Street Cred: Jim Rugg talks "Street Angel" & Previews Issue #4

How many series can boast not receiving a single negative review online? There aren't many, but one of those is "Street Angel" published by Slave Labor Graphics. Artist Jim Rugg took some time to talk to CBR News about the series, following up our coverage before the series launched, and previewed the upcoming issue.

"I definitely didn't expect the positive response we've gotten," says Rugg when asked about the feedback. "It's been really great and flattering. Besides some nice reviews, a number of readers have taken time to email us with feedback. It's great to receive a note from someone with encouragement or even criticism. It shows us that people are interested, and it helps us understand what works and what we need to improve."

The first three issues of "Street Angel" have been pretty dense, packed full of panels and the series has more twists & turns than you could ever expect. "The first couple issues were pretty dense; they won't all be that way. Things open up a bit in issue 4. It's a more leisurely pace. Issue 5 has a different pace as well, very action oriented, very fast but plot wise there aren't as many elements to coordinate. Both 4 and 5 will have a tighter focus on Jesse Sanchez than the first 3 issues have.

"We try to make each issue different than the others. My goal is to give readers a solid piece of entertainment with every issue and I can only judge that based on my own tastes. I like work that surprises me when I first encounter it, but upon rereading it makes sense with the characters and seems very natural. I don't want to do shock for shock's sake, and I have no interest in repeating each issue. We plan to experiment with genre, storytelling, pacing, tone and characters, which I think too few superhero comics do."

Another reason that "Street Angel" is so popular is because of the unique design sense permeating the issue. From the titular character to her world and all its inhabitants, nothing in the series is what you could call "common." "The designs of old superhero comics are a huge influence as well as contemporary graphic design (book covers, concert posters)," explains Rugg. "I love that superhero comics can combine so many fantastic elements and still make sense visually, from the urban grittiness of Mazzuchelli's early DC and Marvel work to the crazy pop art of Kirby. That diversity is a quality I try to bring to the visual designs of our book and characters.

"When I see something I like it usually inspires me - like great lettering. Mine certainly isn't great, but I'll see lettering that I like (Sim, Clowes, Huizenga, Dave Cooper, Farel Dalrymple, James Jean) and it just makes me want to do nice lettering. That may sound weird, but it's sort of what the whole book is. It's my attempt to do something I like."

While Rugg says there are long term plans for the series, he is sad to reveal that the series may have to take a brief hiatus. "I expect to finish up issue 5 in the next 5 months (shortly before it's scheduled to be printed). I'm wrapping up issue 4 now; it will be out in December. No plans have been made yet for a trade paperback. Unfortunately, the faster schedule just isn't possible. After 5, I expect to take some sort of break. We wrote issue 5 about 6 months ago and I have been chomping at the bit to draw it. I expect it to be the best issue of 'Street Angel' so far. There's a lot of stuff in it that I just can't wait to see. Assuming it turns out well, issue 5's probably a good place to stop and catch our breath.

"Since we began producing 'Street Angel,' I have been doing comics nonstop. Besides neglecting my wife, I'm not that happy with my artwork, so I plan to spend some time just working in sketchbooks and improving my drawing ability and cartooning skills. I'm not sure what the future holds for 'Street Angel.' We've written a number of 'Street Angel' stories that I'd like to draw, but I have no idea what sort of timetable we're looking at for those.

"One thing I want to mention to anyone who enjoys 'Street Angel' - 'Project: Superior.' 'Project: Superior.' 'Project: Superior.' This is an upcoming book from Adhouse books, they published the Eisner nominated anthology 'Project: Telstar.' Project: Superior is a bunch of indie cartoonists (and some not-so-indie) doing superheroes. I'm not supposed to say too much, but the contributor list is stellar. Much of the book is in color, including Brian's and my story. Our contribution features the supporting character from issue 5. You won't want to miss it. Look for it this winter. It is going to be something special! 'Project: Superior.' 'Project: Superior.' 'Project.Superior.'"

If you're venturing to the small press Mecca known as SPX, you'll be able to find Rugg and writer Brian Maluca there to answer questions of all sorts. "I'll be at SPX with Lex (of Gypsy Lounge fame and soon of Science Fair fame) all 3 days. I think Brian plans to be there on Saturday, but I'm not positive. I'll probably bring some original art for people to flip through and I'm always happy to do sketches at shows. I'll have a few issues of Slave Labor's Free Comic Book Day book to give away if anyone's interested. They'll probably disappear quickly so stop by early if you want that. It has a four page 'Street Angel' story in it that you can't find anywhere else."

Now what about the issue previewed in this interview? "This preview is for 'Street Angel 4: Down in the Dumpster Blues,'" says Rugg. "I don't want to give anything away storywise, I'll only say that Jesse looks for something to eat in this issue. Preorders are due in October (I think), the book should be in the September Previews and it'll be in stores in early December.

"If you want to check out 'Street Angel' but your store doesn't carry it, ask them to reorder it from Diamond. Every issue of 'Street Angel' is available through Diamond. Ask your retailer to order a copy and he/she should be able to get it for you in 1 or 2 weeks."

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