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Steve Rude Biographical Interview by Alex Grand & Bill Field

Alex Grand: Welcome back to the Comeback Historians podcast. I’m Alex Grand with my co-host and immigrant from the year 2525, Bill Field. Bill, how are you? Hey guys.

Bill Field: Great to be back. Alex. Great to be co-hosting with you once again. We haven’t done this in a little while. It’s fun. Um, we have the esteemed honor today to be talking to the one and only dude himself, Steve Rude. Steve, thank you for joining us today. Of course, you.

Alex Grand: Guys are, uh, have a weekend next week. The dude weekend in San Antonio, Texas. Bill, tell us about that for about a minute or so before we start off our interview.

Bill Field: So I’m so excited. Our friend of all three of us, mutual friend is Steve Ringgenberg. And uh, Steve and Steve were good friends. And Steve set it up for, um, for me to talk to Steve. And, uh, we together have kind of put together this weekend. Next weekend, uh, on the fourth and the fifth, uh, Star Wars Day, and then Cinco de Mayo. And, uh, it’s going to be amazing. Steve is going to paint both days, and he, uh, on day one, he’s got a female model who will be dressed as Supergirl on day two. We’ve got a dude who will be not the dude. He’ll be painting, of course. Uh, we have a guy. We we we some dude, uh, will be, uh, dressed up as Spider-Man. And so that’ll be a two day thing. Uh, Steve will be signing autographs. He’ll be, uh, doing all sorts of great things, but mainly he’s going to be connecting with his fans here in San Antonio, uh, when he gets to town. Uh, on Friday, we’re all going to go out to eat at night, and he’s going to meet a lot of the people, uh, artists and, uh, whatnot, uh, here in San Antonio that are big dude fans. So it’s it’s going to be fantastic. I’m a little nervous because it’s my first big thing that we’ve done here at the store since I took it over for. Phil.

Steve Rude: You just relax because I got this, okay?

Bill Field: Great. Well, then. Now now I can relax. Alex.

Alex Grand: That’s true. Yeah. Steve Rude has a lot of experience.

Steve Rude: Yeah, the hard part is the organizational part, and that’s that’s always a, um. You know, I think I think the secret of life is to is to learn how to relax. And very few people ever get to that point where they spend their life nervous, worried. But I consciously, consciously went through this period where I. I, uh, I learned to relax, and I don’t even know how it came about, necessarily, but it did. It’s made a big difference. So when I walk into a place, you know, I’m not nervous. I’m excited. And, you know, the purpose of all these things is to meet people. That’s what life is about. And the fact that I’m getting to meet you guys in a, in a, in a different state that I live in and, and even from and get a chance to interact with everyone who’s going to be there is a bonus for me.

Alex Grand: But you were born December 31st, uh, 1956, in Wisconsin. You’re a midwestern guy. Couple things to start off. What did your parents do and when did you start reading comics?

Steve Rude: Well, it’s a good question. Normally I just get, you know, when were you born? And they move on. You know, my dad was a was my parents were very normal. So how they ever, you know, had me as a bit of a mystery which is still trying to figure that out. I’m a weird, eccentric guy, you know, I, I make up weird things in my head, and I, I love Doctor Seuss and I, you know, I never called my my mom and dad, mom and dad. I made up names for them. And that was from the very beginning. So I don’t know if that’s some kind of a what is it, HDD or whatever it’s called these days. But back then we didn’t have those categories, thank God. Otherwise we’d all be in Ritalin and it would have ruined our lives. My mom was kind of my role model. He’s the one that very subtly taught me the things that I am now, kind of this underlying foundation of, I don’t want to say morality, but it’s it kind of relates to that, how you treat people, that kind of stuff. My dad was very ordinary. He was so ordinary, I didn’t I barely even knew what he did until I asked him. Like when I was in high school, he worked with a very at a very normal job. He would get up every morning. He never wore tennis shoes until later on. He always. This is the generation two. We’re talking here dress shoes, dress pants, everything. He finally relaxed way, way, way later on. But you know he was a product of that those times. And he worked at a trucking transfer company. You know which to this day, I barely even understand what that even means.

Alex Grand: What age when you started reading comic books.

Steve Rude: I had a friend who was well off, and he bought all these comic books. This was a year, 1966, and I took it upon myself when I would go over to his house. He’s another guy that I made up a name for. He had all the Marvel comics, none of none of this DC stuff. There was all this serious, cool Marvel stuff, and that’s what it all started. But I never bought them. I would go over and read them at his house, and it wasn’t until way later on in high school you talk about being lonely, right? Well, freshman in high school, just starting out. And, uh, I had no friends. Could we? We moved twice. So there I was in the Upper Peninsula, the U.P. and Michigan and Escanaba. No friends. I didn’t know anybody. Uh, all I had for a friend was my dog.

Alex Grand: So you were, uh, ten years old in 1966. A lot of Marvel being exposed to. From what I understand, your big Jack Kirby, Gene Colan. Are those the images that caught your eye, then?

Steve Rude: While Kirby was hard to ignore. Normally, I recite the moment that I saw my very first Jack Kirby comic. It was Tales of Suspense, where the, uh, the issue where Captain America was on the cover falling from the sky. I just thought, well, here’s this bold, strong musculature with these slashing black lines. And, you know, you you respond to these things emotionally. And that’s that’s really the core of what I’m what I have inside me is this explosive emotions. And it’s a good thing. And it’s a bad thing, as you can well imagine, uh, as an artist, it’s it’s been nothing but a good thing. That’s how it started, anyway. In Escanaba, I was driving around with my dad. I thought, you know, I’m going to do something here. I need something to look at and read. So I actually wondered in my head, are comic books still around? This was 1972. I actually thought, is that Jack Kirby guy still around? Because, you know, a couple years when your kid is a lifetime, isn’t it? Yeah. I walked into this drugstore in Escanaba and there they were, all lined up, all these comics, and that’s how it really the glue started to stick to me. I actually saw demon number three, Kirby’s demon. Uh, I was I kind of missed the New Gods period. But, um, you know, when I found out there was this magazine called The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom, I got all those old issues, and it was just a thrill. But by then I was on the. I was on the fast track there. There was nothing cooler than comics, and I drew and I drew. I get the comics and I get out my little ebony pencil. They give you high school and the typing paper and I would just draw. I love to copy these things. That was fun.

Alex Grand: And how do you feel, you know, when you’re looking at demon and when you’re looking at the fourth World stuff? How did that to you as a fan at the time stack up against the 60s stuff that Kirby was doing? Did you like it as much?

Steve Rude: Um, it was, uh, Kirby’s pencils got a little looser. Mike Royer was inking the work. Mike had the most brush control I’ve ever seen, you know, because I got a chance to work with him later on.

Bill Field: Was that on Captain America?

Steve Rude: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. All that had stuff that I’ve done is a life fulfillment kind of a thing, as you can well imagine. I mean, if you think of yourself as someone who loved comics, loved the science of storytelling, because in comics, anything is possible. You end up devoting your entire life to the science, and it’s, um, it’s second to none. Um, I remember my, I, my dad came to one of the conventions one time, and he had no idea what to make of it being him being Mr. Normal. You know, this was the Chicago convention when a million people showed up at shows, and that was an alien environment to him.

Bill Field: Who was better on Spider-Man to you, Romita or Ditko?

