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Welcome to What the Force? And this is our Segment What the Fandom?
Today we learn more about Jerominus Dekker the owner of the Sentinant Youtube Channel Tales from Weirdland, a Youtube Channel, Twitter, and Tumblr.
The amazing creative produced a Hand-drawn version of Star Wars. Take a minute to dive into the short and then learn more about Jerominus.
Marie-Claire: How do you pronounce your name I have been struggling with it since meeting you virtually.
Jeronimus: Just Jeronimus Dekker. Nothing extra, not “artist”, “animator”, just my name. Which by the way is pronounced “Yeronimus” in Dutch. But it’d be silly for you to pronounce it like that: in English, it’d be more like “Jerr-on-ee-mus” I suppose.
MC: Thank you for Agreeing to come on the show. I reached out to you because of your amazing Fan video of a New hope Called ‘Star Wars: The Animated Movie’, where you almost frame the story as a different person sharing the legend. When I found your video I was blown away with the animation and then I realized you had drawn it all by hand. Tell me about this video and how it came to be.
Jeronimus: Years ago, I was watching a Dutch stand-up comedian on TV and he had this bit where he retold the story of Jesus, but completely garbled, with movie references thrown in, and with weird tangents and absurd flights of fancy and stuff. Then one day when I was thinking of doing an animated Star Wars video, that bit came back to me, and the two things started to connect somehow. My first idea was to do the story like this: there’d be this guy, a plumber called Lou Skywalker, who would accidentally blow up the Death Star while working on its sanitation system. But once I sat down to get to work, that idea seemed too flimsy, too silly. Almost immediately the project became more ambitious than that. So, you know. I couldn’t really tell you *why* I made a warped, hand-drawn animated version of Star Wars, I just found myself doing it one day.
I’m not sure I’d call it a “fan video” actually. I mean I don’t own Star Wars on Blu-ray for example, I’m not that kind of fan. Star Wars has always been more of a nostalgic world for me, rather than a current, living world.
MC: Walk me through the process of video creation what is important to pay attention to.
Jeronimus: It’s important to keep an eye on what it is becoming, the thing you’re making, rather than if it corresponds with what’s in your head. Don’t cling to your original intention or ideas too much. Sometimes you think you want it a certain way, but the project you’re working on (be it a video, comic, novel, painting, poem, whatever) knows better, and it will secretly try to become its own thing. Better go along with it. When an artist gets stuck, the problem usually is that they’re not following the direction the piece of art itself is taking them in. They go their own way, the piece of art goes its own way, you drift apart, and then you suddenly feel that you’re stuck and out of ideas. That’s what that is.
MC: I loved the interesting headcanon you added, for example Marvin the Martian added to the scavengers on Tatooine… can you talk a little bit about this..
Jeronimus: That’s just something you do when you have to draw so many Jawas. A kind of zaniness kicks in. And artists are always trying to sneak in jokes. The Disney animators did it, The Beatles did it. It’s like a kind of playful signature, a wink. You’re saying: “Whoever sees this, I’m seeing you too.” It’s just a way to communicate. I think there’s something hidden in every scene, and some have more, like there’s an upside-down Battle Droid in the trash compactor, and also Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock, a character that fascinated me endlessly as a kid.
MC: You mentioned in your post about how disassociated you feel from the act of creating the Star Wars Video, what kept you going…
Jeronimus: Did I say that? I don’t remember that… You mean work on the video was punishing sometimes? Because, man, it definitely was. You have to realize, I’m completely self-taught. I’ve never been to art school, or even taken a course or anything. My parents aren’t artistic. Everything I do art-wise, is my own mutation. I mean, I have a Master’s degree in Psychology and Dutch Literature of all things. So to do a video like this… And I’m a petty perfectionist. Everything has to be “just so”. As a kid I was like that too. Whenever I made a bad drawing, I ripped out the page from my sketchbook and threw it away. My grandfather used to complain about that, he couldn’t believe it. One tiny failed drawing and the whole page had to go. It’s a wonder I didn’t throw the whole sketchbook out. But anyway—being such a perfectionist, I make it quite hard for myself. That’s what was so punishing. When I drew the characters for the Star Wars video, I didn’t want to rely on photos, so I compiled carefully aligned model sheets. Except for two or three instances, I didn’t use photo references for anything: not for the characters, vehicles, creatures, or whatever. When you see the inside of Leia’s ship in the opening scene for example, it’s a unique perspective, you don’t see it in the film like that. I didn’t want to simply copy what was already there. Everything is slanted, twisted, different. A crazy amount of crazy work nobody will notice. But *I* notice, and that’s what matters to me.
