The following is an interview with comic book creator and musician Stef “Sharky” Schultz. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Schultz about her comic book series, Misterguy, her creative inspirations, where you can find her work, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with your comic book series, Misterguy, what can you tell us about your comic and artwork?
Sharky: I can tell you ALMOST everything. You see, even though I made the series and the character from scratch, blah, blah, blah…..there are elements that elude even me. For instance: why his color scheme? I wear black most of the time, therefore my character does too—but why is his face yellow? I’m not typically fond of yellow. (He has BEE colors, and I love BEES, but I also love spiders, sharks, and reptiles, so, my BEE argument is invalid.) What’s with his NAME, and why is his head a tulip? Those would all be great questions for the 4-year-old-me who made him, but now what’s done is done, and I no longer know the answers to those questions. I will probably DIE not knowing for sure, but I am okay with that(because humans can’t live forever).
With THAT said—the entire series, as you may notice, is very cinematographically inclined—geared towards tastes in cinema—-sci-fi classics and otherwise. There was a very stark disparity between my consumption of film, animation, and television classics as opposed to my exposure to comics, growing up. Therefore, you get a very movie-inspired product out of me, that, instead of relying AS heavily on speech bubbles and written-out sound effects like “Bam! Biff! POW!”—-you instead get a fair share of very screenplay/subtitle-style dialogue and formatting, as well as visual cues for movement, like my incorporation of actual motion blur effects or the like. Not to say I never use elements such as written sound effects, but I use them more sparingly. Cheesy comic book queues have their place and I admire it all in other applications, but it doesn’t work for my artistic VISION(with OR without my reading glasses)….I don’t know, cheese is cheese, but that stuff has more of a limburger vibe to me, and I’m just more of a cheddar person.
Enough cheese jokes….I hate to “Columbo” you, but, “Just one more thing!” As you can see, and will continue to see as I release new issues, there’s nothing cookie-cutter about this series; a lot of thought goes into how different atmospheres look, how your eye is led around a page, and the way the cells connect. It’s wild, but I usually draw things in FRAGMENTS as I think of them, then assemble the pieces later, on a page, like a jigsaw-puzzle. I hand-draw just about everything, which furthermore sets me apart in the comics-creating-scape nowadays. It doesn’t make my work better than everyone or anyone else’s, but it certainly makes it very different, I am told. SO IT GOES.
BD: In addition, what can you tell us about Sorry Little Sharky?
Sharky: “Sorry Little Sharky”—back in 2010, I was trying to think of a peculiar and yet catchy name for my website…kind of cute, but remotely intimidating. Nowadays, it represents my stage name and what folks call my “persona.” Neat. Apparently, I have one of those. Nonetheless, I love sharks and so do my folks and siblings. My favorite article of jewelry has been a shark tooth necklace as far back as I care to remember—my dad found the original tooth on a beach in west Florida (where my family and I originated), and he made a replica of it for me to keep. My mom helps my dad with their business of making film props and sculpting monsters from film classics (See www.SharkCityOzark.com.), as well as other sea life and all kinds of cool sci-fi stuff, so the love of ALL OF THAT GOOD STUFF, including nature, film, and science, has always been there for me.
The initials for “Sorry Little Sharky,” SLS, correspond with my own initials, “Stef L. Schultz,” and I admit, that happened almost by accident. I get my mileage out of having those initials though, because in the insignia I created and use on all finished art, the “S’s” look like a double-sided scythe, with the “L” being in the middle of the “S’s”. It looks like it could kill, but it means you no harm. Probably only nominal…harm.
I also created my own logo, visible on every comic I print and on every page of my website.
As far as “Sorry” is concerned—–as opposed to anything else that starts with an “S”…I thought it was FUNNY, it made me laugh, and with most things that make me laugh, I went with it. And frankly, any apologies that ever need to be done on my part have already been said–so “sorry” isn’t just part of my stage name, it’s a strategic time-saver. *scoffs*
BD: What inspired you to tell these stories, and who do you feel would be the best audience to thoroughly enjoy the projects?
Sharky: Sure, I have been inspired by many THINGS, and every year, I find new STUFF to appreciate. If I were to sit here and robotically list everything in entertainment that I have ever loved and continue to love that may or may not have inspired me, what it all means, and how it makes us FEEL…..we’d be here all day, possibly even for a week, and after such a length of time you would surely come to hate me, and it would turn into…I don’t know, have you seen David Lynch’s Eraserhead or at least that scene at the end where Henry attacks and kills the little baby monster, and then its guts start bubbling up, pouring out, and dripping everywhere while the lights/electricity in the room go haywire?
