Meet Steve MacIsaac - the Maker behind Shirtlifter
A Long Beach resident since 2005, Steve MacIsaac’s comics explore contemporary gay culture, identity, and sexuality. MacIsaac has released six issues of his solo series SHIRTLIFTER as well as many comics anthologies, and he is working on a new book under the working title SIN ATAJOS.
Read his story below
How’d you get your start?
I've been a wannabe cartoonist practically since birth -- my earliest memories are of drawing on my parents wallpaper. And later, like most teenagers I became very self-conscious about my drawing, I became more focused on writing. In college my primary creative vehicle was theatre, but I struggled with finding anything interesting to say. It wasn't until I came out of the closet in my late 20s and re-engaged with comics that I found my creative voice, mostly due to my trying to figure out how to navigate gay culture, which I felt very outside of; ironically I also felt very outside of straight culture, and wasn't sure I belonged anywhere.
As I continued to work and became comfortable being both part of and apart from gay culture, my work became increasingly about exploring and documenting contemporary gay male life, both its celebratory moments and its darker consequences.
My comics are essentially my process of negotiating gay culture, both sexually and socially.
How do you envision your brand growing in the future?
Recently I have been designing a lot of T-shirts. Originally these images came directly from my comics but more and more I am designing shirts as their own thing. I find I enjoy the process, trying to figure out an image that will work with a limited color palette, leaning into the more graphic and stark elements of my process that "pop" on a shirt rather than the subtle and intricate drawing I sometimes get into.
Describe your perfect day out and about locally.
Favorite local eateries and drinkeries?
After starting the day with my morning bike ride along the Beach Bike Path (a daily ritual that has been essential to keeping my weight down during COVID), I would likely go to The Coffee Cup for a Chili Verde Omelette (out of this world) and then head over to the MOLAA, which has an amazing collection that I find inspiring. In the evening I might get some Lomo Saltado from Peruvian stalwarts El Pollo Imperial before I head to the Eagle 562 bar for a drink.
What holds more value for you: creativity or knowledge?
My art practice is nothing without knowledge; engagement with the world drives the stories I create. But my creativity allows me to tell stories that I think escape being dry and artless, give me a perspective and spin that makes my comics unique. It is the interplay between those two things, or in the case of my comics, between text and image, that keeps me interested.
One of the things I am happiest for in my life is to not buy into false binaries; I'm almost never on one end of the spectrum or the other on ANYthing, but live in the messy, messy middle.
If you could move to any other place in this or any universe where would you go?
I think living on a moon with very light gravity would be amazing, at least for a sabbatical. This might be due to my encroaching old age and creaky knees. But being able to, if not fly, then bounce really, really high would be incredibly cool.