Steve Bissette was one of the first and most illustrious graduates of the Joe Kubert School, and
he's probably best known for his work on DC's Swamp Thing in the 1980's, which won a boatload
of Kirby awards. I first enjoyed his work on some stuff he self-published called Tyrant, about a T-Rex.
I hear he's now teaching comic art at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont.
Steve Bissette: I still love this drawing as a drawing, for its
portrait of one of my favorite characters and the sense of
place and life in the tableau, and for the nifty dynamic between
that little newt poised between Swamp Thing’s gentle fingers
and the silhouette of a gator hanging in the murk of the
background. What was deliberate about this piece was the
content -- contrasting Swamp Thing’s complacent harmony with
swamp life forms in contrast to the vicous food cycle the other
creatures necessarily inhabit, emobodied by the snapping turtle
Swampy’s right hand rest upon, devouring an eel, and the
hungry mud-puppy coiled around Swampy’s feet -- and the color
composition: I chose a newt as the focal point knowing it’s
orange color would stand out in contrast to the green-gray of
Swamp Thing and his surroundings.
But this is here for sentimental reasons, too: This was drawn
for John Totleben to PAINT, and paint it he did, for THE
COMICS JOURNAL issue featuring interviews with Alan, John
and I. We did the cover for TCJ in barter for back issues
and Fantagraphics books, but our intention was to convince
our editor Karen Berger and the-powers-that-be to let John
and I begin doing painted covers for SWAMP THING. It
worked: once Karen saw this painting, John was in -- but I
never was. Despite numerous overtures, Karen and DC never
gave me a shot at painting a cover for the series, which was
a determinative factor in my final decision to leave the
series, except for the occasional guest-scripting spot.
Still, this drawing did its job at the time, and John has
done some simply incredible covers for the series. It’s
interesting to compare my pencils to John’s final painting
(which was indeed painted over the pencils, unlike our later
collaborative cover pieces for ST)
Bob McLeod: A simply amazing marker sketch owned by Roger Swanson.
To see the complete feature on Steve Bissette's art, with many more images and comments,
get a copy of Rough Stuff#4 from TwoMorrows!