Fans can purchase his art and commission tokusatsu-themed pieces through his website. He will also be in attendance at Acme Comics in Greensboro, NC for Free Comic Book Day in May and hopefully, HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC in June.
Can you tell us about your personal background and what drove you to become an artist?
I grew up in western North Carolina, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I’d always loved drawing and was attracted to anything superhero or sci-fi oriented.
Do you have any formal fine art training or schooling and if so, where did you study? What have you done to develop your particular style and how do you keep honing it?
I studied Illustration at the Ringling College in Sarasota, Florida. Being an artist means constantly working at your craft; endlessly searching for the right shapes. That might sound weird, but you can draw something, or you can DRAW something– I guess it’s hard to describe.
How did you get into tokusatsu (i.e. Super Sentai, Ultraman, Godzilla) growing up?
While [it’s] animated, I’d say the first “sentai” show I’d seen was Gatchaman, or Battle of the Planets, when I was five or so in 1978. And looking back, I think it kinda WAS the first “sentai” team, with five people fulfilling the leader / loner / protector / goofball / heart roles.
Grew up watching Godzilla movies and Ultraman, Ultra Seven, and Space Giants (Ambassador Magma in Japan) were on Atlanta’s WTBS feed every morning and afternoon.
A nearby toy store carried a lot of the diecast Japanese robot Godaikin line, and while I adored and drooled over the offerings, I had no idea what shows those toys were from.
I’d guess the true first exposure to Super Sentai was USA Network’s late night video show, Night Flight. They’d show episodes of Dynaman with Second City comedians re-dubbing the voices. While the jokes were dopey, seeing the mecha combine into a giant robot was beyond awesome. I was probably fifteen then.
Man, I love robots.
And then, in college, [Mighty Morphin’] Power Rangers came out, with all the other assorted shows, and my world started to really open up at that point. The burgeoning internet helped fill in gaps.
Oushi Black, Star of the Ring, and the Raging Bull Wrestler….from Uchu Sentai Kyuranger pic.twitter.com/EUcP11MKgP
— Joel Carroll (@joelcarroll) January 14, 2017
Do you have a favorite tokusatsu series so far?
Oof, that’s a tough one…
Hmmm, I’d say for the Riders, it’d have to be OOO. For Super Sentai, hands down, Shinkenger. Both shows had great themes and even better villains. Villains that had goals you could almost side with– not so black and white.
Do you have a particular favorite tokusatsu suit / robot / kaiju design from a series?
Hmmm, I love OOO’s secondary Rider, Kamen Rider Birth, who has an awesome gashapon themed armor and weaponry. Robot-wise, I’m still a huge fan of Dragon Caeser/Dragonzord from the first Power Rangers / Zyuranger. As for kaiju, it’s a toss-up between Ultraman’s Baltan and Zetton. Zetton makes creepier sounds.
Can you walk us through the process when creating a piece? Do you prefer to work with traditional or digital tools?
I work completely traditional until colors, which is pretty much Photoshop. I use a regular cheapy mechanical pencil to block out shapes, ink with Sakura Micron pens and Pentel brush pens.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I do, but I’m so slow. I’m working on a space barbarian comic, and slowly designing and putting together a Sentai-esque combining robot comic idea. I’ll update via my website and social media when things start getting close to appearing.
Once more, Joel Carroll is a tokusatsu-fan and freelance artist who grew up in the Southeast United States. He is open for various commissions and can be followed via social media on Twitter and Tumblr.