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Interview: Jim Rugg

July 16th, 2009 (07:33 pm)
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Current Song: A Walk to Remember score music

Jim Rugg, the artist behind a multitude of comics, newspaper graphics, and book and magazine covers, is possibly best known in the YA book blogging community for his artwork for The Plain Janes and Janes in Love. I enjoyed these collaborative efforts with Cecil Castellucci, and I know I'm not the only one who wishes the Minx line of graphic novels had continued so that we could all enjoy additional volumes in the series. Sadly, Minx ended - but happily, Cecil and Jim are welcome to discussing the Janes. We're featuring the books at readergirlz all month long. Today, I'm chatting with Jim one-on-one.

How did you come to know Cecil, and get involved with Minx/DC Comics?

We met through our editor at DC Comics, Shelly Bond. Shelly and Cecil began working on the PLAIN Janes, and when they started looking for an artist, my work was among the samples that Shelly showed Cecil.

How long did it take to complete The Plain Janes?

I think it took me about 6 months to draw.

How did you divvy up the work? Was your contribution strictly art and hers the text, or did you share various duties?

For the most part, this is how my involvement went: Cecil wrote the script, our editor went over that with her, when they were happy with it, our editor would send it to me. I would do small drawings of each page, send those small, rough drawings (called breakdowns or thumbnails) to Cecil and Shelly. We would all talk about them, make revisions if necessary, and then I would draw the final artwork.

Sounds like a good process, where everyone was informed and involved. What does ART SAVES! mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be an activist?

I'm not an activist. However, I believe that having an outlet to work out personal problems is essential. I wouldn't say it has to be art, but throughout my life I definitely relied on comics and movies and books and drawing to help me cope with emotional difficulties.

Which of the Janes is the most like you?

I think Main Jane is the most like me. When I was in high school and college, I began questioning the values I grew up with.

Who is the least like you?

The least like me is probably Theater Jane. She's a lot more demonstrative and outgoing than I tend to be.

When did you decide to do Janes in Love? Did you and Cecil pitch a second volume, or did Minx ask you to write another one?

Shelly began talking about it while I was drawing the first one.

Do you have plans for future volumes?

Not at this time. We had begun work on volume 3 [Janes Go Summer] before the Minx line was cancelled, and we had discussed a volume 4, but that looks unlikely now.

What was your first published work?

The first graphic novel/comic book series I did was a book I co-created with Brian Maruca called Street Angel. Slave Labor Graphics published it. Through that book, I met the Minx editor that I worked with.

How have you changed as an artist since that publication?

I'm sure I have, but I'm not sure how I'd articulate those changes.

You've been tapped to create artwork for book covers, magazine covers (most recently, that of LA Weekly), newspapers, even something special for the commencement exercises of Center for Cartoon Studies. What type of commission project do you like most of all?

My enjoyment of a job usually depends on 2 things – my schedule and whether I can comfortably fit the job into it (unfortunately, jobs come up when they come up, not when it would be most convenient), and the vision of the editor/art director. If the person with whom I'm working has a clear idea of what they want, it makes my job much easier. As for subject matter, I tend to like drawing a lot of stuff from animals to sci-fi, action, romance, girls, caricatures, still life. So the subject's pretty wide-open.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming comic in Dark Horse Presents?

It's written by Zack Whedon. It features Penny, from Dr. Horrible. And it takes place before the events of Dr. Horrible. It's featured in July's Dark Horse Presents. You can read it at the Dark Horse MySpace page.

That must have been a fun project to work on. Which classical or modern artists inspire you?

I haven't been following anyone specific for a while. Over the years I've gone through a lot of phases from Frank Miller to Jack Kirby to Dan Clowes, lately I've been reading manga a lot. I enjoy film as well, Martin Scorcese, Wes Anderson, Hitchcock . . . the usual candidates.

What are your ten all-time favorite books?

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Eightball by Dan Clowes
Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware
The Getaway by Jim Thompson
The Coffin Jones and Gravedigger detective series by Chester Himes
Deadeye Dick or Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Sideswipe or the Shark Infested Custard by Charles Willeford
Yummy Fur by Chester Brown
Woman in the Dunes by Kobe Abe


Jim was kind enough to share a great deal of artwork with me, including never-before-seen pages from Janes Go Summer, along with panels from The Plain Janes and Janes in Love. View the complete gallery in the July 2009 issue of readergirlz.

Visit Jim's website and LiveJournal.

Do you have your own questions for Jim? Next week, you may chat live with both Jim Rugg and Cecil Castellucci at the readergirlz blog on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 at 6 PM PST / 9 PM EST. The chat is open to the public and will last for about an hour.