Colorado Creatives

Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Stan Yan

#33: Stan Yan

Denver native Stan Yan started out a stockbroker and ended up a cartoonist. Self-taught as an artist, he not only found his calling in the pages of comic books but helped to found the Squid Works comics cooperative, a community of artists with similar goals. More recently, you’ll find him at comics conventions and other pop-culture events, creating his trademark zombicatures; you'll also see his work on the covers of graphic novels and even a children’s book. As Yan prepares to launch a Kickstarter for his latest Vincent Price Presents comic-book venture, we asked the entrepreneurial artist to answer the 100CC questionnaire. Read on for his graphic answers.

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Stan Yan: Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame — they're kind of living my dream. After seeing The Book of Mormon, I believe this even more so.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Well, of course, as a self-admitted zombiphile, I'm very interested by what Robert Kirkman is doing, but I'm also really impressed by the work of his collaborative artist for Outcast, Paul Azaceta, and am looking to see more of his work going forward.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

I don't know if I'm really on top of trends in art, to be honest, so I don't have an axe to grind. Granted, I go to a lot of pop-culture conventions, but I'm uncertain if it gives me a good sampling of what is really a trend. If you look at my clothes, you can probably tell this lack of trend-awareness encompasses my whole life. Ironic from a guy who draws zombies, huh?

What's your day job?

I'm a freelance cartoonist, caricature artist and instructor of the aforementioned.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

I'd probably have to launder it, right? Seriously, I'd do what I'm doing now, but worry less about getting published. Rather, I'd need to focus on hiring folks who know about publishing distribution and own my own publisher. Whatever I decided to do, I wouldn't want to stop writing and creating.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

The one time I went to Portland, I was really impressed by how every business I went to had art on display. The city offered businesses that dedicated a certain percentage of their office/building to the display of art some sort of gallery tax break or credit. I went to an art show at the movie theater! Brilliant. I don't know if that's the one thing, but that's a good one in my mind. Wait, the one thing would be single-payer healthcare. That would probably actually be the one big thing that could help everyone, but especially in the arts or for any business where margins are thin, or where business is really hit-and-miss from period to period. That would be one less thing a business would need to worry about, as well as their employees.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Gosh, there are so many. If I had to pick one, in a selfish way, I'd have to say Andrew Novick, who has been a huge supporter of mine for a long time. He's been a part of my creative sphere since I was in college at CU in Boulder, and he was fronting the Warlock Pinchers. He seems to always have his finger on the pulse of the art community and is always dedicated to including local creatives with the events he runs. And they're always events with a focus on fun, like the extreme breakfasts that he runs at the Denver County Fair, the big wheel race around the Stanley Hotel at the Stanley Film Fest and a Japanese horror movie-themed pop-up restaurant, just to mention a few. He really isn't the only one who deserves credit, since there are so many great people around town, including many of the writers and editors at Westword who have supported and championed me and my work.

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

First, I'm launching my first Kickstarter project on March 7 for my Vincent Price Presents comic book. Backers can get drawn into my book, even as the villain!

I'll also be taking my zombie-and-pony caricaturing talents to the FoCo Comics and Gaming Festival, AnomalyCon, StarFest, the Denver Comic Con and the Denver County Fair. I also will be teaching a couple of summer camps on comics and picture books for kids via the Jewish Community Center and ArtReach for the first time in a couple of years, and workshops via the Arapahoe County Libraries. As far as projects go, I hope to have my first children's picture book, There's a Zombie in the Basement — a fun, rhyming story inspired by my son's fear of my artwork — published. And I hope to get a substantial amount of work done on my next graphic novel, Regret: A Cancer Survivor's Story, about my best friend's battle with cancer.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?

I've recently gotten involved in the Rocky Mountain Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and I've been amazed at the concentration of really talented illustrators and writer/illustrators just in my critique group. I wouldn't be surprised to see several of these talented people make big splashes and bring more awareness to the picture book illustrators in the area. Hopefully, one of those people is me.

Attend Stan Yan’s Vincent Price Comic Book Kickstarter Launch Party at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Toad Tavern in Littleton. Yan will be drawing free cocktail caricatures for anyone sipping the bar’s special mixed drink “The Price” and showing his original book-cover art at the event; if you’re one of the first 25 good souls to show up, you’ll go home with a signed limited-edition Vincent Price poster. Get in free until 7 p.m.; live music will be provided by the Love Electric, Mr. Majestyk's 8 Track Revival and the Sound and Color. Visit the Kickstarter page for a look at Yan’s comic-art donation rewards, including a chance to be drawn into the finished comic. 

Learn more about Stan Yan online

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd