The past few weeks have been a real treat for Star Wars fans. Not only did we get a new movie, but creators all over have shared some of the finest Star Wars related work ever seen. Honor The Force recently had a chance to speak with Stephen Byrne, creator of the viral sensation known as Star Wars Episode 7.5 (posted below this interview). Byrne's take on the next installment of the sequel trilogy has garnered rave reviews as well as adoration from the fans and even a star of the franchise.
Honor The Force: It seems that you have been very popular as of late. One of your recent works Episode 7.5, based in the Star wars universe, has gotten lots of attention. You were recently featured by theverge.com, geekoutpost.com, and geekxgirls.com for this amazing rendition of what could happen next in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. How has it felt to be so well received by the fans in this last month?
Stephen: It's always a nice feeling when people show their appreciation for what you do. It's validation for the effort you put in. I've experienced it a few times before with other pieces of fan art, though this was definitely the biggest impact I've ever seen. The original posts from my Facebook page now have reached about 1.5 million people, and that's before websites shared it and reddit and all that. So it's cool. At a certain point the numbers lose meaning, but I love hearing stories from friends living on the other side of the world where one of their office mates or friends who doesn't know me is talking about it. That said, it is fan art, so it comes with a certain built-in appeal that has nothing to do with me. Hopefully some day something original I do will have the same impact.
Honor The Force: Looking at your Facebook page, it seems that you have several projects in the works. What are you currently working on that your fans can look forward to?
Stephen: I can't talk about almost anything that I'm working on but all are going smoothly. This should be an exciting year for me with a few big things in the pipeline. I can mention the Serenity story written by Chris Roberson, and executive produced by Joss Whedon - which I have coming up from Dark Horse on Free Comic Book Day this year. So that's exciting. I'm also putting out a comic online, page by page (similar to how I did Star Wars) called Sidekick, which is my creator-owned take on the superhero genre.
Honor The Force: Your artistic style is one that appeals to both young and old. How would you describe your artistic style and what is your medium of choice when creating?
Stephen: I'm all digital, so it's mainly Photoshop. I don't know how to describe my style. I think it varies depending on the tone of what I'm working on. I learned to be adaptable through working freelance. I'll leave it to others to classify it.
Honor The Force: What initially inspired you to become a graphic artist?
Stephen: Probably praise from my parents for drawing as a kid. It's a sugar rush to the brain when you get a compliment for something you created. I'm still chasing that high, just on a bigger scale.
Honor The Force: If you had to choose only one Star Wars character as your favorite, who would it be and why?
Stephen: My first instinct was BB-8, but I have to say Rey. I love a strong female character that doesn't have to explain why she's strong.
Honor The Force: Your work with Episode 7.5 was recently acknowledged by the legendary Peter Mayhew, that must have felt great. What thoughts ran through your mind when you first saw his post on Twitter?
Stephen: Ha! That was fun. It's cool to imagine him looking at it. I wonder if he showed other cast and crew?
Honor The Force: If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring or novice artists what would tell them?
Stephen: Don't stop making stuff. Just keep doing it all the time. When I hear very successful people say things like "if you work hard at it, you can accomplish your goals", I always find it hard to swallow. It's easy to say that as the person who did accomplish their goals, but what I do believe is if you don't work hard at it you definitely won't accomplish anything. So work hard at it.
Stephen's hardwork seems to be paying off with all the recent buzz around his work. Between Episode 7.5 and his Free Comic Book Day work with Serenity coming out in May, Stephen seems to be on a roll. Stephen, wee thank you for your contributions to Star wars fandom and for helping us Honor The Force.
If you want to see more of Stephen's work check him out at these links:
Also, look below for Stephen's entire Star Wars Episode 7.5 comic!