I rest my case.
As John Hammond puts it in Jurassic Park, “Creation is an act of sheer will…” I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t necessarily NEED to be inspired by something to be able to create something NEW. Inspiration has only ever been a catalyst—-in the case of Misterguy, nothing inspired me to sit down and draw him one day, but eventually it helped me DEVELOP more of his character later on down the road. (As I have mentioned before, elsewhere, he was one of many creations over the course of my life, I didn’t do a WHOLE lot with him for a number of years after his inception, and though I came back to him from time to time, I didn’t start serious work again until I was in my teens and early 20’s.)
My inclination to write and illustrate stories has always been there and always will be, is something I didn’t have to work at or work for, it is simply a propensity—–as easy to me as FOOTBALL is to FOOTBALL-people who care how FOOTBALL works. By the time I created Misterguy, I know I must have had seen more than a few films and cartoons, but my innocent child brain and creative slate were fairly clean of “inspiration.” I know that his being stick-thin and spiky-tulip-headed, and his sadness at losing his wife in a tragic vehicular accident, were all odd elements that have been there since he was created. (His NOSE didn’t last…he used to have a little dot for a nose until the redesign in 2009) He just wasn’t inspired by anything but my own WILD little kid imagination, I was just stank young and having a good time drawing! Heck, I wrote countless stories during these early years, with whatever words I knew how to write, but words never held me back from telling my stories in pictures.
As far as my audience is concerned, I’m absolutely thrilled to be fortunate enough to literally have fans of all ages, races, and from diverse geographic persuasions and walks of life. While saying “my audience is EVERYONE!!!” would make me sound daft, I instead am simply stating, empirically, that because I have not limited my audience by using strong language, adult themes, or Godforsaken politics…the scope of the series is as free as my imagination, taking place so far outside of reality and its many stifling confines, that many, ironically, can relate to the story and characters no matter who they are or where they come from. Being based on my own imagination also means it will include a very silly, Monty-Python or Three Stooges-esque sense of humor, and not to mention, loads of dark humor. Yeah, I get a few concerned comments about the edginess after having sold hundreds of my first issue and hearing comments about it from my fans, even though I let them all “try before they buy.”
I’ve heard, “DID THAT LITTLE DOG ‘LOOPY’ REALLY MELT?” (In regards to “Loopy, The Manically Depressed Dog,” my parody of Schulz’s “Snoopy” from PEANUTS.)
My response: “ Oh yes, he did. But he’s not a real dog. So, no worries. Don’t try this at home.”
“YOU LET THE LITTLE VEGETABLE ALIENS ON THE HILL DIE OF STARVATION?”
Well, YES, because they’re little vegetable aliens, not real people. It’s funny. Laugh! Then laugh s’more.
Real life can be so very tragic, and everyone deserves to laugh and make light of it every once in a while.
The bottom line on my inclination towards dark humor is that I LOVE it, so it’s going to be unavoidable in my work. Besides, I think it’s dandy when violence can remain in fiction where it’s harmless. I make no further apologies about who I am and what like or even love—the “sorry” is already in my name, we discussed this. >chuckles<
BD: In addition to being an artist, you are also a digital musician. What can you share about your range of creative pursuits, and do you find that they influence or inspire one another?
Sharky: Certainly, projects often bleed into one another, and this is unavoidable, as gravity tends to have that effect on most liquids. But yeah, the music composition started when I was around 8-9 years old, aided by a couple sporadic years of piano lessons, but it all went comatose after a couple of years and I didn’t get serious about it again, to compose and record with various mics and my MIDI keyboard, computer, and VST setup, until I was about fourteen or fifteen.
I became serious….about a LOT of things around that age, it’s also when I started painting fine art. What I paint is often abstract and inspired by nature or elements of horror. A couple of my favorite pieces are backgrounds on my website, actually. All in all, it really was very sudden, the manner in which I shed the little child husk and metamorphosed into…..some kind of Kafka-inspired insectoid SOLDIER that draws and paints and…musics.
Anyway, I have come a LOOONG way since my start in music, and have recently released Sorry Little Sharky Vol. 1, available worldwide wherever music can be streamed….and when I can afford it later, I will have more CD’s printed, but in the mean time, the only disks available are the ones I hand-print and burn myself when people request them.
