Steven H. Garcia is an artist of gay erotica, especially of the pinup variety. His models are characters from throughout geek fandom, including movies, comics, and video games. His 2016 wall calendar showcase popular icons such as Superman and Batman, Ash from Pokémon, Street Fighter’s Ken and Ryu, Spider-Man and Deadpool, Harry Potter, and more. When not creating art, Steven is the co-host of the Gayme On video game podcast.
Steven recently exhibited at GX3, the third annual GaymerX convention. In this interview, Ken and Steven chat about their experiences at that event; how Steven finds real-life models for his art; representation of gay characters in comic books; whether Steven’s art represents or violates canon; how objectification of male characters is similar to and different from how women are traditionally portrayed; and why a video edition of an audio podcast isn’t a bad idea.
Stream the audio edition of this interview below or from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Overcast, Pandora, Pocket Casts, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, RadioPublic, or the Internet Archive. Click past the jump for links to resources mentioned in this episode.
- Steven H. Garcia on
- The notorious Bettie Page
- Grindr, SCRUFF, Hornet & Jack’d gay meetup & dating apps
- Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s gay assistant Terry Berg
- Young Avengers Hulkling & Wiccan share first kiss
- Alpha Flight’s North Star in Marvel Comics’ first gay wedding in Astonishing X-Men
- Strong Female Protagonist webcomic by Molly Ostertag and Brennan Lee Mulligan
- Strong Female Protagonist interview on The Pubcast podcast
- Prism Comics: Supporting LGBTQAI comics, creators and readers
- Alphabet Anthology by Tara Avery on Kickstarter
- Northwest Press
- Gayme On! podcast
- VideoPad video editor
- Is Metroid’s Samus Aran transgender? an article by Brianna Wu for The Mary Sue
Voiceover: Welcome to the Polygamer podcast, where gaming is for everyone. Join us as we expand the boundaries of the gaming community.
Ken Gagne: Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Steven H. Garcia, erotic artist. Hi, Steven.
Steven H. Garcia: Hi, how is it going?
Ken: Good. I just want to clarify that that it is not just the artist but also primarily the art that is erotic.
Steven: Yeah. [laughs] It’s definitely the art.
Ken: Yeah. I purchased one of your 2016 wall calendars at GaymerX or GX3 just a week or two ago out in San Jose, California and have to say, I’d never been to an event like GX3 before and I’ve never seen art like yours before. You really stood out and were an obvious candidate for this podcast. Thank you for coming on.
Steven: No prob. I’m still having withdrawals from not being on GaymerX anymore. [laughs]
Ken: Had you been to the event before?
Steven: Yeah. This is my second time. Last year, it was in San Francisco, and they moved it to San Jose this year.
Ken: Which for those of us who are not on the West Coast, those don’t seem very different places. It’s all part of the Greater Bay Area, isn’t it?
Steven: Yeah. Except for everything in San Francisco is crazy-expensive.
Ken: Oh, so was this a good move, then?
Steven: Yeah, I think for everyone, because I remember staying at the hotel last year, and I had to save up money for a couple months for the hotel room. [laughs]
Ken: Oh, gosh. That is not very accessible, which is core to GX3’s tenets.
Steven: Yeah, which when you’re doing art, you don’t make all kinds of crazy money, so I had to penny-pinch everything. [laughs]
Ken: Yeah. You really have to weigh the cost and the benefits and decide if it’s worth your time and your money to attend this event.
Steven: Yeah. It worked out good. It was a really good event. All the people there were nice, and it was great to be among other queer gamers. It was awesome.
Ken: Yeah. I had never been to GX before. I am totally glad I flew out there from Boston. I met up with a lot of peeps, people I’d met online. Actually, there was a surprisingly large Boston contingent. I saw a lot of people I knew from back home.
Ken: Yeah. You had a vendor booth in the corner. Did you have time to get away from your booth and actually see the rest of the convention?
Steven: A couple times. The first day, I was there by myself, and then I didn’t get to do anything. On Saturday and Sunday, a friend was my assistant, so I got to leave a couple of times. It was great to see everything. I ended up spending a lot of the money that I made right there. [laughs]
Ken: What sort of things did you spend your money on?
Steven: Various little knickknacks and other artwork from other artists there.
Ken: You’re a starving artist. How are you going to pay your rent with T-shirts?
Steven: [laughs] I made a good amount to have a spending allowance at that event. [laughs]
Ken: Unfortunately, art is not your full-time job. Is that correct?
Steven: No. It’s getting there, though. It’s getting there. I do a lot of freelance graphic design. I’m also part of a podcast called “Gayme On.” I also work a part-time retail job. [laughs]
Ken: You also have a Patreon, correct?
Steven: Yes. Patreon’s pretty new, too, so I’m getting that going, too.
Ken: Remind us the address for that Patreon.
Steven: It’s patreon.com/stevenhgarcia. That’s all one word.
Ken: That’s pretty much your brand, Steven H. Garcia. It’s pretty easy to find you on Weebly, Twitter, or whatever just using that handle.
