Interviewon November 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm
Here’s a quick interview I did this morning with John Crosby (JC2.0 on the Herotalk message board). The interview was done via chat so that accounts for the tone, it was definitely unrehearsed.
Today I am talking with William Satterwhite creator of the webcomic Stealth featuring a teen hero juggling life as a high school senior and as a vigilante in the increasingly dangerous world of Terminus City. We’ll discuss everything from what goes into creating such an entity to the sometimes crossover heavy world of modern comics.
When did you first get into comics as a reader and what titles/artists/writers did you gravitate to at first?
I got into comics when I was around 12 or 13- like 1990-91, I was heavily into Marvel back then- Spider-Man and X-Men mostly
Was there anyone in particular who caught your eye/imagination in particular back in those days?
Whilce Portacio, his work really jumped out to me when he started on X-Factor. McFarlane and Jim Lee obviously but something about Portacio’s work just jumped out to me.
What were your influences initially outside of the comics medium and did they predate your exposure to comics?
Movies, I’m a big movie guy. And oddly enough, soap operas, as far as how to craft a long-running serial.
When did you get into creating your own stuff and who are your influences?
I started creating my own comics when I was in high school and got into it more after I graduated. Influences? Obviously the Image guys like Lee and McFarlane since that’s what I grew up on, Frank Miller and John Byrne. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more into older comics- early Spider-Man and Green Lantern and stuff like that. There’s a certain magic that you can feel in those comics, I think.
Cool, now let’s talk about Stealth….what’s the basic premise and when did the idea for it first pop into your head?
Stealth is basically my take on the classic teen hero/vigilante idea, a bit darker than one might expect from a typical teen hero book but light at times as well.
I came up with Stealth after graduating high school and went online with it in 2001- yeah, it goes back a bit.
One thing I’ve noticed is differnt creative clusters based on region when it comes to black superheroes, mainly through Herotalk ie. Philly, NC, etc.. How do you think your area and upbringing influenced not only your creation(s) but your work ethic as well?
I think there’s a definite influence coming from the Atlanta area, the world of Stealth is very much centered on my experiences and worldview coming up.
Now one thing I noticed about Stealth is that it really seems to be on a lot of people’s radar as far as websites and whatnot. How much of this do you think is material and how much of it is just well done marketing?
I think its a mixture of both, I’ve tried to do my best to get as much (free) exposure as I can but a lot of it is just people who like the comic spreading the word for me. Someone created a wikipedia page for the comic which blew my mind when it happened, that was cool. I had a guy on a film site proclaim Stealth as one of his favorite black superheroes, that was cool. That’s the thing about the internet, you never know when someone is going to mention you on a blog or something.
What are your views on the black superhero movement and how it has changed over the years to become what it has today?
Things are definitely on a major upswing with all the different projects people are pushing and the buzz that’s building. That’s the thing, I think, we have to keep pushing and putting stuff out there. I remember back when it was just the same guys going back and forth on the Blackcomics Yahoo Group and after a while it got to be discouraging because (it seemed) nobody else was actually doing anything. But now, I love logging on to Herotalk and seeing what everybody is doing, that’s big and I know its all going to come together.
There’s some black creators who will either have a sparse amount of black characters vs. others who will swing the other way. When it comes to being a black creator how does that influence how you populate your world?
I can never fault a creator if he creates something from the heart. From my perspective I’m going to create based on what I’m familiar with so most of my characters are going to be black. But another black creator might have a different perspective, as long as it’s from the heart it’s cool. But if a black creator chooses to not utilize black characters because he’s trying to appeal to certain markets then that’s not cool.
Now that you are a creator yourself, what books have you been getting into?
I don’t really buy comics anymore, not like I used to, mostly independents. I buy comics from creators that I want to support like Innocentboys Song of Songs, that’s one of my favorite comics, he has so much energy in everything he draws and each page is so fresh. DC’s Wednesday Comics really appealed to me, I think that’s one of the best ideas to come down the pipe in a long time. All of the big crossover stuff just turns me off, I can’t stand that kind of stuff.
You have totally dashed my hopes of ever seeing an epic indy zombie crossover featuring ZomStealth!
I know you’re joking but I want to sound off on that one- if there’s a story there worth telling, I’m all for it but I don’t like stuff that’s based on a marketing plan as opposed to just telling a cool story
How much time do you dedicate on a daily basis to all things Stealth? How easy is it to balance being a creator and earning a living outside of Stealth?
I try to devote a couple of hours each day but its hard for me because I have a 9-to-5 job and I also do web design on the side so there is only so much time to go around. But i definitely try to devote a couple of hours each day.
What programs/tools do you use to create Stealth?
I draw the comic out by hand with conventional penciling and inking, color it in Photoshop CS3 and letter in Illustrator. I host the webcomic through Hostgator (hostgator.com) and the comic uses the Comicpress WordPress plugin- I used to do manage updates manually but have found that using the plugin makes everything a lot easier.
Any parting thoughts?
I want to close by just saying that with all the tools at our disposal, now is the greatest time ever to try to create your own comics. Whether you do a webcomic or go print-on-demand, do something! I think a lot of people are afraid to fail or are scared to put their necks out there but something Joseph Gordon Levitt said in the latest GQ really stuck out to me (I’m kind of embarassed I wasn’t aware of this stat before)- Michael Jordan holds the record for most missed shots in NBA history. That is amazing to me and it highlights the point- in order to succeed, you can’t be afraid to fail!
Curious to what all the buzz is about with “The World’s Greatest Superhero Webcomic!”? Well go check out Stealth @ stealthcomic.com
© 2009, William Satterwhite. All rights reserved.