If you’re friends with lots of Star Wars fans on Facebook or Instagram, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen some of Brian Kesinger’s artwork blending George Lucas’ story with Calvin & Hobbes. We fell in love with his art when we first came across it last year. Since then he’s been hard at work creating more of the images.
On his Facebook and Etsy pages, Kesinger has been posting quite a lot of artwork: sketches, photographs, and other franchise mash-ups in addition to some of his original art. A story artist at Walt Disney Studios (where he has worked for two decades) by day, he noted that he also does illustrations for books and the occasional bit of art for Marvel Comics, notably on six issues of Groot last year. “Being a kid in the ‘80s,” He told The Verge in an email. “I was raised on a steady diet of Disney, Star Wars, and comic books, so being able to work on so many amazing films and projects has really been a dream come true.”
Kesinger noted that Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes comics had a particular influence on him, and he tells aspiring story artists to study the comics. “I was always amazed at how he could draw anything from cute stuffed tigers to ferocious dinosaurs piloting fighter jets.” He said. “His inking style seemed so casual and loose and yet the drawings were so solid.”
The Star Wars and Calvin & Hobbes comics came about after he watched The Force Awakens for the first time over a year ago. “When I saw Rey sled down the dunes of Jakku, it made me think of that classic image of Calvin & Hobbes in their red wagon.”
Since then, he’s continued to post images on his Facebook and Instagram feeds, but was taken aback at the popularity that came with the images. “I'm not the first to mash-up Calvin & Hobbes with pop culture,” he explained, “[but] I think the difference here is that I went a little deeper with the idea. Once I really made the comparison that Kylo Ren was probably a difficult child much like Calvin, it really resonated with people. The metaphor was solidified when I made Darth Vader Kylo's imaginary friend.”
Kesinger explained that he drew up the first illustrations digitally in Photoshop, but since then, he’s shifted to drawing by hand. “I color them with Copic markers to achieve the watercolor look of the original comic strip.”
Presently, he’s continuing to release the images, but is also getting ready to work on the storyboards for the sequel to Disney’s Frozen, and is creating his own board game based on a pair of two characters of his own creation, Otto and Victoria.