Fully Operational Fandom: An Interview with ‘Darth Days’ Artist George Folz

An illustrator lets the Force guide his pen, celebrating the saga with one drawing on Twitter per day.

In the category of information that will not shock any of you, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is on the horizon. The newest film in the saga is within our reach, and the prospect of more Star Wars has fans in full-time celebration mode. Some artists have decided to add to the anticipation for the upcoming film by putting pencil to paper (or stylus to tablet) and posting daily sketches inspired by Star Wars.

George Folz has put his own spin on the idea with “Darth Days.” He takes a scene from the saga, translates it to a comic book panel format, and shares the art every day on Twitter. It’s become part of my morning ritual to scroll through Folz’s tweets and see the latest illustration.

Folz has been drawing since he was three years old and later received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He’s worked on the web comic Beacon Lights and is currently publishing a creator-owned comic, The Roman Nose, through comiXology. I talked with Folz about his inspiration for the project, his favorite Star Wars scene, and the challenges of creating an illustration every single day.

StarWars.com: Which Star Wars film did you see first?

George Folz: The first movie I saw was Episode IV. My dad came home from the video store up the street from us with three VHS tapes (the original trilogy) when I was four or so, and basically said, “We’re gonna watch these movies this week.”

StarWars.com: What inspired you to start Darth Days, and why did you choose the comic panel format?

George Folz: Inspiration struck by chance, honestly. I was in Barnes & Noble looking for white elephant gifts for a work party. The teaser for Episode VII had just dropped a couple of weeks earlier, so needless to say, Del Rey’s Vader [Star Wars: The Complete Vader] sitting on a table marked down 50 percent caught my attention. I eagerly picked up the book, recalling a lifetime of great Star Wars memories. As I began to flip through it, I actually had to stop myself, because I knew that I had to buy it. I wanted to savor every page of a book all about Darth Vader (my favorite villain ever) as much as possible.

During the Christmas holidays, I started doing some ink drawings based off the photos in the book, and it was a blast. I’d been drawing almost exclusively with a pen for a couple of years, and something about creating ink drawings of him with a fat brush was just pure bliss. As comics are my bag, and I was looking for a personal project outside of The Roman Nose, I got the idea that I’d recreate a Darth Vader scene from the original trilogy every day of 2015. After thinking better of my Darth-centric original idea, #darthdays came to be.

StarWars.com: Do you schedule out scenes in advance, or do you just draw whatever strikes you each day?

George Folz: There are certain scenes that I know I want to do, but just as many are selected as a result of pure chance. Usually, I’ll be watching the movies looking for one thing and then I’ll be struck by a completely different shot or line and end up ditching what I’d set out to do in the first place. I might have to start scheduling scenes a little closer to the end, just to make sure that I fit all of the things that I want to draw into the year, but for now, it’s kind of random and I like that.

StarWars.com: What is your favorite scene in all of Star Wars?

George Folz: Yoda’s great speech to Luke about the Force is my favorite scene, hands down. As silly or sad as it may sound, many years ago, after the end of a bad relationship, it was that scene that was the impetus for me to begin to regain a much more positive life outlook. The girl I’d been seeing really broke my heart so for a few months, when I wasn’t making feeble attempts at drawing, I was watching a lot of old movies, Star Wars chief amongst them.

What it really comes down to is Yoda’s line, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter,” as it speaks to what may ultimately be life’s great persistent truth. Everything that we experience is more than it seems at the end of the day — people aren’t necessarily their emotions, their words, the vessels (for lack of a better term) that are their bodies. They’re more and life is about more than we’ll probably ever understand, to be honest. It’s very easy for me to internalize, and to me, that line was essentially saying, “Things like this are not the end of the world. There’s more at play in life: persist.”

StarWars.com: What have been the challenges of posting new art everyday?

George Folz: I work full-time teaching middle schoolers in an after-school program for a not-for-profit called Y.O.U. in Evanston, Illinois, so to do #darthdays Monday through Friday, I’m getting up at 6 a.m. or so, attempting to be drawing by 7 a.m., and then heading out the door by 9:45 a.m. so I can be at work from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. It makes for a very long work week.

I’m managing my time better these days so the real challenge now is continuing to make sure that I’m bringing some additional dimension to the scene I’m choosing, or making sure that I’m playing up what’s going on emotionally and thematically in the shot. If I’m able, I like to nod to outside influences — a riff on the color palette from an album cover by Roger Dean or the red in a half-remembered Monet painting, for example.

I’m almost always confident in my finished panel, but as time passes, some of them don’t hold up as well as others. If there are a few days in a row where I look at my drawing from the previous day and think it’s garbage, it can be a bummer. Thankfully, this happens more infrequently nowadays. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have an incredible amount of support from people all over the world who love the movies like I do. Ultimately, their support, in addition to my desire to improve as an artist, trump any challenges at the end of the day. While I’m able, I’d like to thank all of those people once again, as their enthusiasm and joy really means the world to me. I hope that everyone continues to enjoy the project.

See more of Folz’s work at his website.

Amy Ratcliffe is a writer obsessed with all things Star Wars, Disney, and coffee. Follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek and keep up with all things geeky at her blog.

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