Steve Rude: Well, I grew up when I actually, uh, kind of missed out on the, uh, the Ditko days. So when I saw the Romita stuff that was, you know, much more classically cleaner drawn and not as not as as idiosyncratic. I really took the Romita all the way.

Bill Field: You were kind of. I mean, would you say you were kind of sensitive in a way, as a kid that because it seems like you, uh. You took everything in and you you noticed things more than probably your average kid. Yeah. Would you say that you were drawn to superhero stories because of your affinity for myths and justice and morality? You think that had something to do with it?

Steve Rude: Well, I can tell you by the time I. I came out of the Marvel phase into the, into the 70s, um, I. It very much informed how I think about things. You know, I when I hear about the incidents of, um, I’ll give you an example. Somebody being mugged in a New York subway. And nobody’s helping. Well, that’s where I step in. Knowing that I could get knifed or killed. You know, it’s. If I didn’t step in, I would be ashamed of myself. And besides, I don’t. I don’t conduct my life like everyone else does. Everyone else is kind of a lemming.

Bill Field: Do you think that still carries carries over to this day when you do superhero work?

Steve Rude: Absolutely. There’s not a doubt.

Alex Grand: When did you officially just start drawing? And. And then when did you decide you wanted to be a cartoonist? Like what? What age range was all that happening?

Steve Rude: Well, it’s interesting that you use the word cartoonist, you know, um, I’ve never thought to me a cartoonist is a Charlie Brown kind of an artist. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Grand: That’s true. That is a different thing.

Steve Rude: I wanted to be a comic book artist who had illustration level skills. Again, my early days when I would see the Andrew Loomis books in the library. So all this stuff was kind of coalescing at the same time. There’s no way I was just going to contain myself with black and white and white linework in comics. I had to go way beyond that. So that’s why you saw the paint, the covers and the, you know, the various things in Nexus because I, I needed to expand those skills. That’s what I wanted to be, because an illustrator can do anything, and I wanted to be someone who could do anything. That’s power to me. That’s the kind of power I wanted as an artist.

Alex Grand: So you talk about illustration, which I love. The classic illustrators, you know, Howard Pyle and all those guys. Were you looking at that stuff too.

Steve Rude: I looked at everything as you would imagine as any kid would. And you come away, you know, through your personal filter, you come away with uh, liking certain people. Uh, more than, than others. And I to me, it was kind of the beginning was the Andrew Loomis, uh, books.

Alex Grand: The 1970s Masters of Kung Fu with Paul Gulacy and the whole Bruce Lee period. What tell us about was that an influence on you? And tell us about that.

Steve Rude: It’s hard to underestimate how big of a thing those two, those two things, those very two things had on my life. The first Bruce Lee movie came out in 1972, in the States, and they called it Fist of Fury. And when I saw the ads for this thing on TV, I just. I just want volcanic. It was unbelievable. Uh, this the ads alone, you know, the master of karate, kung fu, Bruce Lee, you know, all this kind of stuff. And the master of kung fu book was going on previously to that. Because the kung fu thing, the TV show, when these things came together, like they tend to do in life, it kind of sets your stage for your entire life because it was so incredibly cool. Those two things.

Alex Grand: Yeah, I love that stuff. Um, the Bruce Lee movies. My dad had me watch him, and that was happening at the same time. I was reading comic books, and there was something about the two things together that really appealed, and I never really understood why, but I guess Bruce Lee himself was kind of a superhero anyway.

Steve Rude: Absolutely. Those those things are synonymous. Bruce Lee was a hero. He beat up the bad guys and got the girl. And that’s what happens in comic books in and think about comic books is even when there’s incredible conflict in the world, hates these guys. Like, um, like they do at various times. They hate Captain America, they hate Thor. Um, these guys still find a way to endure because of their foundation of morality.

Alex Grand: Now, was, uh, Steranko an influence on you? Did you like his stuff when that was coming out?

Steve Rude: Uh, no. Actually found out way later on by reading Master of Kung Fu what his influences were. I got to know Jim. And of course, Paul. Paul was my best, best man at the wedding, in fact. But Steranko, I just love the guy. There’s a eight pager that he turned out that I’m kind of big on referring to is like a turning point in comic book storytelling. The one that changed everything, and it was called, uh, at the Stroke of Midnight, the horror.

Alex Grand: Thing he did. Yeah, that was.

Steve Rude: An eye opener. And every everything I saw from then on that was actually, you know, the thing that Glacier borrowed most of all is the storytelling thing from Steranko. But Glacier was a genius at a very early age. I, you know, when I got to know him, when I got to know him really well, like a best friend kind of a thing. I saw the work that he did when he was like, uh, between the ages of 18 and 21. You wouldn’t believe this guy. I mean, he was so far beyond, uh, anyone. And I just completely idolized this guy. That’s why I hitchhiked out to see him one year. Uh. And, uh, I had to meet the guy.

Bill Field: Is that why you had him, uh, draw the first two covers? Uh, uh, of Nexus at Capitol? Sure. Those are great covers, by the way. And it blew me away because I had forgotten that he did those until I found my my copies of one and two the other day. And, uh, I was going through it, and I go, I forgot these had, uh, glossy covers. And it was just it was amazing to me. And you guys are very you’re very simpatico. You your styles are very complementary of each other, I think. So it I think it’s almost like I didn’t realize it because it looks so much like your stuff at the same time, in a weird way.

Steve Rude: Well, I would say if you had to, if you had, when you look at my work and you’re trying to decipher where it all comes from, there’s, um, it’s really Kirby and Lacy.

Alex Grand: He was really, um, utilizing like, that James Bond influence when he was doing that. Masters of kung fu, like, some of those characters, like, one of them looked just like, you know, Sean Connery and things like that. And you could feel that James Bond vibe so well mixed with that. Bruce Lee like kung fu feel like he was able to merge like two genres. Um, when he was doing master of the Kung Fu. It’s really unlike any other person on that title. Yeah, the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons. Were those something that appealed to you as a kid?

Steve Rude: I didn’t know about them until there was a show in the 80s called Night Flight, and it came on very late at night on USA network. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, out of nowhere, I just happened to turn the TV on and there’s this, these Superman cartoons. And I thought, what in the hell is this? This is unbelievable. And to this day, I call him the Citizen Kane of animation. Very much.

Bill Field: So. That was the most realistic cartoon at that time. And it remained the more most realistic cartoon for like 2 or 3 decades. It seemed like. Yeah, yeah. When did you get into the the painting aspect of your career and.

Alex Grand: Frazetta, was he a part of any of that?

Steve Rude: Frazetta you know, these all all these influences came along around different, uh, times in my life. The Frazetta thing came around in 1976 or 77 when his first Ballantine book came out, and I happened to be in art school in 78. And when we saw these books, um, that’s when the whole thing, uh, that’s when the world became aware of this guy. I didn’t know anything about him until then, but the book came out and and that’s all this kids in our school talked about was Frazetta. We all wanted to be like him. And I’m still trying to be like him. A person’s art is just like their signature. You can spot a Rockwell from a mile away. You can spot, um, I can spot an Alex Ross from a mile away. There’s no disguising that. And I’m sure the same can be said of me. Is that a rude is.

Bill Field: Absolutely, absolutely. I can spot a rude from a mile away.

