|Born||Steven Knight Weissman
June 4, 1968
|Chewing Gum In Church, Don't Call Me Stupid, Barack Hussein Obama, Yikes|
|Awards||Harvey Award, 1998 (Best New Talent)|
Steven Weissman (b. June 4, 1968, in California) is an award-winning alternative cartoonist best known for his offbeat and bizarre explorations of childhood friendships (not to mention competitiveness and mutual enmity). He has been published by Alternative Comics and Fantagraphics, and has had his work translated into French and Japanese.
Weissman made his name with the Harvey and Ignatz award-nominated 1997 series Yikes (volume II), published by Alternative Comics. It features the light-hearted adventures of a gang of kids, very much in the Little Rascals mold, who just happen to be "monsters" — vampires, zombies, and the like. Yikes ran for two issues, and has since been collected, with previous self-published Yikes comics, in Don't Call Me Stupid and Mean, both put out by Fantagraphics.
The Yikes gang
- Li'l Bloody — a "deformation" of a Baron Blood knock-off Weissman drew in sketchbooks shared with his teenaged friends.
- Pullapart Boy — L'il Bloody's "Frankenstein's Monster" best friend
- Dead Boy — Pullapart Boy's "zombie" sidekick/brother
- Kid Medusa — inspired by Chrysaor, brother of Pegasus and son of Poseidon and Medusa
- X-Ray Spence — inspired by iconic comic book ads for X-ray glasses.
- "Sweet Chubby" Cheeks — a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde character, as well as an illustration of the kind of "aw" cutesyness that Weissman didn't care for. Modeled on the later Our Gang comedies, with George McFarland continuing to play Spanky when he was far too old, Chubby is similar: adults would think he was still cute, but kids would know better. Eventually, Wiessman started modeling Cheeks on Joe Cobb's Little Rascals "fat boy" character, and he quickly became Weissman's favorite character in the series.
- Li'l Tin-Stars — inspired by Western heroes like the Lone Ranger
- Shaver — inspired by Casper the Friendly Ghost.
- Elzie Crisler — the kids' mascot, a reanimated dead dog named after Popeye creator Elzie Crisler Segar.
Barack Hussein Obama
In 2009, Weissman began a webcomic called Barack Hussein Obama featuring the president, his cabinet and family. All the characters have the same names and faces but live in an alternate dimension, living their lives and US government roles in different ways. Fantagraphics published the strips as a graphic novel in September 2012 and the strip continues on the website What Things Do.
Besides Yikes, Weissman drew two other titles for Alternative, Tykes and The Lemon Kids.
In 1999, he moved to Fantagraphics, where he has published a series of collections and original graphic novels, including Champs, White Flower Day, and Chewing Gum in Church. Fantagraphics published a collection of his current weekly strip, "Barack Hussein Obama", shortly before Election Day, 2012.
In addition to his work for Alternative and Fantagraphics, Weissman has done comics for Last Gasp, Marvel (where he created "Mini-Marvels"), DC, Dark Horse, What Things Do, Vice and Nickelodeon Magazine.
Weissman has cited the Japanese "super deformed" tradition, Hal Roach's Our Gang shorts, Shirley Temple movies, Abbott and Costello, and Sunday morning TV as influences; though his primary influence is Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts. He also mentions cartoonists Dan Clowes and Mike Allred as influences on his approach to color (which tends to be simple two-color treatments).
Weissman was awarded the 1998 Harvey Award for Best New Talent. He was nominated for a 1997 Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent; and was nominated for a 1998 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series, for his title Yikes (Alternative Comics).
Weissman lived in San Francisco in the late 1990s, where he associated with fellow cartoonists/illustrators Ed Brubaker, Brian Biggs, Josh Neufeld, and Mats!? (with whom he shared a studio space). Weissman currently lives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of "Little Armenia" with his wife Charissa Chu and their son Charles.
Weissman, on drawing "cute":
|“||I hated how cute art relied on BIG EYES so much that I made it a rule early on to always make my characters squint.||”|
Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter:
|“||Weissman's idiosyncratic character types, from Li'l Bloody to Sweet Chubby Cheeks, are so perfectly realized you almost feel like they're ideas you came up with first but never found the time to put to paper.||”|
|“||Steven Weissman is the best cartoonist to explore the fantastic world of children since John Stanley (Little Lulu).||”|
|“||Steven Weissman is a cartoonist who is so good, so funny, and so original that he doesn't have to be serious to be taken seriously.||”|
- Tykes, 1997 (Alternative)
- Yikes (vol II), 1998 (Alternative)
- Lemon Kids, 1999 (Alternative)
- Champs, 1999 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 1-56097-372-2
- Don't Call Me Stupid : A "Yikes" Collection, 2001 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 978-1-56097-431-4
- White Flower Day, 2002 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 1-56097-514-8
- The Kid Firechief, 2004 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 978-1-56097-866-4
- Mean, 2007 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 978-1-56097-866-4
- Chewing Gum in Church, 2007 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 1-56097-736-1
- Chocolate Cheeks, 2010 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 978-1-56097-927-2
- Barack Hussein Obama, 2012 (Fantagraphics) ISBN 978-160699623-2
- Spurgeon, Tom. "CR Sunday Interview: Steven Weissman," the Comics Reporter (Sept. 22, 2007). Retrieved August 6, 2008.
- Fantagraphics website. Retrieved August 6, 2008.
- Weissman's blog
- Fantagraphics author page
- What Things Do author page
- Comics Alliance interview
- Writing Disorder interview
- Comics Reporter interview
- Le Sketch: mini-comic with Steven Weissman's sketches.