfilling is that for you, knowing that your work was worn by kids all over the globe?

OF – I’d be happy knowing that just ONE kid actually printed the thing out and wore it. But it’s a great honor knowing that I’m on a list of artists that the Official Site goes to when it needs creative content. It’s been a lifelong dream to be tied to Star Wars in some official, creative capacity (like most of my peers) and it’s rewarding to finally be in that position.

Lightsabre – What has it been like to be a part of the Star Wars phenomenon?

OF – My experience has, so far, been limited to participating in the Topps Revenge of the Sith Sketch cards and the Halloween mask, but again…it’s just great being part of a group of talented people that get to play with George’s toys once and a while. I hope there are more opportunities to work with them again in the future.

Lightsabre – Being involved with Lord of the Rings as well as Star Wars must be exciting, given that Rings is probably second only to Star Wars as our favourite trilogy. How different is your work on the LOTR: Evolution set?

OF – Very different, actually. With the Star Wars cards, I did 406 and set out to make each one look as finished as possible, so I inked and “colored” each one with graytone markers. With the LOTR cards, I signed on to do 1006, and I only inked and colored (actual color, this time) 7 or 8 cards. The rest were all done in pencil. I’m hoping to be able to finish many of them for collectors, something I was not able to do on the Star Wars set due to the fact that they were all inked already.

The aftermarket was an unknown factor this time around, and I’m glad I get a chance to keep the project alive by working on cards past their due date and giving collectors who get my cards something extra by finishing them to their specifications (or drawing completely new images, in some cases). The other big difference was the amount of characters we were able to draw. The Star Wars project was pretty limited, but the LOTR set was pretty much open to any character from the films.

Lightsabre – You’ve now had your artwork featured on the official site. Just how proud does that make you feel?

OF – This much (I’m holding my hands as far apart as I can. Trust me).

Lightsabre – What were your feelings on Revenge of the Sith? Did it fulfil all the hopes you had for the climax to the saga?

OF – In an effort to be as diplomatic as possible, let’s just say it is not my favorite Star Wars film. Besides, it’s not really the climax, it’s the middle. 😉

Lightsabre – If you could chose any art project, Star Wars or otherwise, what would it be?

OF – It’s actually a project I’ve had on the backburner since I was 17 and hope to have published as a series of graphic novels. I’ve been in discussions with my publisher, Viper Comics, about getting it on the schedule, but nothing has been set in stone. Creatively, I’m much more fulfilled when working on my own stories, since I see myself more as a writer than an artist. Working with other people’s toys, especially in the league of Star Wars or LOTR, is an honor. But nothing beats creating your own worlds and seeing them come to life.

Lightsabre – Now that Star Wars has finished on the big screen and we have a while to wait for the TV shows to start, where do you think Lucasfilms focus should be, to keep us all interested?

OF – Actually, the TV series is something I’m very interested in seeing, and I hope it turns out better than Episode III (oops, I let that slip out). So I hope that the Official Site keeps us up-to-date on that, just as they did during the heyday of Hyperspace while ROTS was being filmed. I think the series has a chance to very, very good. Just look at Young Indy, which followed what was (for me) the worst of the Indy films. It was a wonderfully written and produced show. It gives me hope for a Star Wars TV series that some others may not share.

Lightsabre – You’ve only owned a PC since 1999, the year The Phantom Menace was released. How steep a learning curve was it, to become so proficient with the tools of a PC, and did sketching TPM characters help that education?

OF – There is actually a Phantom Menace image in my gallery that is actually the first thing I colored using the computer. But yes, it was a pretty steep curve. Especially since I didn’t have any color theory training and I was new to computers. The biggest leap in my efforts to use color came when I bought a Wacom tablet and pen and ditched the mouse. Using a mouse was was like trying to color using a rock, and I can’t believe some people still use them. My fellow Viper Comics creator, Josh Howard, STILL uses a mouse to color in Photoshop. I don’t know how doesn’t go crazy, but his skill as an illustrator are better than mine so he doesn’t have to use color tricks to get by, like I do.

I’ve come to love color and light in my imagery, I think it’s one of my strengths, but it’s also dulled my drawing skills, which were never the best to begin with. But I’d never abandon the computer as a tool at this point, it’s too important to the work I do on my comics. I’d just as soon cut off my arm than ditch Photoshop.

Lightsabre – What lies ahead for you in the future?

OF – The second Oddly Normal mini-series, the other comic project I mentioned and hopefully something else in the Oddly Universe, but I can’t really say anything more because it may not happen and I don’t want to jinx it.

Lightsabre – A quick question about Lightsabre. Any comments?

OF – Thanks for creating a new Star Wars artist-friendly environment on the web! I feel honored to be among those interviewed for the site.

Lightsabre – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest. Just one final question. Oddly Normal, Yoda and Greedo are sitting in the corner of a quiet bar with blasters pointing at each other in a classic Mexican face-off. But who shoots first?

OF – Oddly is only 10 years old, so she’d get kicked out and Yoda is too small to hold his liquor (he’d be on the floor after the fist Jawa juice). But if there were a show-down, Greedo would shoot first…just like in the movies. 😉

This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 12th March 2006.