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Sketchbook 2003
posted December 31, 2003

Creator: Steve Rude
Publishing Info: Self-Published, 36 pages,$15.
Ordering Numbers: None

The price point on this short sketchbook sampler makes it nearly review proof. At $15 for 36 pages in black and white, you'll almost certainly have to bring something to the cash register beyond your status as a comics consumer looking for the most bang for your buck. For one thing, the 1989 Steve Rude Sketchbook from Kitchen Sink can be found for roughly the same price at 136 pages. Yet for artists who work in this style, longtime Steve Rude fans, anyone who wants to reward an artist for dipping their toe into the self-publishing pool in today’s market, or people looking for true small-run collectibles, this is a handsome effort worth checking out.

Like most artists of value, Rude spends a great deal of time with his sketchbooks, working through problems and making a number of studies using a variety of tools and approaches. Not surprisingly, Rude's a better artist than he was 14 years ago. The actual large sketchbook on his table at 2003’s San Diego Con, from which this thin booklet takes samples, was as striking in its own way as anything that could be found at the show. Included here are studies of many of Rude's favorite painters, as well as several pages that can be tied into the artist’s superhero projects of the last few years. There are even one or two things tied into animation work. Rude helpfully includes some commentary and note taking, both on the page and after the fact, both of which are clearly recognizable as being in his voice. As in his interview in the Journal in 2002, what comes out of the pages even more than the relative skill with which various pages are finished is a kind of baseline integrity to work hard and become a better artist, one who sees more effectively.

Originally Published in The Comics Journal