I had the pleasure of chatting with alternative cartoonist Steven Weissman, best known for “YIKES” – an offbeat take on childhood friendships recalling “Little Rascals…” if the kids just happened to be zombies and monsters - about art and dreams and dinosaurs. Steven’s answers to this acrostic interview are in italics.
Steven Weissman. You are someone I’ve wanted to talk with for quite some time, so thank you for being the first interviewee of Acrostic. I guess we’ll kick it off by asking you to describe your average work day:
Geeze, I manage my time so poorly I don’t even want to think about it.
Tell us about a strange childhood memory:
Every night, shortly after my twelfth birthday, I’d dream I was wrestling a spirit. It was always dark and I could never see what I was fighting, but it was definitely trying to strangle me. I woke up once after one of these dreams and my bed had crossed the floor of my room! That part wasn’t a dream, I know, because I woke up my brother and made him a witness. He was pretty scared, too, you could ask him.
Each cartoonist has their own unique method of writing their comics. What is yours?
Every comic begins with a joke or a stunt, and I just work it out from there. Think, take notes, draw pictures, etc.
Velociraptors were popularized by the movie “Jurassic Park.” What is your favorite dinosaur?
Although technicallynot a dinosaur: Dimetrodon.
Is it because of the big spine sail? Cuz those are pretty cool.
Experimenting with dot screens seems to be something you are fond of. How were you introduced to dot screens? Are your screens on old school acetate, or do you create them on the computer?
Michael Riley (childhood friend/amazing artist) introduced me to screentones as a teenager. I currently use both traditional acetate and c.g. screens, sometimes mixing both on the same drawing.
Name three people whose work has influenced you and how:
Ivan Brunetti’s “Cartooning” textbook has influenced the way I teach young artists. It’s well thought out and full of useful exercises.
E. C. Segar’s comics were a really big deal when I first read them, and hold up well. Their appeal is pretty obvious
Val Lewton pictures, especially Curse Of The Cat People.
Where did your pen name “Ribs” originate?
Everybody asks that. Well, not everybody. Anybody who cares, I guess. Almost nobody. I can’t remember anyway…
Can you really not remember? Or is it a treasured secret of the Weissman mythology?
My dad is a big Steve Reeves fan.
My dad named me after Todd Rundgren.
Eerie is a word that can be used to describe some of your comics – I’m thinking in particular of your strips for What Things Do. Is there a certain mood you try to create with your work?
Right on. Like those Val Lewton movies, or Carnival of Souls or 100 Rooms? Can I draw comics that make you feel awful without actually being awful comics?
If you could have money for the rest of your life, but had to go to the bathroom through your nose – would you do it?
Six songs that you love:
Abide With Me
Shepherds! Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep
I Didn’t Have Any Summer Romance
Spatula is a word that makes me laugh for no apparent reason. What is a favorite word of yours?
Totes (short for “totally”)
Monsters and children: What keeps you coming back to them as subjects? Do you find that having children affects the way you portray them in your work?
I like these subjects. They’re fun to draw and are very direct. Being around real kids is great and inspiring and also kinda tiring…
A bright and cheery palette is wonderfully utilized in your color “Yikes” books – how do you approach using color vs working in black and white?
Nice colors help a lot. Black and white is tough, you know, I have to think more. Even when I’m drawing for fun I like to use markers, screentones and so forth.
Now you are working on several strips besides Yikes (like “Barack Hussein Obama” and “This Already Happened.”) How did those come about? What other projects do you have in the pipeline for the coming year?
I should have enough Barack Hussein Obama material for a book before the 2012 elections (Fantagraphics’ MOME 21 will have a selection). I’m not making any Yikes comics now, but am working on some animated cartoons with friends (youtube.com/yikestv). “This Already Happened” was an attempt at redrawing someone else’s comic (“The Black Stallion” by John Stanley) and I have another idea like that, but I’m not sure what it’s called or anything…
For more by Steven Weissman, visit: sweetchubby.blogspot.com
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