Joshua “Sway” Swaby Is Bringing Fashion To Comics With ‘Swayoncé’

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Joshua “Sway” Swaby is already well known for his work on covers for DC and Marvel that combine fashion and superheroics — but with Swayoncé, a new collection now crowdfunding on Zoop, it was his chance to really cut loose.

“There is nothing so extreme in the book, it is more tasteful but still brings that fashion-esque that is the majority of my work,” Swaby told Comic Book Club over email. “This book is really me showcasing what I love, ideas and concepts I did on my own or with clients who commission me.”

Read on for more on Swaby, as well as a preview of the stunning work in the collection.

Comic Book Club: This is the second edition of this book… Is there anything you tweaked or changed for the Zoop campaign?

Joshua “Sway” Swaby: There are just additional new pages in the book. I’m also tweaking some design aspects but it will be just as the same but more pages bc there was work and ongoing work I wanted to add from the book but didn’t from the first version. 

Talk about your process a bit. When you’re tackling fashion-focused designs here, do you start with fashion references? Comic book references? Neither?

It can be both … When I tackle a character that I don’t know or know but with little understanding of them, I do research and see who they are and where I can give my take on it. When it came to doing sequence of variant covers , ex. Catwoman cover, the last two covers I did of here I wanted to explore her without the mask and more of her identity as this cat thief. So, I put her in custom couture because I made up my mind how Selina would camouflage into rich/luxurious parties to ambush into. With her character she a femme fatale so her wardrobe would be sleek and sensual, Mugler and Versace were the two fashion designs I was looking into for her because I know that would be something she would be in awe of wearing. 

Comic book characters — or at least superheroes — are so tied to their costumes… How far can you push a fashion-forward design before you lose the character entirely?

Well it all about the identity of the character, what iconic from them? What is something that you can bring from their old designs? Should I add or leave out that part of the design and bring something new ?…. There is a lot that goes into that thought process etc. Sometimes I feel like I’m tailoring the designs within the cover or commissions I’m given because I’m looking more at how that character would stand out individually than others . Fashion is about bringing personality within u , what symbolizes who and what u are and with characters I draw .. it’s important to embrace and explore those things.

The art I’ve seen from the book definitely seems more provocative than some of your cover work… Was this a chance to cut loose?

It was ! There is nothing so extreme in the book, it is more tasteful but still brings that fashion-esque that is the majority of my work. This book is really me showcasing what I love, ideas and concepts I did on my own or with clients who commission me.

Here’s the world’s stupidest question: why Beyoncé specifically as the influence on the title?

Well… I didn’t want the book to be another “The Art Of..” title since I feel it has been used a lot. I wanted this title to be something that stops your tracks and makes you say “Swayonce????…..” and appeal to you to give a look. Beyonce is a cultural icon , someone I looked up to as a kid to now and her name withholds a lot of power. It also holds a sense of symbolism to her name within the artistry and who she is , confidence , fierceness , boldness . I guess or at least hope my art gives off. I always wanted my work to give off power and movement that has a sense of flamboyance and drama that I hope people who view it are inspired.  It was also nitched that my small group of friends would call me by and I sometimes played around with parts of people’s first names ending with -once  because it was fun. The title wasn’t my first thought at all but it was something I kept coming back to and I said  to myself “You know what?….Yeah.. lets do something grand with this one” lol.

You include commissions in here. Just curious from a logistics stand-point, do you arrange in advance with the folks who do the commissions that you’re allowed to include the work here? Or, how does that work?

Yes when working with clients on doing commissions I will tell them before, during the process, or the end of the piece if it is okay to use the work done for them to include in the book. So far with my clients I have worked with there okay with it , knowing these works are digital there solely and only want that work be with them and not have multiple copies being sold. Which is why with these digital commissions I make sure I send them the HQ file and TIFF file with all the layers so they see the process when I work on the piece and I would delete the file on my laptop. 

Most (perhaps all?) of your work is covers… Do you have any interest in interiors, or is covers where you passion lies?

No…. interest in interiors right now. I’ve done some much of it during my years in college. It burnt me out. I had  been thinking a lot about it recently because people have asked and actually a few months back I’d sent samples to an editor for a company, I then regretted sending it and realized I wasn’t ready . I think I’ll explore interiors and storytelling on my own with my own story when I’m ready and when I have the mental stability to really go through that art form again. Do I have a story to tell? Yes, but I think I want to keep growing my audience with my cover and other avenues I’m interested in to take on 

Swayoncé is live on Zoop now. Check out some additional images from the collection, below:

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