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Conversing on Comics with Steve Rude

When Steve Rude made his comics debut in 1981, you could almost hear a sigh in comic shops nationwide as readers first witnessed his skills. In his creator-owned Nexus (with writer Mike Baron), Rude showed a timeless pop-art mastery of the human form that combined the kinetic energy of Jack Kirby with the shape of classic Renaissance artists. Over the years he’s been lured from time to time into doing work-for-hire for DC Comics and Marvel, but it’s Nexus that has been the backbone of Rude’s professional career. After a brief attempt at self-publishing Nexus in the mid-2000s, Rude and Baron  returned to their previous publisher Dark Horse to continue their epic story, with new Nexus adventures debuting earlier this year in Dark Horse Presents.

But while Nexus might be Rude’s magnum opus, it isn’t his only passion. A few years back he challenged himself to learn classical painting, and he’s incorporated that into his breadth of work while teaching others in a series of intensive workshops. The artist continues to be prolific on the comics art market, doing a number of original commissions, from sketches to fully painted pieces, for fans. He’s maintained an active presence online, posting frequently on his blog and on his Facebook page and showing off a number of original pieces that never see print.

I spoke with Rude late last month by phone, and what I wanted to talk to him about wasn’t Nexus or whatever new comic cover he’s doing next, but rather what’s behind the art — and inside his head. He’s well known for expressing his opinions and standing up where others might back down for a freelance assignment, and is the single comic creator I know of whose first professional comics work — in his case, Nexus — is still his signature work and something he does to this day. People are talking a lot today about creator-owned comics, and Steve Rude’s been doing it for more than 30 years.

Chris Arrant: Let’s start with an easy one, Steve: What are you working on today?

Steve Rude: Well, I’m working on trying to solve a problem that has been fairly ongoing for me recently: I seem to be shaken in my confidence for capturing people’s likenesses on canvas. This has been going on for about a year now. I haven’t lost anything with my graphic sense as far has holding a pencil, but when it comes to paint I’m having trouble. I’ve been trying to apply it in a non-linear way; masking shapes, color and value. I’m having the darnedest time trying to control the paint to get likenesses down for portraits

Aside from that, I’m starting on all different kinds of work. Today I’m probably going to do a few commissions and do a couple things in my sketchbook.

It seems you’re always striving not just to be great, but to be perfect in your eye.

I’m never perfect, but I’m always trying to fine-tune things. In comics, the process of creating art is like sitting in a car and trying to turn on the engine and aiming to get it cranked up high enough to perform the duties you’re called to do. Graphic storytelling is a creative challenge; in order to get things out of your brain and onto the page you have to, in effect, summon them and make sure it lives up to the vision in your head. I’ve found my way to get to that level, and the key is just being able to go back to it. That doesn’t mean it comes easy.

Unlettered page from the recent NEXUS story from Dark Horse Presents.

I can’t name one cartoonist — not even in newspaper strips – that’s been fortuitous enough that their first published work would become their hallmark and been able to return to it for years like it has been for you with Nexus; not Kirby, not Lee, not Eisner, not even Sickles, Schulz or anyone else. What’s it like for you that your first published work is still your most popular work, and you’re still working on Nexus over 30 years later?

You put me in some pretty good company, Chris. Those are all people I revere, and I revere them for doing a lifetime of good deeds through their work. I have one very deep philosophical credo that runs through my head when I do my work: “never sell your soul to the world of people who may not care anything about you.”

Your soul is the only thing you have in like that people can’t take from you. People can take everything else: food, lodging, the means to support yourself and your family, everything. Anything material in this world is fleeting, but souls stick with you. I’ve always felt that if I’m true to myself and my soul, then I’ll be okay. I know what I’m here to do, so its simply a matter of me sticking to it and walking that path; that’s what I’ve been put here to do.

Pretty heavy stuff for a guy who just draws all day, huh? [laughs]

Yeah.

I do a lot of thinking while I’m sitting at the drawing board. And the material I read in my spare time factors into that too. I’m currently reading Nightworld by F. Paul Wilson, one of his Repairman Jack novels. Wilson’s a former doctor; I think he might still practice. Anyway, the book is about the end of the world and how humanity is dealing with it. Basically everyone runs to the hills, except a select group of people with Marine-like tenacity for life and fight to keep civil society going.

