Artists Allied

Tom Hodges was the first Star Wars artist I ever met, and long before he became such. I love him and his work but then I'm highly biased and if I don't say nice things he'll stop making my dinner!

I could have asked him these questions and recorded every nuance of the interview but I was lazy and emailed them across the room, he would have made faces at me anyway.

Here, to coincide with the release of Star Wars Insider issue #86, where he has some awesome (and apparently controversial) Mandalorian artwork, is Tom Hodges...

Artists Allied: Spotlight on Tom Hodges
By Terri Hodges

1. The question that everyone wants to know, how did you become a Lucasfilm-approved artist?

I was walking through San Diego Comic Con in 2003 when I came across the teeny, tiny Hyperspace booth. I was on my way to Artist Alley to set up with my wife, Terri when we met Bonnie Burton. This was the year they had the exclusive Hyperspace Clone Wars Animated Print for Hyperspace members only...

Anyway, Terri and I really connected with Bonnie. Joking around here and there and visiting each other when we could. I even danced for a Hyperspace T-Shirt while Bonnie yelled out "DANCE MONKEYBOY, DANCE!"

Ok, fast forward to Sunday. The show was coming to a close and I had a handful of leftover sketches from my table. I decided to take them over to Bonnie and the guys from Hyperspace. It turns out Bonnie had left for San Francisco already and I asked the guy at the booth to give these to Bonnie and to take one for himself. He said no problem, and as I was walking away, he yells to me, "HEY! Are you Tom Hodges?" I said, "Yes." He then says, "I've been looking for you." I then nervously replied, "Are you guys going to sue me?"

It turns out, the guy was Paul Ens, The Big Cheese at Lucas Online and he had been cooking up an idea for an exclusive webstrip to connect some dots between the novel "Labyrinth of Evil," the Third season (or Volume II if you will) to "Clone Wars" and Episode III. It took quite awhile for things to get moving. George had to approve the direction of the characters and there needed to be some things approved. Before the strip even debuted, Steve Sansweet made sure Matt Saunders at Topps knew I was approved and suggested I work on the Heritage Sketch Cards.

Since then, I've done several projects connected to the Star Wars Universe and much more to come.

2. Where do you hail from? How did you end up where you are?
I was born in Philadelphia, PA. I moved with my family to Cherry Hill, NJ at the age of 8. Beyond that I have moved out and lived in Philadelphia while attending Art school, majoring in Computer/Traditional Animation. After a few years of that, I picked up and transferred to San Francisco and the Academy of Art College to study film/television production. I was only there for awhile when I realized it was everything I had learned in animation, but with cameras.

After a few years there, I met my wife Terri in April 2001 (we HATED each other when we met) but after getting to know each other, we moved in together in South Orange County, California in June 2002 and married January 2003. We recently left California in October 2005 and moved to San Antonio, Texas.

Sheesh... I THINK that about covers that.

3. Tell me about your family... Do you have siblings? Are you married, single or otherwise? Kids? Pets?
Mom and Dad are still together after 39 years of marriage... Living happily in Lone Tree, Colorado. My Older Brother Steve is 38, a chef for a private airline and lives in Littleton, CO with spouse, Lisa and my two-year old niece, Emily. My older sister, Michele (ONE L) is a successful restaurant manager/party planner in Denver, CO. If you've seen "Will & Grace" and you know the character Karen, my sister IS Karen... Looks like her, acts like her. She's a pistol. My 32 year old brother Brian is a Tree Huggin' Hippy who's "Walkin' the Earth." And the youngest, Sean who is 26, is the drummer/percussionist in the Denver, CO based band "Melissa Ivey and the Gentleman" --

I am married (as stated before) to Terri, my son Logan is 12. we have 6 (yes, SIX) cats: Edgar Allen Hodges, Nico Daphne Fontana, Ringo Sir Poopsalot Hodges, J. Wicket Hodges, Lenore Fontana and the newest edition, Guinness Littleface Hodges.

4. Is anyone else in your family artistic in any way?
My Father, Older brother and younger brothers are musicians. Dad, Steve and Sean are drummers, Brian plays Guitar. Dad also has a knack for doodling goofy stuff sometimes. His Stick figures are better than some peoples full drawings. My mother is artistic, she designed displays in a major department store and could get paid for her holiday decorating skills.

5. What or who was your biggest influence?
George Lucas and Star Wars is why I started drawing in the first place. Comic artists are Bruce Timm, Adam Hughes, Jim Lee, Jeff Campbell, Frank Miller, Art Adams, Mark Texeira.