Steve Rude: One time I was giving this talk in, uh, it was, uh, Chile, South America, and I, uh, had this audience of college kids and I held up, um, this piece of paper that had all the the signatures of the Disney artists. And I said, do you notice something about this, this page right here. Every single signature is unique. There’s only one signature that comes out of these guys, and that’s that, uh, that tells you something about the individual. Everyone’s an individual. But when it comes to the arts, there’s a lot of things that that bond us. And that’s, uh, that’s the exciting thing about coming to stores like, like yours and getting the chance to get out of the studio and interact with people.

Alex Grand: Because, I mean, you’re spending a lot of time kind of engineering from your imagination. So to talk to people is like, probably it’s like a nice, uh, cherry on the cake of all the work you’re putting into it.

Steve Rude: It’s a necessary cherry, actually, Alex, even though I happen to be a loner and like being alone, Kirby like to be alone. He needed his alone time to. To dream up things and just let the things come out of him, some of them as he at will. Uh, so I’m perfectly suited for that. But every now and then, you got to come out of your cave and meet the real world.

Alex Grand: I read in an interview you did, um, that you went to Marvel. You ran into Jim Shooter. He was editor in chief at that time. And he gave you some feedback. When? When was that? What year was that?

Steve Rude: I think it was 1980. Uh, that was a time when, you know, I had a lot of drive, and I just kind of worked by instinct. And my instinct said, well, you’ve got to go up there and get feedback. So you, you spend, uh, entire year at a job, a low paying job when you save up and then you, you get on a bus or a train like I happen to do, and you go up there. That’s when I met shooter. And, uh, he brought out this Captain America comic. And apparently this is something he does for everyone that comes up there. He pointed out all the things that worked with it because he had very specific ideas on how, uh, storytelling works and how it doesn’t work. Uh, so I still have that comic, and he was very helpful. Bit of an odd guy, but, uh, you know, much harder than I thought at the time. But, um, he was very helpful, and I just kind of walked around the bullpen, you know, I wasn’t, I, I wasn’t going to just go in there for five minutes and leave. So I, I wandered around like I tend to do and, and tried to go, go into all the offices and meet these people. And that was the second part of the fun stuff is meeting these people. I met Archie Goodwin, I met some of the artists and the the little room where they, they called, uh, kind of the half of the bullpen or something. And, uh, that’s what I that’s what I came to see. And it was just exciting as hell.

Alex Grand: Joe, was Jim Shooter taller than you are? Because you’re a tall guy?

Steve Rude: I’m six, five and a half. He’s like six, 7 or 8, something like that. Yeah.

Alex Grand: Were you pretty surprised by that? Like looking up to talk to a person for the first time or.

Steve Rude: It’s unusual. There’s nothing average about me. Yeah.

Alex Grand: Yeah. That’s great. Tell us about, um, meeting Mike Baron. And you guys started in Texas together with Capital Comics, and that was located in Madison, Wisconsin, where I think you guys were living. Is that right?

Steve Rude: That’s right. And this is, uh, this is a case of just basic common sense canvassing the places that were in Madison and making contacts. Anyone with ambition is not going to sit there in his room all day drawing. He’s got to get out there and hustle, you know? But it’s kind of a blind thing where you don’t know what you’re doing. You just kind of work on instinct and, you know, you think, well, there’s a newspaper down the street. You know what? If I brought up my my work to them, maybe they could use me for something. And normally it didn’t work out. But you never let that stop you. Because from one of those newspaper visits, I got recommended to this guy who works at an insurance company. He likes to do comics, but he can’t draw. His name is Mike Baron, so we quickly hooked up in a day when people’s word actually meant something. We met in this beautiful sunny day in August, and, uh, Baron’s a guy of few words. He’s nothing like I am. He’s very terse and, uh, uh, to the point, and still is like that. Um, it’s very interesting guy. Uh, but we got together and, uh, I think we were, we were, uh, grounded both by a lot of ambition.

Bill Field: So 81 was was an was an important year for you guys, wasn’t it? Because that was the first year or that was the year that the first, uh, Nexus. The first Nexus came out?

Steve Rude: Yeah, yeah. Baron was the real hustler back then. And there was a place in town called Capital City Distribution. They distributed comic books. And uh, Baron would meet up with them and basically hassle them all the time. You should look at what we’re doing. You know, there’s this new, new new wave thing going on with comics where there’s a potential that people not in New York could actually dare to publish a comic book and maybe get away with it. And that’s what happened. Baron led the way. I just stayed in my room in the Y. Um, meet girls and draw my pictures from my comic books and attempt to use an airbrush, which never really worked out. It was a good time. You know, living on campus like that was very exciting. I was right in the middle of everything. And Baron was, you know, several miles away in a different town, and he would come and pick me up. So I because I had no car. You don’t have a car when you’re living on campus. So you either take a bus, you have somebody come up and pick you up. That’s what. And that’s what he did a lot of the times. And we go over to his place and we just start talking. And I get out the paper, and I. And he would tell me these ideas that he had, and I would try to draw them out a little bit. And Baron would stand over my shoulder and tell me, yeah, that’s that’s what I want, or try to modify this a little bit. But he was very specific about the Nexus thing. The only thing at that time that was kind of unusual we did is that we didn’t have a name for the character. We were kind of calling him generic stuff like The Executioner and things like that. And then one day about a year after that, after we had actually made a lot of progress with this character. He just calls me up literally out of nowhere and just no preamble just said Nexus. So that’s it.

Bill Field: That’s great. Well, so after after Nexus, like in the in the mid 80s you started doing um well Nexus was still going on. It was an after Nexus, but you uh, you started getting into other areas and you did what to me is still my favorite thing you ever did. And that’s the Kimiko Space Ghost, uh, comic and and what you did. And a lot of people don’t know this, and and, uh, so I want to I want to bring this up. Is there was there was a one hour Space Ghost special in prime time in 1967. I believe you captured the spirit of it so well and so much and so I I’m I’m curious. Did you ever meet Alex Toth? Did I know you were a big a big fan, but, uh, how did that lend itself to you doing such a wonderful representation of Space Ghost?

Steve Rude: I was never really a fan of Alex Toth. I didn’t even know who he was until I found out way later on. And this is something that pretty unknown to fandom at the time, but I had no idea who created that character. Space Ghost. And then things started coming about where Xerox is. A various model sheets came out. Um, but I was never really a big Alex Toth fan. I was a Kirby guy, and the only reason people cite Alex as being such an influence is because of Space Ghost. So he drew Jack Kirby characters in layouts for the cartoon show, and it was incredibly dynamic. I ended up learning a lot from Alex over the years. Who wouldn’t? Um, this. As much as I’ve learned from Roy Crane, you know, the ultimate simplistic master. Which I think everybody in comics could take a look at and learn volumes from. If you guys ever seen Roy Crane’s work, I’m sure you have.

Alex Grand: Uh, Wash Tubbs is like, my favorite thing.

Steve Rude: Is that.

Alex Grand: Right? I’ve read every single one of those.

