Born and raised throughout California, Jacob Stewart was steeped in tales of swords, cybernetics, and sorcery as a child. After pursuing both art and writing as separate mediums, his passion for both crafts converged when he finished “Barrera”—his debut comic—earlier this year. As he pushes to make a name for himself in the comic industry, Jacob’s work explores the balance between fear and hope in all manner of worlds and futures.
We spoke to Jacob about found family, hope, and the inevitability of comics.
Tell us a little about yourself, Jacob! How did you come to be a comic creator?
I think in a funny way I was always meant to end up in comics, but I was the last person in my life to realize it. Growing up I was constantly drawing, constantly reading, and always sort of flickering back and forth between art and storytelling. It wasn’t until after I had finished a creative writing degree and utterly failed to find my voice as a prose writer that I finally decided to use illustration as a way to get these stories out of my head and out into the world.
What inspired you to write “Barrera,” specifically?
There’s a lot to be unhappy with in the world right now, for people of all generations. While I feel like it’s of paramount importance for us to feel that unhappiness and take a critical lens to the systems around us, it is just as important to dream, to envision what the world could be if we made it so. Science fiction has always been my favorite genre, and it’s a genre that is at its core synonymous with challenging society and the directions it might go in. While there’s plenty of that in “Barrera,” I think the soul of the story is really two people that want a better world for each other.
Let’s get personal now…What is your favorite comic of all time?
OOF—impossible question. I’m not entirely sure this is my favorite of all time, per se, but I’ll make my inner child super happy and say the Dark Horse Star Wars: Republic series that ran when I was a little kid. It was my first real exposure to comics, and it’ll always have a special place in my heart.
You mentioned you got a degree in creative writing. Do you have any non-comic endeavors at the moment?
I’m fully entrenched in comic-making at the moment; I hope to have a graphic novel or two pitch-ready before August of next year, so I’m really trying to get in the mud and level up in this craft. Who knows what the future holds, though. I want to stay open to any creative paths that life may put in front of me.
Can readers expect more adventures of the characters in “Barrera” from you?
Absolutely! I’m simultaneously working on a few projects right now, and Hector and Tommy are absolutely in the lineup.
Who are some creators who inspire you?
It’s a real mixed bag, I draw inspiration from all over the place: Neil Gaimon, Gege Akutami, Tyler the Creator, Jordan Peele, Denis Villaneuve, Mike Mignola, the list goes on.
If you were a fictional character, who do you think you would be?
Imma go with Megumi Fushiguro from Jujutsu Kaisen. He and I both had to learn what it truly meant to give our best.
You illustrated “Barrera” as well. What is your background in the visual arts?
“Background” and “visual arts” make it sound so professional and serious. Really I’ve just always been a doodler; growing up I was drawing constantly, and for the majority of my life I was planning on going to art school. Ultimately I was more pulled to storytelling, but without the visual component I couldn’t find any traction. Drawing is really just something I gotta do, and I love it.
Found family seems to be a key theme in “Barrera.” Is this inspired by any events in your life?
While I can’t claim to have experienced an unlikely bond like Hector and Tommy have, I’ve found myself propelled in life by my best friend— a fellow creative who really pushes me to reach for greater heights. He and I really aspire together, much like the duo in “Barrera.”
Where can our readers find you?
Anyone who wants to see what I’m up to can find me at @jacobneverdraws on Instagram!
And thanks times a zillion to our pal Chris Byers for their help with these interviews!
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