Sin titulo: an interview with Cameron Stewart

Cameron Stewart is a Canadian cartoonist who started his career in DC Comics with Superman Adventures in 2000 and that who worked for Marvel, DC Comics, Vertigo and Dark Horse. After drawing Catwoman on Ed Brubaker’s script, he started a collaboration with Grant Morrison for Batman and Robin, Seaguy and Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian. In 2007 The Other Side, his work with Jason Aaron, was nominated for an Eisner Award in the Best Limited Series category. Then he drew Batman and Robin for Grant Morrison’s final arc. At the same time, he started to work as the sole author on Sin Titulo, the webcomic that won the Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic in 2010. He then began to work in comics as a writer, first on Assassin’s Creed: The Fall, now on Batgirl. In addition to his work on Batgirl, he is drawing, on Chuck Palanhiuk’s script, Fight Club 2, which will be published by Dark Horse in 2015.

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Why did you name your graphic novel Sin Titulo?
When I started working on the book I didn’t really know what it was going to be or what it was going to be about. But I wanted to start anyway and I was putting it online as a webcomic , so I needed the title. I wanted to choose a title that was intriguing but that could mean anything.

A generic title!
Yes. I think, when I was young, I saw a painting in an art book and it was called Sin Titulo. I just remembered that. I didn’t know what the title meant in Spanish but in English it sounds very nice and looks kind, you know, the words themselves look very nice, so I choose that. But everyone asked me “why did you call it that?”, and so I eventually addressed it in the book. When I started the book it just a kind of older title. [In quest’ultima frase manca qualcosa (il verbo, sostanzialmente), ma senza l’audio a portata di mano non saprei dire con certezza. Potrebbe essere: “When I started the book I just needed a kind of an older title”]

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How did you start Sin Titulo? Why a webcomic?
I wanted to make my own book because I’ve been working a lot for DC Comic and Marvel and doing other people’s stories. I wanted to do my story and several of my friends were feeling the same way. But we worked hardest and not from being a writers and so we thought that no one would pay us for write anything. No one would allowed from arise anything do we’ve all decided as a group we would all start to doing a book owner and we put it in internet as a webcomic. It helped motivate us all, because when we started to put it on the Internet, people started reading it and commented that they were excited to see it finished.

How did you put it on the Internet?
One page every week. Every Sunday I upload one page.

But you wanted for Sin Titulo to be published…
Yes. I always knew that I wanted to be able to do a book, but when I was working on it I made sure that it would work on a computer screen and that’s the reason why each panel was made to fit on a phone screen. But I also knew that I eventually wanted to print the book. So I always thought about it like a long sticker book.

Did you think about the better format for your book?
No. We tried. We took two pages and put them one above the other, or we changed the disposition of the panel so that it would be 2×3, but they didn’t feel right when we did that. It was my French publisher that tried it, but it didn’t feel correct, so we ended up just keeping it like this.

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Which elements of Sin Titulo are autobiographical?
Quite a lot of it is autobiographical, even the parts I didn’t think would be autobiographical at first. Generally there are scenes that have narration and scenes that do not have narration or fiction but with a lot of planning. It’s a very, very autobiographical book.

Why did you choose this kind of color?
Not everything has been colored, because I needed to work quickly and because I was working for DC Comics and I had a job, I was working on Batman or whatever and this was a project that I was doing in the side on Sunday and I knew that I had to do one page in one day, complete. So that’s why it’s always the same eight panels of every page. If I had the same page layer I never had to think about how the page would look. I knew only that I had to do eight panels so I’ve never thought about that. I tried to draw in a very simple way and not really cared about how perfect the drawings were and using one color was just another thing to just be able to work quickly. But in the end I think it feels perfect for the book. A lot of the book is about memory and bad things that happened in the past and I feel like this color feels like an old photography or a distant memory.

I love very much the way you draw the character’s eyes! They are very expressive!
Yeah. It’s funny because it seems like two dots and it’s limiting, but actually I think they are very expressive.

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What about Batgirl? I know that you are working on it…
I was asked to take over Batgirl by DC Comics, they were looking to change the comic and so they asked me if I would be interested in writing and drawing and just be the only person to work on it. I was too busy and I didn’t have the time to do it all on my own. So I asked if I could choose some people to work with. So I’m still involved, but I can get help from other people.

So you work with an equipe…
Yeah! I asked my friend Brenden Fletcher to write with me and we found Babs Tarr who’s an amazing artist but that in the specific has never drawn comics before, she was an illustrator. She was working for videogames and she had never done a single comic book in her life but I really, really love her artwork. And so I thought she would be perfect for the comic that I wanted to do. Batgirl was dark and violent and she was fighting serial killers and for me that’s not what Batgirl is. Batgirl for me is very fun and light and it’s about adventures, you know, fun stuff. The hardest thing was finding the best way to work together. Now I do the storyboard for her and she does the finished work. So it’s still kind of my comic but she’s drawing the final pictures. And it’s been great and very, very popular so far. People seem to like it and I think that it’s kind of an important comic, ‘cause we try to do something that is inclusive for female readers and for readers with a different sexual orientation or ethnicity. We try to do something that everyone can read and enjoy. It’s very important for us to make comics for girls and young women. It’s been really great and I’m happy for the response.

Her look is very nice!
Absolutely, yeah! The boots were selling out!

And she isn’t hot!
We know that cosplayers are very passionate about the character. They loved her costume and one thing that I wanted to do was to make a costume that anyone could wear, regardless of age or body type, and feel well in it. I’m so happy when I see someone wearing her costume.

What are you working on? Batgirl and…
And what else? I’m doing Fight Club 2. It’s being written by Chuck Palahniuk, the original author of Fight Club. He wanted to do a sequel and he wanted to do a comic, not a book. And so I draw that now.

It’s fantastic! I love Fight Club!
Yeah! I’ve been a fan of Chuck for fifteen years and so I’m very, very excited to meet him and know him and work together. I moved to Portland, Oregon, where he lives for the summer and we got to meet and talk about the script and talk about how the book goes on. So it’s very exciting to be working on it and Batgirl at the same time. I’m very busy, I don’t sleep very much!

Thanks to Cameron Stewart for his time and patience!

Interview conducted at Lucca Comic and Games 2014

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