Just the other day my mate Stephen gave me a copy of his new comic book to read. Now at first I was not too sure what to expect really. Visually it looked very 'grass-roots'; like most independent comics do. However, once I started to delve into this rustic piece of literature with some more detail, to my surprise it reminded me of two bold works from times past. "Spinal Tap meets Preachers". Hallelujah Praise The Lord!!! Here, come check out how Stephen prompted me to read this comic in the first place...

Winesburg, Ohio

1) What are your own origins Stephen? And when did you know that you wanted to become a writer?   My dad used to tell me that a bird came along and crapped me on a fencepost, but I'm pretty sure there's no basis in fact for that origin story. I was born and raised in a tiny hick town called Willard, Ohio. The first time I remember wanting to be a writer was in junior high. During that period I'd just become addicted to Piers Anthony's novels. His books transported me to different, exotic realities, which is something you REALLY appreciate when you live out in the middle of nowhere. The Star Wars movies had a huge impact on me wanting to become a writer as well. The books set in Lucas' universe started my addiction to reading, which is crucial for anyone who wants to write.

2) What are your own artistic and personal aspirations? Plus what inspired you to create the comic ‘Icon-O-Plastic’?   Excellent question! Since Alan Moore is one of my heroes, I'd have to say I just want to tell a great story with depth and substance. An author can include all the symbolism he or she wants, but, if the story is painfully boring no one will be entertained enough to stick with it. I've found that, if I just write from the gut, the rest takes care of itself; but, if I try really hard to be all artsy-fartsy the piece is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

The basic story for Icon-O-Plastic came from a story idea I scribbled down in a notebook a few years ago. To be honest, I don't remember where the idea came from but it ended up being a meditation on the concept of fame and its effects on bands, businessmen, groupies, and fans.

3) In your own words how would you describe this comic book?   An episode of VH1's Behind the Music directed by Franz Kafka...but I like your description (Spinal Tap meets Preacher) even better! :)

4) Who would you cast as the band ‘Icon’ if a movie was devised?   Wow! I hadn't thought about this. Another great question! The Icons would have to be played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus (the McManus brothers in Boondock Saints), Ezra Miller (who was in We Need to Talk About Kevin), and Taylor Kitsch (Gambit and John Carter) would be the lead vocalist because he has the hair and charisma.

5) What song would you say best represents your comic book and why?   Actually, one of the Kickstarter campaign rewards was an EP of music by The Icons. All the songs were written and performed by me and a former student of mine, Stephen Strohmenger, kicked ass on the lead vocals. Anyway, the song from the EP that best represents the band is "iHope U H8 This Song" because it details the band's struggles with fame (being accused of selling out by their early fans, people betraying them for money, etc.).

6) The artists on your book, Jacob and Rafer, have an earthy yet bold style that I really do dig. To me their style comes across a lot like a mixture of Eddie Campbell’s and Jill Thompson’s work. How did you come to meet Jacob and Rafer? And what made you choose them to illustrate your story?   Eddie Campbell and Jill Thompson!!! Wow! Rafer and Jacob will be thrilled with those comparisons! I met Rafer Roberts at S.P.A.C.E., first as a customer / fan (his Plastic Farm series is freakin' genius!) then we became friends. My wife and I drove all the way to Philadelphia to see 'Faith No More's' reunion show with Rafer. Then we spent the 4th of July with Mr. and Mrs. Roberts. While we were there, Rafer told me that he liked my writing and wanted to collaborate but he only had time for a ten page story. I looked through all of my story ideas when we returned home and the scribbles about The Icons jumped out at me. Initially Rafer was going to pencil the comic, but he wanted to try inking someone else's pencils so that's where Jake came in. Mr. Warrenfeltz (whose work in the Trickster anthology is brilliant) is a good friend of Rafer's and he jumped aboard when asked. To make a long story even longer, those beastly artists chose me

7) What was the first comic book you have ever read? And do you still read mainstream comics?   I'm so old it was probably a cave comic! Haha! I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was probably Spider Man. I've always had a soft spot for nerds who are inept with the ladies. Gee, that couldn't be because I relate? :)

I typically don't read superhero stuff these days, but some mainstream comics I love are 'Y: The Last Man', 'Fables', and 'Ex-Machina'. DC's Vertigo imprint puts out amazing stuff, too. I mostly stick to indie stuff, but good comics are good comics, right?

8) If ‘Icon’ had to fight another band, who would they fight, why, and who would win?   What a badass question! I think The Icons would fight and annihilate Nickelback (because they're corporate rock posers). Let's see how many cheesy, sleazy anthems those losers write after they've been Iconked on their heads!

9) What is the one thing that has kept you in good stead as a writer?   I would have to say advice from wise elders has been a lifesaver. Any time I get down and/or frustrated as an indie creator it helps to revisit interviews with folks like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman or David Lynch. Those guys always remind me that it's all about the joy of creating, not the crazy business and financial nonsense.

Stephen. Your a star. Thanks for that, pal. So there you have it dear reader,  www.stephenhines.org and his comic 'Icon-O-Plastic' in a nut-shell. When you have the time, you know what you have to do, right? Click-click - facebook and twitter. Very good reader. Have a biscuit. 

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