Steve Rude: He’s so simplistic and he’s all there. And that’s the incredible part I have. I have, uh, the first time I met Alex was in Saint, and Alex Toth was in San Diego in 1984, and he was still relatively sane back then. He would walk around and meet people and him and, uh, I met him. Of course, I had to come walk up to him. I have pictures of that moment. And, uh, I said, would you come over, Alex? Would you come over and take a look at what I’ve got? I want to know what you’re thinking. Give me some advice. Because I was always asking for advice, and he he looked at this page of, uh, of gestures that I had done in my in my comet, in my sketchbook. And he goes, I’ll never forget this. He goes, if you don’t have it here, you don’t have it at all. You know what he means by that.

Alex Grand: The basic foundation is the most important part of it. That’s what he’s saying.

Steve Rude: Yeah. And honestly, for for from that moment forth and even before then, I practiced the gesture because that really is the foundation of everything that you do. As far as solid figure drawing goes.

Alex Grand: For Nexus, okay, was Space Ghost and of the 60s and 1960s Star Trek, were those influences on Nexus when you guys were making Nexus?

Steve Rude: 1966 was the was the focus focal point of, uh, what is a locust point or something like that of where everything came together? Space Scouts came out 1966. Star Trek 1966. The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee, 1966. Everything happened in 1966. The only thing that didn’t happen then was four years earlier, which was Jonny Quest, and that was a show that I like to tell people. The whole family sat around the TV show watching that. That was a family show. It was remarkable to think back at, uh, the bonding that went on with a family under a very, uh, singular animated show. When I mentioned the word imprint, right when I saw these things, they were Star Trek was a little beyond me, you know, that came later on. But when these things hit, they, uh, they they buried themselves. They embedded in me so strongly that they literally are, uh, the foundation is the foundations of my inspirations. Besides the comic books that, um, that I read for the rest of my life up until the very, very moment we’re talking.

Alex Grand: You met Jack Kirby in 1984 when you, uh, won the Russ Manning Award. Uh, and if that’s right, or if I’m getting that right, tell us about meeting him. And what kind of relationship you had with him.

Steve Rude: Gladly. Um, the first award I won, which was obviously a complete surprise because I’d been there was four issues of Nexus already out by then, but wasn’t exactly a newcomer. But, uh, yeah, that was the Russ Manning Award. And, uh, I remember the absolute shock that this, uh, went through me like, like a, like a huge, you know, like sticking your light finger in the light socket kind of a thing. And I just if anyone ever saw the remembers, the look on my face, it was pure shock when they announced my name. And you hear the cheers going up and all that kind of stuff, and it’s just overwhelming, you know? In fact, that’s what you hear a lot of times when people get into acting, they they get that applause thing. And that’s what kind of, uh, cements them to the future of their life, their future occupation, their future job, um, their future vocation. They hear that there’s always a moment that takes place in a person’s life like that. For me, it was just pure shock. And I got up there and I just mumbled a few words because I was still in shock when I got up there. But two years later, you know, the Jack Kirby Awards came out, came out, and that’s when I, uh, I won the Kirby uh award. And of course, Jack was up there, and Roz and I remember I did a couple of things that other people didn’t think to do. I brought I had a I brought a rose, and I gave it to Roz when I got up there, but I remember I had I was wearing these ridiculous 80s shorts and this shirt when I got up. Yeah, it looks silly now, but, uh, that’s what that was. That’s the way it was back then. I always wear shirts like this. People never asked me about it, really. But I need to have mobility, you know, especially when I’m drawing and I overheat really fast. So that’s why I wear shirts like this.

Alex Grand: You got also got Eisner Awards, and you met Will Eisner, from what I understand. Tell us about that experience meeting Will Eisner. And what was your relationship with him?

Steve Rude: These were the most incredible early moments of my life, because I realized by the time I turned 30, I’d actually accomplished everything I ever set out to do in life. I mean, imagine how that felt. You know, you’re somebody because, you know, grinds away alone in a room and has this obsessive, um, pursuit of, uh, wanting to be something more than ordinary.

Alex Grand: This is like, uh, Elvis Aloha from Hawaii concert. That’s what. That’s what you. You had that feeling.

Steve Rude: Well, um, up until, like, the 1990s, every moment of my life was surreal. Yeah. And, uh, I remember my. There were some pictures that people took of me getting these awards over the years. Um, and I showed them to my mom, and the only thing she said was, you look so sincere. Because that’s how she knew me. Is this. Total sincerity, you know, no airs of any kind. I didn’t know how to put on airs. So I just knew how to react and feel. And that’s really what I’m all about.

Alex Grand: Going more into the relationship with Kirby and Eisner.

Steve Rude: Eisner was not an influence on my life at all, but he was. He was kind of making this, um, this comeback, this, um, 1972 special aloha comeback. So I got a chance to meet him, and I the only thing I really remember is walking up to him in New York, one of the New York shows, and I said, how do folds work? These are things I was just starting to figure out in the most basic ways, and I didn’t really understand anything. Um, but I sure wanted to learn. So that’s that’s one of my things. I would walk up to anybody and say, uh, help me understand these things that I don’t know. And I remember what he said, you know, it was very interesting. He’s a very nice guy, very youthful. Will Eisner. The most remarkable time when I met Jack Kirby, and there were several times with him. Being around him was like was in a special womb. You felt so relaxed. You felt so taken care of. He was like, um, the greatest uncle you could ever have in your life. And I kind of relate it to, um, feeling like you go back to Mayberry. And you have this wonderful, uh, small town feeling where everything is safe and everyone is nice. That was when you walked into his home. That’s what you got. Kirby had no airs about him whatsoever. He was just pure reaction. And I felt so comfortable with him. And I don’t even know if it was something that he was aware of, but, uh, but I was I was aware of it, you know, I just I react, I emote, you know, he had this thing on the wall, this big piece of art that I’d never seen before, because that’s all Kirby did was was created and produced.

Steve Rude: And he had this thing in the wall where there’s this panther was on this, uh, this big ship, and the panther was walking around. I don’t know why the Panther was there, but he stuck his his head through one of the portholes, and somebody looked up and thought it was a head mounted on a wall. I just started laughing and laughing and laughing, and Kirby looked at me like I was a little nutty, you know? But that’s that’s one of the moments I remember. I just I just guffawed and laughed. And because that was just so, it just tickled me. And Jack didn’t know what to make of that another time. I remember going over there when we had just found out that, uh, some of Jack Kirby’s artwork got returned. So I went over there and, uh, in one of the the spare bedrooms with her were these huge flat files of all the artwork that he, that he stashed there. Um, and the new stuff that just came in, he brought it out, and this is so embarrassing. Um. What he was selling his stuff for. But I just remember getting out my checkbook and, um. And I was never greedy about those things. I just wanted the most special things that meant the most to me. So I bought those things. The prices were obscenely low, like literally under $100.

Bill Field: Wow.

Steve Rude: And I was loaded at the time because I never spent my money on anything except for dates. But I still have those. And another thing I did was when I when I wanted him to sign stuff for me, besides signing the pages that I bought from him. Oh yeah, I brought four of my favorite Jack Kirby comics, not 100, you know, just for I said, Jack, would you mind signing these to me? Because I didn’t want a thousand books signed. I just wanted the most special books that that were so dear to me.

Bill Field: Do you remember what they were?

