“I hope this book hits big with all the fans of Apple and Steve Jobs” Writer CW Cooke and artists Chris Schmidt discuss Steve Jobs the Comic

There are very few CEO’s of a multi-national corporation who can make front page news across the globe when they resign. However Apple’s Steve Jobs did just that in August when he handed in his notice from the computing giant he co-founded back in 1976. The man who bought Apple back from the brink in the early 90s and introduced the world to the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad has led an enigmatic life and what better way to tell that story than in comic book form? We’ve previewed the Steve Jobs comic from Blue Water Productions this site back in July, but with the book released this week, I interviewed writer CW Cooke and artist Chris Schmidt about the particular difficulties that arose in putting together a biography on the world’s most famous CEO.

Did you have to do a lot of research into the Steve Jobs story? How much did you know already?
CW: I do tons of research. I scour the internet, I go to the library and spend hours pouring through magazines and books when they’re available. Thank god for Google though as pretty much everything you could ever need is at your fingertips. I knew bits and pieces about the story of Steve Jobs. I knew his work with Apple and Pixar but other than that, I didn’t know much about the man that I didn’t see in that made-for-tv movie.

CS: I did do a lot of research on Apple and Steve himself. Most of the image research was done while I did the artwork. For each panel I tried to find the perfect image of Steve and the supporting characters. It was a challenge at times to find pictures of him at the right period in his life to make sure I was accurate. I am an Apple fan but didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did before I started. I also got several books from the library and watched the movie.

How important is keeping an exact match to the look and tone of major characters and how much creative licence did you grant yourself in order to tell a good story?
Exact match is very important. As this is a biography comic, it’d be a bit difficult to take creative license with him or his life. It’s more important to tell the story as it is, warts and all, and let the readers decide how they feel about the main character.

CS: Well, you have to make it look like him as much as you can and try keep it visually interesting. He needs to be identifiable as Steve Jobs and not just some guy with a beard or hair combed to the side. The creative part comes in when laying the panels out and what angle to show each scene.

How did you choose which parts of the story to include and were there any bits you would have liked to include but couldn’t? (either for pacing reasons or for libellous reasons!!)
CW: Same as before, anything and everything I could fit in, I fit in. I didn’t include a ton about the lawsuits that they’ve faced mainly due to page constraints. It wasn’t as important to tell the story of Apple as it was to tell the story of Steve Jobs. And when telling his story, it was important to make sure to be fair to all sides of the story, and when telling the story of a living, breathing, human being, there is a lot that can’t make the page.

Who were your favourite characters to write and draw?
CW: I just love to write comics. Be they about fictional characters or real people, I’ll write it. In the case of Steve’s life, I enjoyed telling his story and delving into the world of Pixar as I just absolutely love their movies. Getting to look at them, even remotely, was a blast.

CS: Obviously the main character was the most enjoyable to draw. I was really cool to depict Steve from school age to present day. It was a challenge to make him look like the same person but also age as the story progresses.

Why do you think Steve Jobs has become such a powerful pop culture icon and what were you most surprised to learn about him while producing the book?
I had no idea about who he was as a person. I knew the business side well, and I knew that his strong opinions and creativity is what made Apple such an innovator and what made him such an icon. He’s been at the forefront at Apple and their new tech almost each and every time, so he’s completely intertwined with these inventions. Any time Apple puts something out, whether it’s the iPad, the iPod, iPhone, or whatever, there he was. So he was always right next to the inventions and the creativity of Apple.

CS: Great marketing is part of what made him and Apple such a huge part of pop culture. Their products are just sleek and so well-done it’s impossible to just ignore them. Steve Jobs is a trend setter.

Were you Apple fans before you started and are you now?
I have an iPod and I’ve goofed around on iPhones and iPads but I don’t have either. Am I a fan? I’m not the biggest fan and I’m also not necessarily the first person in line when something new does come out from Apple. But I’ve played with their gadgets and enjoyed my time with them.

CS: I was and am an Apple fan.  I just feel more educated on the history now. I own an iMac and several iPods.

Obviously this is going to be a big hit among the Apple community, but what do you think of comics on the iPad as both a reader and a creative? Do you have iPads and use them for writing/drawing on?
I’ve actually read some comics previews on the iPad and I loved it. I’m not a big supporter of digital comics from a personal love of the printed page and a personal love of the feel of comics in my hands, but that being said, I hope this does well digitally. I hope that everyone buys a copy of this, whether it’s the physical or the digital copy. I hope this book hits big with all the fans of Apple and all the fans of Steve Jobs.

CS: I haven’t read a comic on an iPad before but I can see the appeal. At some point in the future I’d love to own an iPad so I can both read comics and draw on it. However, I will always lean towards the “hard copy” of a book or comic myself.

Do you think the iPad is having a positive effect on smaller comic publishers like Blue Water?
CW: That’s a tough question. I’d like to think it is because I’m working for a smaller comic book publisher. I’d like to think that everyone will read a copy of this comic either digitally or physically. I’d like to think that the iPad will help the smaller companies by making it easier to produce comics as there would be lower overhead costs. I’m not sure though. Being that I’m only on the creative side, I don’t get to see a lot of the big picture stuff. I don’t make many of those decisions, I’m just along for the ride and working my hardest to make sure the product I help create is the best it can be so that people love the comics and want to buy more of them. That’s what I’m here to do.

CS: I think it is nice to have options. In the long run it can only help smaller publishers to get their ideas seen by more people.

What are your next projects? More bio comics or do you have your own characters you’re working on?
I’ve got a lot of stuff coming up actually. I’m not sure I can talk about all of them yet, but I have some mini-series coming out that should be huge. Some ongoings that might happen as well! I’ve always got other non-fiction comics coming out, some in the Political Power book, some Fame, some Orbit, and some Female Force. A lot of that is what keeps the creative juices going in order to jump headfirst back into the fiction comics.
As for my own characters, you’ll be hearing some announcements soon about that. I have a series of minis that I’m working on that I’ve either created or co-created that are all horror books with art being completed now. I’ve got my own superhero character that I think you might hear an announcement about soon as well. A lot of creator-owned stuff should be coming out from me in the next year, and hopefully sooner. I love comics, and this is my dream job, so I’m going to work immensely hard to make this happen.

CS: I am always working on a story or character in the back of my mind. I have several creator-owned characters that will get their own comic in the near future. However, right after this comic I plan on doing a few commissions and getting back to work on a vampire hunter comic called ‘Bloodwatch’ that should be released early 2012. I also do graphic design, product design and illustration work.

Steve Jobs the comic is released in September by Blue Water Productions and will be available on the Comics + app. You can follow CW on twitter @robocop_murphy and see more of Chris’ work at www.artisticschmidt.com or at http://artisticwit.deviantart.com/

Author: Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.