When people discuss the most well loved artists in the industry, a lot of names come up from the current set of creators. People like David Mazzucchelli, JH Williams III, Darwyn Cooke and the brothers Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon get a lot of rep, and deservedly so. They’re wonderfully talented artists, and for all intents and purposes very nice guys as well. However, I want to give props to an artist who may not be as well known, yet is seemingly one of the coolest guys in comics: Steve Lieber.
With works like Whiteout and its Eisner-nominated sequel Whiteout: Melt, Lieber has proven himself to be an outstanding talent, but I think its his personality that draws people in. For example, last year at Emerald City Comic Con, I was standing in line with fellow MC writer Brandon to chat with Mike Allred and confirm an interview we had set up with him. While we were chatting, the guy in front of us was fawning over a sketch he had just gotten. Given that I’m a nosy good-for-nothing, I had to interject.
Me: Where’d you get that sketch? That’s awesome.
Random guy: Huh?
Me: The sketch? Where’d you pick it up?
Random guy: Oh man, I was hanging out at Steve Lieber’s table and he just started sketching and giving out what he made. It’s awesome.
Given some of the experiences I’ve had at cons, this was a pretty wild concept. Artists sketching for free is rare, and just to do it because of enthusiasm for what he does and because he’s just a cool guy? That was a completely foreign idea. I wasn’t very familiar with his work at that time, and to hear about that made me want to become a fan.
Then I recently wrote a post on Portland and how it’s perhaps the greatest American comic city, and he commented a helpful note that fellow artist Erika Moen had written up about some tips she had for aspiring comic creators who were going to relocate to Stumptown. At this point, his helpful nature was really starting to wear me down and made me want to start checking out his work even more.
Tonight, a piece of straw finally broke this camel’s back, and it was a damn entertaining piece of straw. I was reading Twitter when I saw a retweet from Lieber’s fellow Periscope Studio member Natalie Nourigat, in which cartoonist Bill Mudron deemed Lieber “the coolest motherfucker around” thanks to a thread on 4chan. It could have said any name and I probably would have checked it out (that’s heady praise, after all), but with Lieber attached? Had to do it.
It seemed someone had posted the entirety of Underground, Lieber’s collaboration with fellow Periscope member Jeff Parker, on the Comics & Cartoons forum of 4chan, and that Lieber had made his way there. This was after the entirety of the book had been posted and a few posters had lamented its “rushed” ending. At that point, Lieber defended the ending, told the poster he was flattered he took the time to scan the whole thing, and went on a posting spree. This included commentary on how much ink he used for the book, his upcoming OGN for Vertigo, discussing how other creators would react to 4chan’s prolific vitriol towards some other creators, and perhaps most importantly, he finally addresses the rumor that he and Justin Bieber dated.
Needless to say, the whole of the thread was very surprised by this atypical occurrence. A frequent response was one of “I’m going to buy this book now,” if only because of how damn cool Lieber was in the thread.
Count me in Lieber. I’ll buy a book from anyone who goes into the Heart of Darkness and comes out smelling like roses (and with a few sales made in the process). Consider that sweet copy of Underground off Periscope’s Etsy store purchased. For those on the fence, check out Matt’s review of the 5th issue (and notes on the whole series) here, and look to grab it when Amazon gets more stock in.