Lets see…what else can I say. I’ve got big 80’s hair, a dragon counterpart, and I collect a lot of things. Mainly Disney stuff, and things from the 1980’s. Oh, and I’ve got two
(Fish are not easy to photograph.)
And just last year, I was given the opportunity to illustrate a published children’s book called ”Tortellini” written by Lauren Orbison. It was such a fun experience.
What got you started in art?
I believe back when I was about 3, I was drawing stuff. Kids like to doodle, y’know? Pretty much that’s how I began. Around that age I was drawing dragons and dinosaurs, evil sharks, reptiles(mostly crocodiles), Disney characters…literally things I still draw to this day. But through the years of my childhood doing art, I was always inspired by Don Bluth and Disney movies and I dreamed of hoping to work for Disney pretty much ever since.
What other comics have you done?
I gotta say that I’ve had quite a few different comic series and I noticed that all of them starred anthropomorphic cartoony animals. To highlight just a few; Seech and Scarlet, about a mouse and a fox, was one I had collaborated on with one of my friends several years back, Pepe and Chubby, about two bats with a never ending rivalry, The Felidraco Saga was a short lived comic that was more focused on storylines and action. But going way back to 2004, I joined a little virtual pet website called Neopets. This story actually has a pretty big influence on where I am with comics today. When I joined the website, I found that they had a little ”newspaper” section where people could submit Neopet-related stories, articles, comics and whatnot. When I saw the comics section I thought ‘Wow, I’d love to try and show people my comics!’. I was 6 at the time and really didn’t have the resources to actually get my drawings submitted, unfortunately for little me. But I kept on drawing comics starring the little Neopet characters that soon became quite a joy of mine. Unfortunately, I don’t have those comics for they’re most likely stored away otherwise I’d totally be showing them to you. Anyway, I don’t want to go on too long here. So going 5 years in the future to 2009…I was finally able to get a comic published on the site. Up until 2010, 2011, and 2012 I continued doing Neopet comics until I decided to retire from comic making there to focus on my series created in 2011…Saga Of The Seven Steves. How does Neopets tie in? I think it prepared me for what was coming. When the Seven Steves came into the action, I noticed as time went by and they seemed to grow in popularity…I was sort of living what I had hoped for back in 2004. For people to enjoy, and connect with the characters and look forward to the comic. I’m really thankful.
Tell us about Saga Of The Seven Steves –
Saga Of The Seven Steves is a comic series set in the 1980’s about six grown men who’re still living with their 64 year old dad and cause trouble amongst each other. Sounds like quite a crazy comic, eh? Basically, there isn’t a set storyline each comic unless stated, hehe. Saga is almost a reincarnation of my past comics in a way, such as being about a family of characters. Anyway, each comic tells a different story. I like to try and pick at least one or two different characters out of the seven each week just to keep things interesting! Each of the Seven Steves, Evo, Escape, Frontie, Street, Radio, Strange, and PD have very different personalities. Saga Of The Seven Steves is my first and only comic series to feature human characters, as opposed to my comics of the past that was mainly all anthropomorphic animals.
Where did the idea come from?
My comics of the past is one. Disney’s Seven Dwarfs played a large part in the Seven Steves’ creation as well. But the main inspiration behind it all….Well, here goes nothing. To be completely honest with you, a singer by the name of Steve Perry, who’s known for being the rock band Journey’s frontman from 1977 to 1996. Y’know, ”Don’t Stop Believin'”?. He inspired the first generation of the Seven Steves comic. I say first generation because I’ve rebooted it just a bit recently. It was October of 2011 when I did the first comic and it was released on the Steve Perry(Journey) Facebook Page, which starred the character known back then as ”Escape Steve”. The cast was much different than they are today. The Seven Steves were actually supposed to BE seven different eras of Steve. It’s a bit difficult to describe them back then. They were awfully complex.
After 2 years of being ”Steve Perry”, The Seven Steves became their own characters. Here, I’m comparing the early 2012 versions to the present counterparts. Even a small bit has changed personality wise as well.
