LONG LIVE THE MICRONAUTS

Long Live the Micronauts is a series of interviews with creators of the Micronaut comics and also with creators who have been inspired by the Micronauts. My interview with Steve Peters is the second interview of many Micronaut-centric interviews.  Steve is a Xeric Award-winner who has been inspired by the Micronauts. Stay tuned for more!

The first interview for Long Live the Micronauts was with Brian Vox and Matthew Robert Ignash.

ABOUT STEVE PETERS

Steve Peters

Steve Peters is the owner of Awakening Comics. He also publishes a Yes (the band) fanzine and creates music himself. Not one to stand still, alongside his self-published works, Peter has collaborated with legends in the comic book field.  He loves comics and what comics can do as a form of literature and art. In the best of all worlds, people are free to pursue their passions and Steve seems to do very well doing just that. The Micronauts is one of Steve’s passions. One that he pursued in a creative way as early back as 11 years old. A passion that continues in his other comics that he continues to create as an adult.

THE INTERVIEW

JOESEPH SIMON
At age 11 you created a comic with the Micronauts in it. Decades later, after becoming an award-winning comics creator, you released that comic. What inspired you then, at age 11 to create your Micronauts tribute? Likewise, decades later, what inspired you to publish it?

 

Art from Steve Peter’s Micronaut Tribute, created when Steve was 11 years old.

STEVE PETERS
At age 11 I was making comics constantly and would throw in elements of everything I loved. So my comics had a lot of superheroes, with bits of Ultraman, Star Wars, Speed Racer, and The Space Giants thrown in.

I was crazy about the Micronauts toys and loved the marvel comic, too. I think I felt at the time there wasn’t enough stuff from the toys in the comic, so I wanted to do my own version that would be more toy-heavy.

As an adult, in the early 2000s, I started collecting them again on eBay, and became part of the online Micronauts community, mostly aging fans like myself who loved them as kids. I don’t remember why I decided to publish the childhood comic, but probably some of the impetus came from my fellow collectors. I knew that people who remembered the toys would love the comic, and that proved to be the case. Kids at conventions buy it a lot, too; I just say “You want to see something I drew when I was your age?”, and they can’t get enough of it.

 

Steve Peters at a comic book signing.

JOESEPH
Your art style, of course, changed over time.  What ‘tools’ did you use then? What methodology? On what paper and how did you keep it in a ‘camera ready’ like quality over the years?

 

STEVE
I didn’t know anything about professional tools at that point. I drew with a ballpoint pen and colored with markers; my mother used to buy me them in sets of 32 or maybe 64. My Micronauts comic was done on 8 1/2 X 11″ paper folded in half and stapled to make a small book. Sometimes I drew comics in small sketchbooks with black covers that were pretty common back then.

 

JOESEPH
Do you use the same kind of ‘tools’ and methodology now?

 

STEVE
Not at all. Some of my comics are done completely on the computer. I also draw on Bristol paper, and pencil first using either a mechanical pencil or non-photo blue pencil. I ink mostly with a pen quill or rapidographs, and sometimes use Japanese brush pens and a variety of markers. The artwork is scanned then cleaned up in Photoshop, in which I also often add grey tones or dot screens.

 

JOESEPH
As an adult, when you reread the tribute, are there pages or parts of the story that surprise you or inspire you?

 

Bill Mantlo reading Steve Peter’s Micronauts Tribute from his hospital bed.

STEVE
Oh, please don’t make me read it! It’s too cringe-y for me. A lot of deadly earnest self-seriousness that seems really silly to me, and I stole a lot of lines and scenes directly from the Marvel comic. Though I should mention I’ve given copies to both Michael Golden and Bill Mantlo and they loved it!

 

JOESEPH
How long before you drew the art were you into the Micronauts?

 

STEVE
A couple of years, probably. I did mine in 1978; the comic had been out for a few months at that point and the figures had been introduced in the U.S. a couple of years before.

 

JOESEPH
Did you collect the Mego Micronauts and if you did, what was your favorite figure and why? Was there any figure you really wanted but never got?

 

STEVE
It’s hard to remember to be honest; I always loved the Pharoids and their sarcophagi, and the Time Traveler was always so perfect in his translucent simplicity. I think my favorite must’ve been my gold Space Glider as I made him the leader and star of my comic. I was lucky enough to have most of them and even most of the color variations of the same characters. I didn’t get the Battle Cruiser or the Phobos but eventually bought them on eBay years later. I never got Nemesis but didn’t care as it was a bit weird-looking. Lobstros is a rare vehicle that collectors covet but was always way too expensive for me.

 

JOESEPH
From 11 years old and growing older, you grew up to keep in comics and gain recognition from your efforts in doing them. 

