Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dave Stevens Interview Part III --from 1988 for the Rocketter Newsletter.

Go to Part I
Go to Part II (Scroll down a little)

This is Part III (of III)

Allen: Is there a chance we could print some of your commercial art samples in the Rocketpack Newsletter?

Dave: I could probably send you some copies of one or two, but a lot of that stuff I don't even have. A lot of people are real bad about sending a copy fo the finished job, I never see the stuff again. Unless it's something I specifically keep.

Allen: Do you make copies of your pencils before they are inked?

Dave: No, because I don't work methodically that way. I'll sketch oout one paneland then I'll start inking on it. Before it's even finished.

Allen: Do you do thumbnails?

Dave: Yeah, I think I've got some. But that stuff looks like caca. It's nothing.

Allen: We'd like to show a befoe and after. What you start with shown next to the final finished pages.

Dave: OK.

Allen: What would you say are the pros and cons of commercial art jobs.

Dave: The pros are the money and the good jobs coming from it. The cons are dealing with whims and tantrums of art directors and the clients who constantly change their minds. Nine times out of ten they don't know what they want, they just know it's not what you just gave them.

Allen: Do you give them a quote up front?

Dave: Always. I just throw out a figure. I think about the job, and about how much i don't want to do it then throw out the highest figute I can think of. If they go for it, I say, swell. If it's something distrustful to me I charge them an arm and a leg. Because, why do something that you're going to hate every minute of? If you're doing it for peanuts? If you're oging to have to put yourself through a lot of stress and strain, make it worth it.

Allen: If you had to sum up Dave Stevens as a person and artist what would you say about yourself?

Dave: (Makes sound) "Bronx Cheer."

Allen: At this starge in your live what are your top five priorities?

Dave: Just getting the work done that I've got laid out for the rest of the year. The biggest priority right now is finding an artist to take up the slack on the Rocketeer stuff. So I can jump off and do other things. But I shouldn't say that, I'll be deluged with samples. That's already happened.

Allen: Could you have someone at Comico go through them?

Dave: No, they have no idea what I'm looking for. A s matter of fact, one person I'm looking to give a same to is Rich Dannys. Just to see what he'll do.

Allen: Now, in the "Betty Pages" they are searching for her. I guess they eventually find her it it's possible?

Dave: I can't say anything about it.

Allen: Oh, you do know?

Dave: No, I wasn't a part of it. I'm just hoping that people will just leave her alone. Because she deserves her privacy. If people can't respect that then there's something wrong with them. I have no want to go to the trouble and I wouldn't advise it and I wouldn't tell anybody now to get in touch with her. I don't want her bothered.

Allen: Any word on when the "Betty Page Comics" will be released?

Dave: When everyone has had time to do their individual story. Right now it's kind of on the back burner. It's going to have four or five different artists. It's just a one-shot, just to see how it will go and if people like it.

Allen: Ten years down the road, where will you be in accordance with your goals?

Dave: Hopefully still alive. Hopefully still having all my limbs working. Well, I hope I still have my hair, my teeth, my eyesight....

Chuck: What about your goals?

Dave: Not to be leaving a puddle behind me when I'm that age. I have no idea because goals change.

Chuck: What types of music do you enjoy?

Dave: All kinds, everything. The only thing that I hate, cannot stand, is rap. I don't even classify it as music. And I don't like modern country. I like roots country, Hank Williams and Sons of the Pioneers, Bobs Wills, Etc...

Chuck: Any particular music you usually listen to?

Dave: Oh, I flip around a lot. I listen to a lot of jazz, a lot of big bands, a lot of early jazz. A lot of Patsy Cline and Crooners and Torch Songs, R&B, rock and roll. I probably listen to more rock-A-Billy than anything else. I've always dug that rock-a-billy thing. But generally I can listen to anything.

Chuck: Have you done any new Arora art?

Dave: There was a piece from a story I started a few years ago. But I never got back to it. But other than that, no. No reason to because ther's nothing being planned for the characgter. I may do a promo piece or a cover for something being re-packaged. I did a cover for Ray one, a compilation of old stuff by me and Bruce Jones. It's called "Space Vixens in 3-D" A homage to Russ Meyer.

Allen: I just saw Ron Goulart's Best Comic Artists Volume II and you are in it. You didn't know?

Dave: No.

Allen: They don't have to contact you? They used some ar tof yours, too.