Steven: I’m mostly on Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr. I keep forgetting to check the Twitter. [laughs]
Ken: I’ll put links to all those in the show notes. Let’s actually step back a little bit and talk about how you got into art.
I understand that you were born in Chicago, moved to California to study graphic design and multimedia. Did you have any particular ambitions or goals about how you wanted to apply yourself in that medium?
Steven: When I was in college, I wanted to either do comic books or video games. When I started doing multimedia, they added in animation, so I started doing a little bit of that. Then, I figured out that I didn’t like doing animation, [laughs] but I got really good at doing the pinup artwork. I started focusing on that.
Ken: I assume that knowing animation is probably pretty central to being a video game artist.
Steven: I think so. I’ve never worked on video games, but I’ve been thinking about doing that pretty soon, too.
Ken: You said you got into pinup. Is pinup its own genre, its own art form?
Steven: It’s like doing the 1950s girl, their sexy poses. They were riding missiles and stuff. They’re doing all kinds of fun, sexy poses. I do that but with guys.
Ken: For people who may not be familiar with pinups, that would be like the notorious Bettie Page, for example?
Steven: Yeah, that’s perfect, the Bettie Page art, stuff like that. I just put it on more of a modern twist and with guys.
Ken: What sort of media do you work in? I’m not artistically trained, so I really don’t know what the words are to ask this question. I’m familiar with terms like acrylics and watercolor. What is your medium?
Steven: Right now, 90 percent of my artwork is done on Photoshop.
Ken: Are you using some sort of graphics tablet, like a KoalaPad or something?
Steven: Yeah. It’s called a Wacom tablet.
Ken: I’ve heard that.
Steven: It’s wonderful. I used to do everything with a mouse. Then, I got a tablet and changed my world. [laughs]
Ken: Is everything done right in Photoshop? Is that the extent of your workflow?
Steven: Yeah, I do mostly in Photoshop. Sometimes, I do things on paper with a Copic markers. Sometimes, I’ll do color pastels, but 90 percent of time, it’s Photoshop.
Ken: Once you have the finished drawing, what decisions are made about how to exhibit it or manifest it after? When you are drawing it, do already have in mind, “OK, this is going to be a calendar. This is going to be digital wallpaper, etc?”
Steven: Most of the time, I make everything the same size, so they’re automatically going to be made to be prints when I go do art shows. Then, the same size I used for to show them off on Instagram and the website.
Most of the time, it’s just for art prints. They also get become available on my websites. They either become a bag or a phone case or whatever I could fit on that image onto, whatever product I need.
Ken: Yeah, I’m looking at your Society6 webstore right now. I see you have throw pillows, iPod, cases, mugs, T-shirts, front blankets. Wow. Again, I’m sorry if I should have looked this up before, but Society6 is anything like CafePress where you can basically just make anything based on what you upload?
Steven: Yeah, the Society6 is a bit more affordable than CafePress. Some of the quality is better. CafePress has more options, but I feel like some of the stuff isn’t the best quality.
Ken: Yeah, I think that CafePress, privates appeals that anybody can upload anything, but one of the downsides is that anybody can upload anything.
Steven: Yeah. [laughs]
Ken: Society6 looks like it tends little bit more at artists.
Steven: It’s definitely more artsy. The printing is pretty great. I’ve had no complaints about it from any of my customers.
Ken: One of the challenges I found in my brief ventures into CafePress was that their baseline cost for a product is so high that for me to make any profit on a sale, I’d have to add this markup that basically put it out of my customers reach. Have you had any issues like that with Society6?
Steven: Not really. Their cost is reasonable. That’s the reason why I stopped using CafePress and Zazzle, because the cost is so high for everything. I was like, “I’m never going to buy any of these products at this price.” I found that the Society6 has pretty affordable prices.
Ken: Yeah. $18 starting for a tote bag, $20 for throw pillow. That seems pretty reasonable.
Steven: Yeah, the pillow is cool because you can either pick indoor or outdoor pillows.
Ken: What’s the difference?
Steven: One of them is more weather-proofed.
Ken: OK, that’s probably where the price range comes in. The more expensive ones are outdoors?
Ken: Nice. What would you say are some of your most popular products?
Steven: I don’t know if you see it on there, but there’s a pinup of a Poseidon. It’s a sexy version of Poseidon that I’ve done. It’s modeled after one of my model friends. That one sells crazy. [laughs]
Ken: Oh, so these are actually based on real people?
Steven: Some of them are models, and some of them are just drawings. Some of them are just based off the actors from the movies and stuff.
Ken: When you’re drawing these, do you have references available or do you have stills from the movies pulled up for reference?
Steven: Yeah, I always find it helpful to have all the references that you need to get that that face look just right. Then, when you get it just right, they notice it and they want to close to it, I guess. [laughs]
Ken: I imagine it’s very different drawing from a movie still versus drawing off a living 3D model in your apartment.
Steven: Yeah. [laughs] It gets tricky, but I usually have a pretty good idea when I want to draw beforehand. It works out either way.