Steve Rude: I sure do. Uh, one of them was New Gods number two. And the other issues were, um, some of the Jimmy Olsen books were the Guardian in there because I was crazy about the The Golden Guardian. You guys know what I mean when I talk about the impact that some things can have in your life and how they’re it’s like a it’s like a gut punch. Oh, yeah. The impact these things had on my life. Because, remember, I’m I’m just, you know, people talk about, you know, I hate to talk like, talk like a fan when they talk to me. Well, they gotta remember I’m the biggest fan of all. We feel like they have to apologize for that, which is kind of silly. I never apologize for the way that I am. The way that I am is the way that I am.

Bill Field: You, you you had that impact on me too. I, I met you at the same show that I met Jack Kirby at and, uh, Will Eisner at, uh, Dallas Fantasy Fair. And, um, it was it was it was interesting that, um, I was just as happy to meet you as I was. Kirby. You were. You were like you were the guy for me back then, and I was a huge Nexus fan, and still am to this day. But your your stuff in first. It just started coming out and, uh, it was to me, it was life changing. What you were doing was so meticulous. It was so, uh, the storytelling was fantastic from both, uh, the standpoint of your art and how how you worked with, with, uh, Mike and, uh, I just I just wanted to tell you, I this is the fanboy in me now, uh, coming out. But that stuff really mattered to me. And as a young cartoonist, uh, an artist, it really changed me in a lot of ways. So I want to thank you for that.

Steve Rude: Did you go on to be an artist after that?

Bill Field: Yeah, yeah. Uh, actually, I’ve been more in animation and I’ve done a lot of storyboards. I’ve directed quite a few Captain Crunch commercials in Spanish. Um, uh, but yeah, you were a huge influence on me, and and I did. I did a comic for a short period of time in the 90s called Jack spit, and you were a huge influence. You were a huge influence on me during that period. So, uh, isn’t that nice? And you still are. And and. Yeah. And I, I can’t thank you enough. I, I’m so I’m curious. I, I know you’re bringing one of your new nexuses here to the store next week, and I can’t wait to see it. It seems like you never tire of those characters. And those characters are so amazing. Judah the Hammer, all of those characters to me. How did that come to be? How, how.

Alex Grand: And part of that question is, how did you develop and evolve as a person and an artist as you developed and created those characters?

Steve Rude: It’s hard to pinpoint that. But, you know, just by virtue of being an individual with a different ways of looking at people in the world. That’s where all that stuff comes from. You know, when I was a little kid, I, uh, the kindergarten teacher used to read Doctor Seuss stories to us, and one of them was the the pale green pants with nobody inside him. And all the other kids were just listening. Me and this other friend of mine next to me were just laughing and laughing and laughing. We thought that was the funniest thing we we’d ever seen. Is these funny looking green pants chasing this this guy around. Those are the things really, when you’re when you’re trying to find out, you know what’s really behind all this. That’s kind of where it comes from. It’s this. It’s this very different way of of feeling and looking at things. For all the things you’re talking about. Their bill is where that is kind of the foundation of if you go way back, that’s where it kind of started. Wow. I didn’t see things the same way other people saw them.

Bill Field: What about the characters Nexus like resonate with you with you and Mike? I mean.

Steve Rude: The fact that me and Baron were like Gilbert and Sullivan or like Hanna and Barbera. Barbera opposites. Um, that’s one of those things you keep hearing about, don’t you? Yeah. It’s opposites, you know? So that’s what we were. Um, so you bring these two sensibilities together and they at the same time, they’re colliding. They’re they’re working seamlessly together. So who can explain those things?

Alex Grand: You both own the rights to Nexus, and it looks like you both have, um, at some points more later, um, separated off. And did each of your own works with it? What was the reason for that? And are you still friends with each other? Well, we talk every.

Steve Rude: Week, me and Baron, you know, they say if you have a good sense of gratitude, you’re always going to be on the right foot in life. Well, I’ve always looked at Baron as like the guy who started it all off. I have just the highest regard for him. I feel like I owe everything to him in a lot of ways. You know, he was the older of the two, and he took me under his wing and, and, uh, all these years later, we’re still we have a lot of mutual respect. The departure came about from the way he was, uh, writing was had changed a lot, and I no longer saw the little like with Bill was talking about the little things of humor and things like that. They were kind of missing. And eventually you got to the point where I realized I had to do my own thing. And so that was a very, very tough moment in my life. Uh. I never intended to be a writer, ever. I was happy just to have these great scripts given to me by Barron that were virtually perfect back in the capital in the first days, and even darkhorse before they, uh, brought the whole comic landscape changed and they canceled us.

Steve Rude: But subtle, a subtle changes took place, and I can’t account for why they happened. I’ve seen this happen a lot of times in with different artists, um, and writers. Do you remember how great alien was? You know, directed by Ridley Scott? Yeah. The first one. Yeah. Well, and then later on, he did these Prometheus movies, and I and I, I went from this, you know, this 1979 movie was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. This is an example of someone who hit every, every mark exactly in the target area. Somebody that I didn’t know what the hell he was even doing. So the standards that I if you if you think I’m upholding the standards of the current Nexus books, it’s because I have this feverish way of realizing that you’re only literally as good as your last book. And if you don’t keep it up, you’ve either you’ve either lost your way entirely like some people have, or your mind is changed over the years. And I’m a very self-monitored kind of person. So the idea that happening to me like it’s happened to others is unforgivable. So I literally my life depends on how good my work is.

Alex Grand: Does he still rank as the number one comic writer that you’ve ever worked with?

Steve Rude: Yeah, yeah, he has, because he was as idiosyncratic as I was. You know, all the weird little bits of humor that came in Nexus. You know, I was I was drawing his scripts. And that’s that’s where the bonding took place. The opposites coming together. And I remember he would come, you know, Baron would come over when we were living in Madison and drop off the scripts and he would draw the he would draw them in little thumbnail form. And what I remember most is laughing. Yeah. They were so entertaining to me. I just would laugh and laugh. And you know, Baron being the low key guy, the that he is, never reacted to anything. But I would sit there and laugh and laugh and, and, uh, and then it was then he would leave and I and then I had to figure out a way to draw the things.

Bill Field: It seems to me that his, um, his roughs for you with the script, they were actually pretty detailed, weren’t they?

Steve Rude: They were? Yeah.

Bill Field: Quite a few that, you know, he he isn’t an artist, but it’s all there. And and then you would take that and run with it basically it’s.

Alex Grand: Almost like kind of a Harvey Kurtzman type of thing.

Steve Rude: These are funny things to look at it, look back at it and examine in the here and now. Um, some things just come together in life in a very, very strange way. And that was that happened to be one of them.

Alex Grand: You mentioned about the landscape changing and canceling and the industry canceling Nexus or something politically. Are you guys pretty similar to each other, and what do you mean by canceling, just so I understand.

Steve Rude: Yeah. Very much. Yeah, yeah. Without getting into details that have you, have you be stoned over the internet. Yeah. We’re very much.

Alex Grand: Yeah. No that’s cool. Yeah. I interviewed him once and he was saying some of the same stuff.

Bill Field: You worked with. Uh, both Marv, uh, Wolfman and and George Perez or work, work through them, I guess, on some Teen Titans stuff early on. And it was it was kind of it was kind of an homage to a comic that was being published at the time, Dnagents. And that was to me, that was one of the best issues of Teen Titans ever. I still I still have that issue. I look at it often, and I always wanted you to be on a major book like that of of characters like Teen Titans. And, uh, what did that do for you? How did you enjoy doing that? Was that was it an epiphany in any way? Did it lead to anything else? I’m just curious.

