Steve Rude Discusses Latest Kickstarter Sketchbook: The Conskipper Interview

Steve Rude “The Dude” is back with another Kickstarter campaign for his 2022 sketchbook, as well as a comic preview of the upcoming next chapter in the Nexus saga, The Battle for Thuneworld.

Rude discussed the new sketchbook project, art tips, Nexus, comic strips, recent DC work, and life in general in this exclusive interview.

You are back again with another Sketchbook.  How does this one differ from last year’s book?

Steve Rude: My wife Jaynelle coordinates all of the art in the books, she says that this year we’ve added more pages from my personal sketchbook and focused on matching up commissions to studies done in my personal sketchbook along with step by step.  How much is included will be determined by backers.  So far we have only 60 pages.  Approximately half the size of the 2021 book, but we’re adding 8 pages for every $5,000 funded, and have plenty of new material for a 200 page book!

In terms of your “art lessons” in the 2022 Sketchbook, what advice helped you grow as an artists when you were just starting out?

Rude: It’s little more than the forward momentum that comes from being in your early 20’s.  Everyone knows that feeling and it’s always a very exciting time in life.  You’re just out of High School and ready to see if you can take on the world.  It’s an important and necessary rite of passage that everyone needs to experience. To the question of how I began to get better at art:  I went to an Art college in Milwaukee when I was 19,  a year after  exploring who I was and what I should do about it.  That lasted 2 years, and after that went on to other schools that could teach me what I needed to know.  I’m still doing things that way.  The other secret is that I loved to copy.  Whomever I liked would be recorded in my early sketchbooks. That would lead to another sketchbook and another.  I’m currently up to Log 36 at this time.

Do you have a favorite piece of art (or two) that you can identify in the new collection?

Rude: Who’s to know?  My favorite is probably someone else’s least favorite.  We know how personal taste goes!  Also the book isn’t completely put together yet, and we need to figure out a final page count.  My wife, Jaynelle, is the one who puts the book and Kickstarter together.  I just come in at the end to finalize and approve everything.  Perpetually overworked Jaynelle does all the tough work.

How do you like Kickstarter as a funding vehicle for your projects?

Rude: Any format that rewards the creators as much as the people who run the business is a win for all. The person who started Kickstarter wanted to benefit everyone and did so with a benevolent mindset.

You also include an ashcan copy of the Nexus Battle for Thune World #2 comic.  Has there been any progress on new Nexus stories or the animated version?

Rude: The Battle for Thuneworld will be the successor to the first volume of Nexus comic strips, entitled The Coming of Gourmando.  It’s incredibly exciting to explore my potential for writing as well as my usual drawing duties.  It’s a lot of hard work, but that’s also part of the fun.  I love telling stories with pictures. To the question of current progress on the Nexus animated series; let’s just say that I’m doggedly determined to succeed with my vision of returning Jonny Quest type animation to TV.  I’m also determined to find that special person who has the bread and clout to get it on the air!  I’ve even sent proposals to Spielberg and Elon Musk for feedback.  Here’s hoping!

What are your memories regarding Nexus, Mike Baron, and the original era that you published Nexus in? 

Rude: All good memories, thank you.  Back in 1981, a couple of local comic distributors decided it was time to enter the publishing field.  Baron and I were local to the Madison comics scene and appeared to be the guys for the job, both of us being both young and ready to show what we’ve got.

 What was is like transitioning from a standard comic to a comic strip for Nexus?

Rude: Converting Nexus from its 100 issue run from comic book to comic strip was pure fun and a great antidote for breathing some life into the expectant comic book format.  The comic strips used to be the most popular section in the Sunday newspapers.  Today, they’ve all but faded into the wistful memories of yesteryear. The strips that are still being done such as Prince Valiant and The Phantom are still controlled by the syndicates and those working on them are treated poorly, paid poorly, and the PR for them is non-existent.

The format was ripe for a big return.  Not being beholden to anyone, I chose Nexus to be that vehicle.

You also recently did a variant cover for Tom King, Jorge Fornés, and Dave Stewart’s  upcoming Danger Street series from DC featuring Atlas.

Rude: Yes, when they originally asked me to do that painting I thought they said they wanted one of “Alice”, so I now refer to it as my “Alice cover”.

When it comes to painting, I put everything I see in my mind on canvas, even if it makes it more difficult for me. As I was building the image, I added terradons and sabretooth tigers around Atlas. With painting or art, you always need a focal point for a piece, and I think I hit the mark about 85% on this one.

Upcoming projects?

Rude: After the sketchbook, I will be working on the sequel to The Coming of Gourmando, The Battle for Thuneworld, and it will be in the same newspaper strip format. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. I have the first draft of the script finished, and as they say, if you’re not writing for yourself, who are you writing for?

I divide my life into different phases.  The first is my main job of drawing my own stories, as normally associated with my work on Nexus.  The other is doing work from other companies like DC, who occasionally want me to draw interiors of certain characters, and sometimes painting the covers of these books.  Other than that, it’s accepting the occasional commission to keep up the house payments and keeping the grass green.  It’s a great life.

The Steve Rude 2022 Sketchbook Art Lessons & Nexus Thuneworld 2 campaign is currently available to back on Kickstarter until Monday, March 7. You can also check out Rude’s official website for original art, prints, comics, and more.

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