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Taking Aim at Paul Steed '99

Vol. 2, Issue 5 
December 6, 1999 


That happens I guess. Some of us try really hard to get into computer games.

I didn’t know people got paid to do this.

There you go. Tell me about some of the comic book artists you really liked when you were young.

I started collecting comics in ´79 or ´78, and I did it for the collecting aspect of it, because I had like 100 issue run of Incredible Hulk. So I would go to flea markets and try and find these things. This one kid on my bus one time, said, ‘hey I got this box of comics I’ll sell you’, because I always talked about comics and I was cool and I wanted to be a comic book artist, so I go ‘really’ and I’m looking through it and he had X-Men #94, and all these early X-Men issues that were worth a lot of money, so I bought that. Then I started looking at guys like John Burns. But early on, my favorite artists were John Byrne, Michael Golden. I like John Buscema, I like Barry Windsor Smith. And then I picked up one of the early Frank Miller Daredevils, and I was just completely enraptured by Frank Miller’s work. There was something just so dead-on. Something about that work that just grabbed me. And I’ve been a Frank Miller fan ever since and my comic art kind of reflects it.

Yeah he does good stuff. He worked on Spiderman, Ronin, Dark Knight...

Yeah his first work for Marvel was Spiderman, then he did a couple annuals with Dr. Strange. But then he kind of hacked out with city stuff. I like the high-contrast black and white stuff, you know the Ronin stuff was cool, the Dark Knight stuff, but my favorite thing of his was “Electra Lives”. It was a one shot graphic novel. And he did it with his girlfriend Lynn Varley. She’s a colorist and a real good artist. With the two of them together, and they did amazing work. That was kind of like the quintessential Frank Miller because that was when he made the transition from the traditional comic style to more of the Japanese – well he did it in Ronin, but here he made the whole Japanese style of dividing a page into grids and doing sequential art in the grid. He perfected that whole thing with Electra Lives. It’s a really good book. You should get it and read it.

Maybe you can lend it to me sometime.

I’ll send it in the mail tomorrow.

In your sketchbook, what comic book character do you draw the most?

I stopped drawing so much. When I did draw, it was mainly guys like Daredevil, or mostly [other characters] Frank Miller had done, I guess.

One of the sketches that really struck me is a picture of Wilson Fisk.

Wilson Fisk yes, from Daredevil.

It struck me as a really cool picture, because he’s got the cigar and he has smoke curling around his face. Which made me think, would you take a comic book character and draw him completely originally, or were you mostly into recapturing something you see?

Well in that particular instance, I was copying Miller. But what I would do too, is I’d study stuff like that and then go and do, ‘What would it look like from the other side?’ So it was more, I really tried to understand a process. I mean I was so into Miller’s work. And I was like, ‘how does he arrive at this conclusion with this panel arrangement and this particular composition?’ You know I’ve never taken any art classes, which kind of sucks because I have to learn as I go about color theory and everything else like that. So that’s why a lot of my early stuff is black and white because I just didn’t know about color.

You know I bet a lot of people are like that.

Oh yeah. I mean, the thing is, look at people who are good at what they do. A lot of them are self-taught because they’re really motivated. Me, I got really bored of college pretty fast, because nobody took me seriously. It was just a bunch of losers out there. They would look at me like, ‘what are you crazy? You’re trying.’ So it just turned me off of the whole learning thing.

I’m looking at another sketch you did here, and it’s called, “Tanya Kidnapped”. And I think of all the pictures that you sent me, that one struck me the most. If there’s a picture worth a thousand words, than there’s ten thousand coming out of this. What was that done for?

Okay. Back in ’94, I was Project Director at Origin, and they knew I was going to quit and they said, ‘look, what’s it going to take to keep you here?’ And I said, ‘get me my own project, and I’ll stay. I want a team of people to do a project like I think it should be done.’ And they go, ‘okay.’ So they gave me a bunch of guys. So basically I sat down, and I closed the door to my office and I go, alright, I’m going to write down all the things off the top of my head that I like: I like motorcycles; I like rock and roll; I like women; I like violence; I like science fiction. So I took all that and rolled it into this game I called Cyclone Alley. Which basically was a racing game like Road Rash, except you’re on these Hover Bikes and you can do 360 loops inside these tubes and you’re in this space station in outer space. That was the general premise. It’s a good storyline where you’re this hero. One of the stories was, you were racing and you’re doing really good, and the whole time you get these emails or voice mails, which is how the game system runs, and some of them are cutscenes, and one of them was your girlfriend saying, “hey meet me here.” Lo and behold you finish the race and you get to this place and she’s been kidnapped and these guys are pressuring you to race for them, or throw some races or fix some races or whatever. They’re mafia in space. So that was Guido. Guido kidnaps Tanya, and if you win the race, well there was a whole intricate story. What I wanted to convey was Guido was just this sleazy guy and you need to save her.

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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Kenneth Scott. This interview is © 1999 Russell Lauzon & Paul Steed. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it, or we'll make you cry, sissy.