Steve Mannion’s unique art and storytelling have been rocking the underground comic book industry for years. Taking inspiration from the classic cartoonists of yesteryear, Steve has amassed a hardcore following for his comics and collectors of his original art. Dedicated to the medium, Mr. Mannion would love nothing more than to create comics day after day, and he wants to do it his way and on his terms. With a number of successful Kickstarter.com campaigns under his belt, Steve is a self sufficient self-publisher and working artist. When he’s not drawing the sequential page, he’s hard at work on numerous commissions for fans and hardcore collectors. His original art can be found on Ebay as well as the Comic Art Fans website. His talents have bled into the mainstream as well, on such titles as Batman: Black and White, The Bomb, Detective Comics, IT, Fear Agent, Warlash, Satan’s 3-Ring Circus of Hell, and Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty, just to name a few. If you want an original work by Steve, then step up and get in line.
Recently Steve Mannion’s work can be seen in issue #271 of Heavy Metal.
HM: What’s on the drawing table today?
Steve Mannion: I just finished my latest Kickstarter campaign for “Fearless Dawn: Chibi Finale.” Today I’m drawing one of the Kickstarter rewards, a “Likeness” page, where a fan gets to be in the story.
HM: You pay the bills by doing commissions mostly – how can fans find you to get an original piece of art?
SM: Just email me: stevenmannion.mannion (at) gmail (dot) com
HM: The latest issue of Fearless Dawn (Chibi Finale) was a very successful Kickstarter -does this bring an end to everyone’s favorite heroine?
SM: Let’s just say I left it at a place where I can walk away, or continue in a weird new direction. I do have something Fearless Dawn related cooking on the drawing board, but I have to work out some kinks. We’ll see…
HM: Do you have any work lined up for any of the major comic book companies? Covers or short stories?
SM: There’s been a little talk, short story type talk. I don’t want to say exactly what until it’s pretty concrete. Definitely, I would like to pursue some more published work. I’m a very fast penciller. Once I start to ink, it slows. So I’d like to just pencil. As a matter of fact, the story I mentioned earlier in this question was a pencil only type situation.
HM: Please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you?
SM: Find the artist inside me? That was pretty easy. It was always very natural for me to do art. As a kid, you could just get me clay or pencils and a pad for Christmas or my birthday. They’d be my favorite gifts. I loved making dinosaurs and tanks and shit out of that plasticine clay. I loved that shit. Me and my daughter (she’s 2) are messing with Play-Doh. There’s a lot of great colors that I don’t remember them making. It’s bringing up a lotta memories. It’s fun.
HM: How long have you been doing art?
SM: My mom says I was drawing impressively at 2 years old. She might be bragging, I don’t know. But I can say this – as far back as I can remember, drawing was pretty much my favorite thing to do.
HM: What were/are your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media. What inspires you to create your artworks?
SM: I’d have to say my first influence was my Dad. He was a very good artist. He showed me Frazetta and Howard Pyle… NC Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, EC Comics. My Dad was pretty hip.
With books and movies, I don’t really think of them a s direct influences, but they must have sunk in, you know? I finally read Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and really got off on that. Man’s creation… playing God… and the dangers therein… that hideous freak monster, holed up in the shack… peering out between the slats. Hah! Maybe I can relate.
I like the Bible too, believe it or not. The King James version. It’s very poetic. Honestly, I’ve gotten a lot out of it. I was on a biography kick for a while. I like to hear people’s stories, real stories you know? Not so much fantasies. One of the best ones I read was Paul Simon’s story and I’m not really a big Paul Simon fan, but it was very interesting to me. So, go figure!
Lately, for just downright, off-my-seat inspiration, I look at Moebius. His work makes me leap up and draw or paint, pretty much anytime I look at it. I don’t throw the word genius around all that much, but that guy’s a fucking genius.
HM: How does “a normal day of artist” in your life look like?
SM: My normal work day starts at about 5, 6 in the morning. Mainly because that’s when I get up. I’m fresh, the coffee smells great and the house is silent. I love to see the sun come up around here you know, hitting the mountains and stuff. Got those Moebius colors going in the sky! It’s awesome. I start bouncing around checking drawings, check the emails, maybe do a warm-up. Hopefully I’ll have something worthwhile started by 10 AM. Then the family gets up and my daughter busts into the studio, she’s finally figured out how to turn the doorknob and bum-rush the door. She wants to read Pete the Cat, or eat. Or terrorize the studio. Mom gets up and corrals her, I try to get back to work and eat usually around now. 10 AM. Then I just slog thru the day. I always try to get those early five hours in. That’s my hot creative time. Then the rest of the day is a creative struggle. Sometimes from 7-10 PM I get a second burst and pull out a good pin-up, some casual drawing to wind down. Sometimes this is a strong time for me to draw. Not that often though. I’m trying to discipline myself always, but it’s a struggle. Then I retire, try to watch 30 Rock or something uplifting and sack out by 10 PM or so. Exciting!
HM: What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art?
SM: Probably a lot of self-taught. Especially now. I got a lot out of three years at the Joe Kubert School, but then when I got really serious (and scared for my future! LOL) I started looking at the pros a lot closer, seeing what they were doing… studying color schemes, etc. I still do. Everything from Ren and Stimpy to Manga, to photographs, new artists coming up. I think my mind is much more analytical since I was a youngster in the Kubert school. I’m generally never really satisfied with my own work so I’m always trying to learn, keep an eye out for cool stuff… hopefully try something a little different you know?