Speaking of fighting the fight, unlike a majority of other comic creators out there, you’ve kept your independent spirit alive while still doing work-for-hire from time to time. You’ve seen creator-owned comics ebb and flow over the years, so what’s the current comics climate look like from your vantage point?

Well, I’m probably not the best-qualified person to make an accurate assessment of that. I don’t read comics nowadays, ever since the dark trend of the early ’90s that has continued fairly unabated. I completely disapprove of this way of storytelling, taking the best of what humanity has to offer and shoving it down in the ground to such a low level. Even the art, it’s embalmed in dark colors that resembles nothing of the great comics which came before. The optimism that first drew me to comics isn’t there anymore.

People of my generation, they grew up with comics with nice colors and a heroic mythos, but that’s kind of been put in the backseat with darker tendencies taking the wheel. When I talk to other people like me, they have a fairly similar opinion. There’s just not a significant number of comics for people like us anymore.

Now having said all that, I still sometimes see some swells of optimism in comics with people with individual visions. They believe the same things I do, and they give it their best shot. That’s what we did for Nexus, and we still see people making that valiant attempt today.

I don’t know where comics are going. I’m not going to live forever, and nobody knows where comics will be down the road. Comic books themselves might last, or they might be replaced by something else – the way action comic strips were phased out in favor of comic books.

Here’s a good analogy: Back in the 1960s, illustrators banked their entire future on providing art for magazines, and suddenly found themselves out of work. For them it was the darkest period of their lives — they looked at the years of training they invested in and believed in, and the market dissipated. They didn’t know that was coming. No one could have expected that. To ride it through you have to have a personal set of beliefs to guide you through life, and the ability to roll with the punches.

If any publisher were ever to call me to do a comic that was dark and bloody, I’d tell them to go to hell. There’s 5,000 other guys out there who would do it, but not me. Even though Nexus walks the line, it does it tastefully. When you look at Nexus, it’s far from hopeless in its outlook. When your eyes see it, you can soak up from a few words and a few panels what the overall trajectory of Nexus is. Maybe they’ll like it, maybe they’ll keep reading.

In the trailer for the upcoming documentary about you and your work, your wife brings up an interesting point about how your quest for perfection in your work is a both a boon and a curse for you, leading you to sometimes labor on something when others might wrap it up and move on to the next thing. What’s going on inside your mind when you’re working on a piece and you get to that point where it’s good … but not good enough yet?

It’s very much a process going on in my mind when I’m producing a piece of work. It’s a basic part of my personality, and it’s something people are either born with or they’re not. It ties in with something I refer to as “temperament.” Temperament determines how you approach things and how you react to them as they react to you. It determines what you’ll settle for, and what you strive for.

Life’s all about coming up against barriers and deciding how to handle them. I’ve done many pieces of artwork where I’ve never been able to complete them to my satisfaction. As an artist or as a person, there’s always obstacles in your way; it’s up to you to find a way to confront them. Whether it’s jumping over it, sliding under it, skipping it or breaking through it with a proverbial sledgehammer, you have to find a way to deal with these things. What approach you take determines what kind of person you are.

My way is to either slam away at it with your fists and smash through it or do what I learned from Jack Kirby’s character Metron from the original New Gods series. In one scene, Jack showed Lightray just moments away from being killed by the Black Racer. Kirby described the Black Racer as the personification of death, and despite all of Lightray’s awesome powers he failed at fending him off. At the last possible moment, Metron steps in and diverted the Black Racer and saved Lightray. Metron explained to Lightray that the experience he just had was a very harrowing  one, and that if he’d thought through it more coolly he would have been able to overcome it on his own. From that single scene, I learned one of life’s great truths: If you can’t hammer through something, there’s always another way. There are a thousand potential solutions to every problem  you will ever come up against, and how to overcome it depends on how you think.

Where would you say your high standards of quality and craftsmanship come from? Your parents?

