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COMICS

December 31, 2013

STEPHEN SADOWSKI

Stephen Sadowski was constantly busy during the convention, drawing for his many fans. Stephen is remembered for his awesome run on JSA.
Stephen Sadowski was constantly busy during the convention, drawing for his many fans. Stephen is remembered for his awesome run on JSA.

Stephen Sadowski was constantly busy during the convention, drawing for his many fans. Stephen is remembered for his awesome run on JSA.

 

One of the most exciting talents in comics today is artist Stephen Sadowski. After starting out with various assignments for DC, his run on their JSA title of the early 2000s made him a fan-favorite. Other high-profile projects soon followed, like Marvel’s The Avengers, and Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars.

The creator was born in Victoria, B.C. As a youngster Up North, he became a voracious comics reader.

“My mom was really into garage sales and she would bring me box after box of old comics. She would get everything from all publishers and I read them all…Archies, Superman, Spider-Man…all of them!

“From reading comics I became a fan of the Super-Friends TV show, which really turned me on to super-heroes. Then when Star Wars came along in the 1970s, that movie really ignited my imagination”.

With all that funny-book reading, SS became fascinated with comic book art. It wasn’t too long that he started copying the drawings he saw in the books.

“I would trace the outlines of the characters, and then fill in their faces and design costumes. I’d put them three-on-a-page and make a crude sort of panorama.”

Sadowski is a completely self-taught craftsman. He never went to art school in his life.

“I never thought to do anything else. I was always drawing. I continued with my art, but drifted away from comics until 1989 when the first Batman film premiered. As it happened, there was a comics store next-door to the theater. I went in and realized immediately that I still loved them, and got right back in.

“It was a boom time for comics then. Since I had left them and returned, they were now more classical and more realistic. Everything was so exaggerated compared to the books I used to read.”

His interest in art and comics dovetailed and made the creator wonder if he could possibly make comic-book art a viable career. Stephen sent some samples to various publishers and also asked for advice. Believe it or not, some editors did respond.

Artist Stephen Sadowski proudly shows off one of his beautiful convention drawings at Project Comicon, St. Louis, MO, September 2013.

Artist Stephen Sadowski proudly shows off one of his beautiful convention drawings at Project Comicon, St. Louis, MO, September 2013.

“At DC I hooked up with editor Neal Pozner. He was fantastic to me—very kind, encouraging and helpful. He would do things like send me sample scripts to practice on; he really believed in me.”

Stephen’s path soon crossed with DC Art Director Mark Chiarello, who was in charge of developing new talent for the company. Chiarello started throwing assignments his way, like Weird Wild West, and various short stories for anthology books.

Recognizing Sadowski’s great talent, the art director championed his work to other editors around the DC offices. Peter Tomasi, then helming Starman, gave the artist a story to do for the Starman 80-Page Giant.

This lead to other Starman (#56) work and Stephen’s stock quickly rose. When editors started kicking around yet-another reboot of the JSA in the late 90s, Sadowsky was considered for the new spot.

“There was some pessimism among some editors about reviving the JSA. It had been tried several times before and never really amounted to much. I did the Smash Comics segment of a miniseries that was designed as a tryout to gauge reaction to the Golden-Age super-group coming back.”

Steven Sadowski poses with Blogmeister Sam and two of his exquisite commissions at a 2013 comics convention.

Steven Sadowski poses with Blogmeister Sam and two of his exquisite commissions at a 2013 comics convention.

The experiment was a success. When the new series was given a green-light, Sadowsky was on board as the premier penciller.

“I always have loved the JSA. I went back and looked at some of the original books and some of the reincarnations that followed and saw all kinds of styles and tastes. I learned what to do and what not to do; I wanted to make the style my own.

“I enjoyed my time on the book. It was a great learning experience as I got to interpret romance, horror and human drama—among all the superhero action.”

 

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When Stephen left the JSA, he found quickly found work at Marvel, co-creating a string of popular Avengers tales with writer Geoff Johns, and also entering some controversy.

“I did the ‘infamous’ Avengers issue where The Wasp and Ant-Man were engaged in what was interpreted as hot, sweaty sex. This got a lot of people in the front office very upset!” But the two creators survived nonetheless.

Eventually, Sadowski went to work for Dynamite, on the Edgar Rice Burroughs Warlord of Mars books….which lead to yet more comic-book drama.

“I am a huge Burroughs fan and tried to follow his character descriptions as closely possible. Many of the ‘Mars’ characters are featured in skimpy costumes, or outright nudity. I wasn’t trying to push the envelope or raise eyebrows; I just wanted to stick to what he wrote.

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“I still get some negative feedback from fans for showing male nudity, but no one complains when I draw naked women. There’s a sort of double-standard there that reflects our society’s attitude about our bodies.”

Sadowski plans to stay in comics for the future, but wants to develop a creator-owned project of his own. Perhaps someing in a Vertigo-like vein.

“Besides the creative aspect of calling my own shots, the financial rewards would be much greater than all the time and effort it takes me to produce work for someone else. It’s a business decision as well as an artistic one.”

Whatever the future holds for Stephen Sadowski, his fans will be anxiously awaiting his next move.






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