FUNDED!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far to the Kickstarter for Unfinished Stories…  We have met the funding goal!

However, there is still over 24 hours to go, so if you want a book or any of the other reward tiers, the time to get involved is now.  After the Kickstarter is complete, there will still be time to preorder books and whatnot, but you won’t get the same kind of packages that are available now.

Please share the information far and wide to help more people enjoy Steve’s art.  Let’s get the word out over the last few hours!

Thanks again to everyone!

(Here’s a bonus Grove strip to celebrate:)

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Latest Press Release

In case you didn’t see the latest press release about Steve’s book, here you go:

Marvel Artist to Contribute to Book

BRANDON, MB—A book dedicated to the unpublished work of the late comic artist Stephen Arnett Groves will be introduced by the much lauded, in-demand writer, director, filmmaker and cartoonist, Kaare Andrews. The latter is known for his work on HulkIron Fist and Spider Man comics, as well as The ONE%, his creator-owned title published through Image Comics. He was the first to win the Shuster Award for Outstanding Artist, in 2005. Roommates while at the Alberta College of Art and Design, Andrews and Groves were long-time friends.

“There was only one other guy at Art School that would gush over comics the way I did,” Andrews said recently. “Steve’s love of comics was only matched by his love of music and Tim Burton movies. I’d often come home to find him with his headphones on, listening to Danny Elfman and reading the funny books. In fact, one night at maybe 2 AM, returning home from a horrible dating adventure only to find myself without keys, those same headphones prevented him from hearing my desperate pleas to open the door. I spent the night sleeping on a terribly uncomfortable couch in our school across the street from the apartment, laughing at myself and his headphones.”

Though the two dropped out of the art school (from which, Andrews is quick to add, that John Byrne and Joni Mitchell had done the same thing a couple of decades before them) and moved away, the two artists kept in touch.

“These small co-conspirators in our lives leave a mark (and) in some way, (Steve) will always be a part of my work in comics,” said Andrews.

 

After a short fight with cancer, Groves passed away five months ago, and this pushed another one of Groves’ creative friends, comic book scholar T. Keith Edmunds to launch a Kickstarter project in which many of the former’s work will be presented to the world.

 

“Steve had talked a lot about Kaare and their shared love of comics – the characters, the storylines, the approaches to their art, and much more. So, it was a natural choice for me to ask Kaare to write the introduction to the book I’m hoping to have designed to showcase Steve’s work,” said Edmunds. “Steve was a fantastic, talented artist who never got the audience he deserved in life. I’m really hoping to put together this book so that more people can enjoy his art, all the quirky characters he created as well as the storylines that were appreciated by very few.”

 

The deadline to participate in this project is Saturday, March 31. For more information about this Kickstarter project, please visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/115465592/unfinished-stories-the-art-of-stephen-groves

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Souris Plaindealer article

Late Artist to be Honoured by Friends, Family in Book

Friendships that start in childhood and withstand the test of time are not unusual, however, one that has extended beyond the passing of one friend might be.  Such friends – the late Stephen Arnett Groves and T. Keith Edmunds – had a bond that transcended the usual. After years of hanging out in Souris, they created a few stories together. Today, Keith is paying homage to his childhood friend, the co-creator of their online comic strip Dumb Guys, and the artist whose wealth of work had not yet been presented to the world.

“Steve was a fantastic, talented artist who never got the audience he deserved in life. With the help of his family, I’m hoping to put together a book so that more people can enjoy his art,” said Edmunds, who has started a Kickstarter project to see this dream to fruition. “Being an artist is often a solitary endeavour and selling one’s work can be daunting. Steve’s greatest hurdle was the business of comic art in that he was forever inventing, creating, drawing, but not necessarily reaching out and selling his amazing work.”

Originally from Souris, Groves attended the Alberta College of Art and Design for a few years, before starting a freelance career. He returned to live in Brandon in the early 2000s. His driving force was on his own imagination, his own characters and scenarios and his own projects, including the newspaper strip The Grove, which appeared in the Wheat City Journal from 2005 to 2007. He is remembered fondly by well-known comic book artist and writer Kaare Andrews, who was his college roommate. The two shared a passion for comics.

“There was only one other guy at Art School that would gush over comics the way I did. We were brothers in arms, taking on the post-modernist artistic ideology with our shared love of fantastical stories in comics,” said Andrews. “After those two years–more in the middle of them, really–we both dropped out of the same art school that John Byrne and Joni Mitchell once dropped out of, and we moved away. But somehow we managed to keep in touch for all these years. These small co-conspirators in our lives leave a mark (and) in some way, (Steve) will always be a part of my work in comics.  His was a talent that left this world too soon.”

Another long-time Souris friend, film composer Jeff Tymoschuk recalls with fondness his teen years spent with Groves and their tightknit group of friends. An admirer of Groves’ talent, he also feels that the world has lost a unique artistic voice.

