Steven Pass: The man behind The Troubadour’s Rhodeway comics


Featured on the second page of Franciscan University’s bi-monthly print edition of The Troubadour is some of the newspaper’s most unique content, namely, the work of cartoonist Steven Pass.

Pass has been illustrating the Rhodeway comics for The Troubadour since he was himself a Franciscan student in 2012. He is currently a student at St. Cloud Technical & Community College in Minnesota.

The construction process for comic strips is one that develops in stages, said Pass.

“First I brainstorm, just coming up with ideas,” he said.

Those ideas come from all aspects of Pass’ life, scenarios that he said “either made me laugh, cringe, or anything that happens to me or to a family member or a friend.”

Incomplete ideas, said Pass, are often shelved in favor of guaranteed comedy.

“A lot of times I have to overshoot my humor, something where I think it’s really very funny, because I’ll get a decent reaction to it,” he said. “It’s always hit or miss.”

Inevitably, from those ideas Pass chooses certain concepts above others.

“I come up with a lot more ideas than I actually draw,” he said. “The typical four-panel comic strips for The Troubadour typically take me about four hours to finish,” in an application process Pass said was a time-consuming endeavor.

Pass’ illustration regulations are constricted by his time and taste, he said. He acknowledged the difference between his illustration process and those of other artists.

“A lot of cartoonists that draw for other newspapers can do it a lot faster than me because they’re on a contract, and they have a quota to meet,” said Pass. “I’m more for quality over quantity. I take a little more time, put a little more into them.”

So far as taste is concerned, the parameters that Pass establishes for himself are the same moral guidelines that Franciscan University embodies, he said.

“I stay away from dirty humor,” he said. “It’s horribly exhausted these days. I don’t want my cartoons to be recognized for that, here or anywhere else.”

One of the many reasons why Pass enjoys illustrating cartoons is “trying to get people to laugh.”

Pass continued, “Like any artist I enjoy character development, character creation, kind of like writing a novel.”

Pass said he also finds himself hooked on the difficulty of creating unique, quality cartoons.

“I enjoy the challenge of drawing, whether it be trying to draw realism, scenery, background, or however it develops,” he said. “I like developing my own style that’s unique, that people distinguish from others.”

While his primary focus is the completion of his current associate of applied science (AAS) degree in surveying, Pass said that he would “always have cartooning as a hobby” and would “spring on the opportunity” to submit his work to a noted publication.

Regarding drawing for The Troubadour, Pass said, “I plan on drawing for the Troubadour as long as they want them. … I’m typically drawing cartoons anyway, so it’s no inconvenience for me, and it’s another way to get noticed.”