Friday, July 18, 2008

Shotgun Interview #8: Steve Hogan of Acid Keg

Steve Hogan is one of my favorite comic artists but for as long as I've known him his strip has been under constant pressure from commercial work. There are few people I wish would come into some kind of fortune, but Steve is one of them. Typically, it took about a month for this interview to return, but I knew it would because Steve happens to be one of those memorably good-hearted people who always try to help. The irony is that if he was aloof and indifferent he'd probably have more time to do his strip. Anyway, I really dig this guy, and even this short interview is revealing. (Top: Acid Keg's Helen in a mood; below, some of Steve's custom art.)

Q: What web comic do you think deserves wider attention, and why?

A: It's already gotten attention in the art comics scene, but Dash Shaw's BODYWORLD should be wider read in the webcomics community. It's this (literally) tripped out mashup between Phillip K. Dick's consciousness-bashing prose and Chris Ware's compact and innovative page design. Definitely takes you places you haven't been before.

Q: Is there a web comic you are always excited to read, the minute it updates?

A: There's a lot, but it's a three-way tie between SCARY GO ROUND, Achewood and Overcompensating. They're all different and yet all similar in the sense that they've got unique voices and points of view, just like classic strips from the old days. One of the great things about webcomics is the ability for people to create stuff that hasn't been filtered through layer upon layer of convential wisdom about what people want.

Also they are way funny.

Q: Introduce your work to new readers in a few sentences.

A: It's a mooshy mess of the pop culture influences that I've soaked up and my personal observations from life. You might say it's autobiographical comics about people who aren't me doing things I haven't done.

Q: What are your web sites, and what do they offer?

Aside from the strip, Acid Keg, I have a blog, Keg Foam, which mixes my various pop culture obsessions (Anything from French pop chanteuses to vintage cartoons like Colonel Bleep) with update notices for the comic and dribs and drabs of my personal life. My other site is The Steve Hogan Scene which is my online illustration portfolio and come-on for scrounging up the very necessary meat n' taters commerical art gigs that pay the bills.

Q: What promotional tools have helped you find new readers?

A: Mostly just hanging out in forums. Getting other artists interested in what you're doing goes a long way toward getting the word out.

Q: What's the best thing you've recently heard from a fan?

A: "I have a paying gig if you're interested..."

Q: What's the worst thing about the state of web comics today?

A: The big cultural gap between much of the webcomics community and the print comics community. I'd like to see more webcomics people becoming aware of the medium's rich history and I'd like to see more print comics people becoming aware of how a new generation of artists are finding new audiences and speaking with new voices.

Q: What tip would you offer someone launching their first web comic?

A: Strive to put out the comic that doesn't already exist but you wish did. The webcomics scene is overclogged with people doing strips that they think will find a big audience quickly or strips that require the least effort. People should really step back and ask themselves whether or not they'd read their own work if they weren't the person putting it out. Try to impress yourself.

Q: What merchandise item would you love to offer if the economics allow?

A: Bar ware! Entertain the Acid Keg way! Seriously, that Shag guy really knows how to generate swell gear.

Q: What's new in your life that has nothing to do with comics?

A: I recently bought a full bamboo tiki bar at the Chistmas Tree Shops for 200 bucks and it is the BOMB.