Somehow over the years, I’d sort of forgotten about the weekly comic, Steven. Apparently the strip ended in 1994? Fortunately, some months back, I stumbled across the interview with Doug Allen in the latest issue of But is it Comic Aht? and remembered how much I used to enjoy reading Steven in the weekly papers, and I used to have at least some of the Kitchen Sink issues that collected the strip. Now they’re all out of print and somewhat expensive and hard to come by, but I luckily found issue four for eleven bucks and grabbed it up.
This hefty issue collects eighty strips that originally ran from 1989 through 1991. For me, these are flawless comics. Exactly what I’m hoping for when I pick something up to read, funny, memorable, unique. Despite being over thirty years old, these strips, at least to me, still read as completely fresh – they haven’t seemed to have aged a day.
The very meta-comics collected in this issue are mostly centered around Steven’s efforts to fire all the other characters in his strip, because he hates them. The supporting characters are all hilarious, and their efforts to keep their jobs on the strip are wonderful (even after Steven cuts off one of the supporting character’s head). I have a special fondness for the strips featuring two comic book editors who live in a mental institution. A touch of Count Screwloose from Tooloose by Milt Gross?
Both the language of these strips, and the drawings are so much fun, I can’t believe I’d somehow forgotten about it. I feel like Doug Allen should be considered as one of the very best cartoonists. I’m looking forward to trying to track down affordable copies of the rest of his work, ASAP. I kind of can’t believe there isn’t a nice, complete collection of his comics in print or coming soon.
I love Steven. I bought some original art from Allen a few years ago and display it prominently. A quintessential 90s comic.