Q&A: Comic artist Steve Hamaker

From the 09/09/2010 edition

The "Bone" series got a beautiful new look when Steve Hamaker was tapped to colorize the loveable comic originally published in black and white. His multi-hued reworking of Jeff Smith's masterpiece was nominated for a Harvey Award and an Eisner Award, two of the most prestigious honors in the industry.

Hamaker shared more about living outside the lines.

I went to college to become an animator. That was kind of the thing to do. It was like, "Oh, that'll be so cool to tell people that I work for Disney." Then I got to college, and I realized I didn't really want to do that.

My job before I starte d working on "Bone" was with an action-figure design company. My roommates from college and I just got lucky. We literally stumbled into this company. We took over the design department and basically created positions for ourselves. We did toys for "Duke Nukem," "Speed Racer," "Quake."

I made sure I was the lead designer on the "Bone" toys. That's how I met Jeff Smith. I'd come down to German Village and look over his shoulder while he was drawing. When I was let go from that other job a couple years later, they just scooped me up.

When I star ted coloring the "Bone" series, it wasn' t as scary as you think. I didn't over-think it. Jeff and I had already been working together creatively for about five years. We would sit down and talk about scenes. I already had a very intimate knowledge and feel for the characters and for the world.

I pretty much taught myself how to color. I had done some color for Jeff. But it wasn't like I was some sort of professional who came into the situation and said, "Be at ease." Inside I was like, "I don't really know if I'm qualified for this." I just never really told anybody that. Keep the confidence levels up, you know.

Here's the thing I've always told people as advice. If somebody asks you if you can do a job - and you want to do the job, but you know you can't do the job - tell them you can. It isn't to say, "Lie." It's kind of a space-time continuum lie. What you have to do after that is go figure out how to do it.

Three things I can't live without are my family, drawing and my truck.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at jross@columbusalive.com.