It’s amazing how easily a simple statement like “I won’t be posting anything on the blog next week” turns into almost a month of not posting anything. Between taking a trip with the family for Thanksgiving, injuring my back, and catching up on work with clients, a week off turned into something of a missing-in-action hiatus. My picture should have been plastered on the back of a milk carton. And for that, you have my sincerest apologies. Well, until I have to take another break in favor of taking care of life and other things outside this blog, but I promise not to let that happen too often.
So I thought it was only right that I came back with an artist whose work I personally admire, and one many of you might know pretty well: Steven Sanchez. You might recognize him as one essential part of Onixan Productions, along with artists Kermit L. Gonzalez, Scotty Shoemaker, and Noel C. Torres. If you don’t know him, then it’s time to get familiar folks.
“I was around 15 years old when I decided to do this seriously,” Steven says as he reflects on the humble beginnings of his chosen career path as a comic book artist and animator. “Although my bank roll wasn’t big enough to get into an art school like I would’ve liked I invested in comic books when the big tycoon artists at Marvel Comics were running things. Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio and a few other smaller cats… those guys were my biggest influence in comics.” While he continued to admire the work of such near-veterans of the industry, Steven would eventually gravitate towards Japanese animation in favor of his current anime influenced style.
Fast forward one year shy of the turn of the millennium, and he would already be stacking the building blocks of Onixan’s future presence in the industry. “I began in 1999 doing Onixan after a few failed attempts at upstarting with other people,” he explains. “I wanted to run things myself from that point on and Onixan was born.” Five years later, Steven would meet Kermit L. Gonzalez and Scotty Shoemaker, and as if by some weird movie cliché the hands of fate would start to turn. The catalyst that almost literally held the current manifestation of Onixan in the palm of it’s hands was one of the mega-est of comic book conventions – the Orlando Mega Con in Florida.
“Kermit was a spectator just going to the shows for fun and had commissioned me to do a piece. I didn’t finish it but he didn’t live too far away so he picked it up. After that we’d be stuck ever since,” Steven says with a smile. “Scotty Shoemaker knew my works through a mutual friend and we spoke over the phone a few times. Then BAM, it was around 2006 we all met Noel C. Torres at the Florida FX Show. We hooked up and BAM again – Onixan was born with a full cast.”
And there you have it. Onixan was created with four amazing artists at it’s helm, destined to break industry molds with only their passion, artistic endeavors, and love of their craft to guide them into a Disney-like happy ending complete with singing bluebirds and rainbows. End of story. Roll credits. Right?
“Being in a studio is a true pain in the ass,” Steven laughs.
Cue the record skip.
“I really don’t care about all the B.S. other upstart studios say about it being fun and great and blah blah blah… I don’t want to give an interview here and sugarcoat it by saying all that mess when it’s not. It takes hard work and after that hard work is done add more hard work to that,” Steven says.
But I wasn’t lying when I said all that stuff about their passion and love of their craft guiding them. Oh yeah, add one more thing to the mix: determination.
“Reason why Onixan still exists even without anything out is due to determination,” Steven continues. “What I mean by that is wanting to have a good enough story to merit a good following. Not that we’re trying to be perfectionists, but we’re trying to give quality in order to succeed with something right off the bat. So with each project we do just that. We hash out the acts of the story as a team and collaborate on ideas etc… Just the way a production has to work.” Steven even admits that part of the frustration, however, is just life in general. “Life has a funny way of turning things around so we just work on what we have until we’re done. Yeah, you can say we don’t have any plans for the year or years to come but only time will tell,” he smiles.
Despite the fact that Onixan is still growing in terms of becoming a full-fledged production company, the team is still making their individual creator-owned properties under it’s umbrella including Steven’s own, Armata:
During the fast changing pace of technology the world had come to a most horrifying halt as regions around the Earth were being annihilated all at once! No one had the answers to these actions but something was found through the rubble that would change everything..
