• What was the initial inspiration for ARL?
There was no “big bang” moment for ARL. I’ve always drawn comics as early as I can remember. It stemmed mostly from not wanting to be in school. I just drew to pass the time. ARL was the evolution of an earlier comic I used to draw called “Dudley” which featured a character who was more or less a simpler drawn Rusty. Trying to make it look more impressive, I added extra details to the character and changed his name from Dudley to Rusty.
  • How has the comic developed since the early years? Do you use different technologies or methods?
There are/were about 14 comics drawn by hand featuring Rusty doing schoolish activities such as dealing with bullies, etc. I drew these my senior year of high school. Shortly after drawing those, I was inspired by a webcomic that drew his characters in a program called Adobe Illustrator and copy and pasted characters across the different panels. That was March 2003 and ever since then A Rusty Life has been drawn in Illustrator. [Insert a slightly modified version of the attached image around here]
  • How do you create ARL?
100% drawn in Adobe Illustrator with an optical mouse.
  • Are any of the characters in ARL based on real people or are they purely fictional?
At first I loosely based characters on people I knew but I quickly got annoyed by how often someone would ask me why I did a certain thing with their character or they would ask when their character was going to be used again. At this point the strip has been around enough that the characters have just evolved into themselves.
  • All characters have an essential character flaw– it helps to make them more interesting– so what are the ARL cast members’ tragic flaws?
One of Rusty’s flaws is his obliviousness. For years now Chelsey has been hinting at her affection for Rusty only for him to never notice. He also struggles with finding his place in the world, having quickly moved from job to job looking for “the one.” Kevin has a couple of interesting flaws. Kevin is brash, and often doesn’t think things through or understand them entirely. Kevin also has a weakness for food and coffee. Zack’s flaw, if you want to call it that, is that he wants to destroy everything and conquer the world but doesn’t seem to be making much progress. Chelsey can’t seem to make Rusty understand her affection for him. Sydney’s a fitness fiend and her character flaw is the lazy, unfit Kevin. She sees him as a little bit of a project.
  • What is your goal for ARL? Where would you like to see it go in the future?
My goal is to keep doing ARL for as long as it’s fun. It would be great if it became really famous or something, but it’s not important to me that it does. I would like to see myself setting aside more time for it though and updating a couple more times a week than I do right now.
  • Who is your target audience?
People who like slice-of-life comics. People who don’t think a comic needs to be full of cussing or nudity. Geeks (to a lesser extent).
  • What comics are you inspired by? How do they shape or influence your strip?
The biggest comic influence on me had to be Bill Amend’s Foxtrot. My art style is very similar to that of Foxtrot and that comes from years of copying his comics as a kid. When I was 9 or 10 I couldn’t write a joke. But I could copy Foxtrot jokes with my characters in their place. Luckily I don’t have to do that anymore (though my jokes would probably be better if I did!)
  • Most of your comics are gags and such– will we ever see a more serious side of ARL? Why or why not?
Probably not beyond a short story or two. The world is much too serious. I’d rather focus on the fun side of things.
  • Are you inspired by every day events in your life? Or do you take ideas from media? Or some combination?
I guess a little of both. I don’t write about events in my life for the most part. If the character buys a car, for example, more likely it was the result of me wanting to see what that character would do in that situation and not because I bought a car in my personal life.
  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in regard to creating comic?
Um. I can’t think of any right now. Haha.
  • What is one piece of advice you’d give an up and coming comic artist?
Do it because you love it. It takes dedication. It takes time. It takes effort. coming up with jokes regularly can be difficult. There are times when drawing comics to meet self imposed deadlines felt like work. But those feeling always subside. And it always comes back to doing it because you love it. I’ve been drawing ARL for close to 8 years now and it’s been a blessing because I’ve made so many friends and participated in so many experiences that I would’ve missed out on otherwise. It’s totally worth it.
Got a question you want to see answered on here? Shoot me an email at jcbigelow@arustylife.com.