Phil Noto worked his way from Disney animated features in the House of Mouse to the hallowed halls of the House of Ideas, making a name for himself on such comics as X-23, Uncanny X-Force, and Black Widow. On Chewbacca, he and writer Gerry Duggan make history with the first-ever comic book spotlight on Han Solo’s friend and co-pilot, and Noto’s pulled out all the stops to ensure a wild Wookiee ride.
In this second installment of a two-part interview that began on Marvel.com, the artist explains some of the process behind Chewbacca’s visuals.
StarWars.com: Phil, what goes into your depiction of Chewbacca here? How much do you use photo reference, and how much do you draw intuitively?
Phil Noto: I’ve tried to gather as much Chewbacca photo ref as I can. He’s actually very tricky. It’s easy for him to look like a hairy Homer Simpson if you don’t get it just right. I ended building a 3D Chewie head in ZBrush for turnaround reference. The more I’ve drawn him though, the easier it’s been to do it off the top of my head.
StarWars.com: Wow! Overall, what’s your philosophy in creating Star Wars aliens? What were the demands from the script and what comes solely from you?
Phil Noto: I’ve tried to use as many existing Star Wars aliens as possible. The few that I’ve created have been inspired by the various creatures from the original trilogy and the prequels. Gerry has let me “cast” the aliens in terms of the art.
StarWars.com: And likewise with spacecraft — Chewie’s ship is so cool in this series…where did it come from in your creativity?
Phil Noto: It’s not everyday that you get the chance to design a Star Wars spacecraft. It was written as a very small ship, something that Chewbacca would have to squeeze into. I ended up designing a “budget-version” A-wing for him. Something that the Rebels would easily loan out to him for his trip.
StarWars.com: You succeeded on all levels. So, in a perfect world, what other kind of Star Wars book would you love to work on?
Phil Noto: That’s a tough one as I’m in heaven just drawing anything Star Wars. I guess perhaps a Jedi-in-their-prime book.
Jim Beard, a native of Toledo, Ohio, has worked as a professional writer since 2002, not only on comic books, but also on prose adventure fiction. He’s contributed weekly to Marvel.com for over 10 years, one of his proudest achievements.