Starting off as a funny short, Steven has been working on the project off and on, and it has easily become one of the primary focuses of his art career. “Kermit began doing some write ups and we started to collaborate on the idea but as Scotty entered the picture I told Kermit to aid on his story while I helmed the ship. Shortly I decided to scrap the story and re-do the entire thing. Now I’m currently done with the 2 acts and wrapping up act 3 to finalize,” Steven says on developing the project.
“First drafts are always imperative to any project and trying to hit that home run with the first draft is always the dream but sadly revisions must be made to correct holes in the structure. So yes, I constantly keep revisiting my stuff and read it as much as it takes.” Very meticulous when it comes to creating proper story structure and an entertaining plot, Steven is not one for just plowing through. “Plowing through is a very unwise thing to do, I mean the whole point of doing your own project is to succeed, right? If not one’s just gunning for the all mighty dollar and that’s not why I’m in this business after all.”
He also takes the time to really get involved with his characters, an important trait for any writer. “As humans we’re masters of mimicry, from when we can first remember. So putting yourself in other characters’ personalities is the fun part – to become that character and put yourself into situations and figuring out how to come out of them. You see how one can get lost in creating alone.”
Getting lost in your work is arguably one of the best things about being an artist and a creator. It’s like a drug without, you know, stupid side effects like death. So if art is like a drug, then deadlines must be like the weekday afternoon PSA to that drug. It’s like the Agent Smith to the artist’s Neo – it keeps multiplying in insurmountable quantities, but you’re still expected to save the world despite it. “Deadlines are the only obstacle I’ve ever known in this industry and it will always be due to peoples’ demand for commissions and /or comics,” Steven says with what I can only imagine is a hint of disdain. “In the artist world time goes much faster for some odd reason. I guess it’s all due to trying to stay on top of what one does.”
The rewards for Steven, however, prove to trump the suffocating pressure of deadlines, and his number one reward is amazingly simple. “Meeting all the cool fans at the conventions and making new friends. Some folks say networking but nah, I don’t care about that. I like to help young artists out in understanding this world and hoping to try and make it a better one. That’s why I’ve released many videos on how I illustrate in hopes for more to learn and get jazzed up to get back into doing more art.”
I think that right there is what drew me to Steven and made me want to write about him. Seriously. He’s one of the most helpful artists you’ll meet, and that’s fast becoming a hard thing to come by in this industry. He even left me with a couple pieces of advice for anyone who is trying to start a creator-owned studio and make it big in comics. “Count your prayers and unleash them all at once and hope it all goes well. A studio is like a small gang and you watch out for one another but at times others begin to lose a bit of faith and things slow down. That’s when all of you have to pull together and kick ASS! Stay confident and full of energy and most importantly, COMMUNICATE!”
He adds, “Many upstarts over think about being great and having fame and fans and frrrrrt…. who cares about that. It’s not Rock N Roll it’s comics for goodness sake! Enjoy the process and draw the best stuff that you think you can do. Confidence has to be your strongest part of you then your art. Know what you want and go for it.” And the last piece of advice he had to offer?
“HAVE FUN!! I can’t stress that enough!”
Told you he was a great guy.
Thanks for reading! Until next time.
Steven Sanchez is a freelance comic book artist, animator, and the founder of Onixan Productions. The team is currently in the process of producing their other creator-owned properties, including Ninja 51, Marshmellow Robots, Armata, and Koga Warriors. The company has currently revamped its website and is hard at work on two projects and something special for March of next year. Sorry, that’s all I’m allowed to tell you. Don’t want Steven to break my knees. But you can feel free to stay up to date with all of Onixan’s current projects by following their blog and website.
Steven’s DA: http://stevensanchez.deviantart.com
Onixan’s DA: http://onixan.deviantart.com
Onixan’s Website: http://www.onixan.com
Onixan’s Blog: http://www.onixan.blogspot.com/