Dave: I hope it was something good. They never did talk to me.

Allen: that black inside cover from @1 says "Nightmare at Large" on sale soon...

Dave: It orignally said: "on Sale in October."

Allen: There is a volkswagen down in the bottom right.

Dave: That piece of art was something I doctored. It was a piee kaluta had done for the New York Times Book Review, and I said gee, this owuld make a perfect eeaster for the net Rocketeer. So I just dorpped in a little Rocketter Figure. It was all perfect, very indicative of the story.

Allen: Chuck was just curious. He didn't think that were Volkswagons back then.

Dave: That was sonething I was hoping most people wouldn't notice. I wasn't going to make Mike Redraw it.

Chuck Could Kaluta give us any hair-raising stories about you if we bribed him?

Dave (Laughs) Probably, he'd tell you a lot of untrue ones!

Then end. Recorded and transcribed by Allen Freeman. Interview by Allen Freeman and Chuck Haspel, over the phone.  A few years later at Chicago Con, Chuck and I did get to meet Dave Stevens. We were sitting at a restaurant near the convention center and he walked in. We said hello as he passed us and yes, he was nice and remembered us. Around 2003, my first time at San Diego Comic Con, I found his booth and he was there! He remembered me and I got a photo of him. If I can locate it I'll add it here. I was there in 2004 and could not find him. 2005 I wasn't there. 2006 and 2007 I was there and didn't see him, if he was there....

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's been a few years ago but I posted up part I (Look back in this blog for it.) of a very rare interview with Dave Stevens the creator of the Rocketeer (among other fantastic comic work).

You can jump here to PART ONE

This is part II.

The Dave Stevens Interview (Part II) (From a phone interview with Allen Freeman and Chuck Haspel 1989.

Allen: I've heard you say before that you're more comfortable doing single illustrations.

Dave: Well, I just hate cramming ten panels to a page. It doesn't leave you any room for composition. Doing these jammed, crammed little things are really not where I'm at. I'd rather be able to stretch out and really go to town on a larger piece.

Allen: Maybe you could do a book in the size of 'RAW'.

Dave: No, actually it's gonna be sideways so it'll be wider than it is going to be tall. If that makes any sense.

Allen: It'll be a hardback and paperback?

Dave: Probably.

Allen: Can you give us an update on the Rocketeer movie?

Dave: Unfortunately no, because at this pint we still don't have a shooting schedule.

Allen: They haven't gotten to the stage of finding actors?

Dave: No names have been bandied.

Allen: Have they talked about a release date, or is that too far ahead?

Dave: No.

Allen: Who else is writing it?

Dave: Danny bilson and Paul DeMeo and William Dear with me sitting in. I think its a good script. It's the movie we all want to see.

Chuck: What's the latest on the upcoming Dave Stevens book?

Dave: There's several of them. I was telling Allen there are two coming, one I'll be doing with another artist and the other one I'll be doing myself. And there's going to be an "Art of" book that Graphitti's going to do.

Chuck: Can you give us any possible dates for release?

Dave: No, it's all just being planned right now. One of the two graphic novels, I'm going to start as soon as this next issue is taken care of, so probably by this summer I'll have some images I'll start letting out for people to see. But I'm going to be pretty tied up until late spring. I won't get a lot of time in on it yet. It's still in the development stages anyway. I'm still fiddling around with the characters. And the other graphic novel is a Rocketeer story. Just one big one instead of issue after issue of continued stuff.

Chuck: Does it run feast to famine?

Dave: It's always too much work. I've always got too much that I'm committed to in all different directions.

Chuck: Would you ever just make yourself take some time off just to get away from everything?

Dave: (Laughs). I'd like to, I intend to, but I've got to clear the boards first and unfortunately I'm committed to quite a bit of stuff here, in the upcoming year, I mean I give myself little rewards every now and then. I'll take a day off or something, that about it. there ain't gonna be no one week or two week holidays in Paris for a while.

Chuck: Have you ever thought of getting a stunt man to fill in for you? A stunt double.

Dave: He can sit here and pretend the's drawing just like I do.

Chuck: Any news on the legal scene with the goofballs at Marvel?

Dave: I'm not even thinking about it. I don't even give it a thought anymore. At this point it's not even worth talking about. To me it's just worthless, needless garbage.

Chuck: Are you just letting your lawyers handle it?