Like I’m some kind of Kafka-inspired insectoid PRINT-ON-DEMAND-CD-GENIE!!!
Here’s a link to the digital album on iTunes.
Otherwise, stream it from Google Play, Amazon Music, Spotify, and eventually all of the additionally oddly-named websites that appease almighty Google enough >this week< to be able to get on anyone’s radar. *forced smile*
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
Sharky: I hope people take away an infectious desire to explore and challenge the parameters of their own realities instead of remaining where they may be unhappy….and may they continue to seek inspirations which will build highways of learning in their minds and open up worlds of opportunity around them.
Now I’ll be speaking of film, music, and other forms of entertainment and its effect on people when I say that there’s a vast expanse of information and entertainment out there to assimilate….fictional worlds others have created that we all can disappear into and explore, providing relief from reality but allowing us to be refreshed enough to be able to go “back to the grind” again for a while. I for one would love to have the opportunity to be a bigger contributor to that temporary escape of entertainment, someday….one of the very many interests I grew up with was one in working with something film-or-animation-related, and I hope that Misterguy will be a catapult towards that aim. I do have a passion for film, animation, and music. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that, now countless times, others have told me they would love to see it turned into an animated series. Who knows. If it all fails, I already have plans to take my decade of experience in the workforce and 2-page resume and shop around ’till I find a job as a yachtie. Maybe get my licensure and become captain of a liveaboard vessel and sail all over the world. I mean, I’ve already worked every other job out there, no lie. Good luck with that, me.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you are able to share with our readers?
Sharky: I am always coming up with new music, comics, or stories, so look out for more material as I’m able to put it out there. Releasing content just takes more time when you’re self-funded and working multiple jobs to both “get ahead” AND pay the bills. Besides, the irregularities of not having the kind of social life that normal people have because it would actually drive me CRAZY, and not being able to sleep much, BOTH buy me time….so instead of hating insomnia too much, for instance, I have come to depend on it. I’ll SLEEP when I’m DEAD. There’s too much to do. And then there are VIDEO GAMES and MOVIES I have to watch and play on top of all that, so I’m telling you, there aren’t enough hours in the day. ACTUALLY, who do I need to get in touch with to extend the average day by at least 10 more hours?
SO! In summary, what I’m CLEARLY trying to say is HERE ARE SOME LINKS TO BUY A DIGITAL VERSION OF MY COMIC:
-READ 10 PAGES FREE: http://sorrylittlesharky.com/misterguy-a-comic-book-series.html
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about your work?
Sharky: In a world that is oversaturated with media (no matter the quality…or lack thereof) and in a society that requires you to spend so much time in lines, and traffic, and in other unpleasant ways like day jobs…every person is inundated with choices regarding how to budget their leftover time, and it is always nice when I find out that someone wants to spend it being entertained by something *I* created, something that was once inside of my head but is now out in the world where people can see it. When someone picks up my work and exclaims, “WOW!” and eagerly flips through it, and wants to read it and tell other people about it….never fails, it’s pretty cool, I’m here to tell ya.
I’m not going to sit here and become spontaneously famous not matter how many different artistic endeavors I pursue and release and try haphazardly to promote. It takes people, connections, and TIME, as well as the interest of others. I make no guarantees as to how long I’ll be able or willing to keep this self-publishing thing up, but as long as I decide to be doing this, I thank my fans for their interest, because WITHOUT people’s interest in the work, I’d be here sitting on piles of my books instead of getting them out into folk’s hands. Look for more and more signings at various comic book stores as I’m able to travel to them. It’s been a lot of fun so far, I’ve done at least 4 at this point.
My next big exhibition will be at APE: The Alternative Press Expo. Very excited about that one. This year, it’s in September, and being held in San Jose.
Watch out for the second issue to be released very soon in the same manner as the first release, both digitally and physically…then at LEAST a third issue to come, after that. You can stay updated via the following channels:
About.me, Big Cartel, Etsy, NIUME, ARTPLODE——–
Or you know what, just run “Sorry Little Sharky” through any search engine with the name of ANY OTHER social media platform you can POSSIBLY think of, and you can probably find info or contact me at THOSE places too, because whether I will REALLY actually use a given platform/app or not, if it’s free to sign up at, I try to find my way on there to get my name and work into yet another database. Guys, really, who can’t afford free advertising? Let that be my advice to other artists out there.
Thanks for reading. Toodles.