Stephen Stern talks about L’AMOUR SUPREME’S ZEN

Stephen Stern

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Stephen Stern for many years and we have often talked about his co-creation Zen Intergalactic Ninja. He has a new Zen project on Kickstarter that has a lot of historical significance and I was delighted to have Steven stop by First Comics News and let our readers know all about

First Comics News: Who is Joel Orbeta?

Stephen Stern: Joel Orbeta is the name of the young artist I met airbrushing tee-shirts in a mall on Long Island in 1995. He renamed himself L’Amour Supreme as his career as a pop artist started taking off.

L’Amour Supreme

1st: How did he end up doing the cover to Zen Intergalactic Ninja issue #6a?

Steven: As soon as I met him, I asked Joel to do an airbrushed Zen tee-shirt. I thought the art was so remarkable that I told him that I also wanted to use it for the cover of the next issue of Zen, which was issue #6 in our new color series. So Joel’s art became the alternate cover of that issue–#6a, which now happens to be the rarest of all Zen books, even harder to find that issue #1 I did with Dan Cote in 1987.

1st: How did it transpire that he drew The Rawhead Saga?

Steven: I knew that I wanted to work on a full-length story with Joel, and wrote the script for it, about a nuclear-powered terrorist. It was the type of hard-hitting story that I felt would give Joel the platform to show the comics world what he could do.

1st: What was it like working with him on that story?

Steven: I remember being constantly blown away every time a new page came in. He lived near me on Long Island, so every couple of days I would drop by his place and review the pages. I had never seen Zen pages like them, before or since.

1st: What is Kazakhstan? Isn’t that where Borat is from?

Steven: HA! Kazakhstan is a country in Central Asia, where I set the Rawhead story. The books came out in 1995. Years later, in 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen also decided that Borat should be from there.

1st: What are Rawhead’s powers?

Steven: Essentially, he’s a terrorist who survives a nuclear explosion and thereby becomes a near-indestructible monster with unlimited strength who goes on a killing spree.

1st: Who are K’dar and Harp?

Steven: They are the leaders of two very dissimilar alien races who have created an Underground Kingdom below Earth. Their common goal, as you might suspect, is to subjugate mankind.

1st: Who is Shygirl?

Steven: Shygirl is the cyberpunk heroine that Joel/L’Amour and I co-created in these books, so her first appearance anywhere is in the #1 issue. She’s from the future, and appears in all three issues, in a separate subplot.

1st: How did the L’Amour Supreme’s ZEN Kickstarter come together?

Steven: My publisher at 1First Comics, Ken F. Levin, had met L’Amour and was immediately blown away by his art. When I told Ken that L’Amour had illustrated a 71-page story in 1995 called The Rawhead Saga, Ken immediately suggested we reprint it. L’Amour sparked to the idea, and created an all-new cover for the project.

1st: What formats do you have available for L’Amour Supreme’s ZEN?

Steven: The book is available in both softcover and hardcover editions.

1st: What add-ons and stretch goals do you have planned?

Steven: In addition to the graphic novel, there is an incredible flocked blacklight poster of L’Amour’s new coverart, a set of 34 unique collector cards featuring art from the series, and very cool 11”x17” metallic art prints that include Shygirl, the cover of issue #6a and the three Rawhead covers. As to stretch goals, the only one we have decided upon thus far is spot gloss covers on both the softcover and hardcover books that really makes L’Amour’s art pop!

You can find the Kickstarter here!

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