Dave: Right now nothing's happening. It's a stalemate. It's ridiculous. I just ca't treat it seriously anymore.

Chuck: what were your impressions of the Chicago Con for 1988? Your opinion of the convention circuit as a whole? Will you be back in 1989?

Dave: A whole year ago, huh? I liked it. The only thing I didn't like about it was there was a noticeable absence of females there. there were no women at this convention. They should have called it stag con. Nothing to look at. I mean I like to talk to women at conventions. Hey, I'm piggish.

Chuck: That sounds very normal.

Dave: Well, I just like lookin' at women, and talking to them, and there just weren't any. This Chicago Con was all boys. It was like a huge stag party but with no strippers.

Chuck: That's a shame because cChicago's got some great lookin' babes up there.

Dave: What? (Laughs) I was kind of disappointed. I've been to a few conventions, and most of the cons I go to, at least one-fifth or more are women, which is great. San Diego is the best convention to go to, if you want to yack it up with some great looking women. Get out there.

Chuck: We'll see what we can round up for you (in Chicago), Dave.

Dave: No, no, no (laughs). I do O.K.

Chuck: Maybe it'll be different in '89, you never can tell.

Dave: The convention itself was real nice. I liked it. It had a nice feel to it. Very professionally put together. It seemed to me like a very competently run show, which, you know, a lot of them are not so.

Chuck: What is your opinion of the convention circuit as a whole?

Dave: Well, see, I don't do the circuit. I'm probably one of the few people who would rather hang out with friends at home. I've only gone to maybe a half dozen, California, Chicago, New York, Dallas. they're all pretty much the same. SOme are more low-key than others, and some are more intense. It just depends on the show, what guests they're getting in, what kind of audience they're gonna shoot for, even what tie of year it is. Dallas is probably the most laid back of all the shows. San dDiego is probably the most high intensity, it's really a frenzied show, insane activity going on the whole time and doesn't stop for about a week. Because you have a trade show a few days before the convention, right up to the convention, the con itself, and it's just so huge. I don't know how many thousands of people come to that place over a four day period, but it's like sardines, it's so crowded. I've never seen a convention as large as San Diego, or as "chock-full" of professionals. I mean, the traveling medicine shows, the scene is a grind. I don't really enjoy having to do that for three or four days in a row, and come back home and drop. It's like a cultural shock of some kind. You go from relative solitude to being plunged into the middle of hundreds of people at one time all lined up wanting to talk to you. It's crazy. By the end of the day your ears are buzzing, your eyes are glazed, you're kind of staggering down to your room wondering why your hand is numb. I mean it's fun because I get to meet people that obviously like my work and I meet other people whose work I admire, and that is really the big reason for me to go, just to meet people whose work I've loved since I was a kid. And I like talking to people who have bought my work because there are times when I just want to go "ahhh," and toss in the towel and go on to something else and then I go to one of these shows and it reminds me that, hey, there is an audience out there that's sill expecting me to come through.

Chuck: this next question ties in to most of what you've already answered. Who and what are some of your favorite artists/books?

Dave: Current books?

Chuck: Doesn't have to be current.

Dave: I really like that work Mazzucchelli did with Miller, on Batman, Year one. That was really nice storytelling. I really liked it. I don't think I've seen anything else that he's done. I don't know if he's done anything lately.

Chuck: Not that I know of.

Dave: It had a European feel to it, and I really enjoy European work much, much more than American work. Because there's more of a classical sense to it, the history, the culture of things that just aren't here in American comics. They're not in evidence. The European stuff feels more true to the medium. A lot of the Europeans are just going completely off on their own, doing fabulously inventive work, and here, we seem to be stuck in a cookie cutter mentality. It's the sameness that bothers me here. The individuality of a lot of the work from Europe is what really gets me going. I mean everytime I go over there I immediately want to go out scouring the bookstores for stuff I haven't seen yet. Still, Mike Mignola is really doing some great work right now, Mark Schultz just keeps getting better, so there is some hope for more satisfying work here at home.

Chuck: Any old favorites like Alex Raymond?

Dave: Raymond was never one of my favorites. I liked his work, I admired it, but I never sat down and copied it. When I was a kid I went for Foster, I like Roy Krenkle. I still look to find Reed Crandle and those guys, the real heavy hitters. As far as anatomy and wild action, I still keep hoping Steranko is gonna do something again. I may be hoping till I die (Laughs).

