Stephen R. Bissette earned kudos, awards, and scars working 24 years in the comicbook industry. He graduated in 1978 as a member of the pioneer class of The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon & Graphic Art, Inc. in Dover, NJ and subsequently made his mark as a cartoonist, writer, editor, publisher, and co-publisher, won many industry awards, and remains best-known for Saga of the Swamp Thing, Taboo, ’1963,’ Tyrant, and more.
While working in comics, Bissette co-created the character of John Constantine, played by Keanu Reeves in the recent feature film Constantine; via Taboo, he was the first editor/publisher of Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie‘s graphic novel Lost Girls and Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s serialized graphic novel From Hell, which was also adapted into a feature film (starring Johnny Depp); and he worked briefly on Mirage Studios’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — the character ‘Tokka’ which appeared in the second TMNT feature film, TMNT: Secret of the Ooze, was based upon his drawings.
He drew the world’s second ‘24-Hour Comic,’ invented by Scott McCloud as a challenge for Bissette.
He retired from the American comics industry in 1999, but he’s still a busy fellow. Since 1990, Bissette has illustrated numerous books by authors like Joseph A. Citro, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Winter, Joe Lansdale, Rick Hautala, Christopher Golden, Nancy Collins, Matt Spencer, and others. Primary among these are his collaborations with fellow Vermonter Joe Citro on The Vermont Ghost Guide (2000) and their latest, The Vermont Monster Guide (October 2009).
He painted the cover art for the Barrel Entertainment DVD release of Last House on Dead End Street; edited, co-illustrated, co-authored and packaged “The Jersey Devil” minicomic for Heretic‘s DVD release of Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler‘s The Last Broadcast; and he and his son Daniel drew a faux-Christian comic tract that plays a key narrative role in Lance Weiler‘s feature Head Trauma (2006, also available on DVD from Heretic). Independent filmmaker Christopher P. Garetano recently adapted Bissette’s original Goreshriek comic story “Cottonmouth” into the short film Cottonmouth, which debuted online on Halloween, 2008.
Bissette recently returned to comics (but not the US comics industry) via a collaborative piece with his son Daniel in the Accent UK anthology Zombies (spring 2007), and has also contributed new comics stories to anthologies like Sundays #1, Dead Man’s Hand, Secrets & Lies, Westerns and others.
His papers are now in the Special Collections of HUIE Library at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The Stephen R. Bissette Collection was opened to the public in November 2004.
As a writer, Bissette‘s fiction work includes the Stoker Award-winning novella Aliens: Tribes, short fiction for Words Without Pictures, Hellboy: Odd Jobs, Working for the Man, Sex Crimes, and more. His newest short story “Copper” appears in The New Dead (February 2010; he also collaborated with cartoonist/digital artist Cayetano ‘Cat’ Garza, Jr. on the cover art and color interior illustrations for the Subterranean Press signed-and-limited edition).
His published non-fiction efforts include We Are Going To Eat You! The Third World Cannibal Movies (a revised and expanded edition is now in progress for publication by UK-based FAB Press) and co-authoring Comic Book Rebels, The Monster Book: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and most recently Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman (St. Martin’s Press, 2008).
His essays have appeared in Cut: Horror Writers on Horror Films, The BFI Companion to Horror, Underground USA, Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman, Horror: Another Best 100 Books, and No Such Things as a Free Ride?. He has written for numerous film magazines and fanzines since 1988, including Deep Red, The Video Watchdog, Fangoria, Gorezone, Euro-Trash Cinema, Ecco, Film Threat, Onscreen and others. He also wrote the liner notes for the Synapse DVD release of Radley Metzger’s The Image. Stephen edits, packages, and writes for Green Mountain Cinema; and is currently at work on Moving Mountains, a book-length study of Vermont films and filmmakers. His genre-related essays, interviews, and articles are being collected into the book series Gooseflesh: The Secret Histories of the Horror Film. He enjoyed a two-year stint writing a weekly video review column for two New England newspapers. The “Video Views” were recently collected by Black Coat Press into the four-volume book series S.R. Bissette’s Blur.
Bissette has worked as a tutor, educator, and lecturer since 1990. He has worked with and/or lectured at Yale, Dartmouth College, Duquesne University, Smith College, Marlboro College, Middlebury College and many others; and was a guest author at the prestigious Breadloaf Young Writers Workshop in Middlebury, VT.
From 1998-2005, he co-managed First Run Video in Brattleboro, VT, which won the national VSDA Award for Outstanding Independent Video Store of 2002. He was also an active participant in the independent retailer organization the New England Buying Group (now National Entertainment Buying Group) from 2000-2004. He is now on the Board of Directors of WRIF (White River Independent Film) and consultant for The Center for Digital Art in Brattleboro, VT.
He is currently teaching at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT, and has been since the Center opened its doors in the fall of 2005. CCS celebrated its first graduation the spring of 2007.
He lives and works in Vermont with his wife Marjory.