Ken: Do you mostly recruit from your own social circles for your models?
Steven: Yeah, usually, [laughs] I sometimes use either Grindr or Scruff, whatever those hook-up apps. I just find them people to model and said. [laughs]
Ken: Oh, that’s interesting. I saw some of those advertised in the GX3 program, I think Grindr was one and there was another called Hornet.
Steven: Yeah, there’s Hornet and there’s a Scruff. I think there’s another one, Jack’d. It depends on which area you’re in. Some of them are better in different areas. Then, it depends on the kind of guys you like, so you would pick from that to see which bottles would be better, [laughs] I guess.
Ken: In the context of your artwork, what does it mean by what kind of guys you like?
Steven: If I’m looking for someone that’s more slimmer build or more twink, I guess I would go for Grindr. If I’m looking for more muscular, bear-type guy, I’ll go on Scruff.
Ken: Interesting. I didn’t realize that they had such different demographics.
Steven: Yes, there’s a lot of different subgroups in there. [laughs]
Ken: I mean that is not a world I have had experience with for better or for worse. I’ve used stuff like Match.com and OkCupid. I haven’t had the opportunity to try Grindr and the like.
Once you were in college and you settled on the pin-up medium or the pinup style, was it always one-to-one that you were producing erotic art, especially featuring men? Was that just immediately what you gravitated towards, or is that something that developed over time as you found your niche?
Steven: Yeah, that was a slow build. I do a lot of craft design stuff. That took up a lot of my time. I started doing swimsuit, like underwear model-type drawings.
Those ended up being really popular. Then I thought about, since I’m a big comic book nerd and gamer that I was like maybe I should just throw in some comic influence. That took off. There’s couple of artists that do that same thing. I was like, “Oh, this really works.” Then I just kept going with it. I really loved doing it. It’s super fun.
Ken: What is it that you like about it?
Steven: It’s fun seeing the superheroes you love up there, what they would look like if they’re in their sexy time.
Ken: Their sexy time, I love that. [laughs]
Ken: That’s certainly not a side of the superheroes that we see often, especially on the big screen. We see some romantic dialog and drama such as between Black Widow and Doctor Bruce Banner, but there’s not much beyond that.
Steven. Yeah, there’s nothing about what they do on their off times type stuff. [laughs]
Ken: I can understand why that’s true in cinema, especially since so many of these movies are attempting to be family-friendly. I haven’t read comic books, unfortunately, in about a decade. Is it any different there? Obviously, the female characters are drawn a certain way. Is there any element of truth in your art as far as what their lives are like?
Steven: In comics now, it depends on what series you’re reading. Some of them are more geared towards adults. Some of them are more family-friendly.
Your standard Marvel is very family-friendly, but there’s some certain groups that are a lot darker. You could see like there’s more to their behind-the-scenes stuff and their sexual chemistry. Some of that stuff, I like to bring that into my art but with the whole erotic twist to it.
Ken: What is the representation of LGBT characters in comic books?
When I was reading comics, I remember there was one minor character in one minor story arc in “Green Lantern” when Kyle Rayner was the Green Lantern, featuring a gay character. The editors got a lot of flack for it, or at least I saw a lot of letters to the editor complaining about it. Is there any more or better representation that you’re aware of in modern comics?
Steven: There’s a lot more now. Comics are getting pretty gay now. [laughs] There’s a team called The New Avengers. They have a gay couple called Wiccan and Hulkling. Wiccan is the son of the Scarlet Witch. Hulkling is like a younger Hulk, but he’s more of a shapeshifter-type character.
They’re a full on couple in the series. They came from a comic before that called the “Young Avengers.” They were the Teen Titans type Avengers group. There’s a couple X-Men characters that are full on gay, too.
Ken: Yeah, I just did a quick Google search. I see that Hulkling and Wiccan actually shared their first kiss in the comic book almost four years ago now.
Ken: Wow, I didn’t find it in “The Times.”
Steven: In X-Men, they had a gay wedding on the cover a couple years ago, too. It was really cool.
Ken: Are you familiar with what the feedback to that might have been? Is that something you can share with me?
Steven: I don’t remember hearing anything bad about it. Everyone was very excited about it. It was a very beautiful cover. It was two guys in the middle of New York, getting married. They were all surrounded by the entire cast of X-Men. It was a beautiful cover.
Ken: Yeah, I’m trying to Google that right now. That seems to also have been about a few years ago. Wow. Here we go. It was in “Astonishing X-Men” back in 2012. It was Alpha Flight and North Star.
Steven: Well, North Star is from Alpha Flight. I forget what his boyfriend was named. The boyfriend was just human and not mutant.
Ken: OK. It was interracial as well. [laughs]
Steven: Yeah. [laughs]
Ken: Wow. That’s amazing. Cool. Is the comic book medium something you’d want to work in? Is that one of your goals?
Steven: Yes. I’m working on a story right now, but I keep getting sidetracked by other projects. [laughs] I’m working with it with another person and just two people. It’s a lot of work to do when you have full-time jobs and projects going on at the same time.