HM: What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
SM: What do I love about creating? That’s a good question. Sometimes I feel very fortunate to be able to do it and provide for my family. That’s a sense of gratitude, though. Perhaps mingled with love! Just… I dunno, when something’s cooking, and the drawing’s coming out pretty good, that’s a good feeling. I’m like dialed in. It doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen. Thankfully.
My idea of being creative is very simple. Just the pencil’s moving. Blank pages are filling in. It’s being created you know. That’s it to me. Very simple.
HM: Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
SM: My workflow’s probably pretty traditional… I’ll generally get an idea in the ol’ brain and then grab a blank page and squiggly line it out, gestures – word balloon placement. I’ll try to have everything in outline, silhouette. I’ll try to capture the expressions and body language in the roughs. Usually to size. Then I refine… get ready for final inks. Grab the stuff, I’ll use all different stuff: nib pens, Micron pens, brushes. I like Sharpies, but they’re a little unforgiving with white-out and stuff. With the watercolors I usually just have to start attacking the underdrawing and just hope to not make a mistake. It seems my workflow is working best when I’m not that concerned with making mistakes. Like when I’m calm and just enjoying it. Moebius talks about that, just getting peaceful and being a bit of a channel… cleared up to create. That’s the goal, man.
I probably most often use just paper and pencil, I dunno if it’s my favorite, but I seem to be doing that a lot. Maybe because it’s a basic building block and you can erase? I dunno. I do like the watercolors when they work.
HM: Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
SM: A creative medium I’d like to try is these Wacom tablets. Like the Cintiq where you draw right on the thing. I’ve got an Intuous tablet and it’s pretty good. I think with the Cintiq I could maybe go quicker and keep up the quality. I’m a little scared to pull the trigger on that thing, though.
HM: Tell us more about your workspace/studio.
SM: It’s a very simple room, my studio. There’s a tall wicker cabinet with art and clothes, a tabouret of sorts, closet with comic books, a couple boxes. Two tables, one’s kinda cheesy. I move around a lot, especially as the day goes on. There’s an Archie Bunker chair in the living room I sit in with a lap board. I move to the bedroom sometimes with a lap board. My back feels tired a lot and these moves help.
HM: What is/was the most strange thing hiding in your studio?
SM: The strangest thing in my studio? Probably a few of my own extracted teeth. It amazes me that they can tear part of your face out and you live. I always ask the dentist for the teeth after he yanks ’em. I have three.
HM: What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career?
SM: Starting out was hard. I got burned on the first two jobs. Being so desperate for work, that’s a terrible feeling. I got discouraged and took a day job. It took me years to get the nerve back to go freelance again.
HM: What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
SM: The best advice? “Work on your lettering.”-Joe Kubert
The worst advice? That’s tough. I don’t really think in those terms. There are certain things that I quickly gloss over and don’t pay much attention to. Like if I hear someone say… “This will be good for your career.” I don’t count on it. They could be right, I dunno. I just try to do the best job on everything I do.
HM: What is the hardest thing on being an artist?
SM: The hardest thing for me is finishing and letting go. A close second is starting.
HM: Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
SM: Again, I would tell someone to keep at it. Just draw as much as possible all the time, and to try to do the best job on everything they do. And work on your lettering.
HM: Your favorite art or life quote is…
SM: I have a lot of favorite quotes, lately I’ve been digging this one that sorta goes, “Reason is the enemy of creativity.”
HM: What are you doing when you’re not creating? What hobbies do you have?
SM: Well I do like to go skateboarding, but haven’t gone in a while. Me and the family walk down to the local park. It’s nice down there. We go on the swings and dig in the sandbox! I try to be helpful around the house, and not get too grumpy. I do that a lot. That’s not a hobby though. But I do that a lot!
HM: What Does the future hold for Steve Mannion and Fearless Dawn?
SM: I do not know what the future holds for Fearless Dawn and Steve Mannion! We’ll try to do more cool art and stories, that’s for sure.
Steve Mannion can be found on the web at:
Fearless Dawn is available digitally on Comixology, ComicsPlus, DriveThruComics, MyDigitalComics, Kindle, Nook and over 300 digital distributors worldwide – just search title and creator!
Fearless Dawn and all artwork is © 2015 Steve Mannion. All rights reserved.
Frank Forte Bio
Frank Forte is an accomplished designer, storyboard artist and comic book artist. He has worked in animation for feature films, TV and gaming. Some of the shows Frank has worked on include: Bob’s Burgers, Despicable Me 2, Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, The Super Hero Squad Show, Marvel Heroes 4D, Lego Hero Factory, Lego Bionicle: The Legend Reborn, Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi, Re-Animated Pilot (Out of Jimmy’s Head), The Mr. Men Show, Bionicle: The Legend Reborn (DVD-2009), Lego Clutch Powers 4D ride at Legoland and Lego Atlantis. He co-created The Cletus and Floyd Show with Gene McGuckin, a tribute to animation directors Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones. Robert S. Rhine and Frank Forte created the pilot episode of Sickcom the Animated Series, which was sold to Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival Of Animation in 2003.
In Frank’s spare time he paints. Recent shows include Laluzapalooza 2015 and Laluzapalooza Jury Winners Group Show 2015 at La Luz De Jesus Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Villains of Animation at Van Eaton Galleries (Sherman Oaks, CA). Past shows include the CATZ Group Show at LTD. Gallery in Seattle, WA and the 6×6 group Show at The Phone Booth Gallery in Long Beach, CA. His art has been exhibited at Cannibal Flower (Los Angeles) and the Animation Guild Gallery 839 (North Hollywood).
Frank is also the publisher at Asylum Press, a publishing company that produces premium comic books and graphic novels within the horror, science fiction, and action genres.
Steve Mannion Interview is © 2015 Frank Forte. All rights reserved.