The Micronauts continued to influence, even now.  This time in a different way than when you were 11.  Running through your comics you have either characters that are very inspired by concepts found in the Micronauts and cameos of others.  Explain this in more detail.

 

Steve Peter’s Paradox.

STEVE
Yes, I think it’s a testament to the lasting power of their influence that I still include Micronaut’s cameos in my work to this day. It started in 1997 with Everwinds #4, which featured Diana, who is basically a female Time Traveler. Well, in the form anyway. She belongs to a group called the Causals that have their own backstory that I never got around to revealing as I moved on to other things. She also appeared in a few issues of Awakening Comics.

Runner the Fox from Everwinds got a one-shot spinoff called Runner’s Paradox and it’s revealed his working for some cosmic entities called The Kachinabots, which are sort of a Hopi version of Micronauts. It was kind of perfect because Kachinas are dolls that the Hopi make to represent different mythological characters—kind of a shame that this is another idea I didn’t get around to developing more fully. 

 

Joeseph
Which influence you more, the figures or the comics?

 

STEVE
The toys, for sure. I loved the comic for Michael Golden’s art; he’s one of the best artists I’ve seen and influenced many younger artists. He only drew the first 12 issues, so I tend to lose interest after that, though he did draw a number of covers for the series that was SO much better than the internal art.

 

JOESEPH
It’s wild your bibliography includes a comic at the age of 11.  Are there potential other comics coming from your pre-teen years?

 

STEVE
It’s possible, though I have so much other stuff I need to work on that I don’t know where I’d find the time. But I did a lot of comics featuring rodents—hamsters, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs—based on my and my friend’s pets. One was the Super Rodents, in which they’re all superheroes obviously, and there was one inspired by Ultraman called Ultra Hamster, and lastly, I adapted a few episodes of the original Star Trek with a hamster Captain and rodent crew. I think Star Trek fans might enjoy that one, especially since I took the episodes I adapted and threw a lot of my own ideas in, even though I now realize some of those ideas went against the point of what the stories were all about!

 

JOESEPH
Let’s talk about your other projects more.
You run Awakening Comics, your comic book company for around a decade. How has the industry changed from the start to today?

 

STEVE
Actually, I celebrated my 20-year anniversary in 2017. It’d be hard to tell you how things’ve changed as I’ve been out of the industry for a while. I know it’s become much harder to get Diamond Comic Distributors to carry one’s books and that you have to sell a certain amount of books for them to even carry your stuff at all. I would like to sell my books through the direct market again, but I would like to have a certain amount of work complete and ready to publish before I try to take another stab at it.

Biotron pimping Steve’s Comicverse!

One thing that has changed is that a lot of publishers fund and distribute their work by running campaigns on Kickstarter or other crowdfunding sites, and I think some of them feel they don’t even need to bother with a distributor.

 

JOESEPH
Awakening Comics, Rabbit Hell, Everwinds, and the Comicverse are your releases. Tell us a little about these comics.

 

Everwinds

STEVE
Rabbit Hell was the first of these; it was a trippy underground-style comic that my friend David and I created about cartoon characters trapped in ‘Toon Hell.

Awakening Comics was the one I got a Xeric Award for; the idea behind it was that it was going to be an anthology series with several short stories in each issue and different drawing styles for each story, only instead of having different creators on each story they would all be done by me. 

Everwinds was a Native American-inspired, shamanistic comic that was originally published by Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics; then the Everwinds characters were absorbed into Awakening Comics when the series was canceled.

The Comicverse is my current project that I create with my friend Bianca Alu-Marr. We usually plot the stories together, then she writes the script and I draw them. It’s a sci-fi comedy about a comic book shop on a space station, set 1,000 years in the future.

 

Steve Peter’s Chemistry CD release.

JOESEPH
In addition to comics, you release a Fanzine devoted to the band Yes and CDs featuring your music.  

 

STEVE
Yes, Fanzine has 4 issues out so far, photos of the band and a little bit of comics, mostly by me but with contributions from other Yes fans. I took photos of the band at an event in New York in 1996 but didn’t really start photographing them in earnest until 2011, so I’ve gotten photos from other fans covering a lot of the other time periods I didn’t have, stuff I consider of historical value.

Paradox guest art from the always interesting Bryan Wilkenson.

My first two CDs, Paradox and Chemistry, were done as soundtracks for my comics and have progressive rock-inspired music. I also have a project called The Fright Watch, experimental improvised music inspired by King Crimson’s improvs of the early 1970s.

 

JOESEPH
When I was first researching your creative works I noticed you have done some creative jams.  What comic jams have you done?