Ken: Yeah, that’s one of the great things about Patreon. The more your Patreon supports you, the fewer side-projects you have to take in order to support your actual art.
Steven: Yeah, that’s my main goal. I need to get to a point where I could just do my art 100 percent of the time so that I can start working on my comic and other side projects that I want to do.
Ken: Yeah, because sometimes when people talk about getting into comics, they think, “Oh, you want to work for DC or Marvel?” There’s actually a thriving indie comic scene. You don’t have to be associated with a big label in order to produce a successful comic.
Steven: Yeah. A lot of Web comics are doing great too. You don’t even have to go into printing. You can just go right into web and then have that uploaded to whatever app you read comics on if you do digital comics.
Ken: Right. That online medium also gives you the opportunity to collect those into print anthologies and market those at trade fairs and vendor shows and the like.
Ken: I had a guest on another podcast I do. She’s the artist, and he’s the writer of “Strong Female Protagonist” which is one of my favorite Web comics. Do you read that one?
Steven: I haven’t heard of it, but I want to check it out now.
Ken: Yeah, it’s really great. It’s by Molly Ostertag and Brennan Lee Mulligan. Coincidentally, Molly was actually at GaymerX3.
Steven: Oh, nice.
Ken: Yeah. She wasn’t on a panel. She didn’t have a booth. I was just looking around the audience, and I’m like, “Oh my god, that’s Molly. Hi, Molly.”
Steven: That’s awesome. There’s a lot of people in the crowd that I was very surprised. I was like, “Oh my god, are you just hanging out here?” [laughs]
Ken: Yeah, it’s really a who’s who.
Ken: Just by fact of being at GaymerX3, you’re pretty awesome. Your art, I’m curious about some of the characters. You’re a big fan of comic books, video games, superhero movies and the like. How do you decide who you’re going to represent in your next piece of art?
Steven: Oh yeah, that’s the hardest thing. [laughter]
Steven: I like all of them. It’s like, “I need to do this one. Then I need to do this one.” Every time I’m drawing one, I need to do these other two drawings. It’s like trying to make a list and then going through the list slowly. [laughs]
Ken: Do you have a list?
Steven: Yeah. It’s pretty long. [laughs] I try to go with when games come out and when movies come out so that when those characters are popular, I’ll have that image to go with it.
Ken: You’re trying to anticipate demand.
Steven: Yeah. If you notice in the calendar, there’s an order to which I put them in, and they come out when the movies come out. When you’re looking at February, it’s “Deadpool,” March, it’s “Batman and Superman,” and so on.
Ken: I get it. That’s really clever. I hadn’t thought of it that way.
Steven: [laughs] I think that January was a “Star Wars” one, because there’s nothing really going on in January, so I just added Star Wars.
Ken: Do you ever hold back on art that you’ve completed, and wait to release it, in order to coincide with some event like that?
Steven: Not really. [laughs] I just get really excited about completing an image and I usually post it online pretty much right away.
Ken: I take it from some of your work that you’re also a fan of the TV shows, “Flash” and “Arrow”?
Steven: Yes. [laughs]
Ken: I just finished watching season one of the “Flash.” I’m a little bit behind, I haven’t started season two yet, but holy cow, is that a good show?
Steven: It’s so good. I love it so much. [laughter]
Ken: What do you like about it, because it’s so easy to screw up comic books? They…
Steven: They did such a good job of all the ridiculous things that happen in comics. They did but they made it a fun, happy, and their jokes to go with it.
Ken: Yeah, like how they’re always naming the villains.
Steven: [laughs] Cisco always comes up with the names.
Ken: I know, there’s like some meta-awareness there.
Ken: Still, though, for better or worse, I don’t watch, “Arrow” but on “Flash” it’s still a pretty straight show.
Ken: Does that get in the way of its enjoyment at all?
Steven: Not really. I’m happy to see superheroes on TV no matter what.
Ken: I have some friends who feel that you shouldn’t mess with the characters if they were written in a certain way, they should be portrayed a certain way.
I understand where he’s coming from, but a lot of these comic book characters were created 50 to 80 years ago, which is a very different time and place. When you’re, decking them to a modern medium in a modern audience, some amount of flexibility is not only OK, it’s expected.
Steven: I like it. You have to modernize these characters, or else they’re not going to grow in their own ways. You’re just going to end up telling the same stories over and over and over again, and that’s going to get old pretty fast.
Ken: One of the reasons people don’t like Superman — and there are such people, I don’t know why, I think Superman’s amazing — he’s basically a big Boy Scout, historically.
That can be pretty boring. He has every super power, and he always does the right thing.
The new Superman, which I actually really disliked, I nonetheless have to acknowledge that they made it dark and complex and morally ambiguous. That is a take on the character I’ve not seen before.
Steven: He’s kind of boring, but I do enjoy watching Superman do his thing. There are versions of Superman that are pretty interesting. There’s one, it was an animated movie called “Justice League: Gods and Monsters.”
Ken: I saw that one.
Steven: That one had a, “What if Superman landed in Mexico and raised by a Mexican family and then wasn’t immigrated in the United States?” type of thing. He was a lot darker. It was totally different. It was cool to see that big change in Superman.
Ken: That’s a really clever way to use it to tell a modern story. The original “Star Trek” was grappling with the issues that were relevant to the culture of the ’60s. You can do that with other media and other characters as well.
One of the big issues we’ve had in our culture lately is body-type representation and gender representation in a lot of media, especially video games, which is what this podcast is often about. There’s a question of can women be sexy? Is that OK? Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball might be a little exploitative.
Steven: I find that game so ridiculous. [laughter]
Ken: Have you played those games?
Steven: I played Dead or Alive. Then the whole volleyball thing, I’m like, “I don’t understand the point of that. Why did they even make that?” [laughs]
Ken: I’ve had people tell me that it’s actually a really good volleyball game if you can just get past the cosmetics.
Ken: These are women and feminists who are telling me this.
Steven: That’s funny. I’m still like, “Well, you lost me at volleyball.” [laughter]
Ken: You don’t mind all these exploitative women when they’re bouncing around in a fighting game, but volleyball, that’s a little much.
Steven: [laughs] I’m like “Huh, OK. I should just watch ‘SportsCenter,’ I guess?” [laughter]
Ken: I believe Tecmo just announced that they’re not bringing the third Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball to the Xbox One in the United States. It’s going to be Japan only.
Steven: I heard that. I heard something funny, too, that the Beach Volleyball has male characters, too. They’re just as scantily dressed as the girls or something.
Ken: I did not know that.
Steven: I was like, “That’s interesting.” [laughs]
Ken: That sounds a lot more balanced.
Steven: Either it’s the volleyball one or the actual fighting games. You could get bikinis for the girls, but you can also get bikinis for the guys.
Ken: Oh, OK. I hadn’t thought of that. That’s interesting.
Steven: I was like, “Well, if it’s balanced, it’s OK. If it’s one-sided, then it’s kind of meh.”
Ken: [laughs] There are a lot of different representations of women in games. Another popular example is Bayonetta. Some people say that’s exploitative. Other people say it’s empowering. It’s true that it’s OK for women to be sexy, but I think the problem is that a lot of sexy women in video games are being created by men for men.
Steven: I love Bayonetta. [laughter]
Ken: Have you played both of them?
Steven: I’ve played one. I almost bought a Wii U just so I could play part 2, but I’m like, “I can’t buy this if it’s just for one game.” [laughs]
Ken: Yeah, you can. It’s called a killer app. You just got to get it.
Steven: Then I just saw that she’s in Smash Brothers now, so I’m like, “God damn it.” [laughter]
Ken: What do you think of the representation of Bayonetta? Is that an empowered woman?
Steven: Totally. The thing that I like about her is that she’s fully clothed the whole time. She’s just talking mad shit the whole time.
Ken: She is not somebody you want to cross.
Steven: No. [laughs] She’s has a really wicked, sassy sense of humor throughout the whole game. It’s just fun to hear her talking, what she’s going to say next.
Ken: A character like that can certainly be interpreted a couple of different ways. You’ve offered us yours. I’ve heard from other people their take on it. I’m trying to figure out how your art, for example, fits into this dialogue.
Your characters are obviously very sexy — that is why it’s called erotica — but it could also be said that they’re exploitative, that you’re even objectifying these male characters.
Steven: Oh yeah, totally.
Ken: OK. That’s it.
Steven: [laughs] I’m doing to the guys what happens to the girls all the time.
Ken: It’s that OK? Is it OK to do to men what shouldn’t be done to women?
Steven: It’s more like this is what is happening to women, but I’m empowering it but the male-side of the coin.
Ken: How is your art empowering?
Steven: It’s just showing up the beauty of the body. These are heroes and all the beauty that they have, just not shying away. I don’t know. I’ve been drawing these for a while. It’s really cool for me to express these feelings through heroes. This is what I want to see, so I’m doing it.
Ken: Yeah, because we’re accustomed to seeing a certain kind of power from these characters.
Ken: That power it’s often physical, such as super speed or super strength. You’re showing off another side of their physical power that is traditionally overlooked.
Steven: Yeah. Sometimes it brings in a little bit of vulnerability to them too because they’re showing off everything. There’s nothing to hide.
Ken: That’s interesting. A lot of superheroes wear costumes and masks. You are quite literally taking those off.
Steven: Yeah. [laughs] Sometimes they’ll just wear the mask.
Ken: Oh, that’s interesting. Hadn’t thought of that. A lot of these characters that you’re drawing, as far as which canon you want to follow, because there are so many different versions of Superman.
Traditionally Superman is a rather heteronormative character. In your art, he may not necessarily be. Do you ever get any feedback when people are saying like, “That’s not what Superman is all about. That’s not canon. You’re corrupting our favorite superhero”?
Steven: I don’t get that. I always get like, “Oh, my childhood.” [laughter]
Steven: It’s fun to see that.
