20 Questions Tuesday: 185 - Steve Wilhite (aka Steev)

I started hanging out at the Drawing Board art forums waaaay back in 2006-ish.  I lurked around there for about a year before I posted.  There were a couple of artists I absolutely loved, and salivated whenever they posted their art.  There are 3 that I really waited with bated breath for any postings.  These three were Francesco Francavilla, Jason Baroody, and Steve Willhite, aka Steev.  Steve has a very unique style that is very fluid and graceful.  His lines have a great amount of variation to them, and his facial expressions are seriously better than pizza.  I have learned more by just looking at Steve’s work than he possibly knows.  In conjunction with his insane drawing ability is his really superior ability to make other people’s lines better with his inks.  Really, his work is stunning and one of the reasons I started drawing again.  To top all of that off, he is a wonderfully absurd person and delightful to interact with via the Internets.

Without further ado….  Onto the questions:

Question 1: How can myself and people like me who love your art make you a successful sequential artist such that you can quit your day job and live comfortably off the artist labors that you so richly deserve to live off of?

Wow. Before I answer your first question, I guess I should address the shining intro you gave me. Damn. I’m truly flattered and humbled. I’m happy that you and some other people like what I do but it’s really all just smoke and mirrors. You’ll have to ask me about that later (Ha! Who’s leading the interview now, sucka-foo?).

What will it take for me to draw comics as a full time job? Nothing short of winning the lottery. I missed the comic career boat about 20+ years ago. Honestly, I couldn’t afford to live on what comics would pay someone like me. With rent, insurance, utilities, medical, kids, misc. payments and retirement money coming out of whatever I make, my skill level and the amount of work I would produce wouldn’t cut it. That isn’t even taking into account the amount of time that I have to draw. My day job, family life and personal life don’t leave me a shit ton of time. The reality is: it’s a hobby. Someday maybe when I retire or even better – win the lottery, I could draw comics. I dunno. I have some stuff planned for this year that might head me in that direction. We’ll see.

That is a fair enough answer. I asked Dave Myers (ballpoint) this as well.  I love hearing the rantings of crazy people on what comic book stories are in their head….  One of these days I will share mine on the blogarooney.  Question 2: Is there a comic book idea out there that you would like to self publish. 

There are a couple of things that have been rolling around in my head. The one I’m actually writing is a story that revolves around where all the things that have just disappeared off the face of the earth have gone. The working title is “Someplace Else”. This idea had been tossed around since the 90’s and I think it might be time to do something with it.
The other idea is a fantasy comic about an old man at the end of his life retelling the stories that led him to where he is. This would be a big Cerebus sized story. I don’t know if I’ll ever even get started on it.
I’ll be trying these as webcomics even though I hate reading comics on a screen. I have no idea how to market them but I think it will be way easier than trying to get them in print.

Both ideas are killer.  I love the idea of your fantasy story, mainly because your style works very well in a fantasy setting.  Reminds me very much of Larry Elmore’s SnarfQuest.  Good lord, I am old.

So one of my favorite questions… as I have asked in all of these interviews I have had.  I was born in Oklahoma City, moved to Montgomery, AL, then to Birmingham, AL, went to school in Kent, OH and settled in Columbus, OH.  Question 3: What is your geographic story?

Alright, here’s my geographical story: born in San Bernardino, California, moved to Reno, Nevada when I was 5. Lived in the Reno area until I was 13 and then moved to Payette, Idaho. I stayed in the Payette area until I graduated high school and then moved to Portland, Oregon. Lived there for 10 years and moved back to Idaho. I’ve been all over the US and I like Idaho the best so this is where I will probably stay.

Question 4: What is it about Idaho that makes you want to stay? (I will avoid a hack joke about your love of potatoes)

LOL There’s not a lot of potatoes around here. This area produces mostly corn, onions and mint (and meth)(and Mormons).

The actual answer to your question is that it’s just a nice area. We live in the high dessert so the climate is mild. We have our 4 seasons without the crazy heat and humidity plus we don’t get 9 feet of snow in the winter. Crime is fairly low. There’s no hurricanes, tornados, floods or mudslides. Lots of rivers. Lots of mountains. Lots of wide open space. And it’s quiet.
I don’t  think I could live in a big city anymore. I like my space and pretty much can’t stand most people. I do miss the nightlife and cultural stuff that Portland had but in the end it was easy to give up.

The high desert is, indeed, beautiful.  I find amenities an absolute necessity, so, someplace completely remote would not work for me, but I do like visiting… Plus with the ethnic make up of my family, I think I need to live someplace a bit more diverse in its ethnicity.

Question 5: So, since comic book art is not paying your bills, what do you do to pay the bills?

I am the Quality Manager for a major canning company. I’m responsible for the quality and safety of the product. Here’s a fun fact: Botox, that stuff people inject into their face to eliminate wrinkles, is an abbreviation for Botulism Toxin. That’s the neurotoxin that kills you if you don’t process canned food correctly.
Ah well, that’s what I do. It’s not exciting but it does pay the bills.

