Nexus, on the surface, was a superhero comic that appeared to pay homage to the animated series Space Ghost and its designer artist extraodinaire Alex Toth. It was much more than that. Nexus is filled with rich stories, characters of depth, great suspense and – thanks to Steve Rude – a heckuvalot of well-choreographed action.
Steve Rude is a real sequential storyteller. He’s always attentive to page rhythm, time and space. His forms are properly structured and his characters’ expressions always fitting. He puts into his artwork only what is needed and no more. And his style, while arguably old-school, is also timeless.
Steve continues to work on various Nexus projects while also pursuing his interests in fine art, once again demonstrating that he is a well-rounded artist. And from time to time (though not often enough for this interviewer) he elevates and illuminates the heroic icons of Marvel and DC comics.
A gallery of Steve’s beautiful work follows this interview.
Julinda Morrow: What path led you to being an artist?
Steve Rude: The path to becoming a comic book artist was fairly intact by the time I was a freshman in high school. I was just “rediscovering” comics during this time, and was interested in how much they had changed in the few years I’d been away from them. Of course, a few years when you’re still a kid seem like a lifetime. I was about to discover that comics weren’t justKirby and Romita anymore – a whole new generational breed of artist had been recruited into the ranks, notably people like [Jim] Starlin and Paul Gulacy.
JM: What schooling or training did you receive?
SR: Immediately following high school, I enrolled in an art school in Milwaukee, WI. I stayed there for 2 years and then got bored and bailed out, feeling like I wasn’t learning what I could from the teachers there, who ranged from fairly inspiring to out-and-out inept. From there it was off-and-on schooling for the rest of my life; currently, I attend weekly painting classes in Scottsdale, AZ. I’ve always liked learning new things. Just part of my personality, I guess.
JM: Who, in your opinion, are the pioneers of sequential art?
SR: The pioneers, according to how they directly affected my personal career, were Kirby, Gulacy (from his Master of Kung Fu days), Hal Foster and Alex Raymond. I tend to work backward with my influences!
JM: How do you define sequential art?
SR: It’s just another word for comics.
JM: Do you find that sequential art provides you with near-limitless possibilities for storytelling or do you experience it as constraining?
SR: If there are no limits on your imagination, it will extend to your work.
JM: What qualities or resources do you believe are most important for a sequential storyteller to have?
SR: Dogged determination. […]
JM: How do you approach your work process?
SR: By mostly knowing that life and success are totally self-determined qualities. […]
JM: How many hours a day do you work? Are you uniformly productive on any given day or more productive on some days than others?
SR: Usually 8 hours or more. Days vary in productivity. Bad moods are the only thing that can really throw me off. I experience depression and mood swings that I really wish I didn’t have. Above my drawing board I’ve written two words: Functional and Productive. I can’t seem to have one without the other. Inept and diffusive people also seem to affect my productivity and functionality.
JM: Was it a struggle, at the start of your career, to find work and make ends meet?
SR: Hell yes, it was hard! Living at the campus Y for 3 years wasn’t for everyone. But at 21, who cares? Everyone’s experiences are similar during the lean years. The world is indifferent to the difficulty of personal struggles and it’s during this time that our ambitions are tested. They present themselves for a reason. Could we really accomplish much in life without their presence?
JM: What has been your most valuable professional experience?
SR: The most valuable were probably the experiences I had during the 80′s, where I became acclimated to the world of professionals from all the big companies. It was a very thrilling time to attend the conventions where we all mingled as one.
JM: What inspires or informs you creatively?
SR: The constant presence of my artistic idols always provides most of my creative inspiration. Mostly Jack Kirby, who accomplished everything a man could do in his lifetime.
JM: What is your position on digital comics? Are they a good thing or a bad thing?
SR: Ahhh…sorry, not my thing. I’ll leave that to the current generation to determine. I’m content with all my “traditionals.”
JM: If you were to make any changes to the industry or the market what changes would you make?
SR: My industry changes would mostly pertain to areas of personal conduct; returning phones calls, accumulating wisdom, learning from mistakes and being supportive of creative types – things like that.
JM. If you could apprentice under any artist at any time in history and anywhere in the world who would it be?
SR: I often think about what it would be like to apprentice under my illustrators heroes, like Harry Anderson, John Gannam, orHaddon Sundblom. Which would be silly because both Harry and Gannam were introverted by nature and not comfortable explaining their craft, which doesn’t make for good instructors. And Sundblom had a temper when he would go on drinking binges and didn’t like to have people watching over his shoulder when he worked. Me, I love to explain things to others who may need help with their art and don’t mind people looking over my shoulder. Still, watching these long dead idols as they worked is something that’s fun to think about sometimes.
JM: What, in the future, would you like to accomplish creatively?
SR: To be true to why I’m here in the first place. This sense of purpose is very deep within me – and a reason to keep trying so hard.