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Interview With Steven Fischer

By Damion Wolfe, November 2003

When you think about nice guys the image of an artist probaly isn't the first one to pop into your mind. But in the world of Steven Fischer the two go hand in hand. Steven is a Baltimore-based cartoonist and a film-maker with a propensity toward humbleness and the love of sharing about his world of art. I first met Steven after I moved to Baltimore. In my search to hook up with a film-maker I found Steven. Although we've never done a project together, we've remained in touch over these last four years and developed our own little supportive network.

Steven began doing illustrations at the age of 17. He created the loveable characters of "Steven" and his loveable dog pal "Bluey." He published his/their first book, "There's A Dog Under My Bed" in 1991. They even had their own Baltimore TV show on TCI-TV from 1996-1999. They've done radio comedies for the Holiday Broadcasting Company in Salt Lake City and Baltimore's own Radio Players. A couple of years ago Steven released his latest Steve and Bluey book, "The Wonderful World Of Steve and Bluey." Steven's characters are very charming and conjure up memories of reading the Sunday morning Funnies as a kid, and definitely carry the same caliber of quality. In 1991 Steven moved with his family to London for a time where he had the great opportunity to be mentored by Steve Melendez of Charlie Brown fame and continue to develop his ideas. After that he moved back to the States where he continued his cartoon work and began his journey as a film-maker.

In between Steven's work as a cartoonist he found the time to become a film-maker. At the age of 24 Steven was accepted into the prestigious Directors Guild of America. He has produced for various companies ranging from The Polish National Mike, Alliance to TCI Communications.. In 2001 Steven's short film, "Silence Of The Falling Leaves" earned an Emmy Nomination. The piece is narrated in Polish to commemorate the 15,400 Polish POWs killed by Russian secret police in April 1940 in the Katyn Forest of Poland. Steven has also done other documentary work as well as animated cartoon work.

Steven is also one of the most industrious artists I know. He's not afraid to get out there and beat the pavement looking for work and making connections. Something guys like me only wish we had more of. Many people outside of the art world don't comprehend how difficult it can be to continually push your art while surmounting the closed doors, blow-offs and other various forms of rejection. Steven understands that and still marches on. Today Steven continues to work on his illustrations. He is currently doing some videography work as well as teaching a class on Cartoon Story Telling. He's always in gear to tackle his next project.

You can find out more about this very talented gentleman by visiting his website: WWW.STEVEANDBLUEY.COM. If you would like to contact Steven you can email him at: stevenfischer2001@yahoo.com. Steven took a few minutes to answer some questions for us below. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Mr. Steven Fischer!

1. What inspired you to create the characters of Steve and Bluey?

I don't think there was one moment or source, because I didn't create Bluey by way of the traditional method of creation. Bluey found me. He found me when we were kids. That, combined with a childhood penchant for vaudeville acts and cartoons like "Peanuts" and "Garfield," transformed one friendship into a working partnership.

2. How did you transition into doing film work from cartoon work?

I don't know exactly. Since childhood I'd always expressed myself through multiple mediums: photography, cartoons, writing, music ... so when it came time to transition from child to adult, that quality merely evolved into a career. The transition from cartoons to film & video came via television, actually, with the adaptation of Steve & Bluey into an animated television project with Melendez Films in London, 1992.

3. You've done filming work for corporations like AmeriCorps and TCI Communications. Did you find that you had to make artistic compromises when working for them, and if so, could you talk with us about that?

Some people have the misconception that "to compromise" means "to lose or to give up". But compromise isn't necessarily a bad word. I think it's beautiful when art and the commercial world can come together to create something that contributes to society. There's a harmony in that. Look at "Silence of Falling Leaves." Keep in mind though, corporate projects are not meant for personal expression. They are meant for corporate promotion. There's a big difference. Mixing art with the commercial world creates an environment of teamwork. It's you and them working together towards a common goal. It's been a tough and humbling lesson for me to learn.

4. Like me and other artists, you've had your share of ups and downs. What keeps you going and committed to your vision?

A truthful and honest love keeps me dedicated to what's important. I think it also has to do with individual cravings. If you crave a certain experience, it's going to nag at you until you've created the experience for yourself and satisfed the craving.

5. Do you prefer working in solitude, or with others on your film and cartoon projects?

They are so different that I don't think I can fairly declare a preference. I love the freedom and solitude of working alone, and I enjoy the camaraderie and shared energy of working with a team that has great chemistry. Each have their strengths and drawbacks. Each have their positive points and negative points. For me, the needs of the individual project determine my preferred method of working.

6. Where do you hope to see yourself with your art in the next few years?

I hope to see myself stronger and wiser, producing more of the same yet better works than I'm producing now.

THE TEN

1. What was your favorite childhood toy?

Lincoln logs and tinker toys! (Hmmm...why does that sound familiar?)

2. If you could go back to the '80's what year would you go back to, and why?

1986, the year Microsoft went public. I'd return to buy stock.

3. Have you ever considered doing an episode of Steve and Bluey called "Steve and Bluey Meet Godzilla?"

No, actually, but I'm sure Bluey would have fun with that one! "All that came out of one animal?!?" he'd exclaim in a voice reflecting disgust as well as envy.

4. What inspires you most in life?

The limitless excitement of fantasy!

5. What artist/entertainer would you most like to sit down and share a stromboli with?

George Harrison

6. As a songwriter do you hope to incorporate any of your songs into your films or cartoons?

Actually, I already have! The Steve & Bluey radio show was basically a vehicle for my songs, and I've written music for many of my film projects. I also wrote the theme song for the Steve & Bluey TV series, "In a Mintue."

7. Would you ever consider dating a "Goth Chic?"

Sure. We'll listen to Velvet Underground records and talk about Walpole and Shelley.

8. You've described your stay in London as being great. Could describe to us what was so inspirational about this?

For me, London resonates with a magical energy. There I found Old World Charm and modern excitement all in one.

9. Do you think UFOs are secretly running the country?

Yes, and they come from the planet Twylar. (At least that's what they told me.)

10. Steven, what advice would Bluey give to up and coming artists and filmmakers?

He'd probably admit to sounding like a shoe commercial and tell you to "just do it". I would also admit to sounding like a commercial, only I would tell you: "my doctor said Mylanta."