Ken: You make it sound like you’re trolling. [laughter]
Steven: It’s accidental trolling. I didn’t mean to, but it’s the outcome.
Ken: It is nonetheless true that the video game community, while can be very encouraging and supportive as we both experienced at GaymerX, it can also be very toxic. Does your art incite any of that?
Steven: I have not gotten any of that. I show off my art to mostly the queer audience, so they get it. I don’t post my artwork in hetero-heavy forums and stuff because I know that it’s going to get that shit right away. I don’t need to deal with that. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t type of thing. It’s art. You could take it how it is.
Ken: Your art is something that people need to go looking for. The people who wouldn’t like it wouldn’t go looking for it.
Steven: I usually put the tags so if you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find it.
Ken: How do people find your art? Do you mostly get discovered through events like GX3?
Steven: I do GX3, I do a lot of the gay prides in different cities. I do a couple of Comic-Cons with Prism Comics. They’re like a comics collective.
Ken: What was the name of that group?
Steven: Prism Comics.
Steven: They’re like a hub where a bunch of queer creators can sell their poster comics through and they do all kinds of different Comic-Cons and stuff. They actually do a grant every year for a new queer comics or novels and stuff like that. They’re a really great company for up and coming queer creators.
Ken: So what sort of collaborations are possible with Prism? Do they distribute or promote your work or do they provide you with grants?
Steven: They have grants they do every year, so that’s where the contest is for. They always have a search for a new artist or you can apply for the grants. I keep forgetting when it is, it’s usually I think around September is when they announce the winners and stuff. All that information’s on their website.
Ken: They actually are running a kickstarter right now, it ends at noon on Christmas Eve, which at the time that this podcast airs is tomorrow. They are just $4,000 short of their $18,000 goal. This is an anthology they’re putting together of over 40 LGBTQAI creators, it’s called alphabet.
Steven: Oh yes. You told me about that. Yeah, they’re working hard on getting that out. There’s supposed to be a lot of really good stuff in that alphabet book.
Ken: Excellent, I will definitely throw my dime behind that.
Ken: Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Steven: No problem.
Ken: There was another comic book company at GaymerX, they were at the very opposite end of the hall from you and they were also at PAX East. I’ve seen them there before.
Steven: Oh, Northwest Press?
Ken: That’s it exactly.
Steven: Yeah, they’re awesome, too. They work together with Prism a lot.
Ken: Yeah, I can see that. I think I may have come across that collaboration before. You’re 2016 calendar just came out and here’s what attracted me to your booth at GaymerX, that and Harley Quinn art. So obviously your calender’s something you’re pushing right now as well as your Patreon, what are some other big projects? The new year’s right around the corner; what do you have on your agenda?
Steven: I’m going to start doing my next next year calendar a lot earlier, then I’m going to do like a sexy Greek god theme, and I’m thinking I’m actually going to make that into a little coffee table book, too, so there’ll be a calendar and a little book. I’m working on a sexy Star Wars collection right now. I just started it so right now I have sexy Kylo Ren and sexy Boba Fett.
Ken: Oh my.
Steven: Yeah, they’re fun.
Ken: I don’t mean to get you into trouble but are there any copyright concerns with any of these?
Steven: I don’t really feel it is because mostly it’s fan art, and I’m not making thousands of dollars off of them, just making a couple here and there but I just make them just to make them. I’ve never gotten any trouble from it, which I hope I don’t. [laughs]
Ken: If it is, it won’t be because I turned you in. Trust me.
Steven: You’re not also on DeviantArt, are you?
Steven: I am.
Ken: OK. There you are email@example.com.
Steven: I keep wanting to change, to take the dashes out.
Ken: That might not be a bad idea. Just be consistent with everything else.
Steven: I made that page a long time ago before I started making everything the same.
Ken: You’ve done a good job keeping it updated. That’s cool. We’ve been talking about your art for a little bit more than a half an hour now. I want to talk about another recent venture that you embarked upon, which is the Gayme On Podcast.
Steven: Yes. It’s so fun. [laughs]
Ken: This is an audio podcast that is around Episode 21 right now. Is it weekly?
Steven: It’s by-weekly.
Ken: OK, just like this podcast. Got it. How many other people are you collaborating with on the Gayme On Podcast?
Steven: Two other guys, Mark and Adam, the whole Gayme On Podcast came from…Adam wants to start gaming podcast from a crypt point of view. Him and Mark were really good friends. They wanted to do that.
Mark knew how much I love games, so they brought me into the mix. We all became a little Gayme On family, started making these every two weeks. It’s pretty cool. Beforehand, I didn’t even know Adam. Now, we’re pretty good friends.
Ken: That is one of the best experiences I’ve had with podcasting, was that it definitely introduces you to a lot of awesome people.
Steven: Yeah, it’s been great. We’ve had a couple guests come on to speak their specialties on which part of games they play. It’s been really cool. It’s great because all three of us play different styles of gaming. It’s cool to explain to each other what we do from our point of view.
