- Why is the ARL 2020/2021 site slow?
Lots of reasons. This site has (depending on when you’re reading this) between 2000 and 4000 images hosted in a database. Many of the newer ones are MUCH bigger because the reality of the situation is, people all have fancy devices with big resolutions and lots of pixels. That means you need higher quality images or things start to look uglier than intended. Another reality is that this whole site is powered by WordPress and PHP and neither of those exactly have astounding track records of lightning fast performance. I’m caching aggressively to try and mitigate some of the problems but we’re basically at peak performance. I hope you enjoy the series enough to be patient with some of the load times. If you’d like to read more but are struggling, you can at least read the newest material on webtoon and instagram.
- 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.
- What’s the differences in the series?
The Original Series was just that: the original comics that got me in the door to comics. It’s 2 large boxes on top of two large boxes with lots of un-used room, mis-sized fames, mis-matched file types, and enough typos to kill your average english teacher. After a while I started to get upset with the format I chose and I decided to “relaunch” the series. That’s the content that became The Strip. This was technically a restart of the timeline, so you see some character introductions being done again and some strip jokes and concepts being re-used. Shortly into the strip’s run, I completely re-designed all the characters and improved the style of the strip. It’s the style that has evolved into what the comic looks like today. Stairwell is actually the spin-off comic that I did daily for over three years. Originally standing on it’s own, it’s similar enough in style that I decided to incorporate the content into the ARL site, partially to explain the gap in content here. Stairwell still updates occasionally. And finally, ARL Returns is the newest content, featuring the characters, nearly a decade from their last regular usage. We get to catch up with everyone and follow them on new zany adventures.
- 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 school-ish 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.
- 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 and is a bit of a shop-a-holic. 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?
ARL has been quite an adventure. I started it when I was 17 years old and still in high school. I worked on it for over a decade before taking a break to start the Stairwell series. Now that Stairwell has been slowing down, I find myself being called back to the characters of my youth. I’m 36 now and planning on continuing this comic in some form for the rest of my life. This comic is the closest thing that I have to a diary of my life. While these strips and moments weren’t autobiographical, many of them were inspired by moments that I get to reflect on. Im excited for what 2021 and beyond holds for the cast of ARL.
- Who is your target audience?
People who like slice-of-life comics. People who don’t think a comic needs to “edgy”. Geeks (to a lesser extent). Elder millennials will probably find a lot of relatable nostalgia in these strips.
- 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. 2021 edit: Stairwell, well not a serious strip, is definitely more grounded in reality and sadness than ARL is. This is as close to a serious side to comics that I’d prefer to get.
- 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.
- Have any advice about creating a comic?
Do it for yourself. You’re probably not going to get famous. You’re even less likely to get rich. Don’t quit your day job and do comics. Just DO comics. Do it for yourself. Do it because you love it and hopefully that love will bleed into the strip. Not literally. That would be gross.
Got a question you want to see answered on here? Shout at me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/ARustyLife