The most mysterious cast member of Cartoon Network/kaBOOM!'s Regular Show, Skips, is about to roll solo in his own mini-series in Regular Show: Skips #1. Not much is known about Skips, the wise groundskeeper who also happens to be a Yeti, aside from what fans have already seen in the show, but writer/artist Madeline "Mad" Rupert takes the reigns and gives us a glimpse of what it's like being Skip.
Having already worked on Adventure Time, Rupert shines a spotlight on Skips with him trying to reward his co-workers, but his co-workers being who they are, nothing goes according to plan. Newsarama talked to Rupert about her beginnings in the industry, collaborating with Cartoon Network to make sure the script was just right, and what other character she'd love to get a shot at.
Newsarama: Mad, before we get to Skips, I understand you're a SCAD graduate, so could you tell us a little bit about your journey from student to professional?
Mad Rupert: I graduated with a BFA in Sequential Art (a fancier word for comic books, I guess) from the Savannah College of Art and Design in the spring of 2011. And I was recently accepted back to SCAD for an MFA in Sequential Art (I’ll be starting this fall!) What originally drew me to the college, and to comics in general, was a lackluster freshman year at a communication arts school in Boston. I was always interested in art, but I had been wary of majoring in it, so I picked a safer major and hoped for the best. But I hated it! I wanted to draw and create! One of my roommates suggested a school called SCAD all the way down in Georgia, so I applied for the Sequential Art program because it seemed to have all the drawing and creating I could ever want. I hadn’t drawn a single comic before I entered my sophomore year of college, but it turned out to be the best decision I’d ever made! Now, five years later, I’m using the skills and connections my professors shared with me to bust my way into the comics industry. Many of the opportunities I’ve received have come from SCAD-sponsored portfolio reviews with industry editors, and others have come from former classmates!
Nrama: So you started with a few Adventure Time and Regular Show covers with a couple of mini-comics sprinkled in, so who made the decision to reel you in for the Skips spin-off?
Rupert: My editor started me off with small tasks before giving me larger and larger projects to work on. I’ve done covers, I’ve lettered graphic novels and short stories, I’ve written some short comics: at some point I’d done just about every part of the comic process in one way or another. Eventually my editor asked me to do some interior test pages for Regular Show and show them to another Boom! editor visiting my area. They both loved what I came up with and told me they’d like to use me on a bigger project, which, to my extreme surprise, turned out to be an entire miniseries. Originally I was just interested in drawing for it, but my editor pushed me to pitch some ideas of my own for the script, and Cartoon Network wound up choosing one of my pitches! It’s been a pretty crazy ride from “okay I’ll do some test pages for you” to “wow I guess I’ll write and draw this whole miniseries!”
Nrama: As a Regular Show fan and a writer, who is Skips to you?
Rupert: Skips has been an incredibly fun character to write, but he’s a challenge because he doesn’t talk much and he’s not nearly as outwardly emotional as the other characters in the comic. So, in order to bring maximum funny into a script about a serious character, I have to break him out of that serious shell and throw him into the most frustrating situations I can think of. The show has done such a great job of portraying him as this really calm, stoic guy, and I have the honor of totally messing with him. Skips was always my favorite character, even before I was signed on for the miniseries, and there’s nobody I would have been more excited to write for!
Nrama: Are you diving into more of the mystery surrounding Skips or does Cartoon Network keep a lid on things like that?
Rupert: Well, there sure is a lot of mystery surrounding Skips. Probably more than just one miniseries could tackle! There’s the whole immortality thing, and he works for giant space babies, and he’s friends/rivals with Death and David Bowie, etc, etc. I’m sure the show still has all kinds of things planned for him, so I’ll be focusing more on his relationships with his coworkers, and how all of them get along. Trying to keep Mordecai and Rigby in line is the biggest challenge I can possibly think of, even for a man of Skips’ caliber.
Nrama: Was there any collaboration between Cartoon Network and yourself on how Skips should be handled here or was it pretty much laissez faire?
Rupert: I pitched a few ideas for the script to Cartoon Network, and they picked one that didn’t delve too far into unknown Skips territory. Also, they seem to think I write him pretty well? So the most collaboration we’ve done has been on the script itself, and what exactly happens over its six-issue span. At first I wasn’t doing enough with the cast, then I overcompensated and was doing way too much (but somehow managed to write Benson completely out of the script!) Now we’ve come to a happy point where they’re excited about the whole idea and I’m really excited to write it. And I hope the fans will be happy to read it!
Nrama: Now you actually have your own comic, Sakana, and you have a certain style of your own. Are you doing Skips in your own style or keeping it within the Regular Show wheelhouse?
Rupert: I’ve been writing and drawing my webcomic Sakana for almost four years at this point. I started it in college to keep me busy between school projects, and now it’s a constantly updating labor of love that keeps my drawing hand limber and myself in practice. My style is pretty cartoony to begin with, so adapting it a bit to fit the Regular Show vibe wasn’t too difficult, and Boom! seemed to be looking for something similar but not 100% true to the show. I’d say it’s more like the Regular Show style than unlike it, if that makes sense!
Nrama: If Boom requested that you do another one-shot spin-off, who would you love to cover?
Rupert: Treetrunks! I really want to do a Treetrunks-centric Adventure Time comic. I’m sure I could come up with six issues worth of Treetrunks material. If they’re set on keeping me with Regular Show, I’d also really like to do something with Hi-Five Ghost, or maybe Benson if they’re more keen on a major character. I don’t know though, there’s something about minor characters that people always gravitate towards (me included, obviously.) Really I’d write for any character. I love both shows and it’s really hard to find a character I wouldn’t devote a whole lot of time to!
Nrama: So the Skips spin-off comes out and then what? What's next in your budding career?
Rupert: I have some other projects that I’m working on with Boom!, mostly lettering jobs and short comics. But I’d love to tackle something Adventure Time-related next, or possibly pitch one of my own original comics! I’ll always be working on Sakana in the background, but I’m also always looking for my next big freelance opportunity! I’m really, really excited to have this big opportunity at the beginning of my comics career, and I hope I get to do a lot more projects like this before I grow old and my drawing hand just falls off.