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Elliott Serrano Presents:

WIN! Win a copy of NEXUS: THE ANIMATED SERIES on DVD! Join our Google Group to be eligible! 

Few comic book creators cause me to ‘geek out’ like Steve Rude does…

Like many others, I’ve been a fan of his since the early eighties, when my best buddy in high school shared a copy of Nexus #1 – from the now-defunct Capital Comics - with me. A unique fusion of science fiction and pop art, Nexus was (and still is) a book full of wry wit, social commentary and stunning visuals. Nexus is also the name of the signature character co-created by the man friends and fans call The Dude.

Now, the character has returned after an almost 10-year hiatus under the banner of Rude Dude Productions, Steve Rude’s own publishing company. He oversees a small group of staff made up of family and friends, with his wife Jaynelle serving as his co-manager. (Her bio on the Rude Dude Productions web site describes her as ‘Steve Rude’s personal assistant, business partner and 50% owner of all assets, personal manager, accountant, chauffeur, housekeeper, babysitter, website updater, the president of the Steve Rude fan club, personal chef, wife, travel agent, model, and mother of their two children.’ Yikes, does she have enough time in the day?)

(Oh, and, in the interests of full disclosure, yours truly works as a volunteer for Rude Dude Productions updating the RDP web site’s retailer listings.)

In the midst of Nexus’ returning story arc titled Space Opera, I had a chance to talk to Steve and Jaynelle about their new publishing company, the challenges it has presented so far and what the future has in store for them:

Comic Culture Warrior: You two have been together for some time, how did you meet?

Jaynelle Rude: We met in Oregon on August 26, 1991. He was living in California, had done a comic show in Denver, then hitchhiked to (Paul) Gulacy’s house in Portland. He then hooked up with another friend in the area who did bands on the weekend and was booked to do a private party that night where I was bar-backing. I was in college and worked weekends in a restaurant that had a bar.

He talked to me throughout the night every time there was a break and helped clean up after. We kept in touch via phone and letters and started long distance dating. When I graduated from college in April of ’92 I moved to LA. We moved in together in ’93 and were married August 25, 1995.

CCW: That’s very sweet. So, typically, what happens in 'a day in the life' of Steve Rude?

Steve Rude: On good days, it's being productive, working hard and making decisions. On bad days it's fighting depression and fatigue.
[Note: Steve suffers from clinical depression.]

CCW: How about you, Jaynelle?

JR: I usually get up around 6:30 so I can get a cup of coffee and take a deep breath before I have to get the kids up. Kids up at 7, leave to drop Brandon off at school by 7:45. Home by 8:30 for just a bit trying to process email (we get around 300 emails per day between fans/junk/other mail). Three times a week it’s off to the gym so my trainer can yell at me for forgetting to eat more than 2xs a day. Lise usually shows up around 11 am and we get as much done before 2:45 when we both have to leave to pick up our kids from school. From then until 9 pm it’s all about the kids. Homework, dinner, normal stuff. 9-11 pm I get some more work done, then Steve and I usually hook up around 11 pm to watch X-Files, Lost, or 24. Most nights I’ll stay up after that to work for a company in Scottsdale doing database programming to pay the bills, then it’s back up at 6:30 to start it all over again.

CCW: Steve, how different is it working on Nexus today than it was when you first started?

SR: I suppose the difference is age and where my life was. Things were much simpler in my early 20's, or at least it seemed that way, and I did more socializing. Both times, the now and then, had their unique benefits.

CCW: What made you decide to form Rude Dude Productions to promote Nexus and The Moth- as opposed to, say, going with Dark Horse or Image? Who came up with the idea?

JR: It was Steve’s idea. I’m just the one making everything actually happen.

SR: It wasn't a hard decision. I had spent the last 30 years of my career working for other people and companies. Finally, I got called down another path, one that I welcomed. Mental infirmities aside, I look forward to ending out my life with Rude Dude.

CCW: What challenges have you encountered in promoting Nexus and Rude Dude Productions in today's market?

JR: The timing of everything is the biggest challenge. Steve doesn’t want to think more than 1 week ahead, but I have to be thinking 3-6 months ahead. Getting promo material together at the right time and getting it out is also a challenge.

The next one is finding a really good printer. One who will actually look at the proofs before sending them and say “that looks like $#!&, I’m going to run another proof before sending this out”. If the printing comes out dark they blame you.

CCW: Any important lessons you've learned that you'd like to share with other fledging publishers?

JR: I wanted to wait until 2008 to launch RDP because Steve was not finished with Nexus: Space Opera. Steve was insistent that we launch in 2007. Hindsight what it is, we should have waited until the series was completed before launching. We’re following that advice for the next series, The Moth. Good news on that is he was already working on it before Nexus was started, so it’s already about 40% completed.

CCW: In your opinion, just what makes RDP unique from other publishers?

JR: Steve really cares about the quality of his books. The comics have a message, but they’re fun. The art is clean, and we actually have a hand letterer.

