The following is an interview with comic book artist Steven Swenston, who has worked with a number of publishers including Marvel and TSR. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon talks with Swenston about his experience in the industry, his preference for hard copy comics, and his own artistic influences.
This interview was conducted on July 22, 2012.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: When did you decide to purse a career as an artist in the comic book industry?
Steven Swenston: Well, comics raised me, were my best friends. Let me explain. My dad died when I was young and my mom had to work. I got home from school with no one home, so TV and comics raised me, especially Ditko and Lee’s Spider-Man. When high school was ending, my mom said, “Decide what you’re going to do with your life,” and to pick something I would enjoy, so I decided I wanted to draw comics. She said it was weird but to go for it. That was about 1971.
BD: For our readers who may be unfamiliar, would you mind telling us about your previous experience in the industry, as well as your favorite projects?
SS: Well, my experiences in the industry have been often dissapointing. Jim Shooter hired me at San Diego Comic-Con, but he later changed his mind for no reason I am aware of. Rick Marshall hired me for Epic, then he was fired and me with him. I worked on What if 7 with Rick Hoberg (a really nice guy), but my best work on the comic was taken out. I did see print in my dream job (working on Conan for Marvel) and did two illos for Savage Sword of Conan (see Issues #33 and #55). Later, I was hired for a Pacific Comics’ limited edition portfolio of Merlin. While all this was going on, I worked fairly regularly for Chaosium, TSR, and others. I also did a children’s book for famous teacher Herb Khol. My favorite project was the Merlin Portfolio, though, as I am still very proud of it. I also did a small job for Kerry O’Quinn of Starlog.
BD: In addition to your work with comics, you also worked in the gaming industry. How did you experiences in the two industries differ, and did you find one to be more challenging (or rewarding) than the other?
SS: The industries for me were a lot alike except in scope. A comic is a big job say to an illo or two for a game or a game mag.
BD: As if working in the comics and gaming industries was not enough, you also owned a comic book stores at one point. Do you feel that comic book stores have evolved over the years, and, if so, do you like the direction in which they are heading?
SS: Comic stores – not sure about that. They seem about the same, except for web and size. There are just so many comics now!
BD: Many independent creators have viewed web comics and digital comics as the next best way to make their leap into the comic book industry. What are your thoughts on digital comics and their presence in the industry?
SS: Digital comics? Like Captain Picard and books, I like paper. Digital comics kind of glow more, though.
BD: Are there any exciting updates or plans that you would like to share with our readers?
SS: I have total artistic freedom right now and am working on several projects of my own, including Double Triangle. I love just getting an idea and drawing it up.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite comic books and graphic novels?
SS: My favorite graphic novel is Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. How anything sounding that stupid can be so good . . . wow – my hats off to the creators. Of course, Watchmen and The Dark Knight. I am always in love with the Barry Smith/Roy Thomas Conan, Starstruck, and some Swamp Thing.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to comic book fans of all ages who aspire to work in the comic book industry?
SS: Advice? Get it in writting.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
SS: Like is often said, everything I like can have an effect, small or big, but my biggest influences are Neal Adams, Barry Smith, Kaluta, and of course Frazetta. Oh yeah, God for making reality to look at.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about your work?
SS: Well, I self puplished 3 issues of my character, Evermind. You can buy it at comixpress.com. (Type in Evermind.) I reccomend Issue #3; it is the best and has some reprints of some of my old strips like Pinsom and Alpha Aliens. Check out my website, swenston.vpweb.com. Power to the people and Fanboy Comics.