10 Questions for Stan Yan

Today’s featured comics creator is Stan Yan, a very busy Denver-based writer-artist. You can find out more about him and his many projects at www.squidworks.com/Stan. You’ll have a lot to catch up on. Check out this list of projects.

Stan is the artist of SubCulture, mini-series from Ape Entertainment. He also draws a semi-weekly webcomic at www.subculturecomic.com. He writes and draws The Wang, a graphic novel series published by Squid Works.

On top of that, he’s: the writer/colorist for REVVVelations, a weekly webcomic at www.squidworks.com; illustrator for “The Wandering Eye” column in the Source Weekly newspaper in Bend, OR; and was formerly the daily cartoonist for the Tickle Tape daily financial webcomic.

Beyond that, he also manages to squeeze in story and art contributions to various anthology publications including The Potlatch, Slam Bang, A United Front, Mauled, BIZMAR, Captain Preposterous and Obsequious Dean, IS, and countless others.

What’s else is new on the Stan Yan front? Look for the trade paperback of SubCulture in your local comics shop now.

Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?

2005. After being laid off from the stock brokerage industry twice in three years I figured I’d give my comic hobby a go, since starting over in the stock brokerage industry would provide me the same erratic stream of income with little job security — I saw the writing on the wall as far back as 2001. Besides, as I had been creating comics all along my 13-year brokerage career, I’d actually amassed a decent portfolio and was able to hit the ground running. Prior to this, I didn’t actually think that drawing comics or cartoons was a viable career path. The jury might still be out on that one.

Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

My wife. She’s the one person who helped me approach this comfortably. She has a job that provides health benefits, so I didn’t have to worry about that, and she also lets me slack off on the household chores to meet my deadlines.

Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

I would say that my writer and collaborator for SubCulture, — published by Ape Entertainment, Kevin Freeman has probably had the biggest influence on my comics career. Not only has the SubCulture project pushed my growth as an artist, but the pages have also had a major impact on my portfolio and getting other jobs.

Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Mostly the mundane cause my mind to wander and stoke those creative juices. Things like taking showers and walking the dog tend to be the most creative times of my day from a writing perspective. Being around my fellow comic artists recharges my artistic batteries — their fantastic work tends cause me to hold my work to a higher level.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

Typically, I get up, take my wife to the bus stop, walk the dog, check my e-mails, then I work through lunch — if I remember to eat it — work through the afternoon, pick up my wife, walk the dog again, and then work until bedtime. Of course, this assumes it’s not a day that I’m teaching — I teach comics and cartooning to kids at summer camps, after school programs, and enrichment workshops — or going to the gym, which I do 3-4 times a week. I highly recommend yoga for my fellow cartoonists that are developing back or repetitive motion problems.

Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?

I use mechanical pencils, kneaded erasers, Faber-Castell PITT pens, fine and ultrafine Sharpies, and a refillable Pentel brush pen from Japan. I draw on Borden & Riley #234 Bleedproof paper for pens. I also use a PC to aid in my coloring/greytoning, layouts and writing. I use the Adobe Creative Suite and MS Office.

Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Feedback mostly. I love every step of the process, from writing to drawing — I probably like coloring the least — but it doesn’t all come together until a strip or book is out there for the reading public and I get folks to tell me how much they liked it or hated it, etc. So, you all can do me a favor by either dropping comments by our SubCulture strip at www.subculturecomic.com or letting me know what you think about my other projects by forum post or e-mail at my site at www.squidworks.com/Stan.

Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

Hands down, SubCulture has been. Although The Wang, my graphic novel series and webcomic has been a more personal project for me, it seems that SubCulture has been better circulated and received. It’s also some of the artwork that I’m the most proud of, although I’ve been pushing the envelope with The Wang in it’s current webcomic form.

Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

If you would still be drawing comics if you had to do it for free, then you have the passion for comics. Only those with passion have the perseverance to be destined to make it in comics over the long term.

Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Life is too short. If I were to bust my butt in the corporate world so I could “retire early” and do what my passion is — draw comics — what if I don’t make it to retirement? What if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow? What if I’m too arthritic to draw by the time I’m “retired”? I’m glad I’m doing this now and enjoying life before I’m too old to. However, I don’t regret my college and career path either. Looking at my peers, I don’t know how any of them make it without sales or business experience. I studied accounting in college, believe it or not. It’s not something that I loved or came naturally to me, but it filled a void of skills that didn’t come intuitively to me. Same with my experience as a stockbroker. I learned to promote myself, which is something that is really crucial in comics or any artistic endeavor.

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