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Steve Loya, a member of the DC Conspiracy cartooning co-op, created the cover of the new issue of the Magic Bullet comics newspaper. He recently answered our usual questions.

Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Steve Loya: I sometimes do more traditional panel by panel stories, but for the most part I create something I call Splotch Monsters, where each character begins with a paint (or ink, coffee, tea, etc.) splotch, whose shape and form in turn dictates the type of character and occasional scenario they might be involved in.

WCP: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

SL: So far, with almost everything I do, be it comic strips, fine art works, or the Splotch Monsters, traditional material and approaches are used. I might do some slight enhancing on the computer and I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about utilizing Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in the near future.

WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

SL: 1972, Pittsburgh.

WCP: Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

SL: I live just outside of Washington in the suburban neighborhood of Sterling, Va. I moved here over a decade ago, like many ex-Pittsburghers, to get a decent job.

WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

SL: I have somewhat of a more fine-art training, though I’ve always had an inclination towards cartooning. Perhaps my real training in that respect was watching lots of Looney Toons, subscribing to Transformers and GI Joe comics, and generally just drawing a lot.

WCP: Who are your influences?

SL: Old giant monster movies, especially from Toho Studios. I also love the work of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, not just for the amazing stories they present, but for the boundless imagination found in their characters. I’ve also been following the work of a lot of current street artists, too many to name, though many of whom can credit Keith Haring as an influence and pioneer who bridged the gap between fine art and cartoons, the gallery and the streets. Lastly, the students I teach and their fantastic, youthful energy.

WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do over or change?

SL: Simply starting earlier in life, though it’s better late than never!

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

SL: Definitely the Splotch Monsters.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?

SL: I’m most proud of a twelve-piece collaborative mail-art series I worked on with my all-time favorite artist, JJ Cromer.

WCP: What would you like to do or work on in the future?

SL: I’d like to work bigger and include more multiple Splotch Monster characters in the pieces, so as to create more dynamic scenarios and story-based images.

WCP: What do you do when you’re in a rut or have writer’s block?

SL: I’ve got a lot of great books to turn to, even if it’s just looking at images. Seeing what folks are up to on my Flickr stream has been helpful. Taking a walk, hitting up an exhibit or bouncing off some ideas with a friend or my wife has been successful as well. Naps are good too, when possible.

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?

SL: I think the worlds of fine-art and cartooning will continue to merge and mutate into beautiful new forms, and old, hands-on traditional approaches, as well as more virtual and technology-based work will continue to grow and flourish simultaneously.

WCP: What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

SL: I have occasionally been to SPX, which simply blows my mind with its scope and variety (and the fact that it’s in our own back yard), and I just recently checked out the first one in Pittsburgh, sponsored by the Toonseum, which was very cool. I’m greatly looking forward to participating in the first ever SMUDGE comics arts expo at Artisphere this coming March.

WCP: What’s your favorite thing about DC?

SL: The amazing variety of art exhibits and galleries and artists in the area.

WCP: Least favorite?

SL: Traffic and mean people.

WCP: What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

SL: There are so many to choose from, but I’m loving the Phillips Collection and their recent exhibits. Art Enables/Off-Rhode Studio (no relation to the author) is a recently discovered gem in the area as well, and put on some truly unique and fantastic exhibits.

WCP: How about a favorite local restaurant?

SL: I know it sounds kind of lame, but my wife and I will usually grab a bite out at the nearest Whole Foods.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?

SL: website: www.steveloya.com
blog: Splotch Monster Island (formerly called A Splotch Monster a Day)

Loya’s next con appearance is Smudge Expo on March 8th, at the Artisphere in Arlington.