Regarding Steve Stiles

Steve Stiles at Corflu in 2019. Photo by Jeff Schalles

By Jeff Schalles: I had the pleasure of being friends with Steve for 44 years. When he, sadly, left us, much too soon, I at least had the pleasure of helping pull together the print version of Steve’s epic anthology of his life’s work, The Return of Hyper Comics, 164 pages of his fabulous art and uniquely droll brand of writing. Steve had been working on this book, the second Hyper Comics volume, for many years.

Elaine & Steve Stiles and Jeff Schalles in 1982.

Michael Dobson took on the business side of the project, as well as art direction and proofreading. We both have been designing books for many years. I did all of the layout and typesetting, and I did a lot of research among Steve’s various web nooks and crannies, hunting for images of his art and tracking down his blog essays. The huge assortment of art I gathered came in handy when Michael was proofreading, because he found two duplicated comic pages that I’d missed, buried deep in the book. So much to look at!

Steve’s studio, 1980. Photo by Jeff Schalles.

I found 6 or 7 essays and chose two to add to the one Steve had already placed in his working draft: My First Orgy. Elaine Stiles provided us with Steve’s Hyper Comics files, mainly one huge folder with 134 pages of art. He’d thoughtfully named each file by its intended page number, and I simply followed his numbering. What you see is truly Steve’s vision, we merely picked-up where he left off.

Steve and I were good friends, and I generally carry a camera, which is why I had so many photos of him over a wide span of years to put in the book. I particularly love the wedding shot, near the back. I shot all of the photos, except for the two provided by John O’Halloran from the night Steve finally won his Hugo in 2016. Chris Couch and I were sitting together in the audience when Steve was announced the winner. I bruised my hands applauding and hurt my throat shouting with excitement!

Steve Stiles with his Best Fan Artist Hugo in 2016. Photo by John O’Halloran.

When Steve and I shared an apartment in Arlington, Virginia, in 1981, he was drawing the Thintwhistle strip for Ted White, editor of Heavy Metal Magazine at the time. Steve also painted a large color Thintwhistle painting, intended for a future cover or splash page. One sunny day we took the painting outside and I shot color slides of it. 39 years later, while pondering the Hyper cover design, I realized I had those slides, and even knew where they were. I scanned the archival Kodachrome 25 slide, still sharp, still saturated with color, and placed it on the back cover.

The Return of Hyper Comics

Created by Steve Stiles Foreword by Denis Kitchen

Afterword by Ted White

Thintwhistle Books

Randallstown, Maryland

Print: ISBN 9-798-6457-2936-3
150 pages b&w, color wraparound cover, 7”x10” SRP: $18.95
Digital edition available 

Steve Stiles in 1979. Photo by Jeff Schalles.

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9 thoughts on “Regarding Steve Stiles

  1. A wonderful book, Jeff, You, Elaine and Michael deserve fandom’s thanks for doing it. If available, however, I would like to see a list of the original appearances of the various pieces.

  2. The trade paperback of The Return of Hyper Comics is available online from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

    As far as compiling a list of the original publications… this has been discussed, and what is needed is for people with very large collections of underground comics to go through their collections. Send your findings to me and I’ll compile them. There is, as far as I know, no master list, though, if there is, Elaine might know where it is, or come across it as she sorts through the piles in Steve’s studio.

  3. Jeff, you and Michael did a great job on the book – I have my copy already! I like the fact that it’s not just artwork, but also stories and commentary by Steve, as well as photos and memories of him.

    I’ve been pleased to host Steve’s website for many years, and have arranged with Elaine to keep it on line:

    As well as a professional comics artist, Steve was always a science fiction fan at heart, and he provided literally hundreds of covers for fanzines over the years. Many of these can be seen at his website.

    He was also winner of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) in 1968, and I first met him on his trip that year to England for the Thirdmancon Eastercon in Buxton, for which I was Treasurer. He wrote the story of his trip in several parts over the years, and these are now collected at Dave Langford’s unofficial TAFF website:

    Do not believe all that he writes about me!

  4. Thanks, Bill (Burns) — but the bits on the TAFF site, including what Steve liked to call fake chapters, aren’t anything like the whole report. This was published as Harrison Country in 2006 with much added material besides what had been posted at in days when we assumed the report would never be completed. Maybe one day this can be added to the TAFF free ebooks page….

  5. I plan to nominate The Return of HYPER Comics for a Hugo next year, Best Related Work.

  6. CRAIG A GLASSNER: I plan to nominate The Return of HYPER Comics for a Hugo next year, Best Related Work.

    I suspect that the appropriate category would be Best Graphic Novel, since my impression is that most of what’s in this book is fiction (which is not eligible in the Related Work category).

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