“Steve was one of the most creatively gifted people I’ve ever met, in addition to being an excellent artist he was a storyteller, a singer, a songwriter, and a drummer.  He was good enough at them all to have headed down any one of those other paths, but drawing was his first love, and that’s what he stuck with,” said Tymoschuk, who is now based in Vancouver. “Like many creative types, the big problem with having a million ideas is that it’s often less enjoyable to finish with one than starting on the next, hence this book.  His life had many bumps in the road along the way, but through it all his work kept a sense of whimsy and magic, his characters always with a smile, a quizzical look, or a wisecrack. This book is a story of untapped potential, but more than that it’s a celebration of the joy found in the pursuit of the Next Big Idea.”

Local teacher and writer, Joanne F. Villeneuve collaborated with Groves on a children’s book entitled Akiak and the Sky Jewels. She was pleasantly surprised at how he perfectly interpreted the characters of her story, which has been shared digitally at several school assemblies.

“I had never worked with a visual artist before, and it was such a positive experience. He truly brought my tale to life. He really got the message, the feelings I was trying to convey. The students respond really well to the images, which are at once endearing and whimsical, but done in Steve’s own contemporary comic style,” said Villeneuve. “I really appreciate what he brought to the project and I so wish we could create a follow-up story.”

The Kickstarter project aims to gather support for a book that will focus on Groves’ art – his characters, storylines and ideas. During his life, his family was a constant support and is enthusiastic of this endeavour.

“It means the world to his mom and his family to see Stephen’s dreams coming to life with this book,” said Erin Groves, one Groves’ sisters. “It breaks our hearts that he was never able to achieve his true potential in life, but this will finally show everyone what he could never admit: He was an amazing artist, and his passion needs to be shared with the world.”

The deadline to participate in this project is Saturday, March 31. For more information about this Kickstarter project, please visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/115465592/unfinished-stories-the-art-of-stephen-groves

The Dumb Guys Strip – An Even Briefer History

I’m not going to get into the history of the real Dumb Guys or really anything about the guys at all, other than to say the Dumb Guys strip is based very loosely on real people.  The real Dumb Guys.

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The Dumb Guys (2005)

This was the original doodle of the Dumb Guys that started the ball rolling on the Dumb Guys strip.  The caricatures above gave rise to the idea that Steve should do an on-going Dumb Guys web comic.  Who came up with the idea first, it’s hard to say.  It’s one of those key pieces that are lost to time.  In 2009, however, Steve and I had a healthy email exchange underway about personalities and motivations and back stories and lots and lots of art that would never be used for anything.

Nonetheless, the idea had come to be.

And, in time, so did the strip.

The real Dumb Guys disappeared from the story, but their images more or less stuck around.

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Dumb Guys web comic promo art (2010)

Some of the characters’ appearances changes more than others, and they all received new names.  From left to right, we have Scott, Art, Owen, and Tommy.  By this point, they had become fully developed individuals in their own right.

I wrote a few comic strip scripts, Steve wrote a few others, and he spent no small amount of time drawing and redrawing the strips.

Steve and I acquired a domain name (www.dumbguysonline.com, which is no longer ours and I take no responsibility for what might find there), and by 2010 we had several strips ready.  On January 1, 2011, the Dumb Guys webcomic started being posted on an almost regular schedule.

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The first Dumb Guys webcomic (2011)

By early 2012, the Dumb Guys comic was being updated more and more infrequently.  The last comic was posted on April 21, 2012.  In total, 58 strips were posted.

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The last Dumb Guys webcomic (2012)

During this period, a number of the strips that had originally appeared on the website were printed, with permission, in the Ontarion — the University of Guelph’s student newspaper.

By mid-2012, Steve had become unhappy with the design of the entire website and his energies went into learning how to redesign the site, including development of logos and icons and more promo material and all manner of other busyness.  A newly redesigned site would occasionally emerge, but no new strips were forthcoming.

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Steve being self-aware – Puck and Tommy (2013)

In late 2013, the Dumb Guys project had been reimagined as a full-length graphic novel.  A script was completed and work began on the book.  Steve put a lot of time into developing locations and deciding on fonts and color palettes and all sorts of other things that he found very exciting.

While puttering away on the Dumb Guys project, Steve continued to work on other creative projects.  This meant that the Dumb Guys was sometimes put on the backburner for months at a time, with the odd piece suddenly appearing on his social media feeds or his friends’ emails.

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“Dumb Guys Scrapbook” (2017)

In April 2017, Steve completed a 5-page Dumb Guys mini-comic he had written.

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A very small version of the mini-comic, entitled “2z a Crowd” (2017).  I will post a larger version once I can find it!

To my knowledge, this mini-comic was the last Dumb Guys art Steve completed.