By Stefanie Jackson – Stevon Sample is on the verge of realizing his dream of earning a living as a full-time artist, and he hopes others will be inspired by his story.
“If I can do it, you can do it” is the message he wants to send to Eastern Shore youth.
Sample is a Shore native who spent his early life in Machipongo and nearby Martins Siding.
Growing up wasn’t easy. He lived in an abusive situation until age 10, when he moved to Exmore to stay with his aunt, Lena Trower, who he calls his mom. Trower could be “strict” and “stern,” but he learned a lot from her and she “made me the man I am today,” Sample said.
She also “led me to Christ,” he said. Sample credits his faith as the guiding force in his life. “I believe in Jesus Christ … he made things happen (for me).”
Sample has forgiven his abuser and says, “Everything in life happens for a reason. … As you bless others, God will bless you.”
His faith sustained him when Trower, the “only mom I ever knew,” passed away in 2008 from complications of diabetes. Sample continued to live in their Exmore home.
There was a silver lining in the cloud that hung over his head after his aunt’s death – her memory inspired him “to go all the way” with his art career.
He started by drawing caricatures and comic book illustrations and working on graphic design, all in his spare time on weekends.
Then, in 2017, Sample faced another hardship – he was laid off from his job at a local manufacturer. He almost lost the house when his unemployment benefits ran out, but he didn’t give up. “I had to keep my faith up … keep pushing,” he said.
Now he feels like he’s financially stable enough that he can take on his art full time.
Sample has a diversified portfolio, but his passion is illustrating and writing comic books.
When he makes his art career his “9-to-5” job within the next month or two, Sample plans to officially introduce Alexandria, the empowered black female protagonist of the comic series of the same name, the first offering from Victory Comics, the independent label he created to publish Christian and inspirational stories.
The character Alexandria and the hardships she faces are based on Sample’s personal experiences, he said.
He aims for his characters to appear more realistic than abstract because he wants to create “something people can relate to.”
Sample breaks away from the norm by outlining his drawings in ink pen and filling them in with colored pencil instead of the using the traditional tools of comic creators, such as ink brushes and watercolors.
He plans to publish a second independent label, Dominion Comics, featuring a variety of original superheroes and villains, following the traditions set by major companies like Marvel and D.C., famous for Spiderman, Superman, Batman, and a host of others.
Sample has been drawing cartoons ever since he was a “little kid,” but it wasn’t until he was saved that he saw “potential and purpose” in his talent, he said.
In a twist of fate, he won the computer software he uses to create his comics at a raffle held by his former employer.
The software program helps him make everything he produces look professional and ready to leave a “global impact,” Sample said.
He currently works from home but hopes to have his own office one day.
Following the grand re-opening of his business, he expects to release a new issue from each of his comic labels every one or two months, available both in print and in digital format.
Sample will continue to offer other services such as graphic design. He can be found doing sketches at the El Maguey restaurant in Exmore twice a week.
For more information on artist Stevon Sample, find him on Facebook or contact him at 757-607-6840.