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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Little Q And A With The Dude

Steve Rude is a long-time fan favorite in the world of comic books. His clean, smooth style is as distinctive as that of any artist in the business. Highly evocative and action-oriented, he has successfully wielded his talent in conveying everything from tender moments between lovers to the knock-down, drag-out slugfests of various costumed capers. We at Four Color Commentary appreciate his willingness to add yet one more thing to his busy schedule: Answering the questions of fanboys-at-heart. - Mark Allen


Mark: So, when did you start drawing?

Steve: I started drawing in Kindergarten (a German word, I discovered, when I went to Germany for a show) It was the usual fare of dinosaurs and cartoon characters and some of my favorite animals. But I never seemed interested in tanks or cars, like some other kids drew.

Mark: Artistically, who have been your biggest influences?

Steve: My biggest influences have been Jack Kirby, Andrew Loomis, and Alex Toth's work on his Superhero shows back in the 60's. Toth's actual comic-book work I've always found somehow lacking with me.

Mark: What single creation would you say you have received the most acclaim for?

Steve: That would be Nexus. But I would like to make the Moth an equally dynamic read. With our circus setting, we have an endless array of fascinating characters and bizarre situations to explore. More Moth issues coming out in '07!

Mark: Artistically, what has been your most satisfying/rewarding project or experience? How about from a monetary standpoint?

Steve: Well, working on World's Finest with Batman and Superman, is probably the only thing that ever netted me any mentionable royalties. Most artistically satisfying?-- at Marvel it was probably the Spider-Man mini-series. At DC, it was no doubt World's Finest or the Mister Miracle book Mark Evanier wrote, or even the Jimmy Olsen special we did years later. Jack Kirby had an existing plot for that story that he jotted down somewhere, and from that Mark extrapolated a stunning and emotional story from that simple outline.

Mark: With your newest creation, “The Moth,” you have been as much writer as artist; when did you FIRST begin cutting your “writing teeth?” Was it on Nexus?

Steve: I guess it would've started on Nexus, when I began submitting plot ideas to Baron and he would turn them into fully-realized stories. A germ of an idea is all it took.--usually taken from the current headlines. It's not hard to find people worthy of execution there. With the Moth, I developed the story background mostly on my own, and once that was established, Gary Martin and I got on the phone and we started throwing all these idea's back and forth, which was a lot of fun. I also act as story editor and will often do outlines to suggest future Moth stories.

Mark: There is sometimes a stigma about “artists who write.” Is that how you consider yourself, or do you simply think of yourself as a creative individual, getting ideas down on paper, whether it’s writing or drawing?

Steve: Most creative people can put on many hats, but I don't think writing per se is something that I'd want to do. It's more fun just to think up the ideas, and then let someone else sweat out the final script. I'm more an idea man with stories than anything else.

Mark: Over the last few years, you’ve had the opportunity to handle some of Marvel’s most well-known properties. What were the best and worst aspects of working for Marvel? Would you be willing to do more limited series?

Steve: The best and worst aspects of working for Marvel is some of the ideas that they thought would "improve" their books; From taking out page numbers so no one knew what page they were on, to instigating ridiculous and disingenuous PC regulations like "No one can ever be seen smoking in a Marvel Comic again."

Things were more creatively healthy at Marvel 20 years ago , and in the 60's and 70's when artists and writers were more out to just have a good time without wisdomless editors questioning their every move. The more corporate an institution--the more full of themselves people seem to become.

The best thing about Marvel, (there were a few!) was just working on characters that I've loved throughout the years.

Mark: When did you first “hatch” the idea of Rude Dude Comics?

Steve: The idea of Rude Dude Comics came about after (my wife) Gino and I were returning from a doctor's visit. After Dark Horse had cancelled the Moth, I sought out other independent publishers, ultimately, to no avail. As time passed with no results imminent, I realized I had to do this myself. No overhead, a smart, streamlined staff of my choosing, and not having to rely on some corporation's bookkeeper to know if I was being paid right. Dark Horse was the worst when it comes to paying on time and doing a competent job of it. I won't miss working with their financial types. By contrast, the editors and other staff at D.H. are exceptional people. I will miss working with them.

Mark: Mike Baron recently announced on his website that there would be no new Nexus projects in the foreseeable future. How does this affect Rude Dude Comics?

Steve: Nexus was intended to be our flagship title from Rude Dude, though it originally began as a publishing vehicle solely for the Moth. However, we still have endless ideas in our heads to keep it different and always entertaining.

Mark: Watch this, because I’m going to give you the opportunity to score big-time points: How indispensable is your wife, Jaynelle, to the operations of the Fan Club, Ebay store, website, etc.?

Steve: Without Jaynelle, there would be none of this; no Steve Rude booth in San Diego, no website, no sales from e-bay auctions, and no publishing company. She does this while maintaining another full-time job and being a mom to our 2 kids. She has to work long into the night to make sure things go out on time to all the fans who have ordered things from us, and walks around in a perpetual state of fatigue. I'm always amazed at her energy and discipline level. It far outshines my own. I help her as often as I can, but that's just the way our life is right now. Maybe when the kids are older she can finally sleep for a full 8 hours.

Mark: Lastly, why do you suppose so many people who enjoy the comics section of their newspaper would never consider picking up a comic book?

Steve: It might be a matter of convenience (or laziness) in that comic strips come free with the paper. You might as well read them, if the enlightenment of reading the world's daily disasters happen to make your ulcer kick in.

Also, the average person is not exactly hooked into the comic fandom scene. They don't know what's out there because none of the periodicals they read ever advertise them. Outta sight, outta mind.