James Hance is the genius behind Relentlessly Cheerful Art. He has created many great pieces of art by mashing up his childhood favorites, whether it be cartoons or movies. James has already created the brilliant book titled “Wookie The Chew”, wonderfully mixing “Winnie The Pooh” with “Star Wars”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with James about his work and what existing projects he has planned next.
Also check out our giveaway for James Hance’s Relentlessly Cheerful Art, click here to enter top win some great prizes.
Mike Gencarelli: Let’s start with Wookie The Chew, how did you create this wonderful book?
James Hance: I had a dream about it, woke up and all the characters were there. I knew exactly who everyone was. I just recently decided that C3PO is going to be rabbit but I’m not entirely sure what to call him. Maybe Threepit? Christopher Robin was always going to be Han solo. I posted a few pictures on Facebook to see if anyone would dig it and people really got into it. I did a few and someone jokingly asked when the book was coming out, so I wrote the book.
MG: Why did you choose to do the pictures inside the book in black and white?
JH: I wanted to keep in theme with the early E.H. Shepard Pooh illustrations. Also my printing guy would’ve charged 2x as much for color! [laughs] Once the trilogy is finished I’ll release them as a single full color volume.
MG: So you have plans for another book “Wookie The Chew”?
JH: I am about 2/3 of the way through episode two right now and I’m releasing new prints to coincide with the story. The first one was loosely based on Episode IV, the second book will be ‘When We Were Very Jedi’ and the third, ‘Now We Are Sith’.
MG: Tell us about the animation clip for “Wookie The Chew”, are you planning turning it into a feature also?
JH: Billy Allison and I put that little sequence together as a promo for the book, prints and upcoming audio book. We wanted to let the reaction to the clip determine whether or not to go ahead with something more feature-length. There’s been an amazingly positive response so far in such a short space of time and it was so much fun to put together. Now it’s just a case of working out the logistics of making the movie. Lucasfilm have been amazingly good about this so far.
MG: You have a lot of work inspired by “Star Wars”, my favorite is ‘Force By Northwest’, tell us about your inspiration?
JH: “Star Wars” has been a huge influence, as you can tell. Jim Henson and George Lucas practically walked me through my childhood. As a kid I’d constantly be doodling, on any flat surface I could find. I remember drawing Link Hogthrob (Pigs In Space) piloting an X-Wing and being ridiculously proud of it. I should really do that one again, that’s gold!
MG: Tell us about your latest prints inspired by “Firefly”?
JH: “Firefrog!”. People kept requesting “Firefly” art but I’d never actually seen the show. Eventually I picked up the box set and washooked. Half way through the first episode I was plotting out each character and their Muppet counterpart. I was posting my progress pictures on Facebook and it started this big snowball of suggestions and amazing feedback. I’m very happy with how it went.
MG: What is your first step in starting a process for a project?
JH: I’ll usually sit down with endless coffees and watch the movies or episodes of whatever it is I’m working with. I don’t really mash-up anything that I am not passionate about. I’ll sketch like a mad thing through the movie (I often take a sketch pad into the cinema and doodle in the dark. That sounds a bit weird, actually) and then go online and and source pictures for inspiration and just go from there. It’s really just me in my pajamas watching cartoons and eating
cereal all day. That’s the dream.
MG: What has been your favorite artwork to date you have created?
JH: One my personal favorite pieces has to be “The Creation of Muppet”. Kermit and Jim as Adam and God, with Jim surrounded by various Muppets. That was a 4ft x 2ft painting, It took about a week and I’d add a few characters in each sitting. I’m really happy with how that turned out. It was hard to let the original go when the time came!
MG: When are you going to start selling originals on your website? How about work for hire?
JH: I take commissions as and when I can but I’m pretty busy with
writing and the Chew series right now. I’ve put together a lot of
digital art and t-shirt designs lately but these past couple of weeks
I’ve actually gotten back to painting. I forget how much I enjoy it
until I actually have the brush in my hand!
MG: What are you currently working on now?
JH: I’m currently writing book two of the ‘Wookiee The Chew’ trilogy, I’m also working on ‘The Timelord At The End Of This Book’ which is a Doctor Who / Sesame Street parody. That one’s had an amazing response so far. I’ve finished the writing, onto the illustrations now. Then there’s a ‘Star Wars’ / ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ book in the works,
the Wookiee The Chew movie, etc. I’m planning on hitting the conventions all of next year so I’m working hard to have an abundance of relentlessly cheerful art to take with me.