Stacy E. Walker has done a lot of modeling for artists. She's appeared on book covers and has worked with video game and animation companies. Her best known gigs, though, are with Heavy Metal. Walker has graced the cover of the renowned science-fiction and fantasy magazine a whopping twelve times, having posed for artists like Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell and Alex Horley. Several statues have been made in her likeness. She's also appeared on a number of Heavy Metal posters and t-shirts.
Wednesday night, Walker appeared at Meltdown Comics for Heavy Metal's 35th anniversary, part of the "Lost Angeles: 35 Days with Kevin Eastman" event. I met up with her during the party to ask about her career.
How did you first start modeling?
I was a professional dancer and I kept being told that I was 'too ethnic' and I needed to find something else to do that I loved, so I started modeling for romance covers. I wanted to do more sci-fi and somebody took me to a sci-fi convention and I started working with those artists. I grew up on comic books and I always wanted to be an action figure. This is how I was able to do that.
What was your first experience with Heavy Metal?
Comic-Con. They kept asking artists to submit sketches and, after a while, they realized that it's always the same person. They said, this girl really represents and evokes what Heavy Metal is all about. So, they invited me to come to Comic-Con and sign in the booth. It was just an eye-opener because people couldn't believe that I existed. That's what got my marketing career going, so I could take this to another level and brand myself and what I do.
How does it work when you're modeling for sci-fi and romances? Do artists photograph you first or do you go for long sittings?
All artists work differently. Most illustrators do work from photography, only because sometimes it just takes too long or that's what they're used to. There are a few who want to get sketches and then they'll go back and fill it in after that.
Romance was always photography. A lot of time, those guys would just paint on top of the photos because they had to get it done so fast.
When you're working with an artist, what kind of characters do you portray? Do they have something in mind? Do you have something in mind?
Generally, they know what they want. A lot of times, they will send me a sketch or a thumbnail first, so I can go in there prepared. I bring whatever props or costuming I can bring and really try to help the artist tell their story. I think of myself as a collaborator and it's my job to help you evoke that character and bring that life into your painting.
Do you have certain characters that you like to portray?
It runs the gamut. I really love any kind of sword and sorcery, any sort of really high, intense fantasy. I also love anything with pulp or film noir-related. Those are probably my two favorite things, as well as classic pin-up.
What goes into your career from a business perspective? How much do you have to put into marketing yourself and the day-to-day business?
It never stops. When I decided that I really wanted to put myself out there and let people know what I do, it became 24/7. Right now, I'm building a whole new website because I'm modeling so much more for video games and animation studios out here. That's a whole other thing to add.
You have to be constantly contacting people and people are always contacting me. It never stops. It's 24/7. I go out and I do shows.
This is what I love to do and I'm going to try to do it for as long as I can, until hopefully someone really lets me be a character in a movie. I've got a few things on the table now that I'm going to try to pitch and sell myself, so, fingers crossed.