 

STEVE
Too many to mention! Rabbit Hell started as a jam with my friend David, so most of those comics are jammy stream-of-consciousness-type things. I was fortunate enough to do jams in Awakening Comics, Everwinds, and my Sparky comics with a lot of artists in comics whose work I enjoy and some I really admire. Too many to list, really—some of the best-known are Moebius, Sergio Aragones, Eastman and Laird, and Dave Sim. It might be easier to list the artists I’ve wanted to jam with but never had the chance—R. Crumb is the main one. I also did a lot of jamming with teenage students in a class that I taught for 10 years; some of those are in Awakening Comics and the Sparky series.                         

More Micronaut art from Steve at age 11.

JOESEPH
What did your family and friends think of your 11-year-old Micronaut comic after you published it?

 

STEVE
I don’t have any recollection of family or friends reacting to it. It was the Micronaut community that really flipped over it. I’ve also gotten good reactions from kids at conventions. I’ll show it to them and say, “I did this when I was your age”, and they’ll tell their parents they have to have it.

 

JOESEPH
Did you enhance the color of your 11-year-old art for printing? It is brilliantly bright!

 

STEVE
Not particularly. I guess I have the color markers I was using at the time to thank!

 

JOESEPH
As an 11-year-old, you must have had impressions, ideas, and impressions of who and what the Micronauts were as the title was being published. Now that you are older, how have your ideas of the characters and micro verse changed?

 

STEVE
I’ve done a few variations on Micronauts in my adult comics—Diana and her kin, the Causals, in Everwinds and Awakening Comics, the Kachinabots in Runner’s Paradox, and the Devabots in the as-yet-unreleased Regeneration, and in all of them, they are powerful, more advanced and highly evolved entities from other planes of existence. For the Devabots I was studying angelology and the various classifications of angels and using each type of angel (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, etc.) to correspond to a Micronaut (Time Traveler, Space Glider, etc.).

 

JOESEPH
Moebius!!! Sergio!!!! Eastman and Laird!!! Dave Sim!!! Wow!  That’s great.  Do any interesting stories happen from these collaborations? Each of these talents has unique styles. What did you learn about art (and them) by jamming with them?

 

Just scratching the surface of Steves comics!

STEVE
Here’s what I wrote about the Sim and Moebius jams in Everwinds #2: “The storyline includes a 1-page jam with Dave Sim highlighting his character the Judge from his amazing comic, Cerebus. In one panel, he even drew the Judge morphing into my elk character, Wapiti, which was quite a trip for me! It also features an appearance of the classic character Arzach that I asked Moebius to draw for me at a comic book convention in New York. It’s not quite as involved as the Sim jam; he just doodled a quick sketch of Arzach riding his pterodactyl and that was it, but it is a part of the story. I was actually pretty impressed with how he did it; it was like he went into a little trance and it just flew off his pen, no pencils, no-frills.”

As an artist, it is certainly interesting to watch them draw, and I’m sure I picked up a few things from that, though I couldn’t tell you what at this point. After a while, Dave Sim mostly did jams with me through the mail, and I was grateful that he was always game whenever I would send him something. I still have a couple of unreleased Sparky jams that Dave participated in.

Sergio was super nice and I told him my mother is from Argentina, so we conversed in Spanish for a while. I don’t have any standout memories of Eastman and Laird—sometimes I would leave a page with an artist and walk around the convention while I waited for them to get a chance to work on it, and that might’ve been the case with them.

 

trippy comic book fan

JOESEPH
Pharoids, Phobos, and Lobstros are all fondly remembered action figures for many fans. Marvel really missed a great touchstone with the comics by not really doing much with those characters. As a creator yourself, what makes the designs of the actual Mego package art by Ken Kelly and the comics compelling and lasting?

 

STEVE
It’s just gorgeous, well-done artwork. It’s lasting because it’s so damn good.

 

JOESEPH
Golden was without a doubt a vital part of the success and reception of the Micronauts.  I felt he gave the series a very cinematic feel and took out a lot of superhero visual imagery and idioms, replacing it with a sweeping science-fiction feel. His departure was similar to when Barry Winsor Smith left Conan.  What were his contributions to the Micronauts for you?

 

Captain Universe by Steve Peters. Now part of the interviewer’s collection 🙂

STEVE
Golden was everything to the Micronauts. As a kid, I was a Marvel zombie so I followed the comic until they drove it into the ground, but as an adult, my only interest in the comic is in those original 12 issues that he did. Of course, he continued to do stellar work on the covers after he stopped drawing the comic.

 

JOESEPH
What non-comic, non-toy item from the Micronauts do you prize in your collection and what one are you still hoping to get (puzzles, board games, and so on)?

 

STEVE
I don’t really have any interest in any of that stuff. So I would have to say the recent Artist’s Edition of The Micronauts that IDW recently put out.

 

JOESEPH
Who are some of the more prominent characters?

