Now, I'll go on record right off and say that Steve Rude is one of my favourite artists currently working in the comics industry. His seminal work on Nexus with Mike Baron has endured for two decades and remains, not only one of my top 5 comic book series of all time, but also relevant. Over the last little while I've been re-reading my Nexus collection from The Capitol issues to the most current Rude Dude issues and I'm continually amazed at how much of the '80s is reflected in those stories but how little they have dated over the years. So, when Steve Rude announced that they would be returning to the character and self-publishing new stories...well, let's just say that the return of Nexus to comic book shelves was one of the single most exciting things to happen for me in many, many years of collecting comics.
I was so pumped to have the book back and to have Rude and Baron working together again that I was willing to put out a little extra just to show my support. When they released the Free Comic Book Day book, Nexus' Greatest Hits, as a regular Rude Dude release, I bought it even though I already had it because I know self-publishing can be a tough racket. Then, when they released the Nexus Origin book I grabbed that one also, even though I already owned it from back when Dark Horse launched Nexus. Then, when Steve re-released it as a squarebound book with a new cover and 'extra pages' for a buck more, I bought that, too. It was supposed to be completely remastered and have extra stuff so damn the torpedos, right? Well, it was exactly the same as the previous Origin they published and featured 'extra' material that had been published elsewhere. I wasn't going to complain, though, because losing Nexus again was something that I did not want to see happen.
Lately I've been reading Rude's blog posts where he's been asking people to buy stuff at his store so he can pay his bills and how his brief return to comics was a failure and I can't help but be a little pissed. Not only have we, as readers/consumers, bit our collective tongues while waiting for each issue of "Space Opera" to come out (invariably late, it should be stressed) and spent money on materials we probably all already owned being Nexus fans, but now we're being asked to go and spend $250 at his online store for the privilege of having an original sketch?
When I think of how the 'failure' of Nexus may have had something to do with the irregularity of its schedule, and how opportunity and momentum was likely lost to whatever issues were being played out behind the scenes, I cringe. One of the lessons I thought most publishers learned throughout the last ten years was that when a book is solicited to come out, it better come out because, beyond just looking bad, readers are fickle and don't have a lot of money to spread around. Certain marquee books can weather that storm but, ultimately, if your book is not on the shelf readers will likely spend it on something else that is there.
Once retailers have lost confidence in your publishing schedule they will likely look at your book in Previews and pass you over because who knows if it's really going to show up. They'll order enough for their file customers and that's all she wrote. All the interviews, good faith, nostalgia, hype and media attention can't save you from general apathy once it sets in.
So, to be as supportive as I can as a consumer towards Rude Dude Productions and then have them tell me that not only is Nexus done but that I really should come by and give them some more money, has me just a little ticked.