Steve Rude: Well, I remember when those those offers came along. It wasn’t that I was surprised by it, but I knew that whenever, whenever somebody handed something to me, I had to put every everything that I had in me for whatever I was doing. If people want to know, like some kind of a secret that I might have that others don’t, it’s maybe that, you know, what I pour into that is everything that I have, all the things I’ve thought about and all the all the influences. And, uh, I kind of look at it as you don’t let people down. But Jack Kirby never let me down. How could I? How could I be anything other than that? Never let the fans down.

Alex Grand: Also, you did hear a couple pages for heroes, for Hope, for Marvel in 1986. You did a Punisher magazine two cover in 1989. It seemed like you were kind of dabbling in the mainstream.

Steve Rude: It’s funny, I think. I think I can kind of just, uh, uh, reduce it to a very simple thing. The marvel of the of the 60s was not the marvel of the 80s. When I got into the business, things had changed a lot. Uh, but in fact, every influence I ever had came strictly from Marvel Comics. But. But by the time I got into the business, something was very different about it. When shooter took over, he was a very bizarre guy. I think it was kind of related to the honeymoon period where he gets in and everyone’s excited. And then then eventually. And this is a very scary thing. Your true nature has to come out at some point. And the nature of shooter was not a nice person. He was a very strange guy. And he said things later on about me, about that meeting you brought up when I met him in 1980 or whatever, uh, that were so distorted I wanted to kill him. So it’s a good thing. Good thing he wasn’t in the same room. When people recite events and they’re so bizarre of what actually happened, it’s a very it’s a very.

Steve Rude: Well, how do you what do you make of that? Um. I can’t be someone like that, you know? Uh. You know, seeing things the way I see in life, you can’t be somebody who’s who distorts reality to the point where nobody can relate to you anymore. That’s that’s a no no. You don’t do that. So what you want to do in life is cultivate your inner self so that when you’re when you finally do meet people and they have a lot of regard for you, you need to measure up. And a lot of people don’t. Don’t do that. I made it a point to overcome incredible flaws in myself. I remember the first interviews I did. I was so clumsy, and I looked at those like, I look back at those things with total embarrassment. Well, I looked at that and said, I don’t want to be that person. I need to be better than that. So my whole life has been a journey to self-improve hmm.

Alex Grand: So that’s interesting. So that Marvel, you just really didn’t want to work for a shooter. Basically, from what I’ve read, you were also kind of disturbed about the way Marvel was treating Jack Kirby in the 80s. So was that all? All of that together was kind of coloring your impression, and you were kind of doing almost a silent boycott and not working for them. Is that kind of the deal?

Steve Rude: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I in fact, speaking of shooter, I wrote him a letter one time and I said, look, um, Jack is going to be dead someday, you know, own up to all this and and cut the crap.

Alex Grand: When that Marvel 80 stuff was going on, you said you wrote a letter to shooter to, uh, you know, cutting the crap and whatnot. Did he ever respond to that? And and how did you look at Marvel and that kind of mainstream Marvel while all this was happening and not working for them on purpose?

Steve Rude: Well, it was definitely a deliberate decision not to work for them. And that wasn’t the first time that happened. Um, again, my sense of how I regard life and how you have to stand up for things. Shooter wrote me back and said, if I thought I was doing anything to harm Jack Kirby, I would quit. Well, now, knowing what I know about people, people can say whatever the hell they want. But it doesn’t mean it. It, uh, it dovetails with the reality. And that’s a really scary thing about people, you know? Um, how can you be how can you say one thing and be another thing on the inside? It’s very scary to me. Um. You don’t want to be somebody like that. You want to be a whatever you are on the outside, you have to be on the inside. So you can see I’m getting my personal philosophy about life here and character. Um, because I don’t see many people doing that.

Alex Grand: It sounds like there’s a certain honesty and a creative individual honesty, and you stay true to that. And you felt that Marvel wasn’t exhibiting that, and so you didn’t have that inspiration to to work with that. And that’s really that’s what it sounds like.

Steve Rude: Well, I according to my right from wrong. Um, you give him his damn work back and you don’t you don’t put up a lot of lawyerly, uh, blockades. To, um, to kind of loot the whole situation. That’s a bunch of garbage. Yeah. And they weren’t doing that. Yeah. And they, you know, I’m sure you’ve noticed this, and people can get all these funny reasons why they’re not doing or not or doing something. But if it doesn’t come down to the, you know, in this case, given a given, given him his artwork back. It’s all a bunch of hooey.

Alex Grand: Because I saw, like a, a news report from back then, but I saw it recently when he did get his art back and he was saying, well, there’s a partial vindication here. You know, I put a lot of work into it. You could tell it meant a lot, uh, to his spiritual essence, if that’s that’s how I got that was my reading of it.

Steve Rude: Well, in, in a in a strait in a strait shirt, shirt sleeve kind of a world. It’s it’s easy. You just. Here’s your art back. But this is something people do. Um, that is very, very dishonest and pretty despicable, actually. Yeah. Corporate stuff disguised things to get their stupid lawyers involved, and they take something that should be simple and remember anything. Anyone can make those decisions about making it harder or easier for people in life. In this case, they make it a thousand times harder than it should have been. Um, and I it’s all a bunch of adult nonsense, the way they can just make up and spin these things to turn them into something that’s simple, into something that’s hopelessly complex. The image.

Alex Grand: Revolution. And I asked him, because you did a little bit of stuff with him, um, at that time, I mean, but in the early 90s, the industry was like kind of booming and the image guys were making, like, all this crazy money. Right? And and from what I read an interview where you felt that that amount of money could almost be somewhat corruptive of an influence, do you do you is that right? And am I understanding that right?

Steve Rude: Well, think about people that win the lottery. You know, ten, five people win the lottery. Uh, two are going to destroy themselves. Um. Uh, the other two are gonna. Make really bad decisions with it. And I’ve never been anyone who was ever one that kind of money and done something productive with it, like a sound minded person should. Um, that’s what I look at when I think about the image thing. These guys were very young. And yung mean Yung tends to relate with inexperience. You can’t have the maturity, even if you’re making these millions of dollars to really understand the big picture of what that means. So you go out and do you know this is what people do. They get the money, they go out and buy their vipers and their in their um, um, Aston Martins and things like that. And they splurge. And this is the pattern of people. And. They get sucked into this, this idea that a lot, of lot of times they think they’re more than what they really are. And this is a common pitfall that people fall into. Um. That kind of stuff, uh, didn’t bother me because I was older and maybe had just a better sense of, uh, the illusion of all this stuff. It was just illusion. The only thing that matters in life is how you treat people and the work that you do to entertain them. In my case, because I’m an entertainer.

Alex Grand: Now, you did a page for Phantom. Uh, a couple pages, 1 or 2 pages for Phantom Force two, 1994. That was kind of like that final Jack Kirby comic that was used, uh, with, uh, Thibodeaux was, uh, kind of his inker at the time, and he did some stuff for that in that Jack Kirby style. You did some stuff for a lot of artists, different image. People came together on that as a way of honoring Jack Kirby, you know, for his final days. How was working on that? And and was that did that image, the idea, the conception you had of image at the time in some way affect you working on that?