Well, my mom was someone I looked up to most when I was growing up. My dad was the typical father from that period, one that didn’t see the need to talk about feelings. I’m precisely the opposite, as you can probably tell by now. Overall, I had nice, normal parents and an idyllic childhood. When comics entered the picture, they taught me things about life, truth and how to conduct yourself as a person. In the 60s comics weren’t as ugly as they are now; they were optimistic vehicles that transported you to fantasy worlds where people strove to be the best they can be. Heroes never had it easy, and every issue they were confronted with a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Thinking back to New Gods, that showed that having superpowers doesn’t necessarily make life easier; in fact, it might make it harder. But going through these trials and having to face these obstacles is what mortal life is all about. No one ever escapes this, no matter how strong or weak, how rich or how poor. Life is always hitting you, but what’s inside yourself determines how you fight back.

As I alluded to earlier, you’ve done work for DC and Marvel but only on small prestige projects. And I know a couple years back you were talking to DC about doing some new work but an agreement couldn’t be reached. What are your thoughts on DC and Marvel – is there still something there you’d like to do?

At this point I’m primarily focused on Nexus, the documentary, commissions, classes and doing what I can to keep myself fresh and trim as an artist. The DC situation you refer to was simply a matter of people at DC not having the courtesy to get back to me. I wrote letters to the top four guys there at the time, and never heard a single thing back. You can’t have a relationship when one side won’t even participate. That forced me to think about comics different, and led me to refocusing my sights. What I’m attempting to do now is to make a difference in comics. I’m trying to classically get back into the field, and doing that with Nexus. It feels good to get back into the pattern of storytelling. Getting back into Nexus comics makes my other big goal in life more front and center, as well.

And what’s that?

Getting Nexus on air as an animated television show. When I was growing up in the ’60s there were animated shows out like Jonny Quest and Space Ghost that changed lives, and Nexus could be that touchstone for today’s generation.

I remember that being talked about years ago, with you even producing a short demo reel. What’s the status on that project today?

That two-minute reel you referred to was originally produced because I wanted that proof of concept to show them how good it could be. Mike Baron had little to do with the animation; it was something I did primarily. It’s something I wanted to see so bad, something I believed in so much, that I was willing to go through the trials of creating it with very little money and paying people with commissions and original artwork to get it off the ground. The people that helped me were all angels; they really proved their loyalty to the goals by working with me on it for no money but for trade, showing me they believed in the project as much as I did.

After we created that two minute spec pilot of Nexus, we shopped it around but didn’t really get anywhere. At one point I made an open offer online to sell it, but I never had a single person call or write with a serious offer. That person is out there, somewhere, we just have to find them. Just because I haven’t met this person yet doesn’t mean they’re not out there. I try not to think negatively. I don’t focus on what I can’t do, I focus on what I can do. It’s all about me keeping at it.

Life has a strange sense of timing; it rewards some, but doesn’t others. I’m only 55, so I have more than few years left of high-level brain and body capacity. It’s a fallacy to say that teenagers are at the peak of human creativity. There are people who bloom later in life. Look at Jack Kirby. He endured some of comics’ greatest depressions, and rode it up to its greatest heights. In the 1950s and 1960s people were thinking comics were near extinction, but Kirby forged on. He was arguably at his artistic peak in the late 1960s when was in his 50s, drawing Marvel’s books and on to DC doing New Gods, which I consider his greatest personal work. I read the reasons why DC canceled New Gods prematurely back then, but I think that was one of the greatest travesties in the business – he may have had poor sales numbers, but sometimes you have to think past the first reports that come in. Look at how great Jack Kirby’s New Gods are now in retrospect, and just imagine what it would be if he’d been given the ability to finish it the way he wanted to.

Comics can be the the greatest medium for storytelling, as it combines words and art into one package. I’ve never read Shakespeare, because I don’t need to. If people consider the greatest stories ever told to be ones dealing with heart, then I read it reading Jack Kirby’s comics.

In recent years, you’ve pushed yourself into the fine art world with your painted works. What brought you down that path, and what’s that like compared to the grind of comics?

