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Big Things: Steven Goldman
Steven Goldman was born in Detroit, grew up in Miami, and now lives in Brooklyn. He is the creator and writer of STYX TAXI, "a cab's-eye view of death in which the souls of the just-deceased get 2 hours to wrap up their lives", and EVERYMAN: BE THE PEOPLE, a political graphic novel. Both are published under the FWD Books label run by Goldman and his brother Dan, who also co-wrote EVERYMAN. The next STYX TAXI book, a 128pp graphic novel, will be published in 2005.
Going into the San Diego Comic-Con, the focus was on the latest STYX TAXI, "A Little Twilight Music", an anthology issue featuring three creative teams on three STYX shorts which is now available in comic shops. Considering how I wasn't even planning on putting out a STYX TAXI this year, due to the time constraints of doing work-for-hire stuff and EVERYMAN, and the fact that we put out an anthology issue - let alone one full of talent like my illustrator magician brother Dan, Israeli wunderkind Rami Efal, writer Elizabeth Genco and VOX artist Leland Purvis - is pretty amazing.
But with the election looming ever closer, we've been pimping the hell out of EVERYMAN: BE THE PEOPLE, a political thriller concerning a plot to rig the 2004 US presidential election, which hits shops this week (October 13th). My brother Dan and I have been feverishly promoting EVERYMAN, as it got a late start out the gate and provides some heady food for thought going into the real election. So far, the most common response has been, "You can do that in comics?"
I won't lie. My desire to create comics comes from ego, sheer ego; a lifetime of reading comics and yelling at them, "What kind of cheap characterization was that?" Or, "Please, I could do better than that!"
Or maybe it just comes from growing up a dreamer. I grew up on Bradbury, Borges, Richard Bach and Emerson... I was always reading the news as a kid, and imagining how the world could be made better. STYX TAXI is a clean-up-the-universe pact, one soul at a time; EVERYMAN is a political fantasy where we give the U.S. Government a heart again.
The books we put out through FWDbooks are manga con corazón, comics with heart and soul; taking our dreams of better, smarter worlds, finding the small, very human and affecting stories in them, and getting them on the page where they can reach people.
The biggest challenges so far have been in working alongside my brother while leaving the old emotional buttons at the curb (which we do a pretty damn good job of), and remembering to make time for the other truly important parts of my life; my girlfriend, my friends, and getting out of my house before cabin fever sets in.
Working forty hours a week somewhere you don't want to be means that those after-work hours get very precious, and you really have to juggle to feed every part of your life and still manage to finish up and publish comics.
My way of affording to make comics is simple. Scrimp and save, make sure the rent's paid first, the artist second, and whatever's left keeps you fed. It's been an uphill climb, working towards the point where one book pays for the next one, instead of starting the process afresh each time.
It's not that hard to self-publish; it takes a few grand here and there of savings. The trick is turning it into something self-sustaining, if that's what you're after. Doing more than a book a year has been really tough, but I'm amazingly proud of the work we've been putting out. I also have a sneaking suspicion things are about to get easier.
If time and money were no object, EVERYMAN would run until we were done writing it; looking at the outline, that'd be about 8 manga-sized volumes, maybe a few more than that. STYX TAXI would come out every month, and we'd be able to get around to that European album-sized sci-fi epic starring a cast of hundreds of children we've been dying to do.
I'm a huge fan of Jason Lutes' BERLIN, Garth Ennis' creator-owned work, J Michael Straczynski's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Peter Milligan's HUMAN TARGET, and all manner of smart, surprising books - like the FLIGHT anthology that just came out.
This is like that job interview question, "Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years..." Truth is, I'd love to be writing regularly for TV for my bread and butter, and creating comics and writing plays all the time to give the creative muscles the workout they deserve.
But next up is finishing the play I started in 2003, a Brooklyn ghost story that takes place without any breaks, an hour and a half in an attic studio. Then I have two 64pp STYX TAXI stories to script, and I have the outline of a novel about New York's future homeless population waiting to be filled out into a real book.
I'd like to be remembered as someone who wrote stories that stirred and affected people, who gave them plenty to think about but left them with a warm feeling in their belly.
Both extant STYX TAXIs are available from the FWDbooks website, and we'll have an EVERYMAN link for Amazon up very soon. (Also, STYX TAXI: A LITTLE TWILIGHT MUSIC and EVERYMAN are both available via Diamond (order codes AUG042775 and AUG042774 respectively), Cold Cut Distribution and Mile High Comics.)
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