Ken: There are other podcasts with similar points of view. For example, there used to be one called the Gay Gods of Gaming which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since July of 2014. There’s one called Game Bar. What is it that sets Gayme On apart?
Steven: You know what’s funny? When I started the podcast, I didn’t listen to podcasts. I’ve always listened to everything through YouTube. Now I’m finding these other groups out there that have the career twist to it, but I’ve had a hard time finding them.
We’re trying to have ours to be on as many platforms as we can at one time, where one episode is going to be on Stitcher, iTunes, and YouTube and whatever we get it on, and SoundCloud. We’re trying to make it so you could find it on whatever you listen to. I’ve had a hard time finding other people’s podcasts because they don’t always have them available on other platforms.
Ken: I think a lot of people assume that iTunes is to podcasts what Kindle is to ebooks, where if you just hit that one market, then you have 90 percent of the penetration that you need. That’s not always the case as you’re finding out.
Steven: Yeah. We found that most of our listeners come from Stitcher. I don’t even use iTunes or have an iPhone. I do everything through Android and PC. iTunes things is like out the window for me. [laughs]
Ken: That’s interesting. I know there are some third-party apps that aren’t iTunes, but they draw up on the iTunes directory. For example, Overcast is my pod catcher of choice. It doesn’t have its own podcast directory. It draws from other sources. I don’t know if it’s necessarily iTunes or Stitcher.
As far as Stitcher directly goes, I have many friends who are podcasters in the retro computing community. They have had the same experience as me where they’re on Stitcher because it’s a one-time submission process and it doesn’t cost them anything, but they get zero listeners out of it.
Stitcher tells you how many people are listening. Every week, the number is zero, which is not the number we’re getting from iTunes.
Steven: Oh, weird.
Ken: Yeah, I don’t know if maybe your podcast just appeals…It obviously does appeal to a different market from retro computing. I don’t know why one community would use Stitcher more than another does. That’s really interesting.
Steven: Yeah, I don’t know. I know I use Stitcher because that’s what I use on my Android phone [laughs] as far as podcasting. It’s very interesting to see what people listen to. I was asking people at Gayme On like, “Oh, if you listen to my show, what do you listen to it on?” It was like, “Stitcher, Stitcher, Stitcher, iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud.”
Ken: Now you have a YouTube addition, too.
Steven: I just started doing the matching images to go with our audio podcasts. That’s been pretty fun. I’m actually editing the newest episode right now.
Ken: Those images, do you put them in the audio edition because I’m pretty sure MP4 or M4A files support images like smart podcasts or whatever?
Steven: I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure this all out but this is going to be my third YouTube version that I made. I don’t know because on Stitcher and all those other things, they don’t have images for you to listen to the podcast. I don’t know. I’ll have to figure that out.
Ken: Yeah, I should look into that too but as you are finding out, creating a visual component to go with an audio podcast significantly increases the production time.
Steven: Oh yeah, for me it’s a whole ‘nother day of just doing the editing part of it. Adam does the audio part and then I do the visuals part.
Ken: What program are you doing that in, Final Cut Pro?
Steven: Actually, I found a free program online and it’s been pretty good. I forget what it’s called though. [laughs] It’s VideoPad Professional or something like that.
Ken: OK, if you think of it, send me a note. I’ll put it in the show notes.
Steven: It was a free program. It’s been doing pretty good so far. [laughs]
Ken: Other than the general strategy of blasting your content out to as many forums as possible, what is the motivation behind doing a YouTube version because there used to be a YouTube version of this podcast that you’re on right now.
Not only did it make it much harder to produce as we just discussed, but I found that most people prefer the audio edition because it doesn’t require that they stare at the screen for hours. It frees them up to do other things while they’re listening like go for a jog or drive to work.
A video podcast, what’s the theory behind that?
Steven: For me it’s just another thing to watch on YouTube. Like I said before, I didn’t really listen to podcasts before I started making them, so I listened to everything on YouTube. It’s just another way to view it with the matching visuals because some of the stuff that we talk about we talk about after we’ve had a couple drinks so it’s pretty funny to listen to.
Ken: I’m sure it’s fun to listen to, but what visuals do you put with that?
Steven: If we’re at some party or something, I’ll put a picture of the party, of what we’re talking about. We had a whole Nintendo Wii episode, so all the characters from the games are coming up and the consoles and stuff. Most of our episodes are very Playstation heavy so we ventured out into other consoles for other episodes that we tried to match up the other images to go with that so that you know what we’re talking about.
Ken: And what is it you generally talk about? Do you have any set segments? The show I listened to was mostly the news of that week and what you guys have been playing.
Steven: Yeah, we always talk about what we are playing and what’s the news is after what we’ve been playing. We always end it with what leveled us up, what in our life has made us happier, or has made us a better person type of thing. So that’s how we always end our episodes.
Ken: Well that sounds very optimistic. [laughs]
Steven: Yeah. [laughs] Sometimes we’ll have a level down and what pissed us off this week, but most of the time we try to level up.