Well, one thing led to another, as life tends to do. I started delving into it after I began wanting to learn the foundations of what it means to be a good artist, a classical artist. Fine arts painting is about painting things sitting right in front of you, and being able to depict different light conditions, waterfalls, rocks, buildings, cars, anything. To me it was about returning to the ultimate basics: learning from life and painting from life. The things I learned were immense, and that led me to begin teaching so I could find a place to put all the knowledge that was pouring out of my head. It’s important to pass on what you’ve learned to others, as it gets back to what we were talking about before with obstacles. Through my classes I’m giving people tools to allow them to traverse those obstacles.

You came into comics following greats like Jack Kirby and Alex Raymond, but what about now? You said you don’t read new comics much, but we’re also in a time period where a number of classic comics are being reprinted and more widely available. What are you reading?

The odd thing about my forward progression with art is that I’m delving into past works by others more and seeing the roots of what’s popular today. You mentioned Hal Foster, and his Prince Valiant is perhaps the single greatest adventure story ever told. Roy Crane was another master, as was Alex Toth. Through their years of study, perseverance and hard work they discovered the real truth and beautify of telling stories with art.

From classic illustration to more cutting edge comics art, next week Leinil Yu comes to Conversing On Comics to talk about comics. In the expansive chat, we talk about his time at Marvel, is creator-owned work with Mark Millar, and what he would have done differently when he worked for DC. Come back next Friday!

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Comments

28 Comments

This was an excellent interview, managing to be both informative and thought-provoking. I would like to give Rude a copy of Waid’s Daredevil or All-Star Superman, though, to convince him that comics aren’t dead yet…

DeleteMyComment

August 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm

One or two examples in a sea of gritty comics are what they call “the exception that proves the rule”

DeleteMyComment

August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Besides, didn’t they just preview the cover up an upcoming issue of Waid’s Daredevil, that was blood red, and featured some super villain holding Daredevil’s decapitated head

One of my favorite characters and one of my favorite artists! Steve your work sings off the page and is light years head of 99% of the stuff being published today! Looking forward to more of your new Nexus! I can’t imagine that you don’t have dozens of offers every week.

You know I was a huge Steve Rude fan ages ago. Then one comic con in Toronto, Steve Rude was a guest. Went to the con, excited to meet him. I had a Nexus paperback and Steve Rude art book. When I met him, I have to say he lived up to his name, Rude. He asked if I had just bought the books at the con for him to sign. I told him I had bought the books when they came out.
That moment, I didn’t care what he did. I did not want anything from him.
Since then, I have not bought any Steve Rude comics. And in fact, I do not even own any of his work now.
Every artist/creator that I have liked and meet have been great. Except for Steve Rude.

Alex Raymond on Prince Valiant, really?

Great interview, by the way, thank you!

Aw, he really didn’t answer why he couldn’t do some work at Marvel. One thing to consider: the comics industry changed big time in the 90s when key creators chose to withhold their work from the mainstream in protesting the treatment of creators. This left a void filled by lesser talents that created a new standard, notably a more vicious, mean-spirted sort of heroic mythos. Creators like Steve do need to return to the mainstream in more prominence to enact the change returning to the nobler spirit once pursued and portrayed in classic comics, but a commitment from both creators and editors is needed to produce a more consistent product to make an impact, i.e. an artist on a book for more than a 4 issue storyline and less multi-part stories, period.

Delete:

Hey, you’re preaching to the choir about “the exception proves the rule.” I’m just saying that I think that, based on the success (commercially and critically) of those two comics, there is still definitely a place for the kind of comics Rude wants to read and the kind of comics I hope he will still continue to make.

I always thought it was Hal Foster who had created, written and drawn PRINCE VALIANT whilst Alex Raymond had created Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, Secret Agent X-9 and Rip Kirby … Can’t believe that Steve Rude didn’t know that … even a layman wouldn’t EVER mix-up Raymond and Foster…

Never been a fan……….comics arent finished……….

Knut Robert Knutsen

August 18, 2012 at 1:13 am

I wouldn’t simply assume that the Raymond/Prince Valiant gaffe was his, it might be an error in transcription. Cartainly something that the journalist should have been aware of and adressed if not.

As for “Rude=rude”, I know it’s an easy joke to make, and I’m in no position to comment on Rude’s behaviour, but the name is norwegian and literally means “Man who clears new farmland from the wilderness”. I.e. Pioneer or trailblazer or groundbreaker.

