It’s time for a new generation to meet the babies.
Since 1991, Rugrats has proven to be one of the most enduring looks at a child’s-eye view of the world, with 172 episodes and multiple feature films, coming in just behind Spongebob Squarepants as the longest-running Nicktoon. Now, Tommy Pickles and friends are back with a new series from KaBOOM! that launches Wednesday from writer Box Brownand artist Lisa DuBois.
Newsarama spoke to the creative team to find out more about these babies, and what’s kept these toddlers around for more than 25 years and revived with this week's Rugrats #1.
Newsarama: Lisa, Box - what are some things we'll be seeing in the new title?
Lisa DuBois: In this comic, we get to see an updated take on the Rugrats gang. We see them interact with technology that didn’t exist when the show originally aired, but we also still get to see them use their imaginations to explore and have fun!
Box Brown: The babies will be taking on new technology, baby cams, tablets, drones, etc. Further on out they'll be taking on conspiracy theories and aliens.
Nrama:How did you come on board the book?
DuBois: I got an e-mail from my editor, Whitney Leopard, that was like, “Hey, do you like Rugrats? Wanna test for it?” and I was like, “Heck, yeah I do!” So here I am.
Nrama: What do you draw from in depicting the experiences of babies? It's interesting in that enough time has passed that people born the year Rugrats came out now have kids of their own, which in no way makes me feel old.
Brown: Well, a lot of I think is from watching the show and kind of figuring out how the characters would act in any situation. Upon rewatching, it reminds me a lot of Muppet Babies, which was more my generation. It's babies misinterpreting the things adults do, and using their imaginations to get into hijinks.
DuBois: I babysit the world’s best three-year-old, named Ian, and I draw a lot of inspiration from his imagination. He lives in world where zebras drink coffee, and robots have jobs and families. He’s brilliant.
Nrama: What did the original Rugrats cartoon mean to you, personally?
DuBois: I’ve just always liked Rugrats. It’s kind of a comfort. I’ve watched it again and again, and it’s always good. There’s always something new to like about it.
Nrama: Why do you think this has been such an enduring concept?
Brown: I think it's a solid concept, and has extremely developed characters for a cartoon. The show really went into great depths exploring the family lives of all the individual characters. I think that stays with people as they grow older.
DuBois: Rugrats is good, clean fun. It’s wholesome, but it’s smart. There’s nothing not to like about it.
Nrama:Have you a favorite Rugrat? I relate more to Chuckie, but have encountered more Angelicas in real life.
DuBois: I like Chuckie, because he always does his best, even when it’s hard. I also like Angelica, because she always gets what she wants.
Brown: I'm a Chuckie for sure. Chuckie has anxiety. He's anxious about every act, but then he always in some way overcomes his fears and finds out that his anxiety was unfounded. I think that's an important exercise and an important theme of the show.
Nrama:What are some of your favorite episodes of the original series?
DuBois: I think of “Reptar on Ice” immediately. My husband will be reminded of it occasionally and will sing, “What’s a dinosaur to do when there’s kids on the ice? Quick, somebody call their moms!” It’s cute.
Nrama:What other Nicktoon concepts would you like to work on?
Brown: I would love to work on Doug. That was my fave cartoon when I was just a little too old for cartoons, which is kind of what the Nicktoons were all about. When Doug came out I was Doug's age. Heck, in many ways, I was Doug! Or perhaps I was Skeeter.
DuBois: A spin-off of Doug where it’s just an emotionally honest Roger Klotz character study.
Nrama: So what is your collaboration like on the book?
DuBois: In many ways, Rugrats #1 is my first comic. I really didn’t know what to expect about the whole process of making a comic, but it’s awesome. Being a part of a team, and just being able to focus on drawing, is a lot of fun.
Nrama: And what's it like working with Nickelodeon?
DuBois: Ever since I was a little kid it was my dream to work for Nickelodeon in some capacity, so it’s honestly a dream come true. I have such great affection toward this company, and I can’t believe I get to rep my favorite fictional babies for them.
Nrama: What are some other creators/books you're enjoying these days?
Brown: I've been scouring eBay for old B. Kliban comics. His work is evergreen. Absurdity at its best!
DuBois: I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at Tom Lovell paintings.
Nrama:What's next for you?
DuBois: I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to pitch and publish some original concepts! I really wanna draw something YA and shoujo.
Nrama:Why should longtime Rugrats fans check this out?
Brown: They'll be seeing Box Brown's take on their favorite show. Hopefully, it lives up to your memory!
DuBois: It’s a really nice comic book, and it’s only $4.
Nrama:And why should people who haven't seen Rugrats before check it out?
Brown: Because this is going to be the greatest comic they've ever seen in their lives!
DuBois: It’s a really nice comic book, and it’s only $4. [Laughs]
Nrama:Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
DuBois: I’m super excited for issue #2! There are some really good drawings inside, y’all!!