6. Did you go to art school (and where) or are you self taught?
I was always drawing but I improved 100% in every way after I went to art school in Philadelphia. Life drawing, layout... etc. It was HUGE in becoming a better artist.

7. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was 5 years old and saw Star Wars. I knew it was what I was going to do.

8. On what Lucasfilm (in particular) and other projects have you worked in the past?
I've done two sets of sketch cards for Heritage and Episode III Revenge of the Sith. The first webstrip "Evasive Action: Reversal of Fortune" and its sequel "Evasive Action: Recruitment." I've already started working on the 3rd, "Evasive Action: Prey." I designed the Hyperspace Employee T-shirts worn at Celebration III as well as a limited edition print for Celebration III (as did most artists in attendance). I recently did art for an exclusive T-Shirt for Hyperspace. And finally, I provided the art for the recent issue of Star Wars Insider 86 to accompany Karen Traviss' article on Mandalorian Culture. This was also the first place to see officially depicted Female Mandalorians.

9. Barring the obvious loved ones and furry children, if your home caught on fire, what would you grab while running out the door?
My original art" Adam Hughes Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jeff Chandler's D'Vilknights Clone, Randy Martinez's Padme, Tommy Lee Edwards' Anakin and Killian Plunkett's "DEAD" Padme; My animated Padme Maquette and Dewie (my Gentle Giant Dewback statue).

10. Do you have any other talents you would like to share?
I'm funny. No seriously. And I can play the drums.

11. What was your first job? What was your first professional art job?
Dishwasher at age 14 at Viana's Italian Cuisine in Voorhees, NJ. I worked there (going from Dishwasher to Busboy to waiter by 17) until I moved to San Fran at the age of 26. My first professional art job was doing covers for the Indie Comic "The Jersey Devil" for SJR Productions.

12. What projects are you currently working on?
The current Hyperspace webstrip, "Evasive Action: Prey." Wizard of Oz sketch cards for Breygent. I'm penciling and inking pages for the Graphic Novel for Platinum Studios called "Secret Identities" written by Marv Wolfman (I am FINALLY getting this done!) and I will start to slowly get my 3 issue, self-published story "M" off the ground in April. I THINK that's it for now.

13. What is your favorite person or thing that you like to draw?
My favorite thing to draw would be people, characters... etc.
Least favorite?
Least favorite is cars and buildings.

14. If you were trapped on a desert island, name 3 people that you would want to have with you?
Ok, I'm giving two versions, the married version and the one if I wasn't.

Married Version: My wife, son (who'd bitch the whole time because his iPod and PSP won't work) and my brother Sean because he's so damn funny.

Unmarried Version: Dita Von Teese, Adriana Lima and Hurley from LOST... you have to figure I'm STILL the skinnier, better looking one in the scenario and he's likely to find the food.

15. If you could do any other job, what would it be?
Direct films.

16. Here is your chance to name drop: Have you met any of your heroes? Anyone else of note?
I've been within arms length of George more times than people who work for the guy (it's true, I've been told). I am actually good friends with one of my bigger influences, Adam Hughes and have a met and hung out with another, Jeff Campbell. I met Ringo Starr at a private party I was catering and he called my Dad at home.

17. If you could live in any time in history, what would it be and why?
I would LOVE to have been alive and of age during The '60s. I would love to have witnessed The Beatles first hand, like my father did.

18. What turns you into a big fanboy or fangirl?
Star Wars. Star Wars toys. Adam and I often chat and geek out over stuff from Sideshow, Gentle Giant, Master Replicas and Medicom. (And husky puppies, you should see him swoon. - TH)

19. Do you have any collections (geeky or otherwise)?
I collect the Gentle Giant Animated Maquettes. I have Star Wars Action Figures. Various Gentle Giant and Master Replica pieces and I am and have been pre-ordering the Sideshow 12" Star Wars and Lord of the Rings line. I will also be collecting the new line of accessible Master Replica Lightsabers. Hmmm, what else... Comics (all kinds) Books... I have quite a reference library going and it gets bigger every day.

20. What is your proudest moment?
When I finally became official. I still think it's pretty cool. (Um, what about the day you got married!!! - TH)

21. And finally.. Tell us something about yourself no one would expect.
My father use to work for Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers band, Chicago and The Doobie Brothers but Led Zeppelin more than any of them.

Be sure to check out Tom's website at

Thanks for reading!
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