Mad Rupert Hops To Writing And Illustrating ‘Regular Show: Skips’ [Interview]
Regular Show's super strong immortal sage (who just so happens to be voiced by Mark Hamill) is about to step into the comic book spotlight. This November Boom! Studios will roll out Regular Show: Skips #1, written and illustrated by Mad Rupert (Saskana, Adventure Time). Set to show the RS world from Skips' point of view, the story sees Pops reward Mordecai, Rigby and the rest of the crew with a mini-vacation for all their hard work at the park. Thanks to the antics of his coworkers, though, Skips probably won't quite get the rest and relaxation he deserves for bailing his buds out of trouble time and time again. ComicsAlliance got in touch with Rupert to learn more about what readers can expect in the issue, how the artist got into Regular Show, and just how much she loves pugs.
ComicsAlliance: Prior to this upcoming Skips mini, you'd illustrated a few variant covers for Boom!'s Adventure Time and Regular Show comics. Did those gigs lead to your upcoming solo issue?
Mad Rupert: They did! Boom! started me with some simple cover assignments, and as I met my deadlines and maintained artistic quality under pressure, they started increasing my workload. At this point I’ve done 6 covers (and counting, because of this miniseries), I’ve lettered a graphic novel and a short comic, and I’m slated to letter another graphic novel and write and draw a Regular Show short comic. So I’ve basically done or am doing a little bit of everything in the comic process for Boom!, I guess having me do a whole comic myself was just easier!
CA: You're both writing and illustrating Regular Show: Skips. Was this a story that you pitched to Boom that you already had in mind?
MR: Originally, I was shooting to be the artist on the miniseries. I had an opportunity to meet face to face with one of the other editors at Boom!, so my editor gave me a few pages of script from Issue #2 of the main Regular Show comic, and asked that I draw, ink, and letter them in my own style to show her. She loved them, and they asked me to be the artist. But we still didn’t have a script, so my editor suggested I come up with a few ideas myself and pitch them to Cartoon Network. I write and draw my own webcomic, Sakana, but I wasn’t used to writing for pre-existing material, so I took a trip to Movie Stop, stocked up on Regular Show DVDs and started patching together some ideas. CN picked their favorite out of the the three I gave them, and now I’m writing the miniseries too!
CA: Regular Show usually follows Mordecai and Rigby, with occasional episodes that focus more on other characters like Muscle Man and Benson. What do you think makes Skips the right character to get his first solo comic?
MR: When Boom! approached me about writing the comic as well as drawing it, their instruction was basically “Skips is cool, what’s up with him? Make it about Skips!” Skips gets his own episodes every once in awhile (I know, I’ve watched all of them at least a dozen times) but he’s mostly known as the person that cleans up everybody else’s messes. Whenever something goes catastrophically wrong, Skips is the person who the others come crawling to sort it out. He’s like the ultimate ‘straight man’ in the cast, which is funny because he’s immortal, and he works for a bunch of giant space babies and he’s basically friends with David Bowie. Those contradictions make him an appealing character to explore, even outside the boundaries of the show itself.
CA: Skips is a pretty mysterious character on the Regular Show cartoon, which leaves his background and point of view open to a lot of story possibilities. What was the process like getting your story approved at Boom! and Cartoon Network?
MR: The script outline went through a few major revisions. At first I was drawing inspiration from a few '80s movies and trying to do lots of really complicated things with Skips and the rest of the crew. But that didn’t jive too well with the character: he’s a simple guy surrounded by not-simple circumstances all the time. So I cut out a few of the movies I was drawing from, and focused more on his relationships with his coworkers. But then somehow I managed to write Benson completely out of the script. You can’t have a Regular Show script without Benson! Now I have a script worth writing that does the show and all it’s characters justice, all it took was lots of rewriting and hair pulling and long frustrated walks through the park.
CA: Were you already a pretty big Regular Show fan before you started working on the comic? If so, do you have any favorite episodes or moments from the show that helped shape your story?
MR: I admit I hadn’t watched it that often before I started working with Boom!. It was one of those situations where... you know when there’s a show you don’t normally watch, but whenever you catch it on TV, somehow it’s always the same episode? For me, with Regular Show, it was the “Don” episode with Rigby’s younger brother. All I knew about Regular Show for the longest time was that the raccoon had this brother that was basically the raccoon’s head but with a buff man body underneath. Now of course I know a lot more and am actively researching episodes and watching the new ones as they’re released, but I’ve never really gotten over the idea that there’s no real explanation for the things that happen in Regular Show. Don’s big buff man body didn’t need a lengthy explanation, the fact that I spit out my drink and exclaimed “WHAT IS THAT???” the first time I saw him on-screen was enough. It’s fun for the sake of fun, and I’m trying my hardest to capture that in the miniseries!
CA: You've been making your own comics for years, including Sakana. How do you think DIY comics have shaped your art and your outlook as a creator?
MR: Sakana is almost four years old at this point, and it’s the engine that keeps my comic wheels turning. Keeping up a self-driven project for so long has really given me a complete picture of the comics process: I write, thumbnail, pencil, ink, letter, clean up, and occasionally color all on my own. I love the look of a fully completed comic page with letters and everything (I always hand-letter.) When Boom! started asking me to do select parts of the comic process, like colored covers and lettering jobs, I could finish the assignments pretty quickly, which is probably why they gave me more things to do. The thing about DIY comics is that, if you don’t develop a good work ethic, you never get anything done! And getting things done on time is a skill I think every comic company holds in high regard.
CA: You've posted a few photos of yourself drawing and you were working at a pretty big scale in some. Are you still drawing huge and then sizing down for print or have you switched things up of late?
MR: I find it a lot easier to create depth and add detail into big pages, so working at a larger scale usually gives me the best results. For Sakana, I work on two strips at once on a 12”x18” sheet of bristol (each comic strip is 6”x18”.) For the Skips mini, I’ll be working at a 10”x15” size, which is a standard dimension for western comics, and shrinks down to print size pretty flawlessly. I also ink with big brush pens that give me a wide variety of line widths, so I need a bigger area to offset the thickness of the lines. Every once in awhile, I’ll work at an 8”x12” size, but that’s usually just for funsies.
CA: If I could break away from comics stuff for a second, the two of us seem to share a passion for pugs. Do you have a pug of your own? If so, where does it fit into your workflow?
MR: I LOVE PUGS!! My family has always owned pugs, we were a three-pug household for most of my life. My parents still have a pug to this day (an old distinguished gentleman named Meko), but I’m out on my own in the big wide world now, and I only get to see Meko when I visit home. Recently, though, I’ve become the puppy parent of a stray chihuahua/terrier mix named Gizmo, who is actually sleeping on my lap as I type this. He’s a very good dog and a perfect snuggle partner when I need to take a break.
CA: What's next for you after Regular Show: Skips?
MR: I’d like to do something Adventure Time-related, and of course I’m always working on Sakana and looking for my next big freelance opportunity. If I could do anything I wanted, I’d like to try my hand at something big and flashy and fantasy-esque!! Writing a slice of life comic for so long has left me itching to tackle something exciting and adventurous and action-packed with lots of difficult things to draw. I have a few comic pitches I’m working on, and I’d like to start sending them to companies when I get the chance!