 

STEVE
I think they’re pretty much all there in the lineup on the inside cover of Awakening Comics #3: The Everwinds Awakening War. Fur Face the shaman and his elk familiar Wapiti, and Runner the fox who moves on to another reality at the end of said issue. Broken Neck, who is a cyber shaman in another reality.

 

The good version of Sparky becomes essentially a Micronaut (or, a Kachinabot in this case). Now part of the interviewer’s collection.

JOESEPH
Have you jammed with any Micronaut-centric creators?    

 

STEVE
Can’t say that I have.

 

JOESEPH
A series on a futuristic comic store is interesting. Every comic fan has cool comic store stories. Do any of your personal stories translate into these future stories? I have to admit having a comic store on a space station would make it feel more like home.

 

The super crisis between Steve Peters and Dave Sim is an interesting read!

STEVE
Yes, there are personal elements that go into the comic, and we have a character that’s a stand-in for me, an alien called Esteban. Even moreso with the spinoff comic, Parallel Comicverses, which is all stories about Esteban and focuses on the things that interest me, namely Cerebus the comic, Star Wars, and the music of Yes. Speaking of Dave Sim, I commissioned him to write a story for me to draw in that comic about Cerberus, the alien 31st-century version of Cerebus, and what Dave thinks the character’s legacy will be 1,000 years from now (here’s a hint—it’s not too optimistic!).

 

JOESEPH
You distribute with one leg in the proven mail order modernized by the internet (eBay, website, Facebook, etc) and Kickstarter. Which has given way to more orders? Does the mail order show a preference for specific titles and Kickstarter’s other titles?

 

STEVE
Yes, in that I use Kickstarter to back my current projects, whereas the orders that come in are mostly for my older stuff that features jam with well-known creators. Most of my comics income comes from Kickstarter.

 

JOESEPH
Religion is a subject that you touch upon in your comics. What are your thoughts on the religious aspects of the Micronauts?

 

STEVE
Well, as I mentioned, I have the unfinished Regeneration comic, in which my version of Micros are called Devabots and Asurabots, after the Hindu devas and asuras, and which took a lot of inspiration from angelology. And again, this goes with my idea that Micronauts are higher entities of some sort. 

As far as the comic, that’s a different take altogether, as most of the Micronauts are normal flesh and blood characters or “roboids”.  The most spiritual the comic got was the Enigma Force and the Time Travelers, which were cosmic entities created by Rann’s long sleep and 1,000 years of visiting alien worlds. I loved that version of the Time Travelers and the glowing field of energy bubbles that surrounded them as Michael Golden depicted it, and I still draw those energy bubbles around them when someone requests a Time Traveler sketch.

JOESEPH
Thank you, Steve.
Check out Steve’s work. He has a lot to offer that Micronaut fans are likely to enjoy. Steve’s comics are very addictive. His tribute to the Micronauts is a lot of fun. The Everwinds storyline is really engaging. The Sparky comics feature a lot of cool collaborations with art from Steve and a lot of other comic fans are likely to enjoy that are exclusive to Steves comics. Buy something directly from Steve and he’ll even do a sketch (by request) for you (you can see my Sparky and Captain Universe drawings above.)

Check out Awakening Comics for everything Steve Peters related,  Comicverse for the latest updates to his current comic series.

about LONG LIVE THE MICRONAUTS!

The Micronauts started out in Japan as Microman. Microman found itself recreated and renamed the Micronauts in America. This was as a license to, at first Mego in 1976, then Marvel Comics in 1979. In America, the Micronaut’s have continued on in one form or another to the present day.

The toy and comic rights have changed from company to company. At the moment there is a lull in both the action figures and the comics. Hasbro has the rights. After bringing the Micronauts into a Hasbro-verse that includes the Transformers, GI Joe, Rom, and others, promises of movies and animation dash about, get delayed and reprojected.  What, who, when, where, and why? Who knows?

Being a fan of the Micronauts comics, toys, and Microman, I have really been captivated by the creators of the comics and fascinated by other creators who are inspired by the Micronauts.

While fans wait for Hasbro to do whatever they are going to do, I decided to interview the creators who have been inspired by the Micronauts and the creators who help create the Micronaut comics.

My interview with Steve Peters is the second of many interviews I have planned. Other interviews include Brian Vox and Matthew Robert Ignash.

Stay tuned for more Micronaut related interviews in the weeks and months to come!

https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/STEVE-BANNER.pnghttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/STEVE-BANNER-150x77.pngJoeseph SimonInterviewsAwakening Comics,Comicverse,Everwinds,Long live the Micronauts,Micronauts,Steve Peters
LONG LIVE THE MICRONAUTS Long Live the Micronauts is a series of interviews with creators of the Micronaut comics and also with creators who have been inspired by the Micronauts. My interview with Steve Peters is the second interview of many Micronaut-centric interviews.  Steve is a Xeric Award-winner who has...