So when people go for the easy joke that he lives up to his name, I guess the joke’s on them.

The comics industry needs more artists who have a vision and a philosophy, as well as an uncompromising integrity to remain true to that philosophy. In short, more artists like Steve Rude. Guns for hire will always be available, true artists not so much. Thank you Steve Rude, for being Steve Rude. Come to think of it, we really need more editors with the same sort of integrity.

“Alex Raymond on Prince Valiant, really?”

Yeah, that puzzled me too. Transcription error, perhaps, or maybe just a silly mistake? I’m sure Rude knows the difference between Raymond and Foster.

cp, you’re not alone. I once had a chance to meet Steve at a con here in Florida a few years ago and had a similar experience. He was at a large, end row booth with no other fans around the table. Instead of sitting at the table, he was on a stool back towards the rear of the booth drawing. When I walked up and asked his wife if Steve would be nice enough to sign a book I had brought with me, he kind of glared at me and she said not right now. He’s in the middle of a sketch. Come back later. Of course, he must have run off a lot of people during the day, because I don’t think I saw many people around the booth when I walked past it throughout the day.
Now, every time I’ve approached a creator, I always try to take into account whether the artist is busy, speaking to someone else, or otherwise occupied, before I inquire about anything. Most will see you there, say hi, and try to be at least a little friendly. But to be at a booth, in full view of everyone and not even want to engage with his fans, is puzzling. I love the man’s work, but it’s tainted my perception of him ever since.
And he’s not the only creator to act in similar fashion at various cons I’ve attended.

Sorry cp and Andy K., that you were unhappy with your experiences. I know Steve quite well, and know that it is never his intent to insult a fan. I don’t see anything wrong with asking a fan to return when the artist is free, nor do I see anything insulting in the question about the books. Perhaps you were a little hypersensitive, which is easy to be when in the presence of someone you admire, especially when you want the experience to go well. But our artist heroes are merely human after all, and just like us, they get tired or become occupied. Steve is also quite open about that fact (see his documentary trailer) that he struggles with his emotional state, and sometimes quite frankly he is just not up to interaction. I fully believe that if you were to approach Steve again, the experience would not be the same.

Yeah, neither of those convention experiences sound very bad.

I still like Jim Shooter’s story about when Rude first came to the Marvel offices to pitch his portfolio

@positronic – I agree with you. The industry needs more people with vision and principles

Mike:

No, I was not and is not hypersensitive. Steve Rude just out right asked if I had purchased those books for him to sign. I’ll be honest he was an asshole. I have heard this from many other people about him.
I agree with Andy K.
As for an artist being busy, I understand that. If you don’t want to talk to your fans, then don’t be at the table, go get a coffee and draw somewhere else.
You know when I met George Perez and Clive Barker, I was not sure how the meeting would go. And you know what they both were super nice. And they actually thanked me for buying their books. And you know what? I still buy their books. Most writers and artist that I have met have been great. The ones that could not sign or draw something told me nicely that they could not. Even a high profile writer like Neil Gaiman was super nice. I guess that’s explains why these guys are still around and people love their work.
As for his documentary, no thanks. As stated earlier, I don’t look at much Steve Rude anymore. Why did I read this article? Just wanted to see what him.

Okay cp. I was not there and can’t judge. I just don’t understand what’s insulting about that question about the books. There are a number of reasons he could possibly have been interested in that information.

Steve was the same in Calgary this year. His wife handled the fans, and Steve did not interact. (At least, this was the case when I saw him. Of course, I didn’t spy on him all weekend, so he might have been different later.) He sat on a high chair and drew. He did sign things his wife placed in front of him.

However, I did not think him necessarily rude. Not everyone is cut out for interacting with fans, and I knew of Steve’s history somewhat. I had also bought stuff from his eBay auctions in the past, and had noticed that his wife handled those interactions as well. I just take this to be that they, like the best couples, have found the most positive way to support one another. (From how he speaks of his wife in his writing, you know he adores her. And I figure she has lots of reasons to love him, too.) Talking to him at the show would have been nice, but it was still good to see him, and to buy some art that I could get signed on the spot.