It is amazing what some people will do for smooth skin.  I am always amazed, but not surprised by the lengths people will go to try and hold on to the last vestiges of youth that they can greedily get their hands on.  I am also amazed, yet unsurprised at how deluded those people are by thinking that they still look young after their drastic grabs for eternal youth.

Back to comics and you.  As I stated with Ballpoint in his 20 Questions, the first comic book that resonated with me was a Captain America from 80 and 81.  I was 6 years old, and wholeheartedly hooked.  In my conversations with other comic book people, all of us know the exact issue that really turned us onto the sequential art train. Question 6: What issue of what comic hooked you and would not let you go?

This should be an easy question to answer. But it isn’t.

When I was little all I wanted to do was draw newspaper comics. I first really noticed how cool the pictures in comic books were when I started reading the Kaluta and E.R. Cruz’ Shadow comics. I ate those up along with The Unknown Soldier and Wrightson’s Swamp Thing. That was the shit … until I ran across my Uncle Roger’s stack of Heavy Metal. Oh my God!!! 1970’s era Corbin, Moebius, cartoon violence and boobies! That was like discovering a whole new world where comics could do whatever they wanted. The first mainstream comic books that made me even consider drawing comics as a job was Mike Golden’s Micronauts and it wasn’t until I saw Vaughn Bode’s work that I knew what kind of comics I wanted to draw.
How’s that for an overly long answer to a really short question? I think I’ll start a blog and call it “Cartoon Violence and Boobies”.

That makes a ton of sense because your style is kind of a hybrid of strip cartoons and comic booky goodness. “Cartoon Violence and Boobies” should be the name of your memoir.  I would wait until you have fought more pirates AND ninjas… don’t take sides, Steve, don’t take sides.  Fight them both.

Question 7: Cake or Pie and what kind?

The only choice between cake and pie is which one first.
I love, love, love me some Tres Leches cake, It’s a Mexican Three Milk cake. OMG.
I’m also a sucker for a really good peach pie.

Ah, you are the first cake/pie switch hitter I have asked questions.  I can respect that. Tres Leches is absolutely sinful, almost so much so, that it is difficult to classify it merely as cake.  There needs to be a caegory like “Ultra-Cake” or “Uber-Cake” or something like that.  

++Editor’s Note: Ummm… somehow I forgot to ask a Question 8, so Look at a picture instead++

So, now that the cake/pie question has been deftly avoided, Question 9: Do you have any vices that yopu are willing to mention?  To get the ball rolling, I am addicted to my Green Mistress, Mountain Dew.  I just can’t quit the Dew.

You need to rethink the cake vs. pie question. That’s like bacon vs. ham. The answer is always going to be “Yes, please. I would love another helping.”

Wow, vices. I really don’t have any “vices” anymore. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink much and when I do I typically don’t get drunk. No drugs. I like to keep a girl in a pit in the basement but only every now and then. I don’t know. I’m kinda boring.
I love Diet Pepsi and I screw around on the internet too much. How’s that?

Diet Pepsi and an Internet addiction is valid.  The girl in the pit thing goes without saying.  As far as Internet addictions go, stay away from the Twitters, that will kill all your time.

Question 10: So without any serious addictions and vices, do you have any hobbies other than your art?

Let’s see…does masturbation count?
Seriously, I’m fortunate that Pami (my fiance) is a photographer that enjoys taking pictures of old falling down buildings, junk yards and odd crap like that so I go out on these fun outings with her. She takes pictures and I explore. Sometimes it’s like being a kid again. I’ll  take pictures of her taking pictures in places she’s not supposed to go. I have some good ones of her standing on the wrong side of “Danger: Hazardous Area” signs and whatnot.

We’ve also been going to classes on American Buddhism and have been attending the local temple.

Beyond that, I’m pretty damned boring.

There are worse hobbies to have, and for the record, masturbation does count.  These 20 Questions interviews don’t typically venture into spiritual, so this will be fun.  Question 12: So, what was the impetus for starting classes on American Buddhism?

Back in the 80’s, Pami and I were dating and we would go to the Obon Festival that was held at the local temple. 20+ years later and we start seeing each other again and thought it would be fun to go to the festival, maybe relive some old times. We’ve gone for the last 3 years and enjoyed the food, dancing, Taikoexhibitions, etc. We also sat and listened to the presentations that they give along with all that. We liked what they had to say and a lot of what they believe was already in tune with my own personal beliefs so when they asked if anyone would be interested in taking classes I signed us up. We’ve been going to classes since November and started attending services for about a month. It’s one of the things I really look forward to doing during the week. It adds a peaceful element to a hectic life.

In my understanding, Buddhism includes ideas of introspection and quieting one’s mind.  Question 13: So, do you have a personal meditative practice?