MC: What was it like working with Voice actors. How do you go about that process…
Jeronimus: That’s always hard. You have to translate what’s in your head—the sound, the intonation, the flow of the words—to someone else, without cluttering their minds or stifling their own creativity, you know, or being too overbearing. I was lucky to meet a few good ones when I started, like Jonathan Cooke, who does most of my videos. Sometimes you write a line you think is perfect, but when you hear it back you go: “No.” That process can be torture, rewriting the stuff, sending it to the voice actor, trying to figure out what works or why something doesn’t work. But Jonathan is always great: no matter how many retakes I request, he never flinches. He gets the job done. His work and attitude definitely made the whole enterprise much easier for me.
MC: I have thought about doing animated shorts or radio dramas, How do you inspire and help voice actor’s contribute to the process?
Jeronimus: I’m not sure… But you should do it though, those animated shorts and radio dramas. Don’t think about it too long, just make a start, jump in. Working on something: that’s what will make you feel like working on something, thinking about it will only slowly kill any drive to do it. What’s the worst that could happen? Don’t wait for the right mood or idea, that will all come once you’re working on your project.
MC: How did you discover Star Wars personally? And what has it meant to you. You perspective might be very different as you are located outside north america.
Jeronimus: I remember tie-in ads for The Empire Strikes Back in old comics magazines that my grandparents bought for me and my brother at the local market. Ads for biscuits, you know, “buy one pack and get a free Yoda sticker”. The accompanying photos fascinated me. A black-clad Samurai-like warrior on a snow planet, wow, what is that about? The first Star Wars movie we saw was Return of the Jedi, but the other two remained very mysterious for quite some time, mythical almost: those ads were all we had. We didn’t have a VCR yet. I hail from a tiny rural village, and nobody there knew about Star Wars, so I couldn’t ask anyone. My brother was called “Mr. Star Wars” by his classmates.
My uncle had actually seen the first Star Wars when it came out in 1977, and we questioned him like mad about it, but he wasn’t able to tell us much as he just thought it was all very weird, with all those aliens and spaceships. Jawas were about all he remembered: “There were these little monks in the desert…” You have to realize a lot of people thought Star Wars was very weird then: the suits, robots, ships, story, aliens in a cantina listening to Benny Goodman music… Actually, my uncle’s distorted retelling, that’s another memory that no doubt shaped the video. Rumors, hearsay, glimpses. “What have you heard?” Trying to piece it all together.
MC: What is your first memory of star wars.
Jeronimus: Well, those mysterious ads. But apart from that, seeing Return of the Jedi at the local theatre. I remember afterwards when everyone left the theatre, I jumped over a railing (a very low railing I should add) and said, “I’m Luke Skywalker!” This young couple smiled at me. I wonder if they’re still together actually. Yes, I wonder about random things like that.
MC: How has Star Wars influenced the Tales from Weirdland? What are the tales all about?
Jeronimus: You mean how has Star Wars influenced me and my work? I couldn’t say. I’d have to visit an alternate universe in which Star Wars doesn’t exist, look for myself there, my alternate me, then study myself for a few years. I really couldn’t say. I can’t really analyze myself like a clockwork, where you can tell why a certain part is there and what it does. I suppose it’s part of my DNA in a way, like the music of The Beatles: you can’t specifically pinpoint anymore what its influence has been.
MC: What other star wars projects would you like to take on and why?
Jeronimus: I’d like to do the other two films from the Original Trilogy one day, maybe. But it’s more likely I’d do something else altogether. Actually I’m working on something now, something as ambitious as the Star Wars video, which has absolutely nothing to do with Star Wars.
MC: What advice would you have for other people who are interested in getting into hand drawn animation?
Jeronimus: Buy a decent pencil sharpener, because you’re going to need one. That’s serious advice actually. And also, when you feel down and nothing seems to go right, think of yourself looking back on the finished thing. When you actually manage to finish something, it nearly always was worth all the headaches. When you give up, chances are big you’ll give up again next time things get tough. And they always are going to get tough, so you’ll always be giving up and leaving a trail of shapeless monsters behind you. You’ve got to overcome that. It takes discipline, and dedication, and it’s awful and you want to kill yourself, but you can overcome it, and you have to.
MC: Thank you Jeronimus for agreeing to be on the show. I look forward to your next endeavor, would you like to let everyone know where they can find you and your work
Jeronimus: Tales from Weirdland on YouTube is where my animated videos live, and Twitter and Tumblr is where I live online I suppose. There’s not much else besides that. I’ve always been wary of being everywhere, on every social media platform and in everyone’s face. I hated doing what little promotion I did for the Star Wars video honestly. (Not this interview though, of course.)