St. Louisan Steenz Stewart Takes Center Stage with New Book in May | Art Stories and Interviews | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events

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Courtesy of Steenz Stewart

Local comic artist and illustrator Steenz Stewart’s new book comes out in early May.

St. Louisan Steenz Stewart finds inspiration everywhere – from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep – they come up with ideas for their nationally released comic strip heart of the city.

These ideas appear in the comic, which has now been compiled into a book: The heart takes center stageout May 3.

The heart takes center stage is really cute,” says Stewart. “I really enjoyed starting my journey in syndicated comics. So I’m mostly excited to see what other people think. … There isn’t exactly a comment section in the Saint-Louis post [comics section], You know. It’ll be really interesting to see what people think of it when it’s out in the wild and put together in one book.

For 20 years, Mark Tatulli led heart of the city before Stewart took over in April 2020. It’s been two years for the artist, who credits his time management skills with helping him transition from independent artist to nationally acclaimed artist – Stewart is one of the few black cartoonists to run a nationally syndicated comic strip.

How Stewart got to this point was a whirlwind: They started creating their own comics while working in comic book stores, then eventually teaming up with fellow artist Ivy Noelle Weir to create their first. book, Archival quality. The graphic novel originally started out as a webcomic, but pitching it to publishers opened the doors for Stewart to, over time, become the successor to the Heart comic books.

Stewart worked hard to become HeartThe Steward of: They spent hours researching the heart of the character’s stories, what they wanted to keep and what they saw needed change, and after a four-week audition process they describe as grueling, the job was theirs.

Click to enlarge One of Stewart's illustrations.  - COURTESY OF STEENZ STEWART

Courtesy of Steenz Stewart

One of Stewart’s illustrations.

As the weather has been warped by the pandemic, Stewart describes not really needing to adjust to a work-from-home atmosphere due to her background as a freelancer. Instead, the difficult part of putting the comics and the new book together was the one that Stewart thinks every creative can relate to: the evolution of their work.

“It’s hard because I’m going to watch this Heart looks like the book coming out in two weeks and I’m like, “My art is already better than what’s in that first book,” Stewart laughs. “It’s very hard for me to be like, ‘Yeah, read The heart takes center stage because it’s good”, and in the back of my head, I say to myself: “But it’s better”. So keep reading it.

heart of the city is so character driven that Stewart needed time with the characters to get used to their mannerisms, their dialogue, the way they move around the page and more. But that’s also what excites Stewart – how the author and characters grow throughout the book and, ultimately, throughout the future.

Stewart has since held the book in her hands, thanks to advanced copying, and says it suddenly felt very real. They had been worried about what it would look like in its final form, as usually the comic is printed in the newspaper and put on the web, but they were happy about it. Stewart thinks back to the novels they read as children and felt inspired by – Goose bumps, babysitters club, street of fear and the comics they read, like Zippers and jump startand hope people will have the same feeling of Heart.

“It felt like there was always something more for you,” Stewart says of the childhood books. “And so it’s exciting to be able to continue the story. I’m glad other people feel this feeling, or I hope other people feel this feeling of heart of the city — the idea of ​​’It was a very good first book. I want the next one now.

For Stewart, comics are about telling stories. Stewart advises budding artists, if you want to make a comic, just start making it — you don’t have to feel ready or good enough, because if you’re waiting for it, it’s never going to happen.

“Everybody’s always like, ‘Oh, I can’t do X, Y, and Z. I’m not a good artist. I can’t even draw stick figures,’ but it’s like it’s drawing,” says Stewart. “You don’t tell somebody you can’t write because you have bad handwriting, you know? I want people to feel like they can take their stick figures and make comics out of it. As a creator and looking back on our old stuff, we’re always gonna think “I can do better. Let me get better at X, Y, and Z first. So I say, don’t listen to you when you say I have to wait until I get better at something to start Just start, just start drawing Because you’ll get better with time, but you’ll only get better if you start drawing.

When the book comes out on May 3, Stewart will be present at betty’s books (10 Summit Ave, 314-279-1731) for a signing session from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can find heart of the city on or in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.