I really don’t. Zen Buddhists are big into the meditation thing.
I practice the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism. Shin Buddhism is the most widely practiced form. It focuses on being thankful, the interconnectedness of all things and being mindful of yourself and your human faults. The idea is you’re human and no matter how much meditating or self-denial you put yourself through, in the end you are still human and subject to your own ego and ignorance. There’s no escaping it so just be mindful of it and try to minimize it.
I feel like I should be handing out Watchtowers.

If you were handing out Watchtowers, you would not be assisting any form of Buddhism.  It is interesting, in my opinion, there has been a greater move towards mindfulness and introspection.  My indicators might also be skewed since I have started associating with more mindful folks in the past few years because of the Wifey.

Question 14:  Fill in the blank. “I am mostly _________.” …. And go!


"Confused"  Hmmm…Question 15: What confuses you the most? …and don’t say magnets

That was just a dumb answer off the top of my head.
I do have an odd condition where if I’m in a room full of people or surrounded by a lot of activity, I really have to focus on the person I’m talking to or I get lost (more overwhelmed) by everything. It does lead to a fair amount of confusion on my part and sometimes upsets people because they think I don’t give a crap about what they’re saying. I have the same issue watching TV or a movie while someone is talking to me. I can’t do both.

My wife has that same issue with the TV and conversations… and I love her.  There may be a future for us after all.

Question 16: Do you find yourself at many large/loud social gatherings?

I’m  not sure about our future, dude. I mean, you’re married and I’m engaged. It wouldn’t be right.

Pami’s sister owns a bar so yes, I’m around lots of noise and people quite a bit. It really is bad because if I’m talking to someone and the rest of the table is having a conversation they expect me to know what’s going on. I don’t. I only know what it was I was saying to the one person I was talking to. People tend to think I’m ignoring them. One cool thing is, I don’t have any issues with public speaking (as long as they don’t talk back).

That explains all the bar pics in your facebook stream.  I guess you are not the lush I made you out to be.

Question 17: Do you think there is a large discrepancy between how you view yourself and how other perceive you?  Why or why not?

LOL In all those bar pics I’m never drunk. I don’t drink enough to get really intoxicated.

Wow. I don’t know. I suppose I would need to know how others perceive me. That would be something I could ask you. How do you think people view me? I truly don’t worry a lot about what other people think or at least try not to. So, I haven’t thought about it.  
Being “online friends” with a shit ton of people I try and do my very best to stay true to who I really am. I write in the same voice that I speak in. If you think I’m a jackass online then you would probably think the same thing if you met me in person.
Being true to who I am is important to me. I know a lot of people who are pretentious and act as though they are the end all, beat all of everything that there is and everything is better when they are there or when they did it. That’s not me. Reality is good enough.

Well turn about is fair play, (and you oddly mentioned it in your previous answer) so… Question 18: Anything you want to ask me?

Sure! You can’t turn on the TV anymore without seeing one politician talking shit about another one or dragging every stinking skeleton out of the closet. Does this help you determine the better candidate or does it just show that they all suck?

Here is the issue.  This kind of political mudslinging has been going on in the US ever since the second US Preseidential election.  The issue now is the relative permanance of people’s commments and the ease of access to those relatively permament comments.  It is not like politicians have not been deriding their competition, we just hear about it more consistently now…. and they all suck.

Question 19: Anytyhing that you are taking away from this 20 questions that you did not bring in?  Learn anything, realize anything? Anything?

I realized that I’m a pretty dull guy.

I have to strenuously disagree with how boring you consider yourself.  I found this conversation monumentally interesting… and going back and re-reading it, I really like this one.

Question 20:  What’s next for you? What do you want to be next?

Plan to be remarried this year. That’s going to be the biggest (and best) thing. LOL
Besides that? I dunno. I have sort of planned to stretch my wings a little more artwise. Take some time to work at trying new things and getting better at the fundamentals. I’d like to take an art class and push the hell out of myself, learn to color with Photoshop, stop avoiding perspective, get better at drawing the ladies and try new angles and lighting effects (which I also avoid). Let me know if you see any improvement.
I have the script for my part of FUBAR 3 so that is going to happen first. I have like 5 weeks to get it done. It’s gonna be fun.

Thanks! This was fun.

Seriously, the pleasure was all mine.

To recap:
I feel like crap today
Using 8 hours of sick-time
Go me
Go me to bed, damnit
Little Man was sick yesterday
Q is sick today as well as me
She is watching Wallace and Gromit
Crackin’ good toast, Gromit
One of the books Steve contributed to was on the NYT’s Best Sellers List
He truly is a badass
And only getting better
The house needs a good old fashioned cleaning
Anyone know how to clean old fashioned-like
I will be back at work tomorrow
It will be like I never left
I might have dodged a bullet by not making job 2 into job 1
More on that later as things unfold more publicly
I have insider knowledge, bitches
Have a great weekend everyone