I found Steve Rude to be charming when I met him in 1999… If anybody was a jerk, it was me — I really didn’t know the guy or anything about Nexus… I made some comments innocently that on second thought were bad. (I’ve worked on this since then and if I ever see Steve Rude again I’ll apologize to him.) To this day, I still haven’t bought an issue or Nexus collection and I’m fairly certain I’m missing something special.

[I'm sorry, but it's normally the comic fans that make the creators irritable like this. There's no consideration for private space on the part of many fans (witness what happened to Alan Moore at his last US convention) and there are many hurtful, catty, and plain arrogant comments made by fans who have no business judging anybody else. In this sense, many fans are very much like the worst editors and writers at Marvel and DC.]

However, I DO have at least two Steve Rude sketchbooks and the World’s Finest Graphic Novel that he illustrated in the 1990s. It’s a very nice Batman/Superman story done in as close to the Golden Age style that DC was willing to let him do.

Whether fans appreciate it or not, creating artwork consumes you and takes an immense amount of concentration. The general ignorance of the public over this fact is amazing. Very few people work well when they’re constantly being interrupted or bugged by others. It’s amazing that some artists finish as few commissions as they do in the chaos of a convention!

Rude’s depiction of the iconic characters is very classic… It’s like an amalgam of very good Kirbyisms with knowledge of human movement and anatomy. He’s a fine artist and I’d take him any day over certain painter-artists whose work I find to be very stiff and repetitious. I’d love to see him do more comic work, PERIOD… It would be great if Marvel and DC cooperated with the guy and showed him some courtesy but apparently only Friends of Axel Alonzo and Friends of Johns-Didio-Lee-Haras need apply.

I find I agree almost completely with his attitudes on comics today. The hero comics are just too dark and pessimistic. There’s a meanness that permeates entire publishing lines and the characters have lost their ability to inspire. (Is it any wonder the best TV shows and movies are generally based on the classic PRE-1980s comics???) It’s a travesty and fallout over wanting to editorially copy Watchmen/Dark Knight and try to “climb” to the “artistic heights” of those comics. (Huh… While both series have their moments, I find half of Dark Knight to be undigestible and just plain crappy. I could have down without the parallel pirate story that added NOTHING to Watchmen, too. The books are a mixed bag and not the perfection many people claim they are. “The Killing Joke” is like a PG-13 snuff film… One of the biggest pieces of trash that DC ever published. Sorry to see that it resulted in a paralyzed Batgirl for over two decades and has an undeserved reputation. Moore has done much better before and since that book which he himself has almost formally disowned.) It’s resulted in an industry that is lackluster, more cynical than ever, and constantly hyping events and retcons like the Second Coming. Many older fans have gotten tired of the catering to the worst elements of human behavior and have finally given up.

As for kids, it was the industry’s decision to give up on them… Kids DID NOT give up on comics. Creators/editors drove comics towards the college-age crowd and those are NOT the type of books kids want to read or really appreciate. Comics pre-1970s were mostly safe and you could count on editorial responsibility to keep the worst smut and the glorification of violence out of the books. Not so much anymore… Parents have to be careful and very proactive about whatever their kids pick up because the companies are all about money now…

Amen, Randall and GeorgeC!

Chris Arrant here, interviewer/transcriber of this piece: The Alex Raymond/Prince Valiant snafu was an error on my end; Rude knows his stuff like few others I’ve interviewed in comics, and this error was my error. It will be amended shortly.

I had the astounding fortune to encounter Mr. Rude while he was doing a watercolor outside the museum where I work security. I complimented him on his Nexus shirt, saying I was a big fan. I didn’t recognize him, but realized later in the day that I’d seen some pictures of him & that it was entirely possible that it was him, perched on a sunny day in Portland, just doing his thing.

After we closed I saw him outside & approached. I asked permission to take a look at what he had been working on all afternoon – he obliged. I didn’t even see his signature on his drawing board, and the style didn’t immediately strike me as “the Dude’s” , but nonetheless, I asked on a whim if he was Steve Rude. (He was.)

I asked what brought him to town (he was visiting artist friends, Paul Gulacy & another whom I forget), and asked if I could sit. We chatted for a solid half hour about Art, Painting, specific paintings in the Portland Art Museum, and of course, KIRBY.