SR: One thing is the lack of indecision about what we're publishing. There's Nexus, The Moth, and The Anthology - Amazing Dude Tales. All we want to do will be contained within these three titles.

CCW: Steve, how has the process of creating Nexus' adventures changed over the years, if at all?

SR: Baron's writing approach has changed. We've had disagreements over content and story direction. Other than that, it's basically the same.

CCW: Outside of Mike Baron, who is your favorite writer to collaborate with?

SR: I don’t have a favorite.

CCW: Could you ever see yourself playing the 'designer/consultant' role on a title, much like Alex Ross does today on different projects?

SR: Probably not, since I prefer to spend my time on Rude Dude drawing and creatively directing the company, since I'm in charge of it.

CCW: What was the best experience you've had working for DC or Marvel?

SR: For Marvel, it was working with Glenn Greenberg or Ralph Macchio. That would've been on Superman/Hulk or Spider-Man.

CCW: What was the worst?

SR: The worst experience was working with the editors on Thor and Captain America.

CCW: If you could change anything about the way DC and/or Marvel are run, what would it be?

SR: Not sure. They're monster corporations, and I don't tend to like many corporations. Corporations are like life. The good people and the bad people seem to suffer equally. Bad people can get promoted while the good people get stuck behind in the mud. I believe they're too large to effectively support the size of their own weight. Clear intent tends to be harder to keep focused on.

CCW: Outside of creative freedom, what are the advantages - if any- of working with the smaller companies (i.e. Dark Horse, First Comics) as opposed to the 'Big Two.'

SR: The answer probably lies in the above comments.

CCW: Are there any plans for RDP to produce/promote titles by other artists?

SR: Nope. It's just the three titles.

JR: The whole purpose of RDP was to produce Steve’s work. We did have one artist come to us with a fun thing called “Dixon and the Dude” that he did with Chuck Dixon just for fun. It was so funny that Steve wants to include it in our anthology, Amazing Dude Tales. Even though Steve’s not doing the writing or drawing, he’s actually in the story.

CCW: Steve, what is that ‘dream project’ that still eludes you?

SR: Thankfully, none. Just what remains in the future.

CCW: What advice do you have for young artists/writers who want to work in comics?

SR: Whatever I could tell them, I believe they already know. There's two main factors--you and the companies that you want to hook up with. To get good--practice, in all the ways you know you need to. I'm still practicing fundamentals everyday in my sketchbook. It doesn't stop at any particular age or achievement level.

CCW: What exciting developments are in store for Nexus and The Moth in the weeks/months to come?

SR: Baron and I have to finish up the last 2 books of Nexus, then we're onto the Moth with writer Gary Martin, which I can't wait to dive into. The story is great and just keeps punching skyward. Plus, I really miss these guys from the circus. They're all such goofy and funny guys.

CCW: Any plans for a Nexus/Badger reunion?

SR: Yes. I knew in my heart that the Badger will make one last appearance in Nexus. It should be another classic.

CCW: Any other projects/events/promotions that you'd like to tell us about?

JR: We have a FCBD Moth coming out and Steve will be doing local appearances at 2 shops. In the May previews we’re running a re-mastered Moth TBP for July. Once the new moth series is 90% completed we’ll launch it as a monthly which will be ON TIME this time around.

CCW: Where can fans of The Dude expect to see you this year?

JR: The complete list is online at www.steverude.com/appearances. We’ll be in NYC in April then doing a double appearance to promote the Moth for FCBD. We snagged the same booth in San Diego and will be in Lucca, Italy in November.

SR: I’m pretty excited about the New York Con in April, a city I always like returning to. They want me to do a painting demo there, which are always rewarding. I like helping out people that way.

CCW: So guys, what's your favorite piece of non-comics related memorabilia?

JR: I’m not a collector. I spend any spare time I have redecorating the house. Right now I can honestly say there’s 1 room in the house that’s completely finished. Seriously, I have Steve’s original art and pictures of the kids. Who could ask for anything more!

SR: Probably my Alex Toth cels and model sheets from the Hanna-Barbara cartoon shows. Those shows had great impact on my way of seeing figure gesture and how powerful they can be.

CCW: Best book you've read that we haven't?

JR: Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for reading. I do listen to books on tape at the gym. Mostly Dean Koontz, Kathy Reichs, or Patricia Cornwell. Steve’s a fan of the Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson.

CCW: CD you're listening to that you can't live without?

SR: Liz Phair has always delivered for me. Her latest is Somebody's Miracle.

JR: I mostly listen to my books on tape or my favorite podcast: Manic Mommies (for those of us who try and DO IT ALL. And then some, and then some more, and go crazy…)

CCW: Thanks for taking the time to share this with my readers! Best of luck!

E. Ruben Serrano is a Writer/Columnist/Graphic Artist who has been a member of the Nexus Army since 1981. He’s also in the Merry Marvel Marching Society, carries a ring from the Green Lantern Corp and plays bass for Electric Mayhem AKA The Muppet Show Band. He’s still waiting to hear if his midichlorian count was high enough to get him into the Jedi Academy.

E.R. Serrano

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