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Innovation

Pittsburgh comicbook artist Jim Rugg talks about his new book, "Tell Me" podcast on Boing Boing

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Jim Rugg was a doodler most of his life, a pastime he figured was a side effect of his own boredom, “an escape hatch from a mundane life in suburbia.”

Then he heard a TED lecture on the art of doodling by Sunni Brown and realized his drawings were a form of inspiration, his own creative processing of the pop culture-saturated world around him.

“I grew up in a small town where culture was the local video store,” he says. “I’m informed by junk culture, toys and old television, old comics and genre movies, professional wrestling, a lot of low-brow junk entertainment.”

Rugg has parlayed his art into commercial successes on several levels. A comic artist, illustrator and graphic designer working in Pittsburgh, his clients include Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, New York Magazine, VH1. His work has been feted by several national illustration organizations as well.

This month, his fourth graphic novel arrives, “Supermag,” a reflection on the current state of print media, supported through grants from The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation. It joins his previous book, "Afrodisiac," "The Plain Janes" and "Street Angel." 

But that's not all. In early 2012, Rugg and two friends launched a biweekly podcast on Boing Boing called “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” The show features interviews with creatives—comic artists, writers and filmmakers—who discuss their work, the inspiration behind it and the nuts and bolts of the business. 

Rugg’s collaborators are equally accomplished artists from Pittsburgh, Jasen Lex and Ed Piskor. Lex is at work on a graphic novel of his own, “Washington Unbound.” Piskor is the cartoonist behind “Wizzywig” and the upcoming “Brain Rot/ Hip Hop Family Tree,” an exhaustive history of hip hop told through cartoons, soon to be released by Fantagraphics Books.
 
“Tell Me” was inspired by a class offered by Pittsburgh Center for the Arts’ Flight School, which teaches the principals of business to artists, says Rugg. The latest episode is an interview with Jesse Schell, the founder and creative force behind Schell Games.

Many of our guests are connected to our comic world, says Rugg. Their first episode featured Gary Groth, publisher of Fantagraphic Books and founder of the Comics Journal who worked early on with Hunter S. Thompson.

“Each program varies. We’re always looking for people doing something outside the norm, someone coming through Pittsburgh or someone we’ve met,” he says.

Pittsburgh has been very supportive as a community to comics, he adds. “This area has a rich history in comic art, which goes back to Andy Warhol.  Comics are very welcome here.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jim Rugg
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