They have been given a design change, some had name changes, and I even gave them an almost solid original background. Still needs some work. The boys are now known as The Stephens, which is their last name. This is where the ”Steve” part of the comic title now fits in. Evolution became Evo, Escape stayed Escape, Frontiers became Frontie, Street Talk became Street, Raised On Radio became Radio, Strange Medicine became Strange, and Present Day became Padraig Daibheid (PD). The reason for those changes? I needed to stop associating myself with them being based entirely off a real person. It just wasn’t working. I didn’t feel like they were mine, but like an offering or something to Mr. Perry. I was beginning to feel that it was just not what I wanted. And I feel completely better about the boys now that I’ve given them very personal touches. But I’m not gonna lie…if it weren’t for Steve, and of course God for giving me this talent to create… there wouldn’t be any Saga. These days I haven’t completely given up Steve Perry fan art, as I still draw him to this day. Only, they’re REALLY him this time.
The Stephen family- lets talk about each one in detail.
Let us start with papa PD. PD; full name Padraig Daibheid, is the father of six boys. Quite a handful there, PD. PD is a wise, kind, and happy fellow. His role in the comic is relatively simple. He’s the one that either catches the boys when they get into trouble or gives them words of wisdom.
PD is the bass player in the family band, which is called ”Saga Of The Seven Steves”. PD has a half-brother named Daray in which he chooses to rarely speak of.
PD is 64 years old and his birthday is September 13th.
Strange is the eldest of his five siblings. He’s considered PD’s ”right hand man”, since he’s the one helping out around their mansion most of the time.
Strange is a very calm and collected fellow. He rarely gets riled up unless you touch his long black hair. Strange is the saxophone player in the family band. I think it’s pretty fitting.
Strange is 45 years old and his birthday is October 19th.
Radio. The coffee hound. The maniac. Radio is the 2nd oldest out of his siblings, and TOWERS over all of them being 6’2. Radio may have a sort of intimidating appearance, and personality… but he’s a good guy. Smooth, kind, and always wiling to make you a cup of coffee. Speaking of, Radio is obsessed with coffee. He ‘suffers’ nearly permanent sugar highs due to the amount he consumes every day which can explain his dark eye circles which come from a lack of sleep. In the family band, Radio is the guitar player, but he enjoys singing. Unfortunately, he has a slight lisp, which sort of prevents him from singing as often as he’d like to. All in all- Radio is bound to be the funniest doofus you’ll ever meet.
Whether it’s his corny jokes, random spazzes, or merely him just tripping over his feet(or people)…with him around, you’re always in for a good time. Radio is 37 years old and his birthday is December 26th.
Street, the 3rd oldest of his siblings, is a very optimistic fellow. He’s the lead vocals in the family band and he’s got a pretty great singing voice if you ask me.
He and Evo enjoy cooking. Street enjoys food very much. When he gets picked on about his weight, he doesn’t take it to heart. He says it’s how he is, and he’s happy to be himself. He doesn’t particularly like tank tops though.
Street has a great relationship with his family…mostly his father, PD. Street’s signature fedora was given to him by PD when Street turned 5, and will always treasure his favorite hat.
Street is 35 years old and his birthday is April 6th.
The twins, Frontie and Escape are quite the duo.
Frontie, the 2nd youngest of his siblings and the older twin out of him and Escape by only a minute. Frontie is your typical grumpy character, but has the heart of a charming hero. He makes sure nobody sees that side of him though.
Frontie’s chosen instrument in the family band is the keyboards. He’s a pretty hardcore guy. He always makes sure to prove himself to be the best.
Escape, the younger twin, would happily love to meet you. He’s quite active and prefers to be outside chasing butterflies and naming them. Escape is the drummer in the family band, and as long as his drumsticks dont get lost in his oversized tailcoat sleeves, he does alright. Escape has always had a fascination for tailcoats. He bothers Radio and Strange sometimes to let him wear their red coats, or just to hug their tails. He’s a little peculiar.
He tends to regress to a very childlike state of mind. Frontie and Escape are 32 years old and their birthday is July 24th.
Lastly, the lover of love…Evo. He’s the youngest of the Stephens, and is known to be a little bit on the feminine side. Evo enjoys tending to his garden consisting of many types of flowers. Evo can tend to be a bit of a flirt, but USUALLY never has the courage to talk to a lady. Instead, he hides his face in his long locks and turns red as a tomato. Evo plays the cowbell in the family band. He likes it for it’s simplicity.
Evo is a very loveable soul. Oh yeah, and he’s got some impressive sideburns. Gee, where can I get some?
Evo is 29 years old and his birthday is April 5th.
There ya go. Hope I didn’t bore you.
There was a dark moment on Facebook- Do you want to talk about that?
Oh boy, I do recall one time in the past that got me feeling pretty put down.
What was it all about?