Ken: That’s pretty awesome because one of the things I mentioned on my podcasting panel at GX3 was that when you’re constantly focusing on, for example, issues of equality and diversity, it’s very easy to get discouraged by the slow progress that those fields are making in games. But games are here because they make us happy and they’re supposed to be fun.
Steven: Yeah. We always talk about how much we love our games and it’s great when certain companies add in the whole options to be gay or they have a gay character or whatnot. We had an episode where we talked about our favorite trans characters in video games and that was a bunch of research to see what companies had what in their games.
Ken: I’m sorry, did you say trans…? Oh that’s right, I was listening to that episode. I think you were talking about the character from Final Fight, Poison?
Steven: Yeah and she’s in Street Fighter. She’s awesome in Street Fighter. [laughs]
Ken: Which Street Fighter is she in?
Steven: Street Fighter IV — I think the second to last version they put out.
Ken: OK because I remember you were talking about that on the podcast and I was thinking, “Street Fighter? No, she’s from Final Fight” but I just haven’t played as many Street Fighters as you have.
Steven: Yeah, well I love fighting games so I got really excited when she was in there. [laughs]
Ken: And of course there is Birdo.
Ken: Also, Brianna Wu, who was at GaymerX, wrote an article about Samus from Metroid being transgender.
Ken: It depends on your interpretation of certain text. I don’t think Brianna’s interpretation is necessarily canon but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
Steven: Yeah, that sounds cool, though. I’ve never even thought about that. That sounds cool. [laughs]
Ken: It certainly plays off the fact that in the very first game, they purposely want you to think she’s a guy, and the manual refers to her as a guy, so there’s definitely that. We’ve been talking about your art. We’ve been talking about the Gayme On podcast. Is there anything else you want to chat about?
Steven: I think that’s it. We’re working really hard. I’m producing more Gayme On material. We’re going to start doing we call subquests where we play a game and talk about it really fast, like little five-minute episodes for like YouTube.
We’re going to start producing some of those and some other fun stuff to go with it. That’s about it though. [laughs]
Ken: YouTube is an awesome medium. It’s where I’ve had most of my success. I have more people watching my YouTube videos than, unfortunately, listening to these audio podcasts. I feel like there’s so much more opportunity to do something with it, but it’s also so time-intensive to do it well.
Steven: That’s another thing is trying to juggle a bunch of projects and staying on your schedule.
Ken: Yeah, it’s challenging.
Steven: That’s been a challenge but I’ve been pretty good about getting everything done when needs to get done.
Ken: Kudos to you. Remind us where we can find, let’s start with the podcast. Where can we find the podcasts online, besides everywhere? [laughs]
Steven: [laughs] Our website is gaymeonpodcast.com. Then we are also Gayme On Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, SoundCloud. Everything actually comes from SoundCloud and it branches out into other formats.
Ken: That’s gayme with a with a Y, G-A-Y-M-E, right?
Ken: You have your own Twitter @gaymeon, no podcast, just G-A-Y-M-E-O-N.
Ken: What about your own work, Steven? Steven H. Garcia pretty much everywhere?
Steven: Yeah. stevenhgarcia.com. If you’re on Facebook, it’s @artworkofStevenhGarcia, and then Steven H. Garcia by itself is just my normal Facebook page and then I’m also on Twitter. I’m on Instagram a lot so you’ll see the newest stuff on Instagram first.
Ken: Of course, if you really want to see your work before anybody else, is that exclusive to your Patreon backers?
Steven: Yes. The Patreon backers get certain images that are more X-rated, like I have one that’s like the sexy Mario and then the Patreon one is a bit more revealing.
Ken: This is like the curtain in the back of the video store.
Steven: Yeah. [laughs]
Ken: You got to pay…
Steven: That’s that. [laughs] Yeah. I’m going to be adding in a more exclusive art onto there too once I start getting more free time. It’s a really fun way to distribute your art. I do a lot of, depending on what level you’re at, I do monthly raffles for prints. If you even hire this one to win a raffle, to win free original artwork, from your request.
Ken: Wow, that sounds like an awesome incentive.
Steven: Yeah, that’s a fun one. [laughs]
Ken: Cool, I’ll have check that out. Again, there’ll be links to all this in the show notes. Steven, it was wonderful to meet you at GX3. I hope our paths cross again. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your art.
I bought your calendar for one of my friends who was on this podcast a year ago this month. I mailed it to him with a note saying, please shoot an unboxing video. I want to see your reaction.
Steven: Oh my God, that’d be awesome. [laughs]
Ken: I don’t know if he will, but I really hope he does.
Steven: Oh man, that’d be great. [laughs]
Ken: I think that’d be his favorite Christmas gift. It’s all just waiting for him to unwrap.
Steven: I would love to see that too. [laughter]
Ken: If it happens, I will be sure to let you know.
Steven: Awesome, thank you. Thank you for having me on your show.
Voiceover: This has been Polygamer, a Gamebits production. Find more episodes, read our blog or send feedback at polygamer.net.