“CyberPunk Style” is a Cyberpunk genre comic style art book with 40+ pages of beautiful art illustrated by Mike Stewart. Half the art within is in black and white and the other half is in full color. Every page is of a cyberpunk setting and character. The book also includes fanart of The Witcher‘s Geralt, the Rebel Terminator, Ghost in the Shell, Aeon Flux along with ample original creations.
Creator Mike Stewart is an Iraq war vet and a professional comic book artist who feels as though major comics publishing companies have lost the heart and soul of their storytelling for the most part and became slaves to their corporate masters who now effectively control most of the media. Mike is simply a humble artist that is sharing the love of a great genre (Cyber Punk) with the readers.
I spoke with Mike about the art project and his Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that wraps up this month.
Chris Braly: Tell our readers about your latest project Cyberpunk Style.
Mike Stewart: My current book project is called “Cyberpunk Style”. It’s essentially a cyberpunk genre comic art book that has sketches, illustrations and sequential pages scattered throughout. Both pencils and many that are fully colored. The story pages that are in it are self contained short 2-3 pg stories.
Chris: What inspired you to make this type of art book?
Mike: The whole idea of a high tech low life which is the Cyberpunk genre is the primary inspiration for this book. I am a big connoisseur of cyberpunk movies like “Blade Runner“, “Alita Battle Angel“, “Total Recall“, and “Ghost in the Shell“. I also dabble a bit in the Talsorian “Cyberpunk Red” tabletop game which is a counterpart to the forthcoming video game “Cyberpunk 2077“.
Chris: When did you first get into comic art and drawing?
Mike: Sometime around 2010 when I was big into anything drawn by Top Cow artists. For comic art I guess my first professional break was around 2011 when I had finished doing a lot of background (buildings) drawing for Keu Cha under the Top Cow book “Magdalena“. Around the same time period ImagineFX Magazine contacted me to be featured in their book based on my portfolio that was online, some people in their office really liked my work and eventually put it on a cover. I was also contacted by a Japanese company called Kiks Tyo to do some clothing illustrations for their brand. Before all of that work, when I was still at the amateur level, I’d been drawing comics as a hobby since I was just a little kid.
Chris: You’ve attempted some crowdfund projecs in the past with mixed success. What did you learn from those experiences?
Mike: Yes, I’ve done a few humble crowdfunds that have done alright. For when and how people will decide to support your books sometimes it’s based upon your subject matter and other times it is based on your popularity or ‘hype’ so to speak. I like to look at it as a complex and dynamic problem with you, the creator, being the sole proprietor of producing the solution. Ideally, social media plays a large role in your project being funded, also your presentation, or what people perceive it to be. For example, if you have bad artwork in a book, but the story is interesting and people have a sort of immersion in you as a person, then that can still go a long way. On the other hand you could have a horrible social media presence yet have a kick ass presentation, great art, etc; then you could go a long way as well.
I like to work hard on all aspects of it as much as possible, and so for me that means my primary interest is giving the backers something they can really enjoy.
Chris: Are there other members of your creative team? Or is this a completely solo endeavor?
Mike: I pretty much do everything in my books, so far. From penciling the artwork, to coloring, lettering, and even the graphic design. I’m also training someone to help me with the color flats here and there. Before working in comics, I graduated graphic design school, which helps tremendously when you need to put a book together and need to get it print-ready and published. For any future books, I would definitely like to enlist the help of others and collaborate with other creators.
Chris: Sounds like a good approach. What has your creative process been like?
Mike: My job is to simply produce work in a timely manner and for a lot of artists that can be a difficult task in and of itself, so what I like to do is create a ritual for myself, something with structure. Structure is relative to many aspects of life; so I start my day by doing some fasted cardio which includes boxing and other dynamic cardio. This gets the blood flowing and my metabolism up. Afterwards, I cook myself a healthy breakfast which includes lots of vegetables and some organically sourced protein. No breads because they make you tired. I then catch up on emails and other business related tasks. Then I sit down and start drawing -- or if the day dictates, I would be painting.
The creative process for making the work consists of conceptual layouts; whether it be a script for a comic or my page layouts for the drawings. Usually the layouts are all completed within one day therefore leaving the brain to focus on executing those layouts onto paper until that script or book is done in the following weeks.
In a nutshell, It is much better to give your brain that time period to purely focus on the conceptual; akin to a birthing process unimpeded. The stage is then set to give birth to those ideas because the seeds have already been sown into the soil. This is the hard work, my time to be in the gladiatorial arena and show what I can do. All the tools I use are organized and within arms reach so as to not interrupt mental faculties focused on the present creative tasks. If that makes sense? Like you aren’t going to be in a boxing match without your gloves and a mouthpiece.
I handle pretty much everything from the creative all the way to the business side. As an artist these days, stepping up your business game is a must that many might tend to overlook.
Chris: What stage is the project in currently?
Mike: “Cyberpunk Style” is over halfway finished. I’m currently coloring pages and even adding new ones as we speak. I usually exceed the promised page count (currently at 40 pages) that I list in a crowdfund project. This is to reward the backers with something extra. For my last book “Uncut” I doubled the printed page count and drew free sketches inside each and every book before mailing them out.
Chris: Nice touch. What kinds of comic fans do you think this will appeal to? What artists do you get inspired by?
Mike: The type of fans this might appeal to are ideally the fans of Cyberpunk genre books, games, comics, and anyone who happens to come across it. This book is less of a cheesecake pinup book and more of a statement on the Cyberpunk genre in graphic form. I’m not too keen on comparing myself to anyone, but artists that currently influence me positively right now are Michael Turner, BoiChi, Lorenzo Etherington, J Scott Campbell, and Mikiya Mochizuki.
Chris: Once this project is fulfilled, what’s next for you?
Mike: It’s definitely going to be the graphic novel “Orphans vs Zombies”, that’s something I’ve been working on for awhile and it deserves it’s chance to see the light of publishing day; it’s a solid story that has received great response so far!
Chris: What else can you share about the project? And do you have any final words for our readers?
Mike: It is chock full of Cyberpunk goodness! Heck, there’s even a She-Terminator in there, she nuked a city! Besides the classic pinups and illustrations I can say that it will be showing a lot more of my storytelling ability with the sequential pages scattered throughout.
Chris: Thanks for chatting with us, Mike! We’re rooting for you!
Mike: It is very appreciated Chris! And thank you so much to those who backed me so far, and thank you reader for taking the time to learn about me and my project.
Cyberpunk Style Artbook Video Trailer