Steve Rude: No, it was just, uh, it was just a nice gesture where people called me up and said, you want to be part of this? And I remember inking the work, and that was a lot of fun. There was nothing more than that. But, um, really, it came down to a very simple thing. Um. Hey, Jack. The millions he never got when he that he should have, if people were a little more fair and honest in life.

Alex Grand: So it was really just your love of Jack Kirby, that’s all. That was.

Steve Rude: Entirely.

Alex Grand: So, um, in 1998 through the 20 tens, you did work with the big two legends of DC universe, X-Men, children of the atom, Hulk versus Superman, Spider-Man, Thor before Watchmen, Captain America, Aquaman. What brought on this change to work with these people? Um, that you kind of purposefully weren’t working with them before. And how was that experience?

Steve Rude: Well, I think right before that happened, there was a big bankruptcy thing going on with Marvel. And in my mind I said, Marvel has to burn to the ground and turn into ashes before I’ll work with them. This had a purely, purely moral reasons. And that happened. So by the time I started working on those, those that run of books, um, that was the right time to be doing this. So I looked at that as the chance to put my individual stamp on all these books. You know, everyone else was doing their own thing when I when I did Captain America, it was Kirby. Captain America. Yeah. When I did Spider-Man, it was a Romita Spider-Man. And, uh, the people I work with range from people I, um, I thought were wonderful. One of them was Ralph Macchio. Oh, yeah. He was just great. And the best of all was Glenn Greenberg. He had the attitude that I just love with creative people. It was, um, no restrictions. Just have a good time. I’m going to be your your cheerleader. And, um, I’m so excited to see what you’re going to turn in. That’s what you want. What you don’t want is what I got got from a love. A lot of other editors who had their head up their rear ends. One of them was the children of the atom book. They scheduled me to be in books that they wanted to come out mere months after before, just as a starting to things. So think about that. You know, um, uh, wouldn’t you rather have the books in, in, in, in, uh, in studio before you even think about where, how you’re going to release them or when you’re going to release them? Right? This was a concept that eluded these people, and these are the people I have conflict with.

Alex Grand: When you’re talking about those editors, the ones that kind of let your creativity go and others that were kind of making, I guess, artificial boundaries on the work. Um. While you’re doing all that and you’re kind of bringing some Kirby energy, did you find it? Was it fun, or was it more of a struggle of working with them and then being bringing classic Marvel while also introducing like a new your own style of material, all kind of in one thing?

Steve Rude: Have you ever heard the phrase life is who you work with? Yes. Okay, well, I made it up. That’s one of my original quotes right there. That kind of sums that should answer your question right there. Read between the lines.

Bill Field: So I really enjoyed your Captain America, uh, that you did with, uh, Mike.

Steve Rude: Oh, Mike. Mike Royer. Yeah, yeah.

Bill Field: How how was that to work with him? Because I know you’ve always really admired him. Was it everything you expected it to be?

Steve Rude: Yeah. I think it was um, like, is a is a pretty undersung guy. And I think he has a sense of inferiority sometimes. Um. And I wanted to do what I could. Uh, to to get them working for a company. He normally isn’t associated with this, as I wasn’t. I wanted to bring them in and kind of like, hear. Uh, Mike, you’ve got some good work here. I want you to eat this stuff, and and, uh, you know, that’s kind of what it was. It was a gesture of. Of of, um, of getting him paid for something that maybe he was not getting at the time.

Alex Grand: Hulk versus Superman. Did you enjoy working on that title?

Steve Rude: Um, I did, but I was working with an editor that I did not care for very much. And that was another case of, uh, of putting up roadblocks where I thought it was stupid. What I remember that was the time I came into conflict with, uh, copyright. I couldn’t put anything in there that I thought was fun. I mean, even if you. This continued with DC forever, which I think is preposterous, and I think it has a lot to do with the lawyers calling the shots over the creative people. But people make up their own rules in life. Right. And the rules at DC were you can’t have anything in your book that’s even remotely copyrighted. Well, to them, the entire world is copyrighted down to a little, uh, a little Starbucks symbol. You know, this is asinine. This is just plain stupid. So according to my rules, um, that stuff is harming nobody. It’s entertaining everyone. But for some reason. Certain mindsets come in and they take all the fun out of doing comics. And to this day, uh, I fight with DC all the time about that kind of stuff. And that’s one of the reasons I don’t want to. I don’t want to ever work for them. Really.

Bill Field: Let’s get to The moth. Uh, at Dark Horse. Uh, how was that experience? Gary Martin, the series, uh, what was your narrative? Uh, mission on that one?

Steve Rude: The moth came about because of, uh, actually was during the image period. And they, uh, were doing these trading card things and some of the image people came over to me and said, can you invent some characters that we’re doing for creator original set of trading cards? That’s literally where it came from. So I came up with two characters, The Moth and The Silencer, and that’s where those came about. And uh, and then from there, you know, certain things took place where I was forced to develop the character. And one of the things that was most in my mind was, why would a guy wear a costume? Well, if he’s in the circus, that’s what they do. They wear costumes. So that’s where the circus angle came in. I wanted to collaborator. So I got in touch with Gary Martin, the inker for Nexus, and we just kind of talked about stuff, and I would come up with all these ideas and he would contribute a few things here and there, because, again, I had this rush of feelings that would just come out. It’s like when you ask writers, you know, where did these ideas come from? Well, anywhere they come from inside of you. And, um, the writers were will always say the same thing. I don’t know where they come from when they talk to me. I know I’m on the right track. They always mention that they talk to me. And that’s a very bizarre human phenomenon, isn’t it? Fictional characters talking to you.

Bill Field: But that’s also probably why you enjoyed the the, the pantheon of characters you created at Nexus.

Steve Rude: Sure. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Grand: In fandom, there’s this whole Stan Lee versus Jack Kirby. They did work together. Jack did stuff on his own and whatnot. Do you feel that there should be a debate? Do you have a position on that debate? Should there be a position on that debate?

Steve Rude: Positions on debates, I think, are kind of a waste of time. Everyone accounts for their decisions in life. There is a lot of mistakes made at Marvel. Um. I would put that almost entirely on the Marvel side, but Jack’s Jack’s mind was a little. He was very eccentric, and he after a while, he began to, I think, kind of inflate the conditions that he worked under. But, uh, that’s what happens in life. The only. The only bad thing about it is, is that it became so public, it got blown up into, um, a balloon so big that, uh, people talk about it to this day.

Alex Grand: You felt they co-created that stuff.

Steve Rude: Jack was responsible for? Uh, I think. 75% of the stories. And the rest was this marvelous guy named Stanley, who would take scripts and work this magic with them. Um, which made up the Marvel Age. And the funny thing about the whole Marvel age in the 60s was everything they ever did was based on what came from that, that time period. People are still screwing around with characters. They’ve seen 100 versions of those characters. Um, but the only thing that ever mattered to me was the ones I grew up with. All these other offshoots were just, you know, they’re just playthings for Marvel to make, exploit the characters that, uh, they weren’t part of when they were, uh. When they came in later on in the business. No Marvel was based on this, this and this. And mostly they were all created by this incredible mind of this genius, literal genius named Jack Kirby.

