CCC 295 – The Steve Lewis Interview : Murdercake

Steve Lewis joins Brian Dunaway, Joel Duggan and Matthew Ducharme to talk about his webcomics Murdercake and Creepy Crowley.


About the artist:

Pacific Time! 4PM Show records at 7pm Eastern!
I’m Steve Lewis (obvs), been drawing all my life, as usual. Started with the desire to be a syndicated cartoonist, but around the time I got good enough for that, the job had started on the decline. When that first big wave of webcomics hit, I started thinking about putting out my own, but took way too long to get around to it. Two of my favorite things are jokes and funny little drawings. I always admire people who can do super realistic artwork, but I find that all of the stuff I truly love is stylized or distorted through the artist’s lens. I know a lot of people prefer their superheroes realistic or whatever, but I always gravitate more toward stuff like Skottie Young. Give me something fun to look at!

About the work:

http://murdercake.com
It’s both! I saw all of these comics where artists would post one-off gags, keep the art super minimal, but still fun to look at. I knew I needed a something where I could post quick, easy, digestible gags. For the name, I wanted something that would express my sometimes dark sense of humor, but also indicated some sweetness or fun. I also wanted a URL that “read” clearly, and “Murdercake.com” was one of the ones that seemed that way to me. Then I drew the logo of the cake with a knife sticking out of it, and that was that. It’s funny, about a year ago, I was considering changing the name to “Skull Pizza”–kind of the same effect, but maybe a little less scary sounding, and not a bad descriptor for those kinds of strips. I’d already changed my Twitter and Instagram handles and bought the domain, but literally about a week before I made the change, Danielle Corsetto discovered my comics and was tweeting about them, and put a link on Girls With Slingshots. I was super grateful and flattered by that, and in about a weekend, my readership quadrupled, maybe more. So that sealed that, and since then, I’ve gone all in. Murdercake or death!
Where to find: Social media links, etc.
http://murdercake.com
http://creepycrowley.com/

 Show Notes:

Hey Steve, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your comics?
I’m Steve Lewis (obvs), been drawing all my life, as usual. Started with the desire to be a syndicated cartoonist, but around the time I got good enough for that, the job had started on the decline. When that first big wave of webcomics hit, I started thinking about putting out my own, but took way too long to get around to it. Two of my favorite things are jokes and funny little drawings. I always admire people who can do super realistic artwork, but I find that all of the stuff I truly love is stylized or distorted through the artist’s lens. I know a lot of people prefer their superheroes realistic or whatever, but I always gravitate more toward stuff like Skottie Young. Give me something fun to look at!
You mentioned you started with a desire to be a syndicated cartoonist, who was in the funny papers that was really hitting it for you?
Charles Schulz taught me how to read, to a large extent. As an adult, I’m making my way through the complete collections. When I got a little older, I really latched onto the zaniness of Bloom County–the revival is one of my favorite things in comics from the last year. Right around the time it really set in that comic strips were a thing people actually drew, Calvin and Hobbes hit its peak, and that really sealed the deal.
How did you like Kong Skull Island? Anything to report?
Man, I loved it. Saw it in IMAX 3D, which is not usually my thing, but it was perfect for that movie. I’m easy to please, as far as giant monsters go, and it gave plenty of eye candy. Not much to a lot of the human characters, but hey.
Speaking of giants. Are you a giant? I’ve seen your sketchbook and it looks so tiny in your hands. Is that actual size?
You might have seen me in last season of Game of Thrones… The sketchbook was a spur-of-the moment idea while in Blick art store. I saw a tiny sketchbook, and literally thought, “Who would use this?” Next thing I new, I bought it and decided to fill it with a comic on each page.
If it is actual size I have to ask. What’s the benefit? (Tell me so I can steal your idea.)
It’s 6″x4″. It totally ridiculous. But the unexpected benefit is it forces me to be concise with the dialogue, and prevents me from being too precious. When I draw larger or in Clip Studio, I can get that way. This tiny thing has forced me to get out of a lot of those habits. It’s about halfway filled now. Once it’s done, I might graduate to something bigger, so I don’t go blind or ruin my hands.
You’ve done comics with and without a consistent cast. Which do you find easier to do?
Creepy Crowley
Steve, tell us about the Creepy Crowley comic and it’s current status and any future plans?
I originally created it as almost a spooky version of Calvin and Hobbes. I like horror movies, Halloweeny-type stuff, and started these little doodles of a kid being pestered by a ghost. Their personalities became pretty clear to me over time, and in 2012, I decided to just jump in and put it online. Looking back, it was kind of a big concept, and somewhat beyond my capabilities at the time. I had it going with sporadic updates for about a year, I learned a lot, and met some great people along the way, like Vince Dorse and Jack Slade. I met Jack because there was some similarity in our concepts and sense of humor. Looking at it now, I know what I had in mind, but didn’t quite get there. So I’d like to give it another try sometime soon. I’ve drawn a lot of spookier-type stuff and put it up on Instagram in the years since, so I think I’m a little closer. I still post design updates and tweaks to the characters now and then, I’m sure to the frustration of people who just want me to get on with it.
We’ve all had that comic that is a great idea…people love it…you love it…but something keeps it from getting made. What’s holding it back?
You don’t have to answer this one. But if you would like to do some Comic Therapy…5 cents
It’s always time, but that’s a BS excuse, right? Somehow I find all the time to be caught up on shows, and my wife and I don’t have any kids, so there really is no excuse. I still want to do a fun, creepy/cute kind of comic, whether it’s Creepy Crowley, or something new.
What lessons did you learn from Creepy Crowley that carried over into your current comic, Murdercake?
Murdercake
Hey Steve, tell us more about Murdercake! Like, what does the name mean!? Is it Tasty or is it Death?
It’s both! I saw all of these comics where artists would post one-off gags, keep the art super minimal, but still fun to look at. I knew I needed a something where I could post quick, easy, digestible gags. For the name, I wanted something that would express my sometimes dark sense of humor, but also indicated some sweetness or fun. I also wanted a URL that “read” clearly, and “Murdercake.com” was one of the ones that seemed that way to me. Then I drew the logo of the cake with a knife sticking out of it, and that was that. It’s funny, about a year ago, I was considering changing the name to “Skull Pizza”–kind of the same effect, but maybe a little less scary sounding, and not a bad descriptor for those kinds of strips. I’d already changed my Twitter and Instagram handles and bought the domain, but literally about a week before I made the change, Danielle Corsetto discovered my comics and was tweeting about them, and put a link on Girls With Slingshots. I was super grateful and flattered by that, and in about a weekend, my readership quadrupled, maybe more. So that sealed that, and since then, I’ve gone all in. Murdercake or death!
What purpose does Murdercake serve you artistically?
Mostly, it keeps those joke-making and drawing muscles working. I remember George Carlin saying he did his thing so people would go “Isn’t he cute? Isn’t he clever?” I think it’s some of that. Some of these strips, all I do is start with a funny first panel and see where it takes me. Other times, I’ll hit up Jack Slade over Twitter–he mentioned last time you had him on that we do this–and we’ll keep one-upping each other and bring it to a ridiculous level, then crank it back to a comic that’s funny, but won’t send people with torches and pitchforks.
Murdercake definitely skews more adult, but never seems to dip all the way into depravity. What are your guidlines for riding that edge?

Play It Forward

 Wallace the Brave by Will Henry
 http://www.gocomics.com/wallace-the-brave
 Jack Slade – Scaredemy
 http://comicscoasttocoast.com/podcast/ccc-283-the-jack-slade-interview-part-2/
 VInce Dorse – Untold Tales Of Bigfoot
 http://comicscoasttocoast.com/podcast/ccc-274-the-vince-dorse-interview-p2/