In a society that’s more apt to have its collective face buried in their phone, tablet, or laptop, you’ll find Steve Hill intensely bent over a sheet of 3-ply Bristol board with a quill-tip pen and bottle of India ink. Content to be one of the final holdouts in today’s digital world, Steve keeps the art of hand-drawing alive.
His life as a cartoonist began at age 12, and he’s quick to mention that he didn’t choose cartooning, it chose him. He certainly didn’t think that 39 years later he’d still be behind the board.
It all started with the cafeteria lady in grade school. As tends to be a requirement for the position, she was mean. Eat your food. No talking. Go outside. Always seeing the comical angle of things, Steve and his friend invented a story about the harried cafeteria lady sneaking into kids’ windows at night and doing mean things to them. From this story the character of “Sandman” came to be.
Sandman was, to put it mildly, a real jerk. If you were a bad kid, Sandman would punish you by sticking a funnel down your throat and pouring sand into it until you explode. Although Sandman was perfect fodder for the stuff of great urban legend, Sandman wasn’t finished. Bored with the sand racket, he went into the superhero business, and then eventually morphed into a secret agent. Based on James Bond, he was called 00S. Kids misread the double-oh-S as “OOS” so he was changed to 077 – James Buns.
The first major turning point in Steve’s career came when his High School art teacher told him that the violent spy character should be nicer. He took it to heart and decided that there should be no violence, just playfulness. That’s where Buns resides today.
In the 1980s he was doing funny things, but wanted the character to have more depth. Buns went through another personality shift and became based on Steve’s childhood. His parents were very demanding, and he had lots of structure growing up. There were seven kids, and always something to do. Buns has these things to do, and typically finds ways to try to shirk responsibility. Much like kids, he ends up paying for it in the end.
Steve’s show will feature modern strips as well as a few early “Buns”. A slideshow featuring cartoon moments will be shown on a loop, and is certain to be the only time you’ll see this cartoon purist working on a screen. The opening reception is on July 26 from 7 – 10 p.m, his work will be shown until August 2 with a closing reception from 7 – 10 p.m. You can also stop by to see his work on July 23rd or July 30th from 5-8pm. Visit his site www.bunscomic.com for a sneak peek of some of his work, and get to know his fantastic characters ahead of time.
Insider tip: Steve has a wonderful story about meeting Charles Schulz that I didn’t dare try to reproduce in this post as there’s no way to capture the passion with which he shares it. You can probably get him to share it with you.
518 N 40th St
Omaha, NE 68131