Alex Grand: Final question for me is about the documentary. Um, I watched it. You know, I love your stuff. And, uh, I’ve read all, you know, every single, um, Nexus and everything you’ve done outside of Nexus. You know, I love your stuff. And I watched it, and I saw that there was two things that they were discussing. And there one was entering the world of fine art as well as struggling with the bipolar disorder. And those were kind of highlighted in the documentary. How did that documentary come about? Do you feel like it succeeded in what you wanted out of it, and what was your impression of the final outcome of it?

Steve Rude: The final outcome was a real disappointment, and this was on purpose from the very beginning. You don’t want to put out a documentary where everything is, is, uh, is easy going. That doesn’t incite controversy. I told him to deliberately make it as controversial as possible, you know, focus on the things that are especially different about me. And one of them was the sadness that would come over me because I realized at some point certain chemicals were missing from my mind, and it caused me to react with much more feelings than a normal person might have. And I think that’s what really comes down to when you, uh, you talk about brain chemicals being, uh, not balanced. Right. One thing will will override the other one. And one of them was was extreme sensitivity to things. When I would see bad things happen to good people, I would get really worked up about it. So I needed help and I finally found it. But after going through, you know, the usual requisite 1012 doctors that didn’t know what the hell they were even doing. Um, I finally found somebody that that found a way to balance me. And I’ve been like that ever since. It’s just if somebody’s reacting too strongly in a way that’s ill affecting your life, you need to find a way to balance the the ill part of it. And that’s that’s all it came down to for me or anyone else who has those kind of situations. Uh, all we want is somebody to help us out. And the fact that there’s so few people that know what they’re doing with this stuff is a real detriment. It causes a lot of pain.

Alex Grand: Do you feel the documentary represented you accurately, or do you feel like they did? They edited in a way where you weren’t represented accurately?

Steve Rude: It was very deliberately edited in a way that, uh, pushed the controversial things like the depression and things like that. What I remember about the documentary was, uh, the guy that did it was a really nice guy, but by the time the actual editing came around, I saw a complete personality flip flop. They went from a very, very nice, concerned, sensitive guy to a vulgar human being. I thought he had kind of lost his mind. That’s my take on things. He’s got a different one, obviously, but that’s mine. So when it came to the editing process, the editor, the filmmaker ended up calling everybody that was part of that, that documentary, except for me to get my take on things. He didn’t want to hear what I had to say about it, so it came out the way it did. I thought he did a really good job. Uh, I actually give it an 80% of how good it was, but the 20% that was missing, everyone said the same thing. You missed his sense of humor. There’s no humor in this. In this documentary. It’s all. It’s all down, down, down. And of all the things he filmed that could have been in there, that’s what I would have put in to balance it. And there was no balance. It was very one sided.

Bill Field: I’ve suffered with some, uh, mental illness issues myself, basically around attention deficit. And until I got the right help, it was like, um, I think I felt like you did, you know, and it took me a while to find somebody who could really help me. So I applaud you for, um, being vocal about that and saying things like this in public, because I think it could help someone else.

Steve Rude: You don’t want to keep those things, uh, buried inside. They don’t do anyone in the world any good, especially yourself. Why not bring it up? Concerns that really, when you find out, you start talking about them. The people that come out of the woodwork, that start talking about the same problem, you look at the people in Hollywood, the actors, my God, I don’t think it was a functional one among them. And I applaud them for coming out and just saying, I have a problem with alcohol. Um, I can’t keep marriages working. Um, uh, I’m depressed. I mean, this is just rampant. Uh, and it’s a good thing they’re coming out like that, because back in the 50s, in the Frank Sinatra days, they didn’t talk about this stuff. Agreed.

Bill Field: So I’m curious, and I’m sure Alex is too, since we’re both such Nexus fans. What what is the new stuff coming out? Can you explain a little bit and, and give us some details on the new nexus that you’re producing?

Steve Rude: When bear and I started to have disagreements about story, I decided that because I had a different take on things, one of the things I wanted to bring back was the was the idiosyncratic humor that was in the book and the the more basic sense of storytelling there was. So what I, what I wanted to do really, was take the first, um, like ten years of Nexus and return to returning to that. That constitutes a couple of things. One, you never knew what was going to happen till you were always entertained, and three, you always wanted to come back for more. So if you read if you read my version of Nexus, um, if I, if that feeling imparts to you, then I’ve done my job.

Bill Field: And you also told me the other day and we’re talking on the phone, you told me that you’re revisiting those, those first few capital books and you’re redoing them. What’s that all about? Let us know about that a little bit.

Steve Rude: Oh, that was just an aside. I was talking about, uh, some of the things that we did in the very first black and white issue, um, when I was still finding my way. Um, well, actually, I can show you right here. That was from the very first Nexus book. I thought, what if I redid that as a painting? Holy moly. Space ghost and Jack Kirby, just to keep fresh and what I call fighting trim with, uh, the medium of oil paint. Because every serious artist wants to learn how to work with oils. And due to my training in the workshops I’ve been to and the teachers I’ve had over the years. Um. It’s, uh, it’s really the ultimate. Besides, all my illustrator’s work in that, too.

Alex Grand: So now, um, first I want to say, Steve, thank you for being on the podcast. I know you and Bill have, uh, have been talking a lot these past a few weeks building up to the rude weekend next week. So I hope you guys take some footage and pictures. Bill, you gotta share this stuff on your Facebook page. My takeaway from this just talking to you for the first time, um, learning about you as you really, um, live by your own personal integrity, professional honesty. And then that shines in your work. And and I can think of no better way to live by a set of principles, um, that have gone unchanged and formed, you know, and, and you stay true to yourself. And I really thank you so much for, for being here with us. It’s been it’s meant the world to to both of us.

Bill Field: Can you tell us just a little bit before we go? Can you tell us what people should expect, uh, from next weekend? Steve?

Steve Rude: Yeah, that’s a good way to wrap this up. Uh, you can expect me to be very cordial. Uh, I, I you’ll see me taking a great interest in individuals. Um, I like to get to know people for the individuals that they are. It’s not just a mass of people. They’re all individuals. And every one of them has an interesting story that I like to, uh, probe into. So that’s another thing that I think is something that most people don’t tend to do. Um, but for me, that’s my lifeblood. And you want to when you’re, when you’re involved in a group of people, you want to be one of them. You know the other. Come and see me do do my demos and and get to know the person behind the comic book that that they happen to like a lot. But, uh, the character part of is a big thing to me. So what I’d like to do, what I’ve learned to do over the years is to treat is to treat people as individually. From the models that agreed to come aboard for the demos on Saturday and Sunday. To all the people that go there wanting to know more about this artist that they’ve never met before. So you really have to come across like, um, someone that measures up, let’s just call it. And for me, that’s no problem, because I’ve been cultivating that my whole life.

Bill Field: And Alex really puts all this together and makes this podcast wonderful. We don’t do it enough these days because we’ve both got a lot going on in our own lives. But this was this is one of my favorite podcasts we’ve ever done over the last six years. And and I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing it.

Steve Rude: Well, it’s a very difficult thing what Alex is doing here. Uh, you know, there’s there’s hundreds of people that do this kind of interview stuff and, uh, obviously, you know, it varies as much as the artists that we like drawing comics or the writers that we like doing books. And you can tell that Alex was very prepared for this.

Bill Field: Yes, very. I’m, I’m the I’m the one who flies by the seat of his pants. But Alex. Alex is the one who who is really the orchestrator. And I’m very grateful for him.

 

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