Chuck: Is that our car in the comics journal Interview and can you elaborate on the recent changes you've made to it?

Dave: Actually I'm just about finished now. I was coming home from Warner Brothers on a Friday lunch hour on the 405 freeway back in September and I got involved in a three way game of tag, so to speak. I was trying to change lanes to get around this dump truck. It was in the slow lane, and this caddy came out of nowhere and just cut me off. I mean he wasn't going to let me in at all and I was doing 50. He must've been doing a good 70. So I jerked the wheel and hit my brakes and as I did that I had to go back into the lane I was in and the car in front of me suddenly slammed his brakes on (laughs), so I had to jerk it again. By that time I was back on the rear bumper of this dump truck and it was almost impact time. I jerked the wheel again and I could feel myself going up on two wheels and over. I was airborne for probably about 50 feet, and came down real hard about three times and finally spun back out into traffic again. Man, it was a mess. It was a messy accident. I could hear my car scream'n "Why'd you do this?" And I had just finished some work on it. I'd just put on a new manifold, new carb and really gotten it running perfect and what do I do? I take it out and wreck it.

Chuck: are you planning to revie it or is it salvegable at all?

Dave: Yeah, I wasn't sure for a while because I thought the frame was damaged too much to bother with, but it turns out the frame wasn't bent. It was mostly all body work. The cab had to be pounded back out. The whole right side had been flattened. It's taken a while. Right now they're painting it. We're yanking the front suspension and putting a Mustang front end on it so the ride'll be a lot more stable. The 40's are notorious for having a lousy front end. You get going at a good clip and it's just not real safe.

Chuck: Could you tell us what make and model the car is?

Dave: 1940 Ford Coupe (Deluxe), if it's not the most popular street rod (next to a deuce hi-boy) then it's probably second to like a '37 Chevy. There are a lot of them on the road.

Chuck: Apparently you weren't injured in the wreck at all.

Dave: Yeah, I screwed up my neck a lot and my shoulder some. I had some pretty bad headaches and I got cut up, but I walked away from it. And it's only because I was strapped in. You know, if I hadn't been wearing my belt I would have had my head shaved off.

Chuck: Sounds like you were very, very fortunate.

Dave: Oh yeah, yea, I got a guardian angel. No doubt about it.

Chuck: Are you going to roll and pleat the interior?

Dave: I've yanked the whole interior, repairing everything from the ground up. It's going to be better than it was, which is fine by me. There was a lot of stuff done wrong by a guy who owned it before me (laughs). I've got some great stories with that car. I'd hate to get rid of it because I'e been through so much with it. I blew up an engine in the desert with it, drove it down here from Idaho, I've had the rear axle welds break on me going down Ventura Boulevard, dug a trench 20 feet in the road, fried my gauges, broke shocks...Some amazing things.

Chuck: Sounds like you and your car have been through a lot together there.

Dave: That's what happens. You start messing around with old cars, trying to upgrade them or at least keep them running, and as all hot rodders will tell you: "Shit happens." You fix one thing and it seems like something else needs fixing right away. But you know, you couldn't give me a new car. I wouldn't take it. I would much rather putter around with something old and try and soup it up.

Chuck: Do you do some of the work yourself?

Dave: I do, I've learned on this car. This is my experience thus far. Everything I know I learned on the job. Just becaue it's broken and I have to fix it. But luckily I've got a lot of friends who have old cars, too, so we kind of get together, trade tricks on how to make it run better, what to do for 'em. It's just rial and error.
Chuck: Do you collect period pieces from the 30's?

Dave: Period pieces, like what?  Furniture stuff?

Chuck: Yeah.

Dave: Everything, I got it all (laughs). I got a house full of stuff and it's all crammed into a tiny little apartment. I'm looking to buy a house pretty quick here. Then I can spread out, plan to get everything situated where it should be, because right now I've got crate boxes pilled up all around me. I moved into this place three years ago from a house. I was just renting, and this place was too small then, and now it's impossible. When Kaluta comes out, he stays here, and this last time we really had trouble. He's in the living room, and I'm in the bedroom. We had to literally shift everything int the living room, and I"m in the bedroom. we had to literally shift everything in the living room around just to give him a spot to sleep. It's not good. I mean I've got file cabinets, drawing boards and everything in the kitchen table (laughs). I eat at my drawing board because there's no place else to sit.

More of Part II when I find time to type it! (Allen) July 14th, 2013.