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Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Interview with Steve Crompton - Part II

Before I continue with the second part of the Steve Crompton interview, I am going to mention the City Of The Gods anthology, because I am one of the contributing authors. Steve was kind enough to work up this blurb about it so that I could post it here.

Mythic Tales: City of the Gods Vol1

Authored by M.Scott Verne, Wynn Mercere, Ken St. Andre, Jay Allen Sanford, Randy Lindsay, Wendall Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker
Illustrated by Gustave Doré, Liz Danforth, Steve Crompton

A collection of new illustrated stories featuring many of the gods of myth and legend. Travel to Olympus, the Celtic Realm, the Grand Pyramid of Horus and walk the streets of the City of the Gods. With tales of dark fantasy, touching pathos, swashbuckling adventure and humorous hijinx, you'll experience the many moods of the gods. Also includes 'forgotten' stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker with numerous illustrations by legendary Gustav Dore. Also Perfect or for anyone who wants to read new tales about the classic deities of our past or as an introduction to the City of the Gods universe. 152 pages with 60 illustrations.

Now, on with the interview.

Randy: Have you ever tried to do a comic without any dialogue?

Steve:  I haven't – but many have successfully, but as a reader I always feel cheated when I get a story with no text.  It’s only half a comic!  LOL

Randy: How has your art style developed during your career?

Steve: I’ve gone through many “phases” in the last 30 years, so I just have to hope that my art is getting better at least.

Randy: If you’re working on a story and get stuck, can you switch to art mode? Or do both of those skills draw from the same creative source?

Steve:  I’m usually working on about 10 projects at once, so if I get stuck, I switch to a different project until the muse strikes again.  Eventually the solution to the other problem will bubble up from my subconscious.

Randy: Is it easier to do art for your own stories than it is for stories written by other authors?

Steve:  Probably – I’m surprised by how many artists I met that want to do comics but don’t have any ideas for stories!  That's the least of my problems.  I have stacks of ideas for stories I’ve never gotten round to.

Randy: Because of your work in comics, are you used to working in short sound bites? And does that make it harder for you to write longer pieces of fiction?

Steve: Really all my writing is comics, so I don’t know how to answer that question, but that’s probably true.

Randy: Do you ever think of comics being a format similar to a screenplay?

Steve: Very!  I think that’s why so many comics ARE made into movies.  The transition is much easier to pull off. Good verses evil; colorful characters, action, concise storylines  - these things translate well.  Many novels often have complicated subplots, long scenes, moods and themes that often don’t translate well to film. (Without making major changes) 

Randy: Specifically relating to your work on the City of the Gods books – is there one mythology that is harder to illustrate than others?

Steve:  When I did the art for City of the Gods, the idea was to be able to pull from classic imagery to create new places and situations.  We wanted to be true to the original look of the gods, but at the same time make all the art feel like it was all in the same place and style.  So finding Mayan or African imagery that would work in the book with the rest of the art was some of the trickiest stuff to do.  

Randy: Do you write stories to fit pictures or do you create art to fit the story? Or is it a combination of both?   

Steve: Both – combining art and story is often a collaborative process to try and get the two to merge as perfectly as possible.  Things get tweaked all the time to make the comic art match the script.  We did some of that in the City of the Gods book as well. Mostly in regards to how some of the characters looked, or what they were wearing.

Randy: Do you think the story lines in comics are taken less seriously than those encountered in novels and screenplays?

Steve:  Yes - Especially in the US.

Randy: How long does it take to write and illustrate a comic?

Steve:  Anywhere from months to years!  I can write a script in a few days.  Getting all the art and lettering done is the hard part!

Randy: I’ve seen you draw and you can knock out a simple illustration pretty quickly. Is that something that comes in handy when you’re doing book/comic signings and other sorts of promotions?

Steve:  Sure!  I do sketches for fans at cons all the time.  I often sign the Grimtooth Traps books or the Nuclear War Card games and include a sketch on the box lid or the inside front cover!  At comic cons, people often have sketchbooks they want artist to draw in,

Randy: Which is harder to promote; comics or illustrated books?

Steve:  Well I have more experience selling comics, so I would have to say illustrated books are harder, but someone else might give you a totally different answer.

Randy: What advice to you have for anyone breaking into the comic industry?

Steve:  Make sure you have another skill you can fall back on!  It’s a very hard industry to make a living in right now.  Put together some really good sample and go to a comic-con where you can leave sample with publishers.  If you are new – prepare to work for very little money just so you can prove you can do the work.  Same holds true for illustrating books or games.

Randy: How was it to work with M. Scott on the City of the Gods project?

Steve: Wynn and Scott were great and they gave me the freedom to enhance their story with the best art I could put together for their novel.  The idea was to make the book look like the kind of books they published 150 years ago, with classic engravings and illustrations every few pages.  They don’t really make books like that any more, so it was really fun doing something different like that.  If you want to see book some actual pages from the book, go the Amazon page and you can see the first 20 pages for free. Just click on the look inside feature once you get to the Amazon page. You can really see how the art and the story work together.  Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1456547100/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk

There’s a free sample chapter of the book at www.cityofthegods.com

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