Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Five Questions with Steve Erwin (co-creator and penciller of 1988’s Checkmate! ongoing series) by Reggie Francia

Thanks to Roland Reedy for permission to share!

Five Questions with Steve Erwin (co-creator and penciller of 1988’s Checkmate! ongoing series)

Reggie Francia: Who came up with the design for the suits? Was it you and Paul [Kupperberg] or John Byrne?

Steve Erwin: John Byrne designed the Knight uniforms. As the story was related to me, Paul was telling Byrne about the Checkmate concept over lunch and as they were talking, John was scribbling out visuals for the Knights. Paul left with a nice pencil sketch which I was given a photocopy of to work with later on after the title was approved. [Paul Kupperberg gave us his account of this story here. - editor]

Reggie: My very first issue was #12 where Stein went to Bongo world. I read that issue a hundred times back in ‘89 I think. I just fell in love with the story and especially your art! There where a couple of guest pencillers and till the series ended. Was it because of other commitments that you didn’t pencil the other issues?

Steve: Checkmate v1 #12: I just took a look at my stack of pages from that. Really fun to do, with all the space shuttle stuff to draw. The editor let me do a bunch of double-page spreads. FYI: I was in the middle of the issue when word came that it was going to be our “Invasion” crossover issue. I had to re-draw a few pages, rework some stuff here and there so we could make our plot elements fit. As I remember, the guest artists were brought in so that I could move ahead a few issues. I’d probably have to look at that part of the run for a refresher. It was a long time ago.

Reggie: Have you ever read the new series [Checkmate v2]?

Steve: I read the first issue of the new series. It looked really nice but I didn’t have a clue what was going on, so I didn’t go past that. It’s like it was continued from a story that started someplace else.

Reggie: Did you have any input in the stories for volume 1?

Steve: Did I have input in the first series? LOADS!! I worked with Paul [Kupperberg]  and the editor in the development stage to design most of the costumes and support characters that weren’t pre-existing. Paul wrote the series plot-style not in a script form, so when an action sequence came up he gave me the basics of what was to happen and what needed to be included, and otherwise I “choreographed” it all myself. He often asked where in the world (literally) the story should go next.

Reggie: Favorite issue?

Steve: Favorite issue? That’s hard. #11 is one of them ‘cause I played with adding characters resembling characters from TV shows. Other numbers I don’t recall offhand, but the issue set in Israel was fun to do, lots of double-page sequences. Thanks for the trip back in time!

This interview was conducted by Reggie Francia.

Reggie chatted with Steve Erwin a second time about his work on 1991's Deathstroke the Terminator v1, the 1988 Checkmate! ongoing series and his DC comics work on Star Trek. Check it out here.

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