In summer of 2012, and this was back when the Seven Steves were Steve Perry, I had gotten people telling me how awful my art was and how they didn’t like the way I was celebrating Steve in my own way, which was through cartoons and the comic, and these people told me to like, go away and stop posting. I took it pretty hard…I was kind of still starting out and I hadn’t gotten criticism like that. I remember drawing ”vent art” and sitting in my room feeling hurt and even contemplating on quitting the comic.
Then there was the outpouring of support (me included!)
My friends had heard about what was going on and they had made an announcement on the particular page(Steve Perry(Journey) ) that I had been sharing my work on, and wow, I remember logging onto Facebook and seeing the outpouring of comments saying that I shouldn’t give up. I didn’t realize how much they meant to people and all the love and knowing there were hundreds of people that supported me in my works. I was just too wrapped up in myself to see that.
How did it change you?
Through that experience, and honestly many more that occurred in the future nearly similar, I learned that I couldn’t let those people that put me down run my life and artwork. But I also learned that criticism is a huge part of the industry and I can’t run away and hide from it. The experiences I had with criticism changed me as a person, and even me through my artwork. I was able to improve my characters AND my attitude towards critics by knowing they couldn’t bring me down no matter what. If they had something bad to say about it, I brush it off. Who are they to tell me to stop posting? Ya don’t like? Don’t look! :^D
Do you have any advice to people going through the same struggle- Believing in their work?
What advice I can offer those who might be struggling in believing in their work really is to not give up. If this is your passion and something you put your heart into; I strongly hope that you keep at it. I know that believing in success or even just making things happen is such a difficult thing. Waiting isn’t fun! But remember, good things come to those WHO wait. You have such bright things ahead of you! Don’t let it go. If you’re struggling with criticism, don’t let it get to you, please! It’s not worth it. I know how much you might want to just put everything down and walk away, but in reality and what I have experienced myself, people that put artists down are those who tend to carry jealousy and totally unnecessary hatred. It’s something we cannot control, but we can only choose to let it be. But we cannot let it kill our passion! Who has tolerance for negativity? We cannot please everyone 100% of the time, and that’s totally okay. If you’re pleased, then wonderful! Please continue to love what you do…no matter what. Don’t Stop Believin’!– just a little something to remind yourself.
I have noticed an evolution (no pun intended) of the characters in the last six months- can we see the difference?
This should answer your question….. hehe.
Now, I’m going back to my old concepts and making them look…uh….like people.
Then, Erm…I made a big mistake.
Have you ever animated any of your characters?
I do animate! These days, really just little pencil tests. I don’t have any fancy animation programs so I do what I can. Lately, I’ve been playing with the Stephens’ voices. I *ahem* borrow clips with the actor’s voice in them and animate the character speaking the words. Here’s a clip!
I definitely plan to do at least one of each with their chosen voices.
Since I’m on the subject of actors…
I know in reading your posts on Facebook, there is a larger family involved in the story. Can we learn more?
Oh boy, I see you’re interested in the extended family. Here’s the family tree I made of the Stephens family and their cousins, the Pyreras.
I wasn’t going to originally publicly post the tree, but I figured it would be cool for people to see the connections and such. A lot of people seem to be interested in the Pyrera side, which was actually told through alternate universe stories a good friend and I work on together.
The future for you and The Seven Steves?
Hrmmm…I really have no idea what could be in store for us. We’ve been through quite a lot. But I think I’m ready for them to see more….and I think they’re ready too. After months upon months of changes….I think this is their final form, or something. Heh.
What I DO know is that I’ll definitely be continuing their story and shall keep on making comics as long as I can. This year’s gonna be, what, their 4th year? Yep. So, anyway……with that said, I’m thrilled to have participated in this interview, and got some time to talk about them in depth. I had fun. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Well That’s the story. and what a story it has been! All I can say is… WOW!
The funny thing is, I have followed Sperry on Facebook since 2011, and knowing the work, the struggle, and the evolution- but- this just puts it in perspective and brings it home. I am so impressed! And I know all of our followers today and in the future will be too. I’m so honored that you let us at the Archives help you tell your story (and the Stevens as well!) Sperry, Your talent is going to take very far. I love an artist who can draw a picture- but it takes true talent to tell a story with those pictures- a story that even for a moment can take you out of your bad day and put you in a better one. And that’s what you do. You will always have a home on the Archives!
And if you would like to learn MORE about Sperry’s talent please check out the links below-
Thanks again, Arcaders and…
KEEP PLAYIN’ LIKE IT’S 1981!!!!