In my view he was extremely thoughtful about every response to each of my questions. As with any artist from any discipline I’ve ever encountered or met, I did my best to treat him like an ordinary human being, even though I could hardly contain my fanboy tendencies to reference works I admired.

My overall impression confirmed much of what I’ve already come to know through his work: This man is one serious dedicated torch-bearer of the Jack Kirby Olympic marathon torch. And he’s serious.

Do you guys think of most comics as serious art? Even if you do, do you think most other people would take you seriously if you said you held that view? While they’ve made great headway in recent decades in the art market, the industry overall has not done much to improve the working conditions and/or contracts of its primary contributors. It’s rather been in much more of a recycling mode, for its existing properties (yadda, yadda, yadda – I shouldn’t have to tell anyone reading this about these issues. You’re here because you’re already aware of them, <>)

This guy’s a believer – and a dedicated craftsman. And I was happy to find out upon asking him, a willing educator.

Can’t wait to share more work with him. As with any teacher, his input is not the final answer to anything – but nonetheless, we are all vessels for what knowledge we acquire along the way. And I’ll be very happy if he keeps working, teaching, and growing according to the clear principles he lives by.

(And yes – I would LOOOVE to see a crowd-funded NEXUS Cartoon.)

I like Rude’s work a lot but I was very disappointed to see recently that he’d done a variant for one of the Before Watchmen books. It particularly disappointed me because, from what I’ve read in the past, Nexus is only creator owned today due to the generosity of Mike Richardson of Dark Horse who went above and beyond and gave the property back to Rude and Baron after it fell into his hands. Add into that the fact that Watchmen embodies a lot of the grim and grittiness that Rude rails against and also the poor treatment from DC he’s mentioned and…. Well it just really disappointed me that he took part in the project.

I’ve met Rude a couple times and found him to be nothing but a nice guy. (We were both on a steering committee for a comics show at an art museum last year; at one of the meetings I felt like I was kinda in over my head, surrounded by guys a lot more qualified than me to be making suggestions, and didn’t say much, and he looked over at me and said “Hey, that guy hasn’t said anything. What have you got?”) Sorry to hear other people have had less pleasant experiences with him, but when I’ve met him he’s been friendly and outgoing.

I’m enjoying the new Nexus stuff in Dark Horse Presents, but really don’t care for the coloring — Photoshop gradients everywhere! Rude’s point about keeping colors bright and happy is well-taken, but I think there are other ways of doing it in the age of glossy paper and computer coloring — Laura Allred and Jamie Grant are both great examples.

Sorry to hear DC didn’t return his calls; their loss. I’d rather see more Nexus anyway (much as I’d love to see him on Superman, Wonder Woman, or the New Gods).

I met Steve Rude at Comicon in 2009. He seems to be a quiet guy. Not everyone is cut out to be gregarious. And I agree with him completely on comic books today. The blood and violence in a mainstream superhero comic have set comics back to the 1950s when parents had to look at comics to make sure they were suitable for reading for kids. And they aren’t. DC and Marvel aren’t interested in old fans but the stuff they produce aren’t suitable to bring in kids either.

Steve is a good artist. But I have read that he is a difficult artist to work with. And never meets deadlines. Maybe that’s why DC never got back to him.

Well done interview Chris, Steve’s personality comes across very well and true.

Steve’s visit to Calgary Expo in April was supported by the Jack Kirby Museum and from his reverent comments about Jack, you can understand why. My involvement with the museum allowed me to interact closely with Steve and his wife Jaynelle during the weekend of the convention. It was a pleasure to get to know them on a personable level.

Given the excitement of a convention it is easy to forget the complicated and sometimes strenuous task it is for the artists to break from their routine, travel long distances, sleep in uncomfortable beds and be in an unusual environment. Many artists struggle with balancing commission work with signing and chatting and it can be very easy to over book, so it can become stressful at times.

I wish there had been more opportunity to spend time with Steve and Jaynelle while they were here. I try very hard to resist hyperbole, so simply, Steve and Jaynelle Rude are good people.

Steve Coates
Near Calgary
Remember Jack Kirby’s Birthday is August 28th

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