While Slave Labor Graphics' series "Street Angel" has been a critical darling, one of the most popular comic books in the ever growing "blogosphere" and gaining more momentum, the creators of the series have done something few get a chance to do: finish it on their own terms. Co-creators Brian Maruca (writer) and Jim Rugg (artist) officially ended the "Street Angel" series with the recently released issue #5 and seemingly ended the story of everyone's favorite female skateboarding superheroine. CBR News caught up with Rugg to find out why it all came to an end.
"One simple reason is because I need a break," explained Rugg. "Creatively I want to do some other things. Although we tried to deliver different stories and tones with each issue of 'Street Angel,' there are limits to what I believe is appropriate when it comes to us experimenting within this book. I feel a sense of loyalty to 'Street Angel' readers to stay within certain expectations, and some of the things I want to explore lie outside of those self-imposed restrictions. If I return to 'Street Angel,' hopefully the time away and what I do during that time will translate into better 'Street Angel' comics."
In regards to the series' almost universal popularity- at least with those who tried the book- Rugg says he feels the success with fans came down to a simple reason: bucking the trend. "I think 'Street Angel' goes against a lot of popular trends in current comics. But it embraces other trends that have waned in popularity. In that way, I think it's similar to the way zombie movies have enjoyed a re-emergence in the last few years. It's not new; it's just different than current trends, but it's still familiar. Although Hollywood may disagree, I think audiences respond favorably to something that bucks current trends. It's like a break from the monotonous onslaught of other superhero books (that's not supposed to be a slam, I'm not saying 'Street Angel' is better or worse than 'House of M' or 'Identity Crises,' 'Street Angel' is just different from them while still retaining some of the appealing characteristics of the genre)."
Looking back at his time on "Street Angel," Rugg says that the experience has been amazing and he only has one real regret, namely, "I would have scanned issue 1 better, if I had it to do over again. I scanned it at too low of a resolution and there's some anti-aliasing apparent in that issue. I have rescanned it, so hopefully it will look better in the trade.
"Highlights have been the great response we've received. One of my favorite parts of comics is meeting other cartoonists and other comic book fans and with 'Street Angel's' warm reception, we've met with a lot of support from all kinds of people.
"Just having a comic book published regularly has been a highlight. I've wanted to draw comics since junior high school.
"Working with Slave Labor has been very nice. The more I hear about companies not paying their cartoonists regularly or on-time or at all, the more I appreciate just how great Slave Labor is. Thanks Dan, Jennifer, and Deb for everything."
Fans all over the Internet have commented on the "unique vision" and "fresh intents" of Rugg and Maruca, but the artist reveals that there wasn't any mission statement when they started the book. "Early in the development of the book, we felt it could appeal to a wide readership including both 'Comics Journal' readers and 'Wizard' readers," said Rugg. "We've been favorably reviewed in an issue of the Journal (#265) and we're supposed to be featured in the Wizard Secret Stash (#164, look for it, the end of April). So I guess that has been realized to some degree.pages 1 & 6
"I'm proud of the five issues we created (and that they shipped on time). We wrote all five issues near the beginning of our work on the series, and about halfway through drawing issue four, I had some serious doubts about the different tone and storytelling. But I'm happy that we stuck to our ideas and that four and five are what they are (not that they aren't without plenty of flaws)."
Fear not devoted fans, for June heralds the release of the "Street Angel" tradepaperback and Rugg is excited about seeing the series on bookshelves. "The trade collects practically everything. Issues 1 - 5, three Free Comic Book Day stories (one from last year's SLG book and two from this year's Toronto Comics Festival book), an all-new 12 page story called 'Paradox Lost,' cover gallery, squids, some sketchbook/extra art (cause I always love seeing that stuff), character profiles, and a pinup section."
The list of pink up contributors is as follows: Jeffrey Brown, Farel Dalrymple, Jesse Farrell, Richard Hahn, Dean Haspiel, Mike Hawthorne, Paul Hornschemeier, Dave Kiersh, Jasen Lex, Andy Macdonald, Jim Mahfood, Ted May, Scott Mills, Scott Morse, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Lark Pien, Ed Piskor, Brian Ralph, Zack Soto, Dan Zettwoch and more, with an introduction by Evan Dorkin.
If previous comments from Rugg have led you to believe that he's burned out on "Street Angel" then you'd be interpreting his comments incorrectly- Rugg hopes to come back to the adventures or Jessie Sanchez quite soon. "I'm not taking a break because I don't like the character. In the course of working on the book, I've grown to like this character much more than I did in the beginning. But this is like my first comic book work. I have a lot of room for improvement, and that's part of what I plan to do for now. I don't have any concrete plans, but Brian and I have written a number of additional 'Street Angel' stories already, so we'll see what happens."Shop Fu"
So where will Rugg's ambitions take him next? "Don't know," he chuckles. "I plan to ink and letter a book that Scott Mills wrote and penciled. I have a couple of pinups and short strips to do for people. After that.I'm not sure. Depending on how the Scott Mills collaboration works, I might try inking some other cartoonists. I like how Kevin Nowlan works with different pencillers and yet the work still feels like it's his (specifically his work with Gil Kane, someone should try to make him ink Gene Colan's work or if anyone knows of him inking Gene Colan's work, they should tell me about it). Sienkiewicz is another guy who inks people and can make the work so nice (his inks over John Buscema on 'Wolverine' #10 was the second comic book I bought and I still look at it). There are a lot of pencillers that I'd like to work with, especially some of the guys who have been around forever and can draw everything (yes, this is a shout out to editors)."
To keep connected with the fans, Rugg will be traveling to a lot of conventions (a full list of which can be found on the official Web site). Before we let him go, Rugg had one last comment for fans of the series.
"I'd like to sincerely thank everyone who has taken a chance on an issue of 'Street Angel.